Episode 12: Change the World

Episode 12: Change the World

“Bringing it all together … Improve your everyday thinking …  Make it happen … How to change the world”
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Summaries

  • Episode 12 - Change the World > Bringing it all together > Bringing it all together
  • Episode 12 - Change the World > Improve your everyday thinking > Improve your everyday thinking
  • Episode 12 - Change the World > Make it happen > Make it happen
  • Episode 12 - What are you going to do about it? > How to change the world > How to change the world

Episode 12 – Change the World > Bringing it all together > Bringing it all together

  • We have covered an enormous amount of material over the last 11 episodes, but because we presented it bit by bit, I suspect that people are going to be really surprised at how much they’ve learned.
  • In each of the episodes, we tackled a different topic, ranging from illusions, rationality, learning to learn, up to the scientific method, testing claims and exploiting the situation in order to predict and shape human behavior.
  • There are a few themes that emerged throughout Think101, and I think we should try to integrate them here and make them explicit.
  • We provided a bunch of simple examples like: the Necker cube, or the spinning dancer that’s either rotating counterclockwise or clockwise, the image of the duck or the rabbit, the young woman or old woman, or maybe the ambiguous letter or the digit, depending on how you’re looking at that information, or the smiling or the smirking face, depending on whether you like that person or not.
  • Ambiguity is operating absolutely everywhere, especially when it comes to other types of evidence.
  • Whether it be formal evidence like forensic evidence, or evidence for or against climate change, or evidence as to whether your best friend is honest or adventurous or not.
  • It’d be really nice if we had all of the information out in front of us and the luxury of having all the time in the world to make a decision, but that’s rarely the case, isn’t it? Most of the time, we have to make decisions fast, and even when we do make the decision, we have no idea whether it was the right one or not.
  • We preferentially seek out evidence that confirms our beliefs.
  • These are all examples of fast thinking: system one.
  • Now, the goal of the course is to figure out how everyday thinking can be improved.
  • In order to improve everyday thinking, we need to be more analytic; use system two; unpack issues.
  • These are all incredibly important when trying to figure out how to get better at thinking.
  • Well the intuitive scientist is important-in order to improve everyday thinking, you need to consider the scientific method if you’re deciding whether or not to take a drug, or whether to change your diet or not.
  • We talked about a lot of ways looking at the evidence for that.
  • Now if you’re deciding to whether take a drug or not, if it hasn’t been subjected to that, then maybe you better think twice about whether to take that or not.
  • What about the other three cells? I think learning those general problem-solving skills are really important, and that will get us part of the way there, but we also need to learn how to learn.
  • We showed people some really clever techniques that they can use to learn better and remember that information for longer.
  • What you have to do is show them what they can change their mind to, show them how they can accept your new evidence while also retaining a large part of their previous belief.
  • In order to improve everyday thinking, we need to be more analytic, as we said.

Episode 12 – Change the World > Improve your everyday thinking > Improve your everyday thinking

  • Over the last year, we’ve traveled right across the planet to talk to some of the best people in the world about the science of everyday thinking.
  • They’d never been asked their advice for how people can improve their everyday thinking, so we asked them.
  • Rather than thinking of your memory as some sort of box or tape that the more you have in it or on it, the less room you have -actually, memory storage creates capacity for additional storage.
  • The more knowledge you have in some domain, the more ways there are to link things up and hook things up.
  • The best way to think about, “Will I be able to do something well in the future,” is to simulate it in the present.
  • One is to recognize that we know much less than we think we know.
  • People who think they’ve got everything figured out are almost always wrong.
  • That’s the message that I would always leave people with.
  • I mean, do not expect that you can generally increase the quality of your thinking because I think you really cannot.
  • Do not just read things that make you happy because people agree with you.
  • It helps take something that might be just a random pile of data typed on papers, laying on the table, and turns it into something that is real because internalizing it means that you bring it into your head. People make all kinds of errors because they can’t think statistically.
  • I mean, 28 people took a weight loss program, and nearly all of them lost weight.
  • The message is: when we’re doing one of the tasks that we know that people have difficulty with or are subject to particular biases, just take a little time, reconsider it.
  • I mean, I’d like to think that in general, thinking about the fact that you can test things yourselves and asking questions about that, that that applies to anything in life, and so even just the realization, “Can I ask a question about this,” and, “How would I test this if I wanted to find out?” I think it applies to anything.
  • The kind of advice that I give people about making better decisions is to be careful about what information you allow yourself to consider.
  • Part of what it is, if you’re thinking about, say, Danny Kahneman’s recent book on thinking fast and slow, there are certain situations you see outlines where the thinking fast really gets you into trouble, but it also in many, many situations where it gets you out of trouble, where thinking slow would not.
  • To be honest, I think actually what helps you more is common sense.
  • Lots of the time, people cling to their hopes, and their wishes, and their dreams.
  • They think that without putting much effort in, these things will somehow come true.
  • In terms of every day thinking, I would say you’ve got to put the time in.

