Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Science Mike McHargue

Science Mike — The Science of Optimism

About This Episode

Science Mike (Mike McHargue) is a communicator who sees the world through the lens of science. You may have heard from Mike on his podcasts Ask Science Mike and The Liturgists Podcast. Branden sat down to talk with him about the science of optimism vs cynicism, making the world a better place, and how we all relate to one another.

“People grow when they are loved well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda.”

— Mike McHargue

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Science Mike McHargue

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Transcript

This transcript was auto-generated and may contain errors

Branden Harvey

Hello, Branden Harvey here with this week's episode of Sounds Good, the podcast for every single Monday, I sit down with an inspiring person to talk about happiness, overcoming struggles and living a life of intentionality and wonder. This week, I'm so excited to share a conversation with Mike McHargue, where everybody knows him. Science Mike. Science Mike, as you might have assumed, based on his name, is a brilliant human who sees the world through the lens of science, something that I don't do at all. I wanted to get a chance to talk to him about the science of optimism versus cynicism, making the world a better place and how we all relate to one another.


Branden Harvey

He might just be one of the smartest people I've ever met.


Branden Harvey

And I think you're going to love him.


Branden Harvey

So let's just jump straight into the conversation. All right? I am on the line with Science Mike. Welcome to the podcast.


Mike McHargue

So glad to be here. Thanks for the invitation, man.


Branden Harvey

So I was telling you this before, but I've been following along with you and your story for probably a few years now, and I am a huge fan of what you do and how you talk and the way that you're able to communicate really complex ideas in really simple ways. And so I wanted to start off by basically, I think there's probably a lot of people listening who maybe don't know who you are or they saw the title for the podcast and it says Science Mike, and they're like, okay, who named their kid Science Mike?


Branden Harvey

So let's just start off by saying, Where did Science Mike come from? The name.


Mike McHargue

I was at a party in Denver, and my friends have a party game they like to do where they get me drinking beers and then ask me science questions. And at this particular party, I was especially beard up and the party's attention sort of drifted toward me, answering all these science questions about whatever people could think of. Like what happens in your stomach and in your brain when you eat a Taco. Right. Like, just stuff like that important questions, right. And one of my friends said, oh, look at Science Mic.


Mike McHargue

Wowing, the crowd. And there are a couple of writers and musicians in attendance who then started calling me Science Mike in their work. And it took just a couple of months before my real name became a matter of history, and people just started calling me Science Mike, that's amazing.


Branden Harvey

And I asked you before the show started how to pronounce your last name. And now it seems like I don't actually even have to know how to pronounce it, because I can just call you Science Mike.


Mike McHargue

Yeah, it's really weird. Like I'm not a scientist. So I feel strange calling myself Science Mike, but the fact that people can actually pronounce it and remember, it has made it a matter of convenience. And ultimately, I've learned to see it kind of endearingly. It's almost like you have a friend who's really, like, almost two into football. All those friends call them football, Bob. That's how I'm Science Mike.


Branden Harvey

Okay. And so you mentioned that you are not a scientist. I am somebody who I got a C minus in biology and was too scared of my teacher to take chemistry. And so I didn't. And then in College, when I had to take a science class, I took geology. And so in my mind, I'm like, oh, Science Mike is a scientist because you do any amount more science than I do. What is a scientist? And then what is what you do? This is probably the dumbest question ever.


Branden Harvey

But what's going on here?


Mike McHargue

Well, a scientist is involved in the formal methodology of science to explore hypotheses got you? Scientists are researchers. Scientists are credentialed. I think scientifically. I appreciate the scientific method. I test claims scientifically, but I am not a working scientist, which is an essential distinction.


Branden Harvey

Got you. So you are science passionate, and you pay attention to the things scientists create and understand. It far more than my biology level. Brain C minus biology level. Brain can understand. But it's not your profession.


Mike McHargue

Yeah, I would say, well, these days, I actually am a professional science communicator science enthusiast.


Branden Harvey

Almost like a translator.


Mike McHargue

That is how I make my living. But, yes, I translate scientific ideas into the popular imagination.


Branden Harvey

Okay, so you translate science as a profession right now, how did you become a person so passionate about science? Somebody who understands science, somebody who kind of sees the world through a little bit of a science filter. What was childhood like for you?


