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Hacking Your Mind

Hacking Your Mind

  • Premiered: 
    September 9, 2020
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter:
  • Tags: science, engineering

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  • Season 1
    • Amazon
Legal Full Episodes
Not Available Online
(That We Know Of)

Plot Synopsis

Hosted by Jacob Ward, HACKING YOUR MIND is a four-part documentary series that explores the world of hackers -- from presidential campaigns and social media companies, to corporate marketers and governments -- to reveal how they influence your behavior without your even being aware of it. Throughout the program, discover how we evolved to make many of our decisions not based on what we "think," but based on our feelings, intuition and habits. This enables us to make decisions almost instantly, as though we're operating on autopilot. Most of the time these autopilot processes serve us well, but they can also lead us to make predictable mistakes. Ward reveals how these common mistakes make us vulnerable to bias and misinformation. Even more important, Ward reveals how we can protect ourselves and fight back, so you can learn how to hack your own mind to make your life better, and by doing it, improve the lives of everyone around you. HACKING YOUR MIND features best-selling authors, including Michael Lewis ("Moneyball," "The Big Short") and Nobel Prize winners, including Daniel Kahneman ("Thinking, Fast and Slow") and Richard Thaler, creator of behavioral economics. Episodes include:

"Living on Auto-Pilot" (Wednesday, September 9, 2020): How do we make the most basic decisions in our life and why do we make them that way? Back in hunter/gatherer times, we made most of our decisions almost instantaneously, without even being aware that there was a decision to be made. The brains of chimpanzees and gorillas operate almost the same way. It turns out that our brain is like a camera which has manual and automatic settings -- when the automatic setting is engaged, we make decisions without even being aware of it.

"Weapons of Influence" (Wednesday, September 16, 2020): Our decisions are both predictable and also often far more irrational than we imagine -- from what we decide to eat to when we decide to buy something. That's because the way our brain functions when we're making these decisions has evolved from the world inhabited by our ancestors 10,000 years ago. And because our brains operate in this way, all of us often make the same irrational decision in the same situations -- we are "predictably irrational." And that's an enormously important discovery, because it opens the door to those who seek to influence us in a variety of ways, often without our being aware of it.

"Us vs. Them" (Wednesday, September 23, 2020): New discoveries show how our "predictably irrational" decision-making leaves us highly vulnerable to being manipulated. A sophisticated understanding of how we each make decisions is leading to new techniques that are "weapons of influence" -- available to employers, advertisers, politicians and many others who want to influence our decisions.

"The Wings of Angels" (Wednesday, September 30, 2020): How are recent discoveries about how we make decisions being used to change the world for the better? And how can we use them to do the same thing in our own lives? Scientists are developing what they call "nudges" -- ways of triggering us to improve our own decisions without even being aware of it. They are "weapons of influence" for good.


Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting