« Freakonomics Radio

361. Freakonomics Radio Live: “Jesus Could Have Been a Pigeon.”

2018-12-12 | 🔗

Our co-host is Grit author Angela Duckworth, and we learn fascinating, Freakonomical facts from a parade of guests. For instance: what we all get wrong about Darwin; what an iPod has in common with the “hell ant”; and how a “memory athlete” memorizes a deck of cards. Mike Maughan is our real-time fact-checker.

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 to all our bonus. Episodes and you'll be supporting our show to that sticker premium. Dot, com, promo code, freak thanks, hey there, Stephen Dubner. As you know, for economics, radio is primarily an interview show based on extensive research in which we explore various issues, often quite complicated ones, in some depth, but we need a break from now and again. Don't you need a break from that down again course you do, and so may we present the following episode:
A radio lie not recorded in some somber radio studio, but in a pub front of live audience, the little game. Show we like to play called. Tell me something: I dont know Scots in DNA, as for radio, but in reverse, if you'd like to attend a future though, or be on a future show visit for economics. Dot com, slash live will be enough, work on March, eighth and ninth city winery and in May will commit California in San Francisco on May sixteenth at the nurse theatre, in partnership with Turkey, and in LOS Angeles on May, at the geese, hotel figure in partnership with tastier w again for tickets, go to freak anomalies that calm slashed live now. on with the green I'm Stephen Governor- and this is free connivance radio alive tonight- we're at Jos Pub in Europe
city in joining me as co host? Is the University of Pennsylvania, psychologist and author of grit, our good for Angela Duckworth, answer so happy to have you back into here's, what we How about you so far? We know that you are founder and seal of the character lab correct You are a macarthur genius. Fellow, whose advised the White House, the World Bank and it fell teams and more its previous warehouse previous, my house, that was the German who, after Truman the fortress, anyway great to have you back on the show. Please tell us something we don't yet know about you. I was an inquiry. Cherry New Jersey, home to the very first Real mall in America, were you a market as a total market
every every time I go to a more like a food corrie. I feel like I'm home again. You know I have always had a theory. I've never been able to substantiate that the secret to success in life is massive consumption of Orange Julius throughout Europe? What did you do at them all wandered around and around and around until my parents picked me up because you had grip maybe that maybe that was the show that was the seat of the idea. Angela, it is so nice, have you here to play? Tell me something I know: here's how it's going to work guests will come on stage to tell us some interesting fact or idea, or maybe just a story. You and I
it can then asked them anything we want, and at the end of the show, our live audience will pick a winner. The vote will be based on three simple criteria: number one did the guest tell us something we truly did not know number two: was it worth knowing and number three? Was it demonstrably true to help with that? Demonstrably true part you? Please welcome our real time fact: checker make Maun my is head of global insights, Qual tricks and he's a co founder of five for the fight, a campaign to eradicate cancer. Make we know. Qual tricks, calls itself inexperienced management, company and that you're always doing interesting research there. What have you learned lately, so we ve done a series of pain indexes looking at different industries and the experiences of
want. I think the most interesting one is a hotel pain index where we found that a third of guess who frequently say a five star hotels, have cried because of a bad hotel experience. I think that probably says a lot more about the demanding fragile unresolved. non gritty state of spoiled people than it does about anything else are then make it is time to play. Tell me something: I don't know what you please welcome. First guess calling Jerome back so I understand you are a professor of sociology and environmental studies it and why you, which sounds like an interesting combination, I'm ready Angela Duckworth and make more on. What do you know, sir? That's worth knowing that you think we dont know. I would like to ask you what animal is most responsible for firing, Darwin's theory of evolution will think twice.
