Podcast | Training your brain to fight misinformation and partisanship

Jacob Ward, host of 'Hacking Your Mind,' tells us why humans are so easily manipulated by corporations and politicians, and what we can do about it.

Two men arguing at a rally

Supporters of President Donald Trump and protesters interact with each other in Philadelphia, Sept. 15, 2020. (Michael Perez/AP)

Humanity is facing some daunting challenges right now. The pandemic, massive wildfires, civil unrest and economic uncertainty all threaten the livelihoods of billions on a daily basis. Such challenges demand a rational, thoughtful response. Yet that doesn't appear to be what's happening. 

Public health recommendations from experts are discarded along with possible responses to climate change that are supported by science. Meanwhile, social problems that demand considered contemplation and collective action serve as fuel for political partisans. Instead of coming together to battle a crisis, people are more divided than ever.

At fault, says journalist Jacob Ward, is our own evolutionary biology. As detailed in Hacking Your Mind, a new PBS series hosted by the former editor in chief of Popular Science, the attributes of the human mind that helped humanity survive in prehistoric times may be putting it at risk in modern times.

This week on Crosscut Talks, Ward discusses the reasons humans are so susceptible to misinformation and manipulation, the role that social media plays in amplifying our worst tendencies and what can be done to fight this biological reality.

Plus, Crosscut reporter Margo Vansynghel tells us what restaurant workers really think about going back to work.