Self Delusion Armour

The recommendation here is primarily for the You Are Not So Smart podcast ( by David McRaney. Each episode is between 30min and an hour and is usually a discussion or interview with someone who has written something interesting explaining how we delude and sabotage ourselves.

It is too easy and tempting to think of ourselves as rational people making rational decisions, even more so now as we use computers and mechanical devices more and more. Listening to this podcast though, you start to realise all the ways in which your supposedly rational thoughts are influenced. I think it was Descartes but it may have been someone else entirely (even perhaps a fictional character) who talked about how pain and other bodily sensations can override all thoughts – McRaney shows how delusions can be created much more subtley.

For example, research has shown that for the greatest happiness we should spend money on experiences rather than on things. Research has also shown that most people agree with this statement, but go on to spend money on objects rather than experiences. Why do we sabotage ourselves like this?

Listening to this podcast is a good way to protect ourselves from these acts of sabotage and self-delusion. Better understanding how we think, knowing for example that our ego is subject to depletion, allows us to manage these problems more effectively and think better.

The topics covered here are similar to Daniel Kahneman’s classic Thinking Fast and Slow but it’s easier for me to listen to a podcast as I cycle to work. McRaney is a good presenter as well, with a clear voice that doesn’t get irritating and clearly a genuine interest in the people he interviews.

I listen to podcasts using the Podcast Addict app. There might be better apps available but this one is free and works well for me.