On Tuesday, Carleton University professor Jim Davies was interviewed on Slate’s daily news and information podcast, The Gist. Davies is an associate professor with the Institute of Cognitive Science and Director of the Science of Imagination Laboratory.
He was interviewed by host Mike Pesca on the occasion of his first commercial publication, Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe. Professor Davies, who holds a PhD in Computer and Cognitive Science from Georgia Tech, explains the science behind what fascinates us as humans and draws us to particular fields, works of art, or social groups.
According to Amazon, Professor Davies
reveals the evolutionary underpinnings of why we find things compelling, from art to religion and from sports to superstition. Compelling things fit our minds like keys in the ignition, turning us on and keeping us running, and yet we are often unaware of what makes these “keys” fit. What we like and don’t like is almost always determined by subconscious forces, and when we try to consciously predict our own preferences we’re often wrong.
The description continues:
We are beginning to understand just how much the brain makes our decisions for us: we are rewarded with a rush of pleasure when we detect patterns, as the brain thinks we’ve discovered something significant; the mind urges us to linger on the news channel or rubberneck an accident in case it might pick up important survival information; it even pushes us to pick up People magazine in order to find out about changes in the social structure.
The interview on The Gist shone a spotlight on the Carleton University professor and his compelling work. Riveted is available now.