Clearer Thinking is a podcast about ideas that truly matter. If you enjoy learning about powerful, practical concepts and frameworks, wish you had more deep, in...
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Mothers who harm their children for attention (with Andrea Dunlop)
Read the full transcript here. What is Munchausen syndrome? How does Munchausen syndrome differ from malingering? Does Munchausen usually correlate with lying or exaggerating in other contexts (i.e., pathological lying)? What is "Munchausen by Proxy" (AKA "factitious disorder imposed on another", or FDIA)? Why are women the offenders in the overwhelming majority of cases? What are some consistent patterns of behavior exhibited by people with MBP? What is a "reality distortion field"? How do people with MBP tend to deflect requests for facts? Do such people believe their own stories? How does MBP relate to sociopathy or psychopathy? How common is MBP?Andrea Dunlop is an author and podcaster based out of Seattle, WA with two decades of experience in book publishing. She is the author of four novels: Losing the Light (February 2016; Atria), She Regrets Nothing (February 2018; Atria), We Came Here to Forget (July 2019; Atria), and Women Are the Fiercest Creatures (March 2023; Zibby Books). Andrea is host and creator of the popular true crime investigative podcast about Munchausen by Proxy called Nobody Should Believe Me, which was a New & Noteworthy pick for Apple's Dark Side collection. Her non-fiction book on the same topic is forthcoming from St. Martin's Press. She is a member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children's Munchausen by Proxy Committee and is the founder of Munchausen Support, which is dedicated to providing resources for frontline professionals, families, and survivors dealing with MBP. Learn more about her on her website, andreadunlop.net. [Read more]
Is evolutionary psychology just a bunch of "just so" stories? (with Geoffrey Miller)
Read the full transcript here. Why do even people who accept evolutionary explanations for most biological phenomena often push back against evolutionary explanations for human psychology? To what extent should humans adjust their behavior in light of evopsych findings? How do evopsych researchers avoid formulating "just so" stories to explain specific behaviors? What can we infer about human behavior from the behaviors of chimps, bonobos, gorillas, or orangutans? What is the evopsych view of incest (which most people seem to find disgusting but which is also one of the most popular porn categories)? Are emotions primarily shaped by evolution or by culture? How can evopsych findings be applied to everyday things like dating? A safely-aligned AI system should presumably support the majority of human values; so how should AI alignment researchers think about religious values, which are generally held by the majority of humans but which differ radically in their specifics from group to group? What are some other rarely-considered AI alignment blind spots?Geoffrey Miller is an evolutionary psychologist best known for his books The Mating Mind (2001), Mating Intelligence (2008), Spent (2009), and Mate (2015). He also has over 110 academic publications addressing sexual selection, mate choice, signaling theory, fitness indicators, consumer behavior, marketing, intelligence, creativity, language, art, music, humor, emotions, personality, psychopathology, and behavior genetics. He holds a B.A. in biology and psychology from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Stanford University, and he is a tenured associate professor at University of New Mexico. Follow him on Twitter at @primalpoly, or find out more about him on his website, primalpoly.com. [Read more]
Systems of governance built on prediction markets (with Robin Hanson)
Read the full transcript here. What is futarchy? Why does it seem to be easier to find social innovations rather than technical innovations? How does it differ from democracy? In what ways might a futarchy be gamed? What are some obstacles to implementing futarchy? Do we actually like for our politicians to be hypocritical to some degree? How mistaken are we about our own goals for social, political, and economic institutions? Do we enjoy fighting (politically) more than actually governing well and improving life for everyone? What makes something "sacred"? What is a tax career agent?Robin Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, master's degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago, and nine years experience as a research programmer at Lockheed and NASA. He has over ninety academic publications in major journals across a wide variety of fields and has written two books: The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth (2016), and The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life (2018, co-authored with Kevin Simler). He has pioneered prediction markets, also known as information markets and idea futures, since 1988; and he suggests "futarchy" as a form of governance based on prediction markets. He also coined the phrase "The Great Filter" and has recently numerically estimated it via a model of "Grabby Aliens". Learn more about Robin at his GMU page or follow him on the-website-formerly-known-as-Twitter at @robinhanson. [Read more]
Using metacognitive therapy to break the habit of rumination (with Pia Callesen)
Read the full transcript here. What is metacognitive therapy? How does MCT differ from CBT, DBT, and other mental health therapy paradigms? How do we know we're spending time worrying about the right things? How much time spent worrying is actually useful? How aware are we of our own tendencies to ruminate on certain negative thoughts? Does MCT avoid all content-based problem-solving? What is the state of the evidence for MCT?Dr. Pia Callesen is one of Denmark's most educated and experienced metacognitive psychologists. She has more than 25 years of experience as a therapist and has completed the official 2-year metacognitive certification training in Manchester at the MCT Institute and the subsequent 1-year advanced level masterclass in Oxford by Professor Adrian Wells. At the end of 2016, she completed her PhD at Manchester University with Professor Adrian Wells. The PhD contained a large randomised controlled trial with research into the effects of metacognitive therapy treatment for depression.Resources:CEKTOS: Pia's clinic that offers online 1:1 and groupsThe international list of MCTI Registered therapists [Read more]
How quickly is AI advancing? And should you be working in the field? (with Danny Hernandez)
Read the full transcript here. Along what axes and at what rates is the AI industry growing? What algorithmic developments have yielded the greatest efficiency boosts? When, if ever, will we hit the upper limits of the amount of computing power, data, money, etc., we can throw at AI development? Why do some people seemingly become fixated on particular tasks that particular AI models can't perform and draw the conclusion that AIs are still pretty dumb and won't be taking our jobs any time soon? What kinds of tasks are more or less easily automatable? Should more people work on AI? What does it mean to "take ownership" of our friendships? What sorts of thinking patterns employed by AI engineers can be beneficial in other areas of life? How can we make better decisions, especially about large things like careers and relationships?Danny Hernandez was an early AI researcher at OpenAI and Anthropic. He's best known for measuring macro progress in AI. For example, he helped show that the compute of the largest training runs was growing at 10x per year between 2012 and 2017. He also helped show an algorithmic equivalent of Moore's Law that was faster, and he's done work on scaling laws and mechanistic interpretability of learning from repeated data. He is currently focused on alignment research. [Read more]
Clearer Thinking is a podcast about ideas that truly matter. If you enjoy learning about powerful, practical concepts and frameworks, wish you had more deep, intellectual conversations in your life, or are looking for non-BS self-improvement, then we think you'll love this podcast! Each week we invite a brilliant guest to bring four important ideas to discuss for an in-depth conversation. Topics include psychology, society, behavior change, philosophy, science, artificial intelligence, math, economics, self-help, mental health, and technology. We focus on ideas that can be applied right now to make your life better or to help you better understand yourself and the world, aiming to teach you the best mental tools to enhance your learning, self-improvement efforts, and decision-making. • We take on important, thorny questions like: • What's the best way to help a friend or loved one going through a difficult time? How can we make our worldviews more accurate? How can we hone the accuracy of our thinking? What are the advantages of using our "gut" to make decisions? And when should we expect careful, analytical reflection to be more effective? Why do societies sometimes collapse? And what can we do to reduce the chance that ours collapses? Why is the world today so much worse than it could be? And what can we do to make it better? What are the good and bad parts of tradition? And are there more meaningful and ethical ways of carrying out important rituals, such as honoring the dead? How can we move beyond zero-sum, adversarial negotiations and create more positive-sum interactions?