Close to say the Phoenician and you're going to tell us the finches were not everybody thinks it's the finches and the thing is: is the finches, of course, were they have these different beaks summers short some along summer, curl I'm a straight depending on which island there were on and they evolve these different beaks to be able to eat the sea than the fruits that very by islands, but Darwin didn't figure that when he was on the Asian as Beagle, he didn't figure that out tell decades later he thought that these were different birds that were somehow related, but he didn't think that there are the same. Species, so you're here to tell us the Darwin wasn't so bright. Well, it took him a couple decades to figure it out. There is an animal that did inspire him right, yes, and it is now the big turtle like things that are not turtles, but they look like turtles, no we ve gotten further away. Is it a fast animal I'd say medium? Is it a delicious animal I'm Vegas, so I'd say no. It is the day you know bigger than a breadbox animal, no smaller than a breadbox good is
Is it a breadbox? No tell us what the animals the pigeon the humble lowly rock pigeon that we see outside this very studio, so Darwin kept pigeons for twelve years or more, and he he was fascinated by them, because you can read them you could in there are so many different breeze and Victorian England. There was hundreds of different breeds of pigeon, but the idea at the time was that all these different breeds came from multiple species, so he bread them and wanted to figure out. How play they were and what an over generations he discovered that if you mix them altogether, you get the same pigeon that was walking round the street, and so he thought these must have all come from the same species, not multiple species, and so If some of you may remember, if you actually read the origin of species, is why he spends the first. Seventy plus pages on pigeons- and he gently guys-
through all the variation, all the different breeds. How tall you can make them, how fat or small you can make them, and then he's hit you with the bombshell unease as if you, if I can do breeding pigeons in just a couple of years. Imagine what mother nature could do over millions are hundreds of millions of years, and he says much, nature is the selecting hand. Rights are firstly, says, I'm the artificial, Everything but mother, nature the selecting hand. So so why is this? in fact so unknown? What like what? Why does the pit finches are? Just too you know like their sexier than pigeons. You know pigeons got a bad rap pigeons are, I think, give if, if I were to ask people what they think of pigeons many people say, I think the rats with wings or I call them rats his wings as if they thought of that themselves. But to be honoured, I'm not totally sure, because if you I asked peoples, I asked my class home help whose read the origin of species and they all put their hands up and say so one of the first fifty seventy pages about
and nobody knows they didn't read. As I say, I think that I think the answer I the real answer. Your question is: nobody's actually read the origin of species that sprawly they answer. So can you tell us more about? how popular pigeons were young Darwin's day and to what end they were used in. The messenger ring, but when used in warfare- and all is definitely not so yet during the time that Darwin wrote the origin of species, there was something of a pigeon craze in between England. People were breed hundreds of varieties they had shows like the Westminster dog show, and they still have these today. Actually, there does not, as popular the queen of England, kept pigeon still has a racing pigeon laughed today, so everybody had pigeons and was breeding pigeons and making fancy pigeons as ridiculous as the clothes that people were wearing and actually when Darwin, wrote the origin of species and gave it to his editor. The editor said man, the stuff about pigeons is amazing, and people love pigeon that sells mark a pigeon book, get that's what he said is get rid of speculative stuff about evolution, and, if you make this, just
pigeons it'll be a coffee table book. Everybody in England will buy it and will be a best seller. So what you really here to tell us is it? The publishing industry is exactly the same today as it was, then it hasn't changed much that I, as when was peak pigeon, probably around that time laid eighteen, hundreds early to nineteen hundred. So what happened after that is we use to. We actually love pigeon crap, that we domesticated pigeon five thousand years ago, because their faces were such valuable fertilizer and then we also rise. You can eat them so squab if you are written, Squab, that's pinions, pigeon, but and then, and then as you as was as Stephen alluded to, they served messengers and so Genghis Khan. You know some sent pigeons throughout his empire to send messages. Also, Reuters was launched on the back of pigeons on messenger pigeons, but then
