Our Stone-Age Brains, with Maren Urner

We have stone-age brains, which last evolved many thousands of years ago, and are no longer suited to the challenges of the 21st Century. Maren Urner joins Turi to look at how that mismatch damages our societies, and suggests how we might hack our least helpful mental habits.

S2 E29: Our Stone-Age Brains

“We have mental mechanisms that have been there since the Stone Age and no longer function in this environment”

Short-term thinking, lazy reasoning and stereotyping, and too much focus on what’s bad (the ‘negativity bias’)… all are throw-backs to our last major evolutionary stage, when humans lived in a world of scarcity, danger and intense tribal fighting.

In today’s more clement environment where resources are plentiful and the likelihood of being murdered minimal, those mental models no longer apply. In fact, over-reliance on those outmoded forms of thinking risk bringing us back to an age of conflict.

“We can either change by design or change by disaster. I prefer the former.”

Listen to Maren make the case for embodied thinking, and explain how a new approach to conversation can change the way we engage socially and politically:

  • The 3 Principles of Dynamic Thinking
  • Why we must always ask ‘What for’
  • How to redefine groups
  • Switching our focus from the individual to the collective
  • Constructive Journalism
  • Why thinking is embodied
  • The pseudo-dichotomy of rational vs emotional decision-making
  • The danger of habits

Prof. Maren Urner

Maren Urner is a neuroscientist, professor of media psychology, and the best-selling author of Raus aus der Erwigen Dauerkrise. She is also the founder of Perspective Daily, a German-language online magazine for constructive journalism.

On Opinion is a member of The Democracy Group, a network of podcasts that examines what’s broken in our democracy and how we can work together to fix it.

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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 31 Aug 2022 at 17:05 UTC