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This is a podcast about understanding other people and understanding ourselves, hosted by me, Zachary Elwood. I interview people from a wide variety of fields, from jury consultants to interrogation experts to forensic linguistic analysts to relationship researchers to door-to-door salesmen to restaurant managers.

I’ve done many interviews about political issues, focused on the psychology of political polarization. I see extreme polarization as the biggest problem facing modern societies, and I think to avoid worst-case scenarios we need more people understanding the psychological reasons behind our divides. See all my politics-related episodes.

My main claim to fame is my poker tells work. I’ve also done some research and writing on political and communication topics. I’m on Twitter. I make no money on this podcast. If you want to show your appreciation (and encourage me to keep going), please leave me a rating on iTunes, or throw me some money on Patreon.

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Episodes

This section displays episode summaries. To see some popular episodes or see all episodes in a single list, keep scrolling down.

Conversation analysis and persuasive language, with Liz Stokoe

A talk with Elizabeth Stokoe (twitter: @lizstokoe), who researches and writes about conversation analysis, and who is the author of the book ‘Talk: The Science of Conversation.’ This is my second talk about CA (see my talk with Saul Albert). Transcript included, below. Topics include: What are some of the most useful things Stokoe has…

How many Trump supporters really believe the election was rigged?, with Tom Pepinsky

A talk with political scientist Thomas Pepinsky (tompepinsky.com) about how many Trump supporters really, actually believe the 2020 election was illegitimate or rigged, and what might America be like if Trump had succeeded in overturning the election. (Transcript included, below.) Other topics discussed include: What can we deduce from U.S. surveys that show high distrust…

Inherent aspects of social media that amplify divides and bad thinking

A reading of a piece I wrote called ‘How social media divides us.’ I recommend the written piece over the podcast version. Much of the mainstream focus on how social media may be amplifying our divides has been on product features (e.g., content recommendation algorithms, or reaction emoji choices). This piece examines the idea that…

Artificial intelligence & the nature of consciousness, with Hod Lipson

Hod Lipson (hodlipson.com) is a roboticist who works in the areas of artificial intelligence and digital manufacturing. I talk to Hod about the nature of self-awareness. Topics discussed include: how close we are to self-conscious machines; what he views as likely building strategies that will yield self-aware machines; what it takes for something to be…

Does video surveillance decrease crime?, with Eric Piza

A talk with crime researcher Eric Piza (site: ericpiza.net, twitter: @pizaeric) about how the ability to record people’s actions (e.g., video surveillance, personal cameras) has affected people’s willingness to commit crimes. Topics discussed include: what research tells us about video surveillance and crime reduction; what factors make the presence of video surveillance more likely to…

Rittenhouse verdict reactions and political polarization

In this episode, I give some thoughts on the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict and how some of the anger and emotion around that is caused by political us-vs-them polarization. If you’re someone who has a lot of emotion and anger about the verdict, and you’re someone who wants America to heal, I think you should give…

Conversation analysis and ethnomethodology, with Saul Albert

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I talk to sociology researcher Saul Albert (twitter @saul, website: saulalbert.net) about conversation analysis: the scientific analysis of how humans talk to each other. Topics discussed include: what conversation analysis (CA) is and how it’s done; some interesting CA findings described in Elizabeth Stokoe’s book…

Tracking humans and animals, aka “sign cutting,” with Rob Speiden

In this episode of the People Who Read People podcast, I talk to Rob Speiden (trackingschool.com), who’s an expert in “sign cutting,” which is the tracking of humans or animals over land using clues of physical disturbance. Rob teaches tracking and his site is at www.trackingschool.com. He wrote, along with Greg Fuller, a respected textbook…

What does research say about social media effects on polarization?, with Emily Kubin

A talk with researcher Emily Kubin (twitter: @emily_kubin) about her and Christian von Sikorski’s recent study reviewing more than 100 studies on how social media may be affecting political polarization. Their paper is called “The role of (social) media in political polarization: a systematic review.” We discuss her research, why polarization is a problem in…