playlist

Our brains: predictably irrational

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
    Michael Shermer Why people believe weird things

    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
    Dan Ariely Beware conflicts of interest

    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. 17:40
    Tali Sharot The optimism bias

    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.

  4. 19:37
    Barry Schwartz The paradox of choice

    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.

  5. 21:48
    Dan Dennett The illusion of consciousness

    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.

  6. 17:26
    Dan Ariely Are we in control of our own decisions?

    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.

  7. 24:08
    Sheena Iyengar The art of choosing

    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 uncovers some surprising attitudes about our decisions.

  8. 20:06
    Daniel Kahneman The riddle of experience vs. memory

    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.

  9. 21:20
    Peter Donnelly How juries are fooled by statistics

    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.

  10. 17:19
    James Randi Homeopathy, quackery and fraud

    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.)

  11. 14:26
    Sarah-Jayne Blakemore The mysterious workings of the adolescent brain

    Why do teenagers seem so much more impulsive, so much less self-aware than grown-ups? Cognitive neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore compares the prefrontal cortex in adolescents to that of adults, to show us how typically “teenage” behavior is caused by the growing and developing brain.

  12. 6:49
    Dan Gilbert The psychology of your future self

    "Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished." Dan Gilbert shares recent research on a phenomenon he calls the "end of history illusion," where we somehow imagine that the person we are right now is the person we'll be for the rest of time. Hint: that's not the case.