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

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I’m Zach Elwood. I talk to people from a wide range of professions and backgrounds about their views on behavior and psychology. Some episode compilations you might like:

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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.

The allure of deciphering behavior, with Rounders creator 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;…

The overstatement of antisemitism, and the importance of understanding even our enemies, with Yakov Hirsch

A second talk with Yakov Hirsch, who writes about the Middle East conflict and about “Hasbara culture”: what he sees as the tendency of some Israel-defending people to be overly antagonistic and us-vs-them in their thinking (for example, unfairly framing criticism of Israel as “antisemitic”). If you haven’t heard our first talk, I recommend listening…

Studying pessimistic “need for chaos” views, with Kevin Arceneaux

A talk with Kevin Arceneaux, whose research found that a surprising number of people (around 40%) either agreed with or did not disagree with statements like “When I think about our political and social institutions, I cannot help thinking ‘just let them all burn’?” In their paper, they called this a “need for chaos.” We…

Behavioral tells in football, baseball, and other sports, with Jon Hoefling

A talk with Jon Michael Hoefling, a sports analyst, about reading behavioral tells and indicators in football, baseball, tennis, and other sports. We focus on a 2021 story that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a tell: how he positioned his foot before a play was a strong indicator of whether he’d run or pass. We also…

Understanding and dealing with debilitating anxiety, with Scott Stossel

A reshare of a 2021 episode where I talked with Scott Stossel, author of “My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind.” (Scott is also national editor of The Atlantic.) Scott’s book is a history of the condition and treatment of anxiety, and also a personal history in which…