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This is a podcast aimed at better understanding other people and better understanding ourselves. It’s hosted by me, Zachary Elwood. I talk to people from a wide variety of fields, from jury consultants to interrogation experts to relationship researchers to door-to-door salesmen to restaurant managers.

I sometimes tackle political polarization-related topics because I see extreme polarization as the biggest problem facing the world. To avoid worst-case scenarios, we need more people thinking about the core psychological tendencies that drive our divides. See all my politics-related episodes.

Apart from this podcast, I’m known for my poker tells work. I’ve also done some writing on political and cultural topics. I’m on Twitter. I make no money on this podcast. If you want to show your appreciation, please leave me a rating on iTunes, or gift 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.

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…

Understanding behavior and psychology as a drummer, with Ben Tyler

A conversation with Ben Tyler, professional musician, about how understanding behavior and psychology have played a role in his musical career. Ben’s own music project is called Small Skies (Twitter: @smallskies), and he has worked and toured with many other bands. Specific topics include: what cues and signals from other musicians is he making use…

Why are we drawn to the past?, with Jannine Lasaleta

A talk with Jannine Lasaleta, who’s done research on the effects of nostalgia. Her research has shown how nostalgia makes us more loose and carefree with money. We talk about why nostalgia is such a positive and attractive feeling for humans: how it can be a way for us to build meaning, establish consistency of…

Is paying so much attention to politics hurting us societally and emotionally?, with Chris Freiman

If you pay a lot of attention to politics, but doing so makes you miserable, this might be one you want to listen to. I talk with Christopher Freiman (Twitter @cafreiman), political philosopher and author of the book Why It’s OK to Ignore Politics. For many people, voting and paying attention to politics is a…