The Stakes Podcast: A History of Persuasion

AHP readers may be interested in a recent three-part series from the podcast The Stakes: “A History of Persuasion.” The series tackles the work of James McConnell and B.F. Skinner, and features interviews with, amongst others, historians of the human sciences Larry Stern (parts one and two) and Alexandra Rutherford (part three). Full details below.

Part One:

Infinite scrolling. Push notifications. Autoplay. Our devices and apps were designed to keep us engaged and looking for as long as possible. Now, we’ve woken up from years on social media and our phones to discover we’ve been manipulated by unaccountable powers using persuasive psychological tricks. But this isn’t the first time.

In this three-part series of The Stakes, we look at the winding story of the science of persuasion — and our collective reaction to it. In this episode: A once-famous psychologist who became embroiled in controversy, and how the Unabomber tried to kill him. Already heard this one?

Part Two:

Ted Kaczynski had been a boy genius. Then he became the Unabomber. After years of searching for him, the FBI finally caught him in his remote Montana cabin, along with thousands of pages of his writing. Those pages revealed Kaczynski’s hatred towards a field of psychology called “behaviorism,” the key to the link between him and James McConnell.

Part Three:

Silicon Valley’s so-called “millionaire maker” is a behavioral scientist who foresaw the power of putting persuasion at the heart of the tech world’s business model. But pull back the curtain that surrounds the industry’s behemoths, and you’ll find a cadre of engineers and executives that’s small enough to rein in. This is the final installment of our three-part series.

About Jacy Young

Jacy Young is a professor at Quest University Canada. A critical feminist psychologist and historian of psychology, she is committed to critical pedagogy and public engagement with feminist psychology and the history of the discipline.

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