So the turn of the century, nitrogen fertilizer replaced pigeon, feces chickens, replace pigeons. You could bring them much fat or much quicker, and obviously we don't need them for messages anymore either, so they ve kind of become from societies terms useless if they can do all that stuff carry messages by having a homing instinctive, nothing else are we to assume that their relatively smart, especially for birds, yap they're, not bird, brain you'd, be surprised? Pigeons pigeons pass the mere test, there's very, few animals the past one year, unless a mere does looking at one self in a mere and understanding that there are looking at themselves. So walk me through a pigeon is in front of a mere how'd, you know that the pigeon knows that you put that you put the animal to sleep and you put a red dot on its forehead
and then you notice, if it does things to try to get rid of the red dot pecking at pecking. I did so the pigeons Peck at the mirror and kind of shuffle about and do things that indicate to get the red dot off of it yeah mirrored in yes, I could tell you some other things that make them rather intelligent, so they can be trained. tell the difference not only between cubist an impression is paintings, but between a Monet and a Picasso or for giving them some other cubist impression is painting. not a Monet or Picasso. So you plainly, would you call yourself a pigeon advocate Yes, they got me tenure so I don't expect an honest answer from on the following question, but how do you know that the pigeon is actually so smart as opposed to being the bird that was popular and therefore was trained alot? Could I take a sea gull? Could I take a dove, etc
and do what train it to carry message now. Gas now come in theory that nowhere does isn't a dumb. It's like I'm! So I'm glad you brought that up, because this actually gets the Stevens question about the bad rap the pigeons have so a dove is all peace, and already in a pigeon. Is a garbage eater. That's right and theres many theres many languages that don't even have a different word for pigeon and of and a lot of very river guy. to a wedding or to the Olympics and they release doves. These are white homing pigeons, that leave and fly away and go back to the owner whose bread them and training to fly, and so I argue that a lot of religious iconography of of Jesus, as you know, the Spirit descending jesus- could have a pigeon we don't actually know whether that was a pigeon or a dove. make Mahon fire appear. Google
we're gonna need to know of Jesus was indeed a pigeon it. Let me ask you this: what Are they the one bird that I know of at least that walk among us in cities? Yes, so, first of all in terms of literally walking their ground feeders, that's why they walk they don't hot birds, that hot mean they feed in bushes or flowers of trees, pigeons aground feet or so pigeons, where the first bird, domestic hated over five thousand years ago, and I mention we domesticated them, beat for agriculture for for the fertilizer and to eat them, but they ve actually call evolved with humans. When we move the cities we brought pigeons with us, and so they at this point had been living in cities in cities were around today. Unfortunately, with climate change and urban ASEAN speed,
he's basely have to rout, they go extinct or they survive, and the survival rout. Usually means adapting to living amongst people and actually changing your evolutionary trajectory and pigeons have done that their generalist eaters, so that we leave a lot of garbage around tons of garbage around for them to eat and they can much eat almost all of it and we feed them as well and because their natural habitat is actually cliffs and rocky ledges. Even in terms of walking amongst us like the common pedestrian animals, they literally walk on the sidewalk and sit on benches and ledges because they prefer them to grasp. shrubs or trees. It's more like their native habitat. Has anyone ever seen a baby pigeon you I? I saw growing up no window guide us in a hotel a few months ago. Why do you ask that question because I've never seen a baby, pigeon yeah tell us a little bit about family life shirts? Do they monogamous issue, because its honestly here's what I thought when I first moved to New York years ago, I would see pigeons all over, but never baby,
nor even adolescents right. But I somehow imagined that pigeons would like be a couple. if they are and they with when they were with child, they would they go to the birds and have the is there a friend and do you don't come back when they wanted to go to the theatre ride, thereby that that's an interesting hypothesis You're not entirely wrong in terms of the actually do what I think at least many humans aspire to. They mate for life and their monogamous, and there are pretty good on gender equality. They both sit on the eggs and they both feed the young. If you ve ever seen pigeons that appear to kissing the male is actually throwing up into the females mouth to demonstrate that he can produce the crop. Milk, to feed the baby that is sweet and that, in the final that that that feel, the deal she's like oh yeah? But what about from birth to dont hood. Where our, why don't we see that it's it's kind of its kind of how various? If you get to see the mother father, would sit on the baby until its fully grown.