Mike McHargue

I was a nerd. Well, I mean, I am a nerd, but I was a nerd as well. And I loved science fiction, which made me curious about science fact. And I also loved computers, and I wanted to know everything about how computers work. If you dig down far enough into software, you encounter mathematics interesting. And you learn about different forms of doing numbers. You learn a lot about hexadecimal numbers, and you learn about buying and numbers. But if you then try to figure out how the math executes in the computer itself, you learn about semiconductors and magnetism.


Mike McHargue

And the next thing you know, you're studying physics. So it's actually my love for computers that led to my appreciation for physics and material science and other forms of discipline like that. And once I learned that understanding physics could help you build a computer, I wondered what other Sciences could help you understand the world. So I got really into biology to understand myself and to understand humanity. I get into sociology and psychology to understand human behavior. And by the time I was in 7th or 8th grade, my bookshelves were full of science texts, primarily science and science fiction.


Mike McHargue

And other people watched baseball, and I tried to understand relativity.


Branden Harvey

You grew up kind of before the age of nerds being celebrated and nerds being cool. And I don't know exactly what it'd be like to be somebody passionate about science, like in the 6th grade, 7th grade today. But I would imagine that that wasn't necessarily like the easiest childhood in school. Would that be accurate?


Mike McHargue

I had copper red hair that I wore in a bulk hut. I wore Hawaiian shirts. I loved science fiction, computer programming, and I was obsessed with Jesus. And for a kid in the 80s, that was not the recipe for popularity. No, that's not how you get ahead and win friends and influence people. That's mainly how you get beat up.


Branden Harvey

And so was that what you experienced? Did you experience kind of getting beat up throughout all of middle school?


Mike McHargue

High school was there time in high school and middle school was the age of bullying for me.


Branden Harvey

Okay.


Mike McHargue

I met a friend in 8th grade who was learning to play guitar, and he said, you should learn to play bass. And I said, Why would I want to learn to play bass? He said, because we could start a band. And in high school people might like us.


Branden Harvey

Brilliant.


Mike McHargue

So we spent all summer learning to play our instruments horribly. But in 9th grade we were in a band, and so we didn't fall into the old nerd category. We were up and coming not any good, but still kids in a band. By 10th grade, we were getting pretty good and playing shows. And I had an odd transformation from middle school to high school, where I went from the bottom of the social hierarchy to being very widely accepted and even popular in high school, which is pretty confusing and disorienting but also wonderful.


Branden Harvey

And then did confidence come with that? Because you strike me as a much more confident person today, and you can correct me if I'm wrong but did confidence come with increased popularity, or did it not have any effect on that?


Mike McHargue

Confidence came from being a nerd? When no one offers you approval, you learn to only care about your own. What happened was my resolute desire to be true to myself became a point of admiration. Not only that something that happens in high school, but I came of age when the alternative music movement and alternative culture were first kind of cresting. And to be weird was to be cool. So my high school experience cemented my confidence. But it also took it to a point of arrogance. I had to have some come up with later in life to get to a more easy, self confident, not so over the top.


Mike McHargue

But I don't feel a need really to impress other people at all. And that looks like confidence.


Branden Harvey

That's awesome. And then you mentioned this before, but you did not pursue necessarily a scientific career. You went down the path of advertising. Is that correct?


Mike McHargue

Yeah. Well, I started my career in information technology and the tech industry, and then I transitioned into advertising a few years into it.


Branden Harvey

And so the way that you describe science, the way that you describe your interest in science, what I hear a lot of is this idea of curiosity. You started looking at software and you're trying to figure out how does this work and you get deeper and deeper, and then you're looking at physics. And then you're looking at how all these different things play into each other. And it seems like curiosity is potentially a lot of the root of your passion for science. And I know that curiosity is one of my favorite things to kind of strive for.


Branden Harvey

I try to be a more and more curious person. And so, first of all, do you think that that's something that's true in yourself? And then second of all, kind of on the scientific level, or maybe on the more personal level, what is the value of curiosity?


Mike McHargue

Oh, man, that's a big question. I'll start with the second one. Curiosity is at least the degree to which we hold it one of the defining features of the human species, a desire to know, cause and effect and manipulate. That a desire to know the thoughts and motivations of others are an evolutionary advantage that has been heavily rewarded. We are naturally curious creatures, but we also have a real bias and need for certainty. We prefer that our curiosity reinforces how we see the world at least once we leave childhood.


