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Episode 51: Debate with Harish Natarajan, Dan Zafrir, & Noa Ovadia

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This episode follows up on the previous episode of Opinion Science about IBM’s Project Debater. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out that episode. But this week we hear more from Harish Natarajan, Dan Zafrir, and Noa Ovadia–three accomplished debaters. They’ll share how they got into debate, what debate means to them, and why the exercise of debate is so important...

Episode 50: To Persuade is Human?

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In 2019, IBM introduced the world to Project Debater: an AI system that could go up against humans to debate anything. In this episode, we trace Project Debater’s growth from just an idea to a fully fledged piece of technology and the public debates it’s engaged in. And it raises a bigger question: is persuasion a fundamentally human ability or is it really something that machines are...

Episode 49: Inoculating Against Persuasion with Josh Compton

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Josh Compton studies how “inoculating” people against persuasion can make them more resistant to arguments they encounter later. Dr. Compton is an associate professor of speech at Dartmouth and has written a lot about “inoculation theory,” which began (as a theory) back in the 60s with the work of William McGuire. We talk about lots of inoculation theory’s many extensions and applications...

Episode 48: “Selling” Social Science with Daniel Pink

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Daniel Pink is a bestselling author who uses social science research to explore big questions about what it means to be human. He’s written six books, and a new one comes out in February—The Power of Regret. You can also check out his Masterclass on sales and persuasion. In our conversation, Dan gives a look into his writing process. How does he go from an idea for a book...

Episode 47: Moral Foundations & Political Opinion with Jesse Graham

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Jesse Graham studies human morality and what it means for our political opinions. He’s an Associate Professor of Management at the Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. As a graduate student with Jonathan Haidt, he helped develop Moral Foundations Theory (MFT), which has gone on to be a massively influential theory of morality and how it develops. One of Jesse’s key insights was...

Episode 46: Polling 101 with Ashley Amaya

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Dr. Ashley Amaya is a senior survey methodologist at Pew Research Center. She has a PhD in Survey Methodology and is an expert when it comes to polling the country’s opinions. Our conversation highlights how the simple polling numbers you see on the news are the results of months—sometimes years—of work. Dr. Amaya shares how Pew recruits and maintains high-quality samples of survey...

Portraits: “Just Because You Asked” (Vanessa Bohns)

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In a new occasional series on Opinion Science, Portraits gives a snapshot of insights in social science. This week, Dr. Vanessa Bohns shows us how we’re more influential than we give ourselves credit for. Vanessa’s new book is You Have More Influence Than You Think. It’s available September 7th. To hear the full conversation I had with Vanessa, go...

Episode 45: How Kids Judge with Larisa Heiphetz

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Larisa Heiphetz studies how kids think about religion and morality. She’s an assistant professor of psychology at Columbia University where she runs the Columbia Social and Moral Cognition Lab. As a new dad, I’ve been thinking about how young kids form opinions—do they even form opinions at all? So I was curious to talk with Larisa about her work on how kids make different kinds of...

Episode 44: The Contact Hypothesis

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How can we make the world less prejudiced? Research from the social sciences hints at a promising solution. This week, we do a deep dive on “The Contact Hypothesis”: what it is, how we know it works, and what its limits are. We hear from four experts in this area whose research sheds light on the question: Tom Pettigrew, emeritus professor of psychology at University of California, Santa...

Episode 43: Values with Greg Maio

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Greg Maio studies human values. He’s a professor of psychology at the University of Bath in Wales. He also co-wrote the popular textbook, The Psychology of Attitudes and Attitude Change, and in 2016, his own book came out called The Psychology of Human Values. In our conversation, he shares his work on what values are and why they’re so important. We talk about when values...

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