The Skeptics Society & Skeptic magazine


EPISODE # 366

Christopher Chabris — Why We Get Fooled 

Nobody’s Fool: Why We Get Taken In and What We Can Do about It (book cover)

From phishing scams to Ponzi schemes, fraudulent science to fake art, chess cheaters to crypto hucksters, and marketers to magicians, our world brims with deception. In Nobody’s Fool, psychologists Daniel Simons and Christopher Chabris show us how to avoid being taken in. They describe the key habits of thinking and reasoning that serve us well most of the time but make us vulnerable—like our tendency to accept what we see, stick to our commitments, and overvalue precision and consistency. Each chapter illustrates their new take on the science of deception, describing scams you’ve never heard of and shedding new light on some you have. Simons and Chabris provide memorable maxims and practical tools you can use to spot deception before it’s too late.

Christopher Chabris is a professor at Geisinger, a Pennsylvania healthcare system, where he co-directs the Behavioral Insights Team. He previously taught at Union College and Harvard University, and is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. Chris received his Ph.D. in psychology and A.B. in computer science from Harvard. His research focuses on decision-making, attention, intelligence, and behavior genetics. His work has been published in leading journals including Science, Nature, PNAS, and Perception, and he has published essays in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Washington Post. Chris is also a chess master, games enthusiast, and co-author of the bestselling book The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us.

Together Daniel and Christopher co-authored the new book Nobody’s Fool: Why We Get Taken In and What We Can Do about It.

Shermer, Simons, and Chabris discuss:

  • How rational vs. irrational are humans? (Daniel Kahneman vs. Gerd Gingerenzer)
  • Truth Default Theory, or Truth Bias: context dependent
  • deception vs. deception detection; Trivers’ self-deception theory and lying
  • social proof and the influence of others on our beliefs
  • NXIVM
  • The Tinder Swindler
  • cults: Jonestown; David Koresh and Waco; Scientology
  • Bernie Madoff
  • Harvey Weinstein
  • Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos
  • Nigerian spam scam
  • text scams
  • cheating in chess
  • What are our habits of thought that can be exploited?
  • What are the information hooks we find especially enticing and appealing when instead they should trigger skepticism?
  • scientific fraud and the replication crisis
  • alien abductions, NDEs, and the power of anomalous psychological experiences
  • Not Born Yesterday: Hugo Mercier
  • how to prevent from being a victim of fraud or a con.

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This episode was released on August 1, 2023.

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