« Freakonomics Radio

168. Think Like a Child (Rebroadcast)

2015-04-30 | 🔗
When it comes to generating ideas and asking questions it can be really fruitful to have the mentality of an eight year old.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This podcast dynamically inserts audio advertisements of varying lengths for each download. As a result, the transcription time indexes may be inaccurate.
If you'd like to listen to free economic radio without ads the place to do that is sticker premium five dollars a month and you can get a free month trial by going to stick your premium dot com and use a promo code freak. You also get access. All our bonus episodes and you'll be supporting Our show too, but sticker premium dot com, promo code, freak thanks, the passengers Disesteem in Dublin and may Fifth Steve. Let at nine publishing a new book when to rob a bank and one hundred and thirty one other worked suggestions and well intended. Rather, it is, as I said, is the best book in the history of the printed word. Promise wasn't something better before Gutenberg, but well. My point is, you should probably read it so find the pause button on this podcast and go order when to rob a bank away
waiting waning leading the way you want to learn more about the book, keep up with our media appearances for the book, just gotta economics, dot com or keep up with us on Twitter, Spock we eating I'll come back now, as for today's podcast eat is called think like a child we originally for this went out last your, but given how busy your life is getting. Even if you put it back, then you will have forgotten everything about it. Next week, we back with a brand new episode and if you decide, based on the advice in our new book when to rob a bank to actually rob a bank, but its know how that worked out, we do accept, collect calls from prison and raise programme. We begin with a magic show, because if there is ever a medium, that's me
her magic, its radio right guys, like you, do in the budget his name is Alex stole out. Ok, but I thought I was only really simple. Maybe some of you seen it? May you haven't? Nemo, go from there and maybe get a little more sophisticated, more complex and the audience is kids bunch of middle schoolers from ice three eighteen in Brooklyn. Seeing this enough, but I'm just getting a handkerchief feared you wanna, do I'll check it out, make sure it's normal. Whether weird, I only blew my nose in it like just once again, with the thumb of his right hand, stone steps, a handkerchief into his left hand and then watch yeah. You ve seen this before it disappears, but then he reaches behind one kids ear and pulls out a reach out there. It is, I think I can get it I can catch it say. Did you feel that come into your ear,
Where did it come from? I dont know now they try to figure out the trick. Is anybody haven't guesses sleeve his sleeve laser rolled up? Ok, what are you guys family? Has they on his hand? He has a pocket, getting warmer. Now they get warm ass, good thinking ass. Then they get hot involves you what's your name can attract Jennifer Jennifer forgive her own. Never a round of applause, stone reaches into his right front, pants pocket check this out and pulls out a fake them. It's a fact that the funding for the most valuable tools. Imagine two thousand. You do with it and freedom obvious want. You know an area. Obviously all it was like
This isn't even disapprove out. How no one knows sometimes I'll do what I can read one, let alone I'm looking for a fake bottom right, that's how it works and then it's gone and then bring about just like that. Now we had also invited some adults to see this magic show. How well did they figure out the trick? I honestly believe theory that clearly that's wrong I wonder if they could be related to the ring at the ring totally committed to arrange for a second: that's, that's really the domicile so stupid go home, so we asked the kids why they seem to do better than the adults. I think kids could think out of the box, and maybe it doesnt more serious than kid What did he adults, who didn't have any clue cause they're focusing on the handkerchief instead of them now
this was surprising to Alex done. He seen it all before. Mrs other magicians have to. If you are a magician and your life depends on fooling an audience of adults, verses, an audience of kids, you would choose the doubts every time? There is a sense that when I kid watches a trick, they're asking a question every second the really approaching it with this sort of constant sense of curiosity and That's incentive serve, trying to understand what's going on, and I feel that there be These are just always awake when they're watching it harder than if kid tend to be more curious and more alert when it comes to magic, but about the rest of life. What about coming up with good ideas, even solving problems? Is it possible that we'd all be better off If we could think like a child,
from the w and my see this is free economics, radio, the pot cast that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host governor Steve Lever is my free economics friend and co author. We have just published our third book together thing. Like a free. They limit. What's your favorite chapter and think like a freak, so I may give you a check
this answer to that question, which is that my second favorite chapter in the book is to think like a child, does not adopt. Wouldn't answer any question by telling you what this second favorite thing it's, but that's the kind of thing that a child might do all the time, and I think that the beauty of thinking like a child and the beauty of this chapter in our book is that sometimes doing things differently and simply and with a kind of joy and triviality leads you to a really special place that, as an adult, you don't get to go to very often. However, let's talk about some of what we label the characteristics of thinking like a child, the good characteristics of thinking like a child that adults might want to smuggle to adulthood, because their productive, so thinking small. So when adopting about problem solving most of Us
kind of shy away from the little ones. Could we forget they won't look important or what not in the big ones, really need our help to talk about the power of thinking small, I think there's a temptation to try to be something special and to take on a big problem. but it's actually getting into the realm of thinking about a tiny little question that maybe you ve come here. To do in many? Want you learn the answer. Would I should tell you about a lot of other things you might be interested? Might people journalist actually obtain the best example? I can think of of my own research of thinking. Small was the research we did on the bed Oh man, the Beagle man was gaining power, felt he's a retired economists to start a business delivering beagles two different companies round Washington DC. He used an honor. system payment set up a wooden box with a slot we'd put the money in our first book for economics.
