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The Sensemaking Podcast

More and more people are recognizing the world seems to be making less and less sense, and feeling hopeless as a result. What many don’t realize is that the cognitive sciences give us real answers for what is happening right now, and clear steps for what we can do to address it. This is a podcast dedicated to the science and practice of sensemaking. We’ll explore how it can be applied to improve our lives, our psychological well-being, make sense of the world around us, and create a world that makes sense.

Episodes

Show Notes
Summary
In this episode we continue looking at ways in which your ability to do sensemaking is being hijacked. We’ll focus on how the stories we have been told about our brain naturally lead us to not trust it to do sensemaking, and how the recent revolution in the cognitive sciences has revealed how the foundational experiments these stories were based on were wrongly interpreted - giving our brain a ‘bad rap’.
It's as if our brain was convicted of a crime it didn’t commit, and now the new evidence is in. In this episode we explore what that evidence is and make the argument for how your brain can be fully trusted to do sensemaking.
References:
  • Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological review, 84(3), 231.
  • White, P. A. (1988). Knowing more about what we can tell:‘Introspective access' and causal report accuracy 10 years later. British Journal of Psychology, 79(1), 13-45.
  • Newell, B. R., & Shanks, D. R. (2014). Unconscious influences on decision making: A critical review. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 37(01), 1-19.
  • Gigerenzer, G. (1991). How to make cognitive illusions disappear: Beyond “heuristics and biases”. European review of social psychology, 2(1), 83-115.
  • Shaw, J., & Porter, S. (2015). Constructing rich false memories of committing crime. Psychological science, 26(3), 291-301.
  • Beck, A. T. (1976). Cognitive therapy and the emotional disorders. New York: Meridian.
  • Kross, E., Gard, D., Deldin, P., Clifton, J., & Ayduk, O. (2012). “Asking why” from a distance: Its cognitive and emotional consequences for people with major depressive disorder. Journal of abnormal psychology, 121(3), 559.
  • Klimesch, W. (2013). The structure of long-term memory: A connectivity model of semantic processing. Psychology Press.
  • Weizenbaum, J. (1976) Computer Power and Human Reason, from Judgment to Calculation, W.H. Feeman and Company.
  • O'Neil, C. (2016). Weapons of math destruction: How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy. Crown Publishing Group (NY).
  • Duncan, B. L., Miller, S. D., & Sparks, J. A. (2011). The heroic client: A revolutionary way to improve effectiveness through client-directed, outcome-informed therapy. John Wiley & Sons.
Music Liscense
"Uniq - Japan" is under a Royalty Free license. Photo of the license: http://bit.ly/2sTETUQMusic promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/MAiHpRUbc0k
Show Notes
Summary
In this episode I sit down with Jill to talk about how we are living in a Data is King world. Meaning that when we are looking for truth, knowledge, or understanding, we dismiss the need to look for, learn, and apply known mechanisms for how the world works, and instead we have an erroneous belief that we can arrive at truth, knowledge, and understanding of just about anything simply by ‘looking at the data’ - that truth, knowledge, and understanding can emerge from data alone, which is not true. We talk about how this widespread belief and practice creates a fundamental problem for sensemaking.
We then go on to look at how this ‘data is king’ stance has found its way into the domains people turn to when they want to do sensemaking, such as psychiatry, psychology, and meditation, and how it has shaped the nature of these practices as well as creating real barriers to engaging in sensemaking.
References:
  • https://www.madinamerica.com/author/rwhitaker/
  • https://www.rebelwisdom.co.uk/
  • Barrett, L. F., Wilson-Mendenhall, C. D., & Barsalou, L. W. (2014). A psychological construction account of emotion regulation and dysregulation: The role of situated conceptualizations. Chapter in J. J. Gross (Ed.), The Handbook of Emotion Regulation, 2nd Ed (p. 447-465). New York: Guilford.
  • Syme, K. L., & Hagen, E. H. (2020). Mental health is biological health: Why tackling “diseases of the mind” is an imperative for biological anthropology in the 21st century. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 171, 87-117.
  • Johnson-Laird, P. N., Mancini, F., & Gangemi, A. (2006). A hyper-emotion theory of psychological illnesses. Psychological review, 113(4), 822.
  • Larkings, J. S., & Brown, P. M. (2018). Do biogenetic causal beliefs reduce mental illness stigma in people with mental illness and in mental health professionals? A systematic review. International journal of mental health nursing, 27(3), 928-941.
  • Ardelt, M. (1997). Wisdom and life satisfaction in old age. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, 52(1), P15-P27.
