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Summary

Steven Pinker's 12-part guide to thinking better

Cognitive scientist Professor Steven Pinker has spent his life thinking about thinking, and now he wants us to join him. With the aid of his critical thinking toolkit, he hopes to help us make smarter choices, become more rational, gain a greater understanding of the confused world we live in—and maybe even become better citizens.

In this fascinating series, produced in partnership with the Open University, he examines the different ways the human brain can be tripped up, from understanding probability to the difference between correlation and causation. Joined by an array of other prominent thinkers, he explores such diverse subjects as whether formulas can predict how well an athlete will perform, why it's dangerous to see patterns in the randomness of everyday experience and why so many of us believe in conspiracy theories.

He also considers the life and death choices made by judges and juries, ponders whether some thoughts are too evil to think, asks why making future predictions can be hard, and wonders: should we eat, drink and be merry, or make sacrifices now to benefit our future selves? And what can the game 'Rock, Paper, Scissors' teach us about preventing a climate catastrophe? In addition, he and his fellow experts discuss how we can stop the news distorting our understanding of the world—and why getting it right might mean admitting you're wrong....

Among his special guests are Tim Harford, presenter of BBC Radio 4's More or Less; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Siddartha Mukherjee; Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Professor Hannah Fry, co-presenter of Radio 4's popular science show The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry, Daniel Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics; and one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th Century, Elizabeth Loftus.

Production credits

Presented by Steven Pinker

Produced by Imogen Walford and Joe Kent

Edited by Emma Rippon

Think with Pinker is produced in partnership with The Open University

Episode 1: Think twice

Featuring: Sig Mejdal and Professor Ellen Peters

Episode 2: Methinks it is a weasel

Featuring: Charlie Munger and Tim Harford 

Episode 3: In touch with reality

Featuring: Jonathan Rauch and Ellen Cushing 

Episode 4: Don't expect a zebra

Featuring: Talithia Williams and Siddartha Mukherjee

Episode 5: You can't think that!

Featuring: Philip Tetlock and Sally Satel

Episode 6: Future you

Featuring: Dr Maria Kournikova and Bina Venkataraman

Episode 7: The climate game

Featuring: Bill Gates and Professor Hannah Fry

Episode 8: Rational soothsaying

Featuring: Barbara Mellers and Thomas Friedman

Episode 9: Nudges and noise

Featuring: Daniel Kahneman and Robyn Scott

Episode 10: Sentence first, verdict afterwards

Featuring: Judge Nancy Gertner and Elizabeth Loftus

Episode 11: Headlines and trendlines

Featuring: James Harding and Anna Rosling Rutland

Episode 12: Being right

Featuring: Julia Galef and Daniel Willingham

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 18 November 2021-3 February 2022

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic reviews

"A paean to human potential." (The Telegraph

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