212: How to invent game-changing technologies (Ed Boyden)

July 8, 2018 This episode features neuroscientist Ed Boyden discussing two inventions of his that have revolutionized neuroscience: optogenetics and expansion microscopy. Ed and Julia talk about Ed’s approach to coming up with good ideas, why he prefers reading old science to new science, his big-picture plan for what he wants to solve in his career, and … Read more

211: The case against beauty in physics (Sabine Hossenfelder)

June 24, 2018 This episode features physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, author of Lost in Math, arguing that fundamental physics is too enamored of “beauty” as a criterion for evaluating theories of how the universe works. She and Julia discuss the three components of beauty (simplicity, naturalness, and elegance), why physicists think it’s reasonable to put their trust in … Read more

210: Conceptual objections to IQ testing (Stuart Ritchie)

June 10, 2018 This episode features Stuart Ritchie, intelligence researcher and author of the book “Intelligence: All That Matters.” Stuart responds to some of the most common conceptual objections to the science of IQ testing. Can we even define intelligence? Aren’t there lots of different kinds of intelligence? How do we know the tests are measuring intelligence at … Read more

209: Collective intelligence and the ethics of A/B tests (Christopher Chabris)

May 27, 2018 This episode features cognitive psychologist Christopher Chabris discussing his research on “collective intelligence” — why do some teams perform better than others at a wide variety of tasks? Julia discusses potential objections to the findings and how gender-related publication bias should affect our interpretation of them. In the second half of the episode, Julia … Read more

208: Thinking in Bets (Annie Duke)

May 13, 2018 This episode features Annie Duke, former pro poker player and author of the book Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts. Julia and Annie debate why people tend to ignore the role of luck in their decisions, whether expressing uncertainty makes you seem weak, and how people end … Read more

207: The wrong way to think about parenting (Alison Gopnik)

April 29, 2018 Developmental psychologist Alison Gopnik explains why modern parenting is too goal-oriented. Alison and Julia discuss whether anything parents do matters, whether kids should go to school, and how kids learn discipline if you don’t force them to do things. They also discuss Alison’s reservations about Steven Pinker’s book Enlightenment Now, and her concerns about … Read more

206: Change My View (Kal Turnbull)

April 15, 2018 When people argue on the internet, you never expect anyone to actually say “You know what, that’s a good point, you’ve changed my view somewhat.” But Change My View, a fast-growing subreddit founded by Kal Turnbull, is an exception to the rule. Julia and Kal discuss the culture of Change My View, what … Read more

205: Are ideas getting harder to find? (Michael Webb)

April 1, 2018 This episode features economist Michael Webb, who recently co-authored a paper titled “Are ideas getting harder to find?” It demonstrates that the number of researchers it takes to produce a technological innovation has gone up dramatically over time. Michael and Julia discuss various possible explanations for why this is happening, along with several challenges to … Read more

204: Reforming psychology, and self-awareness (Simine Vazire)

March 18, 2018 Simine Vazire is a professor of psychology, the author of the blog, “Sometimes I’m Wrong,” and a major advocate for improving the field of psychology. She and Julia discuss several potential objections to Simine’s goal, how to handle criticism, and Simine’s psychology research on the question: How self-aware are people about the way … Read more