So they don't fledged the nest. Aren't like people? Actually they let you they don't. Let the nest, and so they do not go on the college and come back home I'll, give you a tip if you would really like to find baby pigeons, anytime, you're walking pretty much any where but say particularly under an awning? Listen for these really high pitched squeaks and that's a baby pigeon, and if you listen look around you find them make Maun calendar comic has been telling us much more about pigeons- and I ever thought many of us who want to Know- and I personally found much of it fascinating. I believe give him because He was a ten year by professor at and I heard professor and also he's got khakis and braided belt, and I think there's something about that. They're just says verity I gotta think my wife for that yeah yeah, so I find
reason to distrust anything he said, but but you're the man with the Google over their gets a few things you, you don't have your wife to thank for bread and belt. You should be mandatory. Never to you said that pigeons were like humans, because their monogamous and made for life- that's not true. Human don't do that humans aspire to the next year and Angela were debating which animals are the sexiest, just a quick warrant, Don't do that on your work, computer, so a few it's not very helpful, but a publication called City LAB New York City said that that this city is believed. between one and seven million pigeons really great range there? Thank you. It's interesting to know that in the past twenty years in China, there's been an amazing boom,
and young money and this self made billionaire crowd his chosen pigeon racing as their sport of choice, the most expensive champion racing pigeons sold. for almost half a million dollars? Lastly, I When I say you all know, crocs the little robber shoe, so I think it's important because the pigeons or a lot like crocs they're, they're more functional than they appear, but still super weird to have with you in any. situation. Thank you make in. Thank you calling drama. Would you please welcome our next guess been Orleans Are there been? It says here that you are a math teacher and author of the new book math with bad drawings, I assume you ve got something little math. They did tell us tonight. The floor is yours. Yet
three hour when my question for you is whose likeliest by lottery tickets is. Is this another finch pigeon, we're supposed to say, low income people whose squander too much money on this ridiculous state supported racket where they skim forty percent off the top and then leave you with your shallow winnings to weep inured latte that also buying in shouldn't be Stephen. How do you really feel? I think the lotteries are evil? Don't they pray upon people's you? No lack of numeracy effectively fighting I dont like about lotteries just since we're getting it I'll. Do it is that if you play, the slots. What's the rake on a slot machine near my mind, seven percent, maybe yeah thing it's in the range apparent sure you got a horse track. The track, as may be taking twelve fourteen percent, yet in pursuit of twenty May, an ok but the stay. What's the average fur state lotteries close to fifty percent and forty percent or so
the year here to tell us something, however, within this diabolical system, yes, yes or its alma Matthew Justice, not my place to decide how to state should, people have their money who were they cheating how their money it turns out? Actually so that you know the state where the most lottery, tickets or bodies Massachusetts, my home state, lotta, very educated, wealthy people Massachusetts. and it turns out gallop to the pole. Sixteen, not long ago, and people making. More than ninety thousand dollars a year, are actually likelier to buy lottery tickets simply making below thirty six thousand a year? So do we call me the above high income or recover middle high. What do? What do you think I'm impressed at ninety is pretty good. You are what you would call thirty six pretty good do as a man. we do know that thirty six is below that below national median income that so yours more people in
Brian was right and people who are higher income actually likelihood of hurting people are a low income in somali people with batteries degrees. Actually like who played lottery than people with no college education rates, using that this general idea that that the lottery is disproportionately popular among lower income is not quite right to how many lottery ticket today buying like yeah. That's a good question. Retro gallop doesn't have data on that in the same sense that you know if someone making thirty six thousand dollars a year buys a lottery ticket and so making a hundred thousand dollars here by the lottery ticket. The person making less has just been a much larger percentage of their income on lottery tickets. So, even if their buying the same number, we can so called arrest. tax, so late, Leumi does make sure. I'm understand, you're, saying that Europe will who make a lot of money. Yeah by more tickets per person like on average, there more likely to related to participate. Yes, oh don't per person, I'm not sure, but mortally more likely to buy a ticket at least more like. whereby it did it and what shares that lets say my name above, is are we talking make thirty sixty percent? We are witnessing it basically about fifty percent across pretty much effort and then heard you say,