We analyzed the Beagle man's payment data and rode up the findings. What the payment rates told us about honesty as relates to the size of a company time of year Company morale things like that in another get a seminar gave the arrest of Chicago or my cause of really smart guy name is reducing ass. He came to the seminar and I said I talk to you today about this guy who sold beggars and he blurted out. This is ridiculous. What could I passed? we learn from one guy and what he does selling beggars. I said maybe you'd be surprised, bear with me and I at the end of the seminar Luigi raised his head. He said I didn't think was possible, but I actually think I learned something general from what you just
let me about the big ol man and I was actually idea of all that. I would say that ranked as one of the top ten moments I've ever had an academics are really believed. It was true that by thinking small, I had learned something from the Big ol man and that others good too something else that kids do is they will state facts or describe something? That's pretty obvious. Whereas adults we attend think that well it's obvious. It indicates that we aren't thinking very hard talk about the power of acknowledging the obvious the best examples I've seen about stating the obvious have all come in a business contacts, so I'll come in as an outside consultant, and people in the company will think I'm the academic, eminent heavies, really complicated ideas and to complex econometrics and really the biggest values that I've ever added to firms comes using the first day. I'm talking them when I know absolutely nothing, and I ask a question or make a statement which is so dumb and so on.
That no reasonable person could ever propose it and a lot of times it's because it is so obvious and people who have been doing it for so long can't they think about in a different way, and it would be embarrassing. It would be embarrassing to ask request task in a lot of times. It is embarrassing because it is such an obvious or dumb question, but every once in a while. It turns out that that obvious question is the absolute breakthrough. It's the thing that once you stepped back and look at it through the lens of Miss case, a child like ignorance, it opens you The seeing what the truth is, okay, so Levitt kid spend a little time playing and otherwise having fun adults out of duty. of necessity, spend considerably less what we most adults. What's the advantage Keeping your eye on fund or injecting fun in your work? Even for something is
a serious issue as public policy wise fund, something that under utilised or could be utilised better. Video aims are fun my son, Nick, whose eleven years old can play video game for aid. Our state could Nick work at a job say it Mcdonald's for eight hours now. So it seems to me what you take. We met its if you could make The job is fun as a video game, then you'd have all the eleven Euro boys in the world and probably the fifteen when twenty euro, maybe thirty old boys, lining up at your door. Trying to take that up, I think fun. He so much more important than people realize hand, I've seen in academics, when I interview young professors and trying to set up, we should hire them. I've evolved over time to one basic girl, if I think they love economics and it's fun for them, then I am in favour of higher in them and no matter
how tilted the team? Otherwise, if it seems like a job or effort or work, then I dont want to hire them will persuade me that they won't just be nice to have around because they love fun, but that having fun at what you do actually makes you better. or different in some way. That's positive, enjoying but you do loving. What you do is such a completely unfair advantage for anyone, you competing with who does it has a job because people who love it they go to bed at night? Thinking about the slow since they wake up in the middle of the night. My shot down the ideas they work weakens. It turns out that effort is a huge component of success and almost everything- and we know that from practice, and why not and people who love things, work and work and work Alex. It's now work it's fun, and so my strongest vice to young people trying to figure out what they want to do is ours. Tell them, try to figure out,
he loved, ok and especially something that you love that other people don't love to. Everyone wants to be a rock star. Room wants to be in the movies, but that Terrible. You don't want to compete on find some if you love ants study adds because no one knows loves ants and you have a big advantage over the people who are just staring at because they can't think of us today. Ia Wilson Crush continues yet year, Wilson, the privy to yours and was one of my mentor and caught, and indeed that's where he did he loved and more than thing, and he became the world's greatest expert on ads and he had a good a clear and not just success but joy. He got for joy. I mean that was the thing that inspired me body, a Wilson, even if he was in the seventies and eighties, he loved what he did. He loved hams,
coming up on for economics. Radio, if you're a scientist Studying the way, kids think what you learn it's exactly the opposite of what we used to think is an easy, what he did to scrap it and What else can we learn from the magic show with kid you get? This sensitive we step of the way there trying to understand and from the second they see it. They're always coming up with theories, here. Listening for economics, radio.