Episode 12 – Change the World > Make it happen > Make it happen

  • Right from the beginning of Think101, we’ve given you example after example of how difficult it is for you, for us, to make sense of the world.
  • In order to make sense of the world, we have to rely on simplified models or heuristics we’ve talked about before.
  • We’re completely at the whim of the media when it comes to shaping how common or how risky we think things are.
  • We tend to pigeonhole people, depending on how similar they are to our stereotypes.
  • You now have a better understanding of how the mind works than most judges, lawyers, politicians and even most scientists.
  • How can you increase rationality in the world? What can you do in your life, in your job, to convince people to slow down, to consider the evidence? The next time you see a claim that strikes you as dodgy or strange, or the next time you or a friend are complaining about something, ask yourself, respond with, “Okay, what are we going to do about it?” Does your company use personality tests or interviews? What are you going to do about it? How do you convince your child to read? How do you convince a classroom full of children to read? How do you increase the literacy rates of your entire country? If there’s a change that you want to see, what are you going to do to make it happen? Throughout the course, we’ve given you the tools to be able to change the world.

Episode 12 – What are you going to do about it? > How to change the world > How to change the world

  • This idea of changing the world might seem like it’s really idealistic or lofty, but it’s not as difficult as people might think.
  • I think it’s important for people to recognise exactly what this looks like.
  • Now his Change the World project is to convince his boss to allow him to teach evidence-based learning strategies, like we covered in episode 5 Learning to Learn, to give students a head start in moving towards university.
  • Lincoln is doing a cool project as well on scapegoating, blaming someone or some group for something that might have happened, but he is actually flipping it on it on its head. He’s looking at systems like climate change or the global financial crisis that don’t have agency; they don’t have a face, so when you’re trying to motivate people to do something about climate change, it’s hard to do because there’s nobody that you can point to, nothing that you can actually direct your attention toward.
  • He’s trying to figure out what you can do to change these agentless systems into something with an agent to motivate change.
  • She works at a pharmacy, and they hire a full-time naturopath, but she wants to give people, her customers, the tools to make evidence-based decisions for themselves.
  • She’s come up with an idea to print these business cards that have a whole bunch of websites and tools that we discussed in previous episodes, like The Cochrane Library, to give people the tools to take control of their own decisions, to look at the evidence for treatments and drugs and decide for themselves what’s going to work.
  • The 200 people in the class are doing some really cool things, like creating infographics, or launching Facebook or social media campaigns.
  • What we want the people to do in this class, in Think 101, is the same thing- instead of getting angry or feeling like you have no control, taking a little bit of time and doing a bit of research and figuring out what you’re going to do about it and then sharing that with us.
  • After the course is finished, we have three weeks for people to change the world, and then we want them to show us, to record a video, no longer than three minutes, and share with everybody exactly what they’ve done.
  • Once people have done this, we want them to actually upload their video.
  • The exciting thing about this is hopefully we’re going to have hundreds, maybe even thousands, of submissions of people just spending three minutes to tell us, to show us, how they’ve changed the world.

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