This is a podcast aimed at better understanding other people, and better understanding ourselves. 

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I’m Zach Elwood. For my podcast, I talk to people from a wide range of professions and backgrounds about their understanding of human behavior and psychology. Some episode compilations you might enjoy:

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About me

I’m most known for my work on poker tells (aka, poker behavior). My first poker tells book, Reading Poker Tells, has been translated into eight languages. I’m also known for my work on political polarization (for example, my book Defusing American Anger). My independent research on deceptive online activity has been featured in NY Times, Washington Post, Buzzfeed, and more.

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Episode deep Dives

Deep dives include summaries, transcripts, source and resource links, and listening options.

What’s the best strategy for reducing polarization: changing the system or culture?, with David Foster

A talk with David Foster, who writes about polarization and media at knowthesystem.org and is the author of “Moderates of the World Unite!: Reworking the Political Media Complex.” Topics discussed include: the optimal approach for reducing toxic political polarization (cultural change vs systemic changes); defining the word ‘moderate’ and examining some of the negative connotations…

On social power, the oppressed/oppressor framework, and empathy, with Elizaveta Friesem

Elizaveta Friesem writes about media, communication, and social power (i.e., the concept of power that characterizes people and their relationships). I first interviewed her about media and polarization in 2021; we talked about her book Media Is Us: Understanding Communication and Moving Beyond Blame. Topics we discuss here include: Michel Foucault’s ideas about power (often…

What’s it like living without a belief in free will?, with physicist Daniel Whiteson

A talk with Daniel Whiteson, a professor of physics and astronomy about free will. Daniel is also the co-author of “We Have No Idea,” about the many unknowns remaining in physics, and the co-host of the podcast Daniel and Jorge Explain The Universe.  Our talk focuses on something I think isn’t often discussed: what are the…

The news is polarizing us. Can Tangle News help?

A talk with journalist Isaac Saul, founder of Tangle News (readtangle.com), which shares takes on current events from across the political spectrum and which I think is great, from a depolarization perspective. Here’s what Isaac said about why he started Tangle: “I started Tangle because I recognized that the news industry was broken. My work…

The allure of deciphering behavior, with Rounders screenwriter Brian Koppelman

A talk with screenwriter/producer Brian Koppelman, known for many movies and TV shows, including the poker movie Rounders, the show Billions, and the series Super Pumped: The Battle For Uber. He’s also the host of the podcast The Moment. We talk about: his initial interest in poker; how they got the idea for Rounders; poker…

How a pro poker player reads tells, with Dara O’Kearney

A talk with professional poker player Dara O’Kearney on the subject of poker tells (aka, behavioral patterns in poker). Dara is the co-host of The Chip Race, one of the most popular poker podcasts, and the author of several books, including GTO Poker Simplified. We talk about: the importance of poker tells compared to strategy; how Dara’s…

Tips on interrogating people for information and confessions, with David Zulawski

A talk with David Zulawski, who’s an expert in interrogation and interview techniques, the cofounder of Wicklander Zulawski and Associates, and the author of Practical Aspects of Interview and Interrogation. Topics discussed include: Why is the non-confrontational, rapport-focused technique he recommends the best one? Why is it important to downplay the significance of a crime?…

Analyzing behavior and motivations in the Robbi Jade Lew poker hand, with Yakov Hirsch

This is a talk with professional poker player Yakov Hirsch about the well known high-stakes poker incident where amateur Robbi Jade Lew was accused of cheating by professional player Garrett Adelstein. We give our takes on the hand, and the overall situation, and we talk about Robbi’s possible motivations and thought processes during this hand,…

“You want me to have cognitive empathy for Trump?!”: a talk with Yakov Hirsch

A talk about trying to understand Trump’s anger at the liberal-leaning news media and how that relates to American polarization. This is from a video talk I had with Yakov Hirsch (twitter.com/yakovhirsch) in November of 2023 (the first part of this talk is here). A transcript is below. Other topics discussed include: Trump-Russia media coverage;…