Ted Radio Hour

Our amazing brain performs harmonious functions and peculiar actions that might seem counter-intuitive. What tricks make us think it's okay to cheat or steal? Are we in control of our own decisions? Why do our brains misjudge what will make us happy?

HOST: Alison Stewart

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely studies the bugs in our moral code: the hidden reasons we think it's OK to cheat or steal (sometimes). Clever studies help make his point: we're predictably irrational and can be influenced in ways we can't grasp.

Why do we like an original painting more than a forgery? Paul Bloom argues that humans are essentialists: that our beliefs about the history of an object change how we experience it, not just as an illusion, but a deep feature of what pleasure (and pain) is. Also, Amir Bar-Lev, director of the documentary, "My Kid Could Paint That," offers his thoughts on the meaning of story and art.

Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the idea that we'll be miserable if we don't get what we want. Our "psychological immune system" lets us feel truly happy even when things don't go as planned.


Dan Ariely, Paul Bloom, and Dan Gilbert.

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