Economics radio sponsored by zip recruiter. Businesses have to be flexible in twenty twenty them working remotely to pivoting their business models for long term survival at one end and twenty twenty one. If you are in charge of hiring, for your business, these pivots have made your job even more challenging. Thankfully theirs one place that you can count on to make hiring easier, zip, recruiter, zip, recruiters technology, fine the right people for your job and invite it's them to apply its, no wonder that forever I've employers who post Unzip recruiter, get if quality candidate within the first day right now, you can try it recruiter for free, zip, recruiter, dot, com, slash freak, that's zip! router dot com, flashed Freak Fr Economics, radio sponsored by capital, one with no fee is or minimums on checking and savings accounts banking,
capital? One is the easiest decision in the history of decisions like choosing to listen to another episode of your favorite podcast and with their top rated app, you can deposit check transfer money anytime anywhere making capital and even easier decision. That's banking re imagine, What's in your wallet terms, apply cap but one and a member of the icy from W N Y see. This is for economics, radio, here's, your host, Stephen Governor, you will remember at the start of the show that we brought in a magician to do some tricks for kids and adults, My name is Alex Stone. That's him and I'm a journalist author of a book on magic and science called fooling Houdini.
and a lifelong magic enthusiast and performer on the scale of one to ten of magic expertise with me being a zero it's easier to ten year? Where? How good are you all? sensitive question. A lot of magicians would get angry if I, but I know that you're not that kind of magician probably somewhere in the seven point: five, it's very very good, but not not at all times not a hollow famer. I mean, but I know a lot about magic. One thing that a magician does allowed that you did a little bit today is misdirection right to talk about. and how vulnerable kids are verses. Adults yeah, you know what I find is that kids are better at paying, attention to more than one thing here. Attention is more diffuse. Adults are really focusing on one thing and ignoring purfled distractions, whereas kids a really good at sort of
getting their attention all over the place, which is a good way to learn its good when your first learning how things work for exploring the world but in magic. You really want the person to focus on one thing. You want to direct our attention to one particular thing so that those won't see what's going on in the shadowy want to seduce them so that you can trick that exactly. I think it's also that their approaching it with this curiosity- and it's just like this sponge like desire and thither, always making theories. That's the other thing I feel like. I don't feel like adults are like that. I sort of feel like they watch. and they're waiting for the punchline, and then they sort of sea it and then they we go back and think about it with kid. You get this sensitive every step of the way there trying to understand and from the second they see it. They're always coming up with theories. Oh, it was an asleep or we had a fake thing in his hand, and they come up with theories it. You know. Adults just are doing They are much more likely to be able to manipulate adult attention
and you are to be able to manipulate children. That's Alison governing I'm a professor of psychology and philosophy at the University of California in Berkeley. Gothic does not study magic. What does she said? children's mines, particularly how it is that young children can manage to learn as much as they do about the world as quickly as thinking she's, also written books about her research. The philosophical baby was one. The scientists in the crib was another gap. Nics work reinforces what the magician Alex Stone told us that children tend to see things fun mentally differently than adults. They're, not very good, as we all now at just focusing on one thing: they get distracted incredibly easily, nay notice. Anything, that's interesting, or that changes are that they might learn from in their environment and that some more subjects of managing.
