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272: Hidden Motives for Why We Lie to Ourselves and Others with Robin Hanson, Author of The Elephant in the Brain

By December 16, 2022February 2nd, 2023No Comments

No one wants to be called a liar, but what if I told you that you, and all of us, lie to each other and ourselves all the time?

Before you argue with me, “But Melissa, I pride myself on my honesty…” Well, that might be true, but here’s the thing: it’s not a conscious process.

We’ve heard the expression “the elephant in the room.” You know, the big things that no one talks about. Well, the elephant in the brain is our own human selfishness.

We are basically political animals and schemers that are constantly looking out for number one without even knowing that we’re doing it.

But get this: We don’t only constantly deceive others. In order to better deceive others, we also deceive ourselves.

So if we’re lying to ourselves, why would we even want to learn this information? Aren’t we just opening pandora’s box?

Kind of. But here’s a little secret, You automatically have an edge in the game if you know how the game works.

So that’s what we’re talking about today.

Our guest is Robin Hanson. He is an Associate Professor of Economics and received his Ph.D in 1997 in social sciences from Caltech. And he’s also the author of one of the top best sellers in the last decade, “The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.”

We Will Learn

  • Why it is hard for us to think clearly about our nature and the explanations for our behavior.
  • The 4 strands of research that all led to the same conclusion: that we are strangers to ourselves.
  • How to better read signals to understand other people’s hidden motives.


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