22 episodes

Politics on the Couch looks at the way our minds respond to politics and the way politicians mess with our minds.

In each episode award-winning political columnist Rafael Behr is joined by a distinguished expert drawn from the world of politics, psychology or philosophy.

The show will appeal to any listener interested in taking a deep dive into how psychology drives everyone's political thought and behaviour.

Politics on the Couch Larchmont Productions

    • News
    • 4.9 • 130 Ratings

Politics on the Couch looks at the way our minds respond to politics and the way politicians mess with our minds.

In each episode award-winning political columnist Rafael Behr is joined by a distinguished expert drawn from the world of politics, psychology or philosophy.

The show will appeal to any listener interested in taking a deep dive into how psychology drives everyone's political thought and behaviour.

    Is Democracy Rational? A conversation with Steven Pinker

    Is Democracy Rational? A conversation with Steven Pinker

    Human beings routinely make terrible choices but humanity still achieves amazing things.

    How does this paradox work?

    And is it still working when technology seems to amplify the worst in us.

    In this episode, Politics on the Couch host Rafael Behr talks to Professor Steven Pinker about the constant struggle between evidence and emotion for control of the political agenda; whether truth and fact are winning the long war against superstition and falsehood, and why rationality always has the last word.

    Professor Steven Pinker is Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and the author of a number of highly acclaimed and prize-winning books about psychology, cognitive science, linguistics and history.

    His latest book Rationality: What it is; why it seems scarce; why it matters was published in September.

    https://stevenpinker.com/publications/rationality-what-it-why-it-seems-so-scarce-and-why-it-matters

    More about Steven Pinker:

    https://stevenpinker.com/biocv

    Other books by Steven Pinker mentioned in episode

    The Better Angels of our Nature

    https://stevenpinker.com/publications/better-angels-our-nature

    Enlightenment Now

    https://stevenpinker.com/publications/enlightenment-now-case-reason-science-humanism-and-progress

    A couple of references in this episode that might be useful as further reading.

    Michael Ignatieff’s book Fire and Ashes, about a failed career in politics

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/nov/27/michael-ignatieff-fire-ashes-review

    Jonathan Rauch’s book The Constitution of Knowledge, about the crisis of trust in institutions

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jun/26/the-constitution-of-knowledge-review-jonathan-rauch-trump

    Politics on the Couch has been chosen by Feedspot as one of the Top 25 UK Psychology Podcasts and Top 25 Political Science Podcasts on the web.

    https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_psychology_podcasts

    https://blog.feedspot.com/political_science_podcasts

    This podcast is hosted by ZenCast.fm

    • 1 hr
    Order and chaos - why the left keeps losing

    Order and chaos - why the left keeps losing

    In this episode Rafael Behr talks to Cambridge University political psychologist Dr Lee de-Wit about the problem with progressive arguments over patriotism, and Labour's constant struggle to connect with socially conservative voters.

    Links mentioned in this episode:

    Dr Lee de-Wit's Cambridge University homepage

    https://www.psychol.cam.ac.uk/people/lee-de-wit

    Arnold Kling's book

    https://cdn.cato.org/libertarianismdotorg/books/ThreeLanguagesOfPolitics.pdf

    Haidt and Moral Foundations Theory

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_foundations_theory

    Tariq Modood's site

    http://www.tariqmodood.com

    YouGov poll on immigration

    https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/brexit/2019/09/13/what-policy-do-british-voters-want-on-eu-immigration-is-there-a-hidden-consensus/

    Dr Lee de-Wit's book

    http://eandtbooks.com/books/whats-your-bias/

    Dr Lee de-Wit's recent article in the Guardian

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/may/11/politics-left-right-tories-advantage-labour

    Politics on the Couch has just been selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 25 UK Psychology Podcasts on the web.

    This is the most comprehensive list of Top 25 UK Psychology Podcasts on the internet and we're honored to have been selected!

    https://blog.feedspot.com/uk_psychology_podcasts

    This podcast is hosted by ZenCast.fm

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Empire State of Mind, with Sathnam Sanghera

    Empire State of Mind, with Sathnam Sanghera

    Britain's vast colonial project, amassed over centuries and covering a quarter of the world at its height, is unavoidable in any discussion of race and identity in modern Britain. Or, at least, it should be, but the nation has, until recently, done a remarkable job of avoiding the subject.

