All Videos

THE END OF UNIVERSAL RATIONALITY

Conversation:
[3.29.09]
Topic:

"We have a lot of sophisticated analyses that try, with great precision, to predict and describe existing systems in terms of an assumption of universal rationality and a sub-assumption that what that rationality tries to do is maximize returns to the self. Yet we live in a world where that's not actually what we experience. The big question now is how we cover that distance between what we know very intuitively in our social relations, and what we can actually build with."

 

IS THERE A HIGGS?

Conversation:
[3.4.09]
Topic:

"In a very pure sense you build the accelerator you need when you know what the question is."

 

ART AND HUMAN REALITY

Conversation:
[2.22.09]
Topic:

"Darwinian aesthetics is not some kind of ironclad doctrine that is supposed to replace a heavy postructuralism with something just as oppressive. What surprises me about the resistance to the application of Darwin to psychology, is the vociferous way in which people want to dismiss it, not even to consider it. Is this a holdover from Marxism or religious doctrines? I don't know. Stephen Jay Gould was one of those people who had the idea that evolution was allowed to explain everything about me, my fingernails, my pancreas, the way my body is designed—except that it could have nothing to say about anything above the neck. About human psychology, nothing could be explained in evolutionary terms: we just somehow developed a big brain with its spandrels and all, and that's it."

 

CHANGING LIFESTYLE CHANGES GENE EXPRESSION

Conversation:
[12.3.08]
Topic:

"These findings may capture people's imagination—so often, people think there is not much they can do, what I call genetic nihilism. But even if your mother and your father and your sister and brother and aunts and uncles all died from heart disease, it doesn't mean that you need to. It just means that you are more likely to be genetically predisposed. If you are willing to make big enough changes, there is no reason you need ever develop heart disease, except in relatively rare cases."

 

LIFE IS THE WAY THE ANIMAL IS IN THE WORLD

Conversation:
[11.12.08]
Topic:

"The problem of consciousness is understanding how this world is there for us. It shows up in our senses. It shows up in our thoughts. Our feelings and interests and concerns are directed to and embrace this world around us. We think, we feel, the world shows up for us. To me that's the problem of consciousness. That is a real problem that needs to be studied, and it's a special problem."

 

Master Class 2008: The Irony of Poverty (Class 5)

Conversation:
[10.29.08]
Topic:

"I want to close a loop, which I'm calling "The Irony of Poverty." On the one hand, lack of slack tells us the poor must make higher quality decisions because they don't have slack to help buffer them with things. But even though they have to supply higher quality decisions, they're in a worse position to supply them because they're depleted. That is the ultimate irony of poverty. You're getting cut twice. You are in an environment where the decisions have to be better, but you're in an environment that by the very nature of that makes it harder for you apply better decisions."

 

Master Class 2008: Two Big Things Happening in Psychology Today (Class 4)

Conversation:
[10.21.08]
Topic:

"There's new technology emerging from behavioral economics and we are just starting to make use of that. I thought the input of psychology into economics was finished but clearly it's not!"

 

Master Class 2008: The Psychology of Scarcity (Class 3)

Conversation:
[10.15.08]
Topic:

Let's put aside poverty alleviation for a second, and let's ask, "Is there something intrinsic to poverty that has value and that is worth studying in and of itself?" One of the reasons that is the case is that, purely aside from magic bullets, we need to understand are there unifying principles under conditions of scarcity that can help us understand behavior and to craft intervention. If we feel that conditions of scarcity evoke certain psychology, then that, not to mention pure scientific interest, will affect a vast majority of interventions. It's an important and old question.—Sendhil Mullainathan

 

Master Class 2008: Improving Choices with Machine Readable Disclosure (Class 2)

Conversation:
[10.8.08]
Topic:

At a minimum, what we're saying is that in every market where there is now required written disclosure, you have to give the same information electronically and we think intelligently how best to do that. In a sentence that's the nature of the proposal.—Richard Thaler

 

Master Class 2008: Liberatarian Paternalism: Why it is Impossible Not to Nudge (Class 1)

Conversation:
[9.30.08]
Topic:

If you remember one thing from this session, let it be this one: There is no way of avoiding meddling. People sometimes have the confused idea that we are pro meddling. That is a ridiculous notion. It's impossible not to meddle. Given that we can't avoid meddling, let's meddle in a good way. —Richard Thaler

 

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