IPMU Colloquium

Speaker: Simon DeDeo (Carnegie Mellon University & the Santa Fe Institute)
Title: From the French Revolution to QAnon: Where do new things come from, and what do we do when we get them?
Date (JST): Wed, Feb 17, 2021, 10:00 - 11:30
Place: Zoom
Abstract: Our brains are extraordinarily powerful pattern-recognition machines. This is a great blessing, because our ability to perceive and infer pattens is what makes the world comprehensible. The very same ability, however, regularizes inconvenient information, and causes us to reject what doesn’t fit the patterns we expect. Much of our early understanding of how this happens came from studies of the the human visual system, but in the last ten years, data-scientific work in our laboratory has looked at the counter-intuitive ways in which humans respond to the new and unexpected in the domain of human culture and society. I’ll show highlights from our progress, where metaphors from Bayesian inference help reveal how scientific discovery and political change can overcome natural human tendencies toward epistemic inertia and lead to revolutions in how we see the world. I'll finish with up-to-the-minute work on the dark side of our species’ insatiable curiosity, and how the internet can lead people into conspiracy theories and delusion. Throughout this talk, I’ll try to answer an implicit question: how did an IPMU cosmologist turn the telescope inward to study the “inner space” of the human mind?