Mike McHargue

And that's quite a cognitive mess to be both curious and desire certainty, because curiosity is more often than not going to undermine how you see the world and not reinforce it. And to cope with that tension, we find some people go on a never ending quest in search of capital T truth, and other people suppress their curiosity in order to maintain the capital T truth that they already understand, and different people are open to different types of searching. So some people might have great certainty in the Sciences, but do a lot of their exploration via the arts.


Mike McHargue

Other people may just want a relatively static world view, and that's been reinforced by their cultural context. And so they hang out in that space that would describe, for example, modern political Conservatives. Neurologically speaking, we understand that their primary impetus, their primary motivating factor is the preservation of culture as it stands and reinforcing the status quo and the familiar all of the flowery language parties use on the surface, notwithstanding the cognitive motivator. But the difference between Liberals and Conservatives one way can be depicted is how comfortable they are with the way things stand today.


Branden Harvey

Interesting. And that totally makes sense because I feel like I grew up in a way where everything was black and white. I grew up in a fairly small conservative town and all around me, I think most of the people around me thought this is black, this is white, this is truth. This is whatever truth isn't. And I feel like I've had a lot of experiences that challenge those categories since growing up, I moved to big cities. I traveled the world. I met people who are different than me.


Branden Harvey

I read a whole lot, and I think that at some point I just started kind of breaking down those black and white categories into a little bit more Gray, I guess. And I think probably a lot of people listening have experienced something similar. And I read your book in a lot of ways. You describe something similar in your book, maybe in a different way. But what happens in somebody's brain when they move from where they're able to kind of break that down, like when they're able to move away from just this concrete idea of what truth is and what truth isn't?


Mike McHargue

Well, Daniel KaneMan, in what I would consider kind of a modern classic, had a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, where he explored that tension a lot.


Branden Harvey

Yeah, I read it.


Mike McHargue

And there's more recent neuroscience that delves deeper, but effectively. There's a lot of advantage neurocognitively to a simplified black and white model of reality. You can make decisions faster. You feel a greater sense of certainty, and frankly, you don't have to use the more expensive neurologically taxing parts of your brain to do your thinking. You use the fast firing portions of your brain to assess situations, including social situations. And the brain wants to as much as possible. Use that kind of thinking to expand your worldview, and indeed, to continuously challenge your worldview is to continue to engage the world neocortically to keep processing information and stimulus using the brain's prefrontal cortex, which is just an expensive, slow way for the brain to operate.


Mike McHargue

And it's only when we're proven wrong over and over by lived experiences, ideally diverse lived experiences that we can convince our brain to keep using this expensive hardware. And so people who stay in a more static environment continually get reinforced that their model of reality is very accurate. It's very high Fidelity, and therefore they can put a high degree of confidence in it. And to challenge that assumption is to push against some of the deepest biases and impetuses we have in the human experience. If a model is working, well, why would you change it?


Mike McHargue

It's actually easier to resist new information as long as you can instead of revising the way you view the world.


Branden Harvey

That's interesting.


Mike McHargue

And we are all guilty of that. Yeah, we are all guilty of that. Urban Liberals are just as guilty of that kind of bias towards existing information and existing model as our rural conservative.


Branden Harvey

I was about to ask you that because it would be easy for somebody to hear that and be like, oh, well, obviously, my political party is right. Your political party is wrong because your brain is being stupid. You can say that, but you're saying this happens on both ends of the spectrum equally.


Mike McHargue

Well, I don't want to create a false dichotomy. Yes, because I don't think we're in a state today where both political parties are causing equal harm in society. Yes, but I would say that neither political party represents some philosophical truth about the social experience or political reality that both employ low Fidelity models of reality that are designed to solve different problems.


Branden Harvey

Break that down for me. Low Fidelity models of reality.


Mike McHargue

They're oversimplified to a fault. If you gave either Liberals or Conservatives unchecked government power and they were able to execute their policies and exactly the way they see fit. Both would eventually lead to severe income inequality, to abuse of power and corruption, they solve different problems. Conservative political philosophies have legitimate times of need at different social intersections, as do Liberal. But even to say, conservative and Liberal, that's an oversimplification of false dichotomy of the political system. As it stands, you could get a little more accurate by saying you have left and right Liberal and conservative, and then you have up and down like authoritarianism and libertarianism.


Mike McHargue

But even then, you're oversimplifying politics. If you get a higher Fidelity view of reality, something that is more factually accurate, the complexity scales up in a way that your brain has a hard time visualizing it and what your brain wants is the simplest, most effective story at describing reality enough for you to survive and thrive. It doesn't care how Truthful or how accurate your model of the world works is, as long as it helps you eat, find a mate and secure physical safety.


