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Playlist: Our brains: predictably irrational

11 talks · 3h 14m · Curated by TED

Our brains: predictably irrational (11 talks)

The 3 pounds of jelly in our skulls allow us to reflect on our own consciousness — and to make counterintuitive, irrational decisions. These talks explore why.

  • 1.
    13:25
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    Why do people see the Virgin Mary on a cheese sandwich or hear demonic lyrics in "Stairway to Heaven"? Using video and music, skeptic Michael Shermer shows how we convince ourselves to believe — and overlook the facts.
  • 2.
    5:35
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    In this short talk, psychologist Dan Ariely tells two personal stories that explore scientific conflict of interest: How the pursuit of knowledge and insight can be affected, consciously or not, by shortsighted personal goals. When we're thinking about the big questions, he reminds us, let's be aware of our all-too-human brains.
  • 3.
    19:37
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    Psychologist Barry Schwartz takes aim at a central tenet of western societies: freedom of choice. In Schwartz's estimation, choice has made us not freer but more paralyzed, not happier but more dissatisfied.
  • 4.
    21:48
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    Philosopher Dan Dennett makes a compelling argument that not only don't we understand our own consciousness, but that half the time our brains are actively fooling us.
  • 5.
    17:26
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    Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we're not as rational as we think when we make decisions.
  • 6.
    17:40
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    Are we born to be optimistic, rather than realistic? Tali Sharot shares new research that suggests our brains are wired to look on the bright side — and how that can be both dangerous and beneficial.
  • 7.
    20:06
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    Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our "experiencing selves" and our "remembering selves" perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy — and our own self-awareness.
  • 8.
    21:20
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    Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly reveals the common mistakes humans make in interpreting statistics — and the devastating impact these errors can have on the outcome of criminal trials.
  • 9.
    15:59
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    Every day, we make decisions that have good or bad consequences for our future selves. (Can I skip flossing just this one time?) Daniel Goldstein makes tools that help us imagine ourselves over time, so that we make smart choices for Future Us.
  • 10.
    24:08
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    Sheena Iyengar studies how we make choices — and how we feel about the choices we make. At TEDGlobal, she talks about both trivial choices (Coke v. Pepsi) and profound ones, and shares her groundbreaking research that has uncovered some surprising attitudes about our decisions.
  • 11.
    17:19
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    Legendary skeptic James Randi takes a fatal dose of homeopathic sleeping pills onstage, kicking off a searing 18-minute indictment of irrational beliefs. He throws out a challenge to the world's psychics: Prove what you do is real, and I'll give you a million dollars. (No takers yet.)