thousand in below so yeah we're looking at like forty six percent or so it is not a huge difference in we're comes down to is about half people play the lottery. We that itself is a path of Pierre Paint, a lot about play. The lottery means what one ticket in the past twelve months, you don't Yemenis, have other related in the last year. Although if you look at message, you said so that the state where we have sort of the higher spending, but eight hundred dollars per person per year, so the average persons buying two logical today- that's probably not evenly distributed. I don't think I'm out or no, unless my life has been taken off my way more lottery tickets and I think the average Massachusetts Citizen is buying eight hundred dollars of tickets per year or the average person who is buying a ticking away this, so the total amount spent. If you divide by the number of people in work is it. You get eight hundred dollar hundred dollars per year per year. So let me ask you this: let's just pretend the angel and I have decided that We think that playing a lottery is a bad idea. Let's pretend that judgment
But then let me introduce, let me just say: well, let's say the expected value is very low rate relative to what I indeed with the dollar ten dollars elsewhere. But what about the entertainment? You too, has anyone ever measure that we have any idea? I mean the measure of. Jimmy till that people keep doing it and they seem to do it very gladly and and in great quantity, so about what could be buying tickets because it's fun or they could be buying tickets because they are legit. Thinking that we're going to win the lottery, and that Let us take a look at me. Like Mr Math teacher, let's say the Angela change your mind. We think hey we're gonna play lottery because we think we can win because we know a smart guy named been Orleans whose math teacher is interested in the lottery, and he can help us not she, but she. So what are some things that we could do to increase our chances of winning? For instance, I've read
that let's say you have a pic of numbers ago from zero to a hundred that if you pick numbers above thirty one say that at least, if you do win that you'll have a bigger pale, because so many people play their birth dates, for instance, does that work? Yet this is true. So if you pick their certain numbers numbers the shop on fortune cookies or numbers that are both dates, not a good idea to take those, because if you win on that number, you can be sharing with all the other people who have that forcing cooking Stephen. shouldn't? You mentioned expected value, which I think it's sort of, though you know someone has taken a probability class or math class. Think there's someone is expected values for what you should be looking at so right now. sample there is that the mega millions just went up to the highest thing. It's ever been is one point: six billion dollars right now expected value is basically just a long run average if you're to buy tons and tons and tons of tickets. How much would the average one?
so from MECCA millions, there's only about three hundred million possible tickets, it's worth one point six billion, so the average tickets should be worth more than five dollars and only costs too. So in theory, it sounds like a good idea. The problem is, if you go out and buy a ticket you're going to lose your two dollars. Why don't you just by three possible combination rates- or this is very hard to make millions is actually happened- is ninety. Ninety three sort of early days of state lotteries of Virginia had so the prize when a bottle the twenty eight million dollars, because no one had wanted for awhile and are only seven million tickets for a dollar each, and so there is actually a syndicate sort of a group of people in Australia who said ok bulbs by them all that that's easy money right there. Which sounds like easy money, but it's not that easy to go and buy seven million lottery tickets. Oh you mean. Oh, that's right is you have to go to like so many deaths, Why so? What they did this team in internet through that is they placed on a big orders with grocery store chains and communist or chance
But even that didn't work out that well, for them is actually one chain that I had a return: six thousand dollars to them for tickets. They were unable to print, and so by the time the drawing seven million tickets out there that actually purchase five million of them. There was a two and seven chance. There are gonna wanna losing all that money. Ok! Well then, what happened or heavens two weeks went by and the state knew that they sold the winning ticket. but no one could find it because they had five million tickets. They needed to look around and then about two weeks later they services needed. They did when the money the state lottery. Commissioner was furious and issued. This are like the like: a like a villain at the end of a high smoothing as though he knew he'd been beef, but he swore here never get beat that way again and actually, since then has become much harder to do those kind of all purchases, mostly to pass laws against that We want to try to make millions right now, if you could do it at the great to get offering their million tickets, but this is no feasible way to do it, make more and better when is telling us it pretty much a lot of people love to play the lottery, and it's not what we expect in terms of income. What more can you tell us about that?
So here are a few things that are more likely to happen to you than winning the lottery, giving birth to identical, quadruplicates getting killed by a falling cocoanut or having a vending machine following you. the kicker you're more likely to be elected president of the United States, but we ve already shown that any one anyone can do. Thank you make and Ben Orleans. Thank you for my programme. Would you please welcome to the stage Kate, sick, YO he is an assistant professor of dance and kinetic imaging at Virginia Commonwealth University Kate. Why don't you tell something we don't know? Please sure I can tell someone's emotional state when they're using their smartphone just by looking at them, start, seeing what's on their screen or what their reading, how by how hard their weeping?