Branden Harvey

Man, this is so fascinating. This is such a different way to have this conversation than I would normally get to have because you're bringing so much science and honestly, just depth to it. You mentioned a minute ago either political party, left unchecked, would cause havoc eventually. Yes. I think that right now what we see a lot of is kind of this polarization within the United States, of these political parties that feel very, very extreme. And I guess my first question is, is there something that's creating that is it actually more extreme?


Branden Harvey

And then number two is is that may be valuable because it creates more checks and balances like, is there anything there where you'd be like, oh, actually, some of this is a good thing, or you could just throw the baby out with a bathwater.


Mike McHargue

Wow. That's a book length answer to either of those questions. Certainly. I would say that the modern other political dysfunction we see has roots in some well meaning government reforms designed to eliminate middlemen and Port barrel legislation. Part of it is fuelled by increased communication on the Internet, and part of it is designed or emerges from a movement that really hit its stride with the Contract for America with the Republican Congress in the Clinton administration, where the value of coming to a consensus was eliminated by the constituency.


Mike McHargue

So what you have today is in order to keep their seat, politicians care primarily about primary voting audiences and not general election audiences, which creates an extreme rightward poll, especially in the GOP. And when you're told it's better to not govern at all than to compromise, that's going to paralyze government's ability to function. Now this creates a self reinforcing cycle because government's inability to function increases frustration with government that drives extremists to the polls and moderates to sit out elections, which further polarizes elections. So the solution to this problem is to overcome voter apathy and for moderates to show up not only every four years for the presidential election, but every two years for the midterms and also to reengage at the state and local levels, which is incredibly difficult to do right now when the voices of the fringes are loudest.


Mike McHargue

Now, is there anything good with this? Yes, American political parties since the Civil War have been primarily concerned with advancing the interests of businesses. And this has been especially true in the last in the post war era and large swathes of the American public. The middle class, especially middle, middle and below, have been completely left behind in economic progress. And so the Republicans are reaping a whirlwind right now in the form of Donald Trump. And the Democrats are only not reaping a whirlwind because Trump is so distracting.


Mike McHargue

But the popularity of Bernie Sanders represented its own comments for the Democrats in their failure to address the most basic promises they make their broadest constituency. Both have claimed we want to create Liberty and economic opportunity, and both have failed at that most basic of charge. And you're seeing audiences become more reticent to be manipulated with social issue voting when their basic economic interests are not advanced.


Branden Harvey

And so the goal would be instead of these big figures who are polarizing figures who are strong figures on far ends of the spectrum appealing to the extremes, the goal would be more moderate people in the middle.


Mike McHargue

Am I reading that the goal would be to give voice to the people who are just disgusted and say, I don't want anything to do with it. And also, I think there's a real opportunity that either one of the majors will seize on the major two or a third party will rise up and take out the weaker of the two major parties to build a constituency that crosses the traditional conservative Liberal line. The fact is, the lot and station of racial and ethnic minorities and non College educated whites isn't that different today.


Mike McHargue

And there should be an opportunity to build a political platform that speaks to their basic anxiety about economic fulfillment. And if you can do that in a way that convinces some elites that it's ultimately good for their bottom line to have a thriving working class who can actually buy their products, you might be able to build a party that lances and capitalizes on the energy of both Sanders and Trump supporters without enraging the elites. Now, that's a tall order that we're not structured for now. But if you understand anything about history and human cognition, we're actually at our best in times of crisis, we don't make decisions unless we absolutely have to.


Mike McHargue

So there's a silver lining to the just vicinity of the 2016 election cycle, as many people and more and more people are feeling that we are reaching a genuine point of crisis, and that's when social change and transformation is possible. If you look at World War II, that was an incredible crisis in human history. But following that crisis and responding to that crisis led to the postwar period, which was the longest period of global peace and expansion of economic prosperity in human history.


Branden Harvey

That's fascinating. I think the book that you mentioned earlier thinking fast and slow. I think it addresses this in some ways. If I remember correctly this idea that because our brains do respond in times of crisis, or if you were to take the College analogy, you're going to do a whole lot better enforcing yourself to write your paper. If it's due in the morning instead of doing two months. Is there a way that we can trick our brains into thinking that we are in the middle of a crisis without actually being in a crisis so that we can be more effective and have long periods of peace and economic prosperity?