Music Liscense
"Uniq - Japan" is under a Royalty Free license. Photo of the license: http://bit.ly/2sTETUQMusic promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/MAiHpRUbc0k
Show Notes
Summary
In this episode, I talk with Jill about:
  • All the ways we find the act of thinking problematic and our minds problematic.
  • What we know from modern cognitive science about cognitive styles that block us from making sense of things, and cognitive styles that enable us to make sense of things.
  • How many popular perspectives fail to consider that different cognitive styles can block or enable sensemaking.
  • How without consciously making an effort to switch and exercise cognitive styles that help us make sense, the unresolved issues just pile up, resulting in a ‘backlog’.
  • How signs of this backlog are linked to a wide variety of mental illness and lack of well-being and more recently are being tied to precursors of Alzheimer's disease.
References:
  • Yates, F. A. (1966). The Art of Memory Chicago, 1966.
  • Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a Cognitive Semantics (Vol. 1 & 2). MIT press.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books.
Music Liscense
"Uniq - Japan" is under a Royalty Free license. Photo of the license: http://bit.ly/2sTETUQMusic promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/MAiHpRUbc0k
Show Notes
Summary
This episode is an ‘audio essay’ that addresses the question: What would it take to ensure a system is free from limiting or biased ideologies that can distort or block people’s ability to do sensemaking? This episode explores the qualities, possibilities, and historical evidence for creating such a system.
References:
  • Yates, F. A. (1966). The Art of Memory Chicago, 1966.
  • Talmy, L. (2000). Toward a Cognitive Semantics (Vol. 1 & 2). MIT press.
  • Lakoff, G., & Johnson, M. (1999). Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought. Basic Books.
Music Liscense
"Uniq - Japan" is under a Royalty Free license. Photo of the license: http://bit.ly/2sTETUQMusic promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/MAiHpRUbc0k
Show Notes
Summary
In this episode, I talk with Jill about the sea of systems that exist out there in the personal growth and wellbeing space, and why sensemaking is fundamentally not just another system. We’ll be covering the lesser known realities of the placebo effect, what makes something snake-oil, how we use and trade maps about life, and what we would get if we learned to build our own maps for navigating life.
References:
  • Pearl, J. (2018). The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect, Basic Books
  • Moerman, D. E., & Jonas, W. B. (2002). Deconstructing the placebo effect and finding the meaning response. Annals of Internal Medicine, 136(6), 471-476.
  • Tippens, K. M., Purnell, J. Q., Gregory, W. L., Connelly, E., Hanes, D., Oken, B., & Calabrese, C. (2014). Expectancy, Self-Efficacy, and Placebo Effect of a Sham Supplement for Weight Loss in Obese Adults. Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 19(3), 181-188.
  • David Chapman on maps and what happens when systems fail.
  • Bonnitta Roy - on systems and ‘going meta’.
Music Liscense
"Uniq - Japan" is under a Royalty Free license. Photo of the license: http://bit.ly/2sTETUQMusic promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/MAiHpRUbc0k
Show Notes
Summary
In this episode, I sit down with Jill Nephew, founder of Inqwire, to talk about the giant misunderstanding society has about the mind and the brain and how this is behind why our world doesn't make sense and why it's hard to impossible make sense of our lives. We talk about how the cognitive sciences have only just recently completely changed our understanding of how the mind and the brain works, and how we now have new principles, mechanisms, skills, and practices that we can apply to the challenges of making sense of our lives and creating a world that makes sense.
References:
  • Pearl, J. (2018). The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect, Basic Books
  • Doidge, N. (2007). The brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Penguin.
  • G Fauconnier, M Turner (2003). The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending And The Mind's Hidden Complexities, Basic Books
  • Barrett, L. F. (2017). How emotions are made: The secret life of the brain. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  • Bergen, B. K. (2012). Louder than words: The new science of how the mind makes meaning. Basic Books.
  • Doidge, N. (2007). The brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Penguin.
  • Becker, A. (2018). What is real?: the unfinished quest for the meaning of quantum physics. Basic Books.
Music Liscense
"Uniq - Japan" is under a Royalty Free license. Photo of the license: http://bit.ly/2sTETUQMusic promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/MAiHpRUbc0k
Music Liscense
"Uniq - Japan" is under a Royalty Free license. Photo of the license: http://bit.ly/2sTETUQMusic promoted by BreakingCopyright: https://youtu.be/MAiHpRUbc0k