    In this episode, Rafael Behr talks to Sathnam Sanghera about Empireland, his recent book that delves into that Imperial legacy, how it shapes our nation, our culture and defines so much of our politics to this day.

    Sathnam Sanghera has won multiple awards for his journalism in the Financial Times and the Times. His 2009 memoir, The Boy with the Topknot, was shortlisted for the Costa Book Award, as was his 2014 novel, Marriage Material.

    Empireland: How Imperialism has Shaped Modern Britain was published earlier this year to much acclaim.

    This podcast is hosted by ZenCast.fm

    • 1 hr 2 min
    Radicalisation - how minds go to extremes, and how to turn them back

    Radicalisation - how minds go to extremes, and how to turn them back

    Rafael Behr talks to Cognitive Scientist of Political Violence, Nafees Hamid, about what makes extremists tick and how to change their minds.

    Nafees discusses the conditions that push people towards extremist ideologies and whether a martyr's mind is wired differently to the rest of us.

    Along the way, Rafael and Nafees explore identity, sacred values, devoted actors, and how extremists can be walked back from acts of violence.

    Nafees Hamid is a Fellow at ARTIS International (https://artisinternational.org) and an Associate Fellow at the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (https://icct.nl) in The Hague.

    His research focuses on the psychology of radicalisation and social fragmentation in Western countries.

    His methods include ethnographic interviews, survey studies, social network analysis, and psychology and neuroscience experiments with mostly Western members of extremist organisations, their friends and family, supporters of such networks, and the general communities from where they originate.

    This podcast is hosted by ZenCast.fm

    • 1 hr 4 min
    Fear of Change - Matt d'Ancona on fixing a broken politics

    Fear of Change - Matt d'Ancona on fixing a broken politics

    Rafael Behr talks to Matt d'Ancona about his new book: 'Identity, Ignorance, Innovation: Why the Old Politics is Useless - and what to do about it.'

    https://blackwells.co.uk/bookshop/product/Identity-Ignorance-Innovation-by-Matthew-DAncona-author/9781529303995

    They discuss why the 'liberal left' needs to adapt to a new politics that is being shaped much more by digital networks and identity politics than the older institutional forces.

    Matt joined The Sunday Telegraph in 1996 as deputy comment editor and columnist, before becoming deputy editor. He wrote a weekly political column in The Sunday Telegraph for a decade.

    He succeeded Boris Johnson as editor of The Spectator.

    In January 2015, d'Ancona joined The Guardian as a weekly columnist.

    He left the paper in 2019 to become an editor and partner at https://www.tortoisemedia.com

    He also writes columns for the Evening Standard, GQ and The New York Times.

    He is chairman of the liberal Conservative think tank, Bright Blue, a trustee of the Science Museum and a Visiting Research Fellow at Queen Mary University of London.

    • 57 min
    Optimism - how we're drawn to the bright side, even in a pandemic

    Optimism - how we're drawn to the bright side, even in a pandemic

    Rafael Behr talks to neuroscientist and author Tali Sharot about the optimism hard-wired into our thought processes, how it affects the way we look at the world – and what it means for politics.

    The conversation also covers the relationship between emotion and reason, how we should respect some of the more primitive parts of our brains, what messages work best to encourage people to act on climate change, and what connects sourdough and the hunt for a coronavirus vaccine.

    Tali Sharot is a professor at the Department of Experimental Psychology, University College London, where she is Director of the Affective Brain Lab, and Wellcome Trust Senior Research Fellow.

    https://www.ucl.ac.uk/pals/research/experimental-psychology/person/dr-tali-sharot/Sheis

    the author of The Optimism Bias:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Optimism-Bias-were-wired-bright/dp/1780332637

    and The Influential Mind:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Influential-Mind-Reveals-Change-Others/dp/0349140634/

    This podcast is hosted by wwww.zencast.fm

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
130 Ratings

130 Ratings

elodie 200 ,

Excellent

Quality podcast. In depth, challenging, informative. One of the best podcasts in terms of its pace and and informed discussion.
Book references are extremely useful. Anyone concerned about the future of the left in British politics should be listening to this podcast in particular. Listen, think and stop trotting out the old slogans and ideas!

bobmcbobthebobmeister ,

Cogent analysis

The currents rather than surface splash of politics.

mstrinko ,

Consistently excellent

I always look forward to new episodes of PotC and listen to them as soon as they come out. It never fails to make me think, teach me something new, and make me more optimistic about the future of our politics - despite all the challenges.

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