Branden Harvey

What does that look like on a social level?


Mike McHargue

I have no idea. If I knew, I would probably be in political office somewhere on an individual level, it's basically a training of ritual and incentive alignment. I reward myself for not procrastinating. I reward myself for getting my work done. So I start the day with a three hour period of really intense work, and then I say, Good job. And I do something I love for, like, an hour, and I structure my day in that kind of work rest cycle where I in a completely Pavlovian manner, train myself to do good work.


Branden Harvey

Fascinating. And so something that I really enjoy about you is that you really see so much of your life through the lens of science and case in point just now, and the fact that in the end of the conversation, we were already knees deep in crazy political science conversation. I think there's a lot of people in the world who in a lot of ways reject science, and we see that a lot right now, and it feels like the United States, especially, but you kind of embrace it not just in, like, oh, wow.


Branden Harvey

I appreciate science. I believe in climate change. Like, you also are like, oh, here's how I'm going to structure my work day. Here's how I'm going to make these little things happen. Was that an intentional choice? Is that just part of who you are? Where's the value in that as well?


Mike McHargue

I've had the mind of an engineer, so I've always been about applying scientific insight into solving problems. And I've spent my whole life training my brain to have many of the more desirable features I see in a computer operating system for good and for bad. I think that's how I'm wired. I know that not everyone can approach life that way. My wife often jokes that I'm a robot, and I do remember what it's like to be a person. But I think anyone can take the learnings of science, especially neuroscience and behavioral Sciences, and apply them in ways that help them create a desired outcome in their own behavior.


Mike McHargue

That's something I talk about a lot in my book, Finding God in the ways we're at this kind of juncture in history, where many people are just not very religious anymore. They don't attend Church, Church tenants is way down. They don't identify it with any specific religious tradition, but the statistics aren't telling us that people are unspiritual or that belief in God or prayer is declining, merely institutional religious participation. And that shift in our society has left a lot of people with a longing or a hunger for spiritual things.


Mike McHargue

But feeling like there is no place to fulfill that desire that isn't associated with a culture war. They have no interest in being a part of totally. And I find great fascination not only what science is about human behavior in general or politics or things we've been discussing. But even if someone wants to feel closer to God, the ways that different rituals or prayer or meditation exercises can create that sense of closeness or forget God for a second, if you want to have a better relationship, neuroscience can inform better practices to feel closer to another person.


Mike McHargue

If you want to learn to appreciate art and you don't really watch art today, you can study what science is about art appreciation and cultivate practices that help you get there and simply take a more intentional posture to how you live using science as your guide.


Branden Harvey

That's so interesting. If somebody like me who got a C minus in biology wanted to take more of a proactive step to understanding science and figuring out ways to apply it to my life. What's a good first step? Other than just like nerding out over your podcast.


Mike McHargue

Pick a topic that you're interested in and then go find a decent science. Communicator that's written about it. I think a fascinating first book into examining human behavior and how it's shaped by a scientific view would be a book called The Happiness Hypothesis. The Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Height is terrific. It helps you visualize brain concepts in a way that are applicable in your daily living. And there's a lot of books that are written through that lens along that topic.


Branden Harvey

A lot of what this podcast is about is people sharing stories of overcoming cynicism and becoming more optimistic. What does science have to say about what cynicism does to the brain? That's something that when I feel cynical, like when I watch the news or when somebody attacks me or to attack somebody online, it does not feel good. Like in my brain, I just feel like stress and you get hot and there's something happening. Can you help translate for me what's happening? Scientifically?


Mike McHargue

Yeah. So we understand cynicism to be a cognitive defense mechanism. That is basically a way to vent frustrated idealism. You believe something beautiful and the real world didn't measure up to that belief. And cynicism is the way you protect yourself from your disappointment. Cynicism is associated with some pretty heavy emotional States and distancing yourself from them.


Branden Harvey

So if somebody wanted to move from cynicism to optimism, I guess what's happening in their brain to make that switch. But also what's kind of a practical way to do that?


Mike McHargue

Mindfulness is a great way to counteract cynicism. Mindfulness is the discipline of simply expanding your awareness, observing your own thoughts. There's mindfulness meditation that can accelerate that process and to interrupt your thoughts and push back on your cynicism to intentionally look for and mention to yourself to dwell on positive things in your life experience and in the world around you. In terms of what's happening in the brain, they