now, without looking at their face and without seeing what's on their phone cracked and like from their body posture, is it from that getting their yeah? Does this have to do with what you? who do professionally. Yes, you are a professor of dancing, kinetic imaging. What is kinetic imaging will start. Their circular commenting is like media arts. That is away more impressive word for years. I've always thought here is an ethic imaging my right away, so you observe their movements and because you're a dance professor, you can tell how their feeling yeah finger. So inquiry aggravate. We have different tools of analysis and
Particular there's this thing called the Lublin effort Graph and what it does is it allows you to look at movements in the sort of like three different categories. One is time so like is the movement sudden or sustained? One is space Is the movement direct or indirect and another is the force? Is its strong or light you combine these three things. You start to get gestures so like a strong sudden. Direct movement is a punch. So when I put my phone, you know I'm fine, well you're angry! I wouldn't have figured that out without magnetic imaging degree, but that's the thing like with a phone. I mean how much ranges there when people on their phone right, so one of the We do a lot on our phone as we do things like mindless surfing, while that gesture is what we call a flick, so its indirect and light and sudden
and that means that yeah you're not really being conscientious you're, not paying that much attention. You might be bored. So what does sadness look lake on you know, and I in terms of my using it. Usually sadness is like light, but usually more sustained right and it's usually indirect, so not quite a flick right, not quite a flick. One of my feet ones is tinder so when we're using tinder we're doing this really careless gesture and of course that's where you meet people to hook up, not so when you're going to care about in the future, so do gesture, again, that's good for radio and give me something: that's the opposite of that right, so another at that I use is one called hotel tonight. In order to book you're, not that, unlike tinder to me, I got together, but to book your hotel. You have to do a very direct,
Dane Movement. It's much more of a commitment to get your hotel room than to find a date, and so you have to actually trace the shape of a bed on the phone. So it's this really direct movement, but you have to do in order to purchase or their practical applications of this observation. Yeah I mean, I think, that you couldn't things more direct and more sustained, so people would think about it more like. Maybe we want news apt to be more like that. Some people are actually careful about their reading and thinking about what I'm, what their digesting in terms of their content, MIKE Maun, Kate, sick YO, is saying that you can tell how people are feeling by looking at how they interact with their phones. True, yes, we hear that tender as this hook up app right because it it takes so little effort and you're, just swiping, left and right now that that may be true at the beginning of a relationship, but it doesn't tell us a ton about what it takes to get into a relationship because by this
and people are able to actually meet and hook up. They will have had to have engaged in more committed behaviour like texting, phone calls and cetera, and so what appears is that it's not necessary the results of how much effort someone takes throughout the time to get together, physical or otherwise, but rather it's how the relationship starts in so something that may indicate what that means. For us, the Atlantic has reported that couples who cohabited before marriage tend to be less satisfied with their marriages and are more likely to divorce. So the issue with with tender may not be the human movement over all the rather whether human movement says about the desire for commitment from the very beginning of the relationship Angela's that does it make sense to you, I mean, I think that when you say that people who live near them taken this personally but anyway someone who lives together, you know with another person be more likely to is a divorce. Is that the fact you're so as
certified non marriage counselor. I think the idea is that if, if things start out without it a deep level of commitment, then the it shows that were less likely to stick to it. Now. You're the person that studies grit fashion and perseverance, I am not going to fact jack you on whether people stick with things are not well. Ok, you I'll just say this: whenever you find a correlation like people who drink day, live. What like did you have to worry as a scientist that, like lots of things, are correlated with this decision to live together and those may be the things that are driving the marriage You know statistics also. So what we really need is an experiment where half the people get a sign to live together before and it had this half of the room like to the left right and then have to be, and then they will know speaking of spurious
relation, though I do think it's important to know that the number of people who die becoming tangled in bedsheets almost perfectly correlates with per capita Consumption may come. Thank you so much for that Anna and Kate. Thank you for playing. Tell me something. I know we're gonna, take a quick break when we return more guests will make Angela Duckworth tell us some things we don't and our lie bodies will pick a winner if you would like to be a guest on a future show or attend. The future show please visit for economics that com we'll be right back financed radio sponsored by Petsmart Petsmart makes it safe and easy for you to care for your pet at Petsmart, the health and safety of employees, pet parents and pets are which most important, which is why they require face coverings, social, distancing and
stop plexiglas shields and enhanced cleaning to follow CDC recommendations for contact with him. Thing just order online at Petsmart, smart, not com or on the Petsmart app joint easy curbside pick up for same day, delivery powered by door dash free through January thirty. First, two thousand twenty one check out: Petsmart dot com for more details. welcome back to frigate on radio live tonight, we are playing. Tell me something I don't know my name is Steven Dubner. A fact checker is the great MIKE Vaughn and my co host is the psychology professor and author Angela Duckworth. Before we get back to the game, we have got some frequently asked questions for Angela Duckworth you ready to go, I'm ready to go. You are best known for having written the book ripped the Phila You're flyers of the National Hockey League have a new mass got called greedy.
