How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane: Matthew Hutson LIVE on Big Think

What is so special about touching a piano John Lennon once owned? Why do we yell at our laptops? What drove the Yankees to dig up the Red Sox jersey secretly buried beneath their new stadium? And what's up with the phrase "Everything happens for a reason"?


Matthew Hutson, author of The Seven Laws of Magical Thinking: How Irrational Beliefs Keep Us Happy, Healthy, and Sane, argues that superstition has been so evolutionarily advantageous to our species that our brains are hardwired to persist in irrational beliefs against all evidence to the contrary. 

Here he talks with Big Think's Jason Gots about crazy cat ladies, Siri, and the Beanie Baby he slept with for eight years. 

Produced by Jonathan Fowler and Elizabeth Rodd

Interview by Jason Gots

Why a federal judge ordered White House to restore Jim Acosta's press badge

A federal judge ruled that the Trump administration likely violated the reporter's Fifth Amendment rights when it stripped his press credentials earlier this month.

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 16: CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta (R) returns to the White House with CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist after Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly ordered the White House to reinstate his press pass November 16, 2018 in Washington, DC. CNN has filed a lawsuit against the White House after Acosta's press pass was revoked after a dispute involving a news conference last week. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Acosta will be allowed to return to the White House on Friday.
  • The judge described the ruling as narrow, and didn't rule one way or the other on violations of the First Amendment.
  • The case is still open, and the administration may choose to appeal the ruling.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Scientists just voted to change the definition of a kilogram

The definition of a kilogram will now be fixed to Planck's constant, a fundamental part of quantum physics.

Greg L via Wikipedia
Surprising Science
  • The new definition of a kilogram is based on a physical constant in quantum physics.
  • Unlike the current definition of a kilogram, this measurement will never change.
  • Scientists also voted to update the definitions of several other measurements in physics.
Keep reading Show less