When I wrote my book, I had a beautiful letter from someone who was actually his store detective, and he said one of the things that he do was he'd perch up on top of a balcony up on the top of those or floor and then he'd look at what people were doing below him and he said what would happen if you'd see bull, walking along this floor and someone would be holding the handover you're old and then the three year old would look up and we see him on the balcony and would wave and say hello and, and the adults never did, that it never even occur to the adults to look up on the balcony and see what was there can you summarize what weave learned and a little bit about how we ve learned about how children thinking, especially establishing a causal understandings yeah. Well, it's sort of easy it's exactly the up data. What we used to think of it. So people used to think children were illogical and what we ve discovered is that, even
Babies are capable of making logical deductions a really dramatic one. Is the people have thought that even annals of terribly bad and understanding probability will it turns out to be? bees and very young children. If you give them, the problem the right way are actually amazingly good at doing probabilistic inference. Let me have you one more example: the conventional wisdom has been, the children are egocentric and they can't take the perspective of other people and one of the really dramatic things we ve discovered. Is that again even hence our capable of figuring out. What's going on in someone else's mind and and figuring out how they think and feel about the world? Ok, so you have given us a number of crates that children Tibet in much larger measure than we might have thought before? What about The ways in which the old wisdom was right. What are the way,
which children really are kind of dormant or a latent version at best of what they will become yeah it's interesting. So the conventional wisdom was really that We're sort of defective grown ups, and so they were grown up his patent missing pieces with the bits that hadn't developed yet, but if you think about that from a biological or an evolutionary point of you really make a lot of sense, an alternative way that you might think about them is think if the kids ass being like that research and development, division of the human suffering and we're adults where production and marketing solved from the production and marketing perspective. It might look like the r and D guys are really not doing anything that looks very sensible use of aid. You know sit around all day in their being bag, chairs playing pong and having blue sky ideas, and we poor production and
giving people who are actually making the profits have to subsidize these guys. But of course, one of the things that we know is that that kind of blue sky, just pure research, actually pays off in the long run. So I can imagine that an adult listening to say these things would say sure that makes sense that resonates with me. I believe that children have these traits in maybe a different shape or dimension than the traits I have, but I think it's probably hard for most adults to think about the idea that there are traits that are valued as in adults that children may actually be better at than adults who so Tommy little bit about that are there are some that would fit that category. Part of the reason why we adults are really good at learning. Things quickly is because we already know a lot about the world. So when you look how animals learn the way that we typically learn. As we take all those things that we ve
ready land, and we already know- and they way really really heavily in our decision making and in the kinds of solutions that were going to consider. and maybe we have a little new evidence, but most of the time we sort of ignore at or we might just tweak a little bit what we already think do. You know mostly the way our brains are. Is there not broke, so we don't fix them, they are working. Just fine we'll does leaving the way they are an implicit, and that is that we have. The strong set of priors right prior believes that we act on and we also, I guess, imposing what you're saying is that we have a lot of heuristics. We have a lot of short cuts. It we ve learned work well enough, and so we do them always right. Exactly. Let me give you an example: in the universities, for example, its a good exam my my world, we give lectures and the origin of that or the days when there weren't printed books so that you had one manuscript envy,
the professor was reading from the manuscript, because the students didn't have books at the literal if it is literally a medieval instructional technique, but we ve been doing it for, It's an hundred year than I know what you do when you're a faculty member and the fact that You have no evidence at all. In fact, we have some evidence to the contrary, for this being a good way to get anybody learned, anything doesn't keep us from doing we mostly. We do because we ve always done it right. The students are dying of boredom exactly mighty bore, but they're not dying, and when you ask yourself the question of, why do we do it? What does even a very smart persons say? How does a very smart person answer that question for them so yeah what they say as well. We ve kind of always done it and it seems to me okay and we're good gonna doing it, and I think here's the most relevant thing. It would take so much work to triumph through all the alternatives and try them out and see which ones work and which ones doubt that would just be such an effort that, even if me
be in the long run, it would be a bit of an advantage in terms of my short run utilities and in particular just for me, it's not going to make a difference. I think the general picture you know when you talk about risks as else, when we're trying to decide on a course of action, were all his balancing the risks and utilities, whether that's a risk to my reputation or my ego or my future interactions with other people or just a risk to you, know my profit margin and kids aren't that world of or at least, if they're being taken care of properly they are not in that world of risk. And utility calculations that liberate them. That freeze them too, as we say, play, and we just take for granted yet, of course, kids play. But what play means. When you mean, when you say somewhat playing, you mean they're doing something without really having specific goal having to worry about whether it's going to be productive or not so weird,
who all these wonderful and productive, potentially at least childlike traits go? Do they magically evaporate deserve a switch and our genes that kind of clicks over at age, twenty one and we stopped thinking this way, what happens and what we're trying to you're out now is exactly the answer to that question. So one thing that could happen is just that we all the same brains, but as we accumulate more and more information- and we know that this happens- that some of the pathways gets strengthened and become more efficient and then other pathways just are what's call pruned. They just disappear, so it could.