Is that you are doing under president. Not my idea awful it so have you seen It is like an orange aliens. No, I had nothing to do with it. no. If the people who invented named Gritty- our friends of yours, I do not, they have not been in touch, do you think it a dereliction of royalty issue, for which I am not suing felt off your flyers for their use of the word gritty, because I don't think I can you own a word, Did you get on a word Gagnon, friggin awning, I do and I knew you were gonna new podcast about the work of the character lab, which advances the science and practice of character development. Why
so I think it's the case that people like these things that their listening to where they get to actually talk to people like Stephen Governor and I thought maybe there's a lot of parents up there and teachers who would like to talk to me about the science of how kids grow up to thrive and, lastly, family grit question, You give an example of something particularly unready that someone in your family has done well K. A certain person would like. throw themselves into various projects like metal, detecting and then like stamp doing then vending machines- and you know we lifted in like one thing after the other and You do that, then you're not being gritty. I didn't know vending machine, the hobby again be can be short lived. It turns out in the days Duckworth Wegmans almond. Thank you. So much it is time now to get back to our game. Would you please welcome our next guest, Philip Barton?
there is a professor of evolutionary biology at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, as well as a research associate at the American Museum of Natural history. So that sounds very promising. What we have here is built. So what does a hell aunt and an eye having common. May we in turn ask you what the hell is: a hell yeah, that's all yeah! Ok! So that's a decent question so I work on fossil access. My nips its is about as my out, because you might think you could get turns out. There's many Faso aunt species are our fossil dinosaur species banknotes and among the oldest fossils that we know about about a hundred million years. trapped and amber. Are these ants called hellenes and they have all these bizarre adaptation that we don't see it modern answer, in fact no modern insect. So what we see as these big side, like mandibles it shut out of the face and come up towards the
had the mandibles a jolly eyes, the executive jar, the mouth parts in so modern ants have mouth parts that article eight horizontally, sir, if you take your arms and you can go to hug somebody, it's like that. This would be if you took and put your elbows together and you kind of went to get yourself in the forehead with the Tipps, your fingers, those are helping its right into hell answer. It turns out there s key who's. This russian paleo entomologists named the genius for the first time. in the nineties? Hate Omer MAX hate, omitting Haiti's in Murmansk, which is great for aunt, and the common name is how aunt lie health and other than it was you know. It is really cool, just like branding branding, as is the bad ass name for a species of aunt Execrate. Yet Haider makes it just sounds route Really. Truly I mean there are thirteen thousand species of modern ants, and this is the sort of breaks the more and your question was: what do a hell aunt and an ipod and an ipod haven't. I should say one other thing, which is that there are some headlines that also have horns
They come out of their forehead. We named one last year we named after VLAD the employer, and the reason is this: we see tee scandal. We look through X, ray Imaging and found that these ants actually look like these sequester metals into the middle of this paddle, and so what we think is happening is to prevent themselves from running themselves through their own forehead. There actually capturing pray and punishing them in drinking their human ones, with just insect blood. That's why we named after libyan paler, where they the size roughly of modern at the word about a centimeter. Yes, like that you're, you know you're pinky. So how is it possible that an ant that tough didn't make it well? This gets into thing I'll, just give it to get up to me. One of the reasons why we think that hellenes went extinct is potentially because the arctic states, in all their close relatives, are exciting because there to specialised. effectively painted themselves into a corner, and some of the evidence that we have strongly suggest that they specialised and pray that also went extinct is it. This is interesting thing in evolution, right where we get into these scenarios, where you're at
You work really really well until always end of bottom drops out and they don't and actually persisted for about twenty one million years. We know about them from Amber in Miami France. Canada, so what they have in common with the ipod is they were to specialised and we don't need him anymore effect. Nobody buys ipods anymore, ok, so their species that went extinct because your arguing of over specialization right, like they were tough. There were certain pray that they could beat up at. Otherwise they weren't right enough to go on exact. But what about aren't there like like what
