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Ep222 - Mixed Mental Arts: The Power Paradox

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Mixed Mental Arts

Mixed Mental Arts

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Awww, yeah! Dacher Keltner is back, ladies and gents, and we're going to talk all about power, which seems like a really relevant topic after the election of Donald Trump. Here in California (or as my grandfather describes it the land of fruits and nuts) there's a lot of fear about Donald Trump abusing power. However, Mixed Mental Artists don't just buy into the narratives of one culture, they roam across cultures so other people can help them see the logs in their own eye…and so there's another type of abuse of power at work that it's awful hard for liberals to see: the abuse of intellectual power. A long time ago, Lord Acton said "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Dacher has studied this phenomenon experimentally and improved on that understanding finding that power makes people more impulsive and less empathetic. In one of the all-time great experiments of human psychology, Dacher and his colleagues watched cars at an intersection and recorded which makes and models stopped for pedestrians and which zoomed through. Guess who was super impulsive and less empathetic? People driving luxury cars. And this is why I drive a dinged up 2005 Ford Escape. It's because I want to keep my empathy super high. :) And because this problem of power affects all people it has led to the intellectual abuse of power by experts. In this episode, Dacher and Hunter talk about the intellectual abuse of power by Hunter's old boss, Jim Watson, co-discoverer of the Double Helix of DNA. There is, however, much more than that and I [Hunter] am pulling back the curtain on all of it. I'm going full Toto so you can see that there are no Wizards just a man pulling some levers. You can read about those abuses of power in economics and how my own tribe of scientists helped undermine American democracy by damaging your faith in your intelligence. There are emotionally difficult conversations ahead for all of us and it's time we had them.

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