Hey that it's just a matter of as we get to know more and become more efficient. We lose the capacity for flexibility, but it could also be that there's something about being a child about having that particular child. Like minded brain, that is the thing. That's letting you explore more n in some sense, be more creative and that there are things that we could do even as adults that put us back into that kind of state, a state, that's kind of magical. Maybe we went back to Alex Stone. What was your favorite moment of your magic show today loved how quickly they figured out the cartridge, the double lift that was just bam. Cotton. Adults. Never forget the duck. A shovel item of yours, coherent, Schopenhauer
let me give a jacket cut. This trick is called the ambitious card. Alex stone asks one kid to pick a card three times and place it back in the deck, then stone shuffles, a deck, but somehow the kids card makes it back to the top of the deck over the top card. Ok, this you're going to tell the story. And the story is that, no matter how many times you try to bury this card is kind of like a Houdini escaped told in miniature, and when and how many times you to take this card and put in the middle the deck its ambitious. That's why it's called ambitious carded always wants to pop. to the top always, and you keep doing that every time you do, it gets more and more amazing, again didn't take long for the kids to figure out the trick where they get or to come from had to happen. Here's a different card on top the ambitious card, like a lot of tricks, relies on a double lift. That's when the magician presents to cards is if there
the kids figured it out. She does busted your whole acknowledge the heck. I arrived a job they. How did I do It also had, even after having the grown ups, need more help. So I'm curious if, or observation. The kids are more perceptive when it comes to magic, has led you to come sleep try as to kind of engage or magnify any kid like traits. In your light handed on absolutely you like what name some like. I love listening to the Baku tweets specially that don't worry about it, and when I listen to that or orbed of I like a kind of classic music, that sort of multi voiced
the single Lucy's and always focus on the base, because the bases always less your less conscious of the base rate as a higher frequency notes are always the ones that the lead. Now it's like. You know when you listen to a song- and this is a singer singing high you're drawn to that. That's the flash of light in them so that's a hand. That's waving the handkerchief when you force yourself to sort of focus on the base, when I find at least is dead, Kind of levels out everything as a kind of turns down the sort of man, boys in the highways and you end of sort of I find hearing everything sort of simultaneously
and it allows you to kind of divide your attention so that Europe is experiencing the peace as a whole years. Hearing all the voices more clearly and it's hard to do it at first actually cause your attention, keep snapping back to the high voice and it. But if you kind of train yourself to do it, I think it brings out a richness in the music. Amazing cuz. I know you really start to hear everything at once and that's kind of the same idea as focusing on the hand, that's not doing so much in the magic trick. If it gets us nurse next week, we are back with a brand new magic trick. It is an episode about one man's unusual, three hundred and fifty billion dollar attempt to remake a city. A lot of
city revitalization. Projects are really tat down master plan and were really antenna. It's really more about backing the entrepreneurs and their passions. The biggest gamble in LAS Vegas. That's next time for economics, freak economics? Radio is produced by W and Y, see and debonnair productions? Are staff includes Gregg resolve Ski Caroline, English Susie Lichtenberg Merit Jacob in Christopher Worth withheld from Anna High. It requires, Daniel De Zulu, in Paul Schneider. This episode was produced by credit card and mix by David Herman. If you are more frequent, comics radio, you can subscribe to our planet cast on Itunes or good a freak economics, dot com, we'll find lots of
a blog, the books and more hither, Stephen W again one more thing, if you like for economics, radio, I think you'll also like the latest episode of people I mostly admire the park, asked hosted by my free economic, spreading co, author, Steve Levin. Here's what it sounds like a guest today, Sue bird. She collects championships is for W Nba championships. Five euro, the best about championships to end C h, championships for International basketball Federation, world cups and four olympic gold medals. I'd love to talk about the economic, the professional basketball,
So the average player in the NBA made eight point three million dollars into the nineteen in the W Nba the average with eighty thousand is frustrating just now. I think actually, If you look at twenty twenty, our minimum is now higher, but we all but in the same amount of work. So is it a heart call the swallow knowing that somebody else's work is being rewarded at times by I live in reality. I understand business and economics. Some people look at us, as like charity like oh, will, help them out like an it in a terrible. What sense? Not unlike this business, investment way everything do look at us as an investment immediately its talked about how we don't make money and it's like fifty regarding the NBA did either, but people are willing to me. If an investment get behind it and growing its people, I mostly admire you can find it on your favorite, Pakistan,
here there Stephen dubbing again one more thing: if you liked the episode you just heard, we think you like something else in the freak anomaly, work. Look for this interview on the new podcast people I mostly admire with host. Steve, let it on my guest today Sue bird. She collects championships she's, or w NBA championships. Five euro, the best about championships, to end C h, championships for international basketball, federation, world cups and four olympic gold medal? I would think that, in order to be the player you are, you would have to be a person who acted gets better are under pressure rather than worth. Well, obviously, there are people, who are known for hitting big shots are known for playing well in big games that exists for sure, but I think we kind of frame it there.
anyway, it's not that you're gonna make nine out of ten. It's that you might make three ETA ten, but somebody else is making zero its attitude. most successful. It's like who's the most successful of the least successful. That is people mostly admire, you can find it on your favorite podcast app subscribe now, so that you don't miss Single Epps,
Transcript generated on 2021-01-31.