What good is the platypus for like? Is that not a specialised thing, and why is it still around? Well, so anything that is around today? It's working right, and so we always think about evolution is being this, this game of winners and being the best or whatever it is really just the best that moment in time and that particular slice rights. Everything including humans today, right, if you put to humans two billion years ago, is no oxygen, the atmosphere, so the game over its hard. In fact, something like oxygen turns out to be another thing that sort of change the games of the earliest life on our planet. Oxygen is catastrophic, for there is no oxygen, the atmosphere in then we started photosynthesis, although certain having that adaptation of being anaerobic, that is surviving without oxygen, becomes really terrible. And now we have this big mass extinction event because of something like oxygen and so now, of course, we all of oxygen
but it turns out that wasn't really the case the beginning. So let me ask you a human centric question not only about humans, so are we overspecialized or are humans, the opposite of spent, because we can learn anything humans are incredible. Generalist is one of the reasons why we are highly highly successful and environment. to answer some of the most and the reason? Why bring back the answer because the artisan, steady Anthea, they steady ass? If he might enough words, really they are tremendously successful and if, in many places the outweigh the biomass of all vertebrates, including humans in some environments in the most successful aims, are also generalised right. So they can capitalize all kinds of resources. They dont rely just in one particular source right in humans are very much the same way, although we have some other kind of funny things going on in this culture thing always ranking yet, and the ability to rapidly pivot aren't modern ants said
to be quite social. They are there all use social execrate, and do you think that part of the hellenes problem, was the lack of some kind of socialization is a great question. We thought about this. We ve, Maybe it was that the earliest ants really weren't social or social degree. They are actually out competed by their highly. You know communist exhaustive counterparts you're alive today and in fact, what we found is that that's not the case, the earliest ants, including how ants are highly social, there's, no such thing as a solitary and all thirteen thousand species today and all seven hundred false species. So far as we know all where social, so, for example, But if you look at all the different amber deposits in earth history, starting at a hundred million years ago, ants never make up more than one percent of all insects and amber, and yet we find many aggregations of them together. We calculated on the back of a napkin or not mathematicians, but we figure there it's something like one in a trillion. The idea of fine twenty worker ants in one piece when you have less than one percent abundance are high,
It were low. Income is more likely to buy lottery. Lotto. Let me ask you this: will science and take ology allow you to bring back the hell aunt and if so, whose picnic would you send it to? Others is a great questions, so I'm not biologically nobody. In fact where I am now. We have great industrial designs So here we ve cities can these and we're not modeling them. We're digitally bring him back to life, to figure out how the mechanics of these. What worked tat is cool. You have is a great deal by the way for anxiety where I work now, and I do not have tenure and I'd like that, and and were also printing in constructing giant modes that are motorized. So we can use these four outreach, routine, Miss schools and museums and potential for museum exhibits, also because we really don't think about insects as part of the fossil record, but they are today. Seventy five percent of all species that exist or insects make Maun Philip Barton's been telling his bed
the extinct tell aunt. Would you have them? So I think a lot of people here misunderstood you when you say Helen, I'll think about our aunt from Hell whose always trying to set us that your end. So its answer lost a lot of things over the years they lost the in paler. They they dont have lungs. They dont have ears, they can't swim. They do have to stomachs. It's interesting to see, though, that, like ants, have lost a number of things. We as a culture of lost many things, some good, some bad, we ve lost answering machines, pagers velcro wallets. We no longer have decent politicians, we ve lost my space, which was a terrible tragedy and if you haven't yet lost
go back to yourself Vader. Thank you making celebrating. Thank you so much for blanket something greater. Please welcome our final guest of the evening leave on behalf that leave on works in data analytics here in New York. He is a memory athlete in currently holds a title, a fifth best memory in the United States and like to apologize to our audience. We can only get the best memory athlete in America but leave on that sounds awesome, and I can't wait to hear what you have to tell us. So the floor is yours. So You have been sitting in your living room on the couch and you remember the g to get something from the kitchen you get up. He walked to the kitchen and as soon as you get there, you just completely forget what it is. So my question is: why does walking from one room to another cause you to forget, because you,
who are like place. Memory rate like you, are activating the memory representation in one place and that has all these cues. Then you go to another place in those keys,
Transcript generated on 2021-01-20.