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UU Humanist and Non-theist Weekly Discussion Group

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THE ELEPHANT IN THE BRAIN

Dr. Robin Hanson

April 18
12:30-2:00
Fireside Room

Human beings are primates, and primates are political animals. Our brains were designed not just to gather and hunt, but also to get ahead socially. Dr. Robin Hanson argues in his book, The Elephant In The Brain: Hidden Motives In Everyday Life, that our conscious mind is not the king of our mind, it is the press secretary. Its job is not to know why you actually do things. It is to tell nice stories about your motives which is why you are often quite wrong about your main reasons for doing things. These reasons are more selfish and image-focused than the ones you emphasize. Understanding them can dramatically change how we view familiar social behaviors, including body language, laughter, conversation, consumption, art, charity, school, medicine, religion, and politics. Acknowledging our hidden motives can upend the usual policy debates on these topics.

Dr. Hanson is associate professor of economics at George Mason University, and research associate at the Future of Humanity Institute of Oxford University. He has a doctorate in social science from California Institute of Technology, master's degrees in physics and philosophy from the University of Chicago, and nine years experience as a research programmer, at Lockheed and NAS. His books The Age of Em: Work, Love and Life When Robots Rule the Earth in (June 2016) , and The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life, co-authored with Kevin Simler, (January 2018). His blog OvercomingBias.com has had eight million visits.
Sandwiches will be available for purchase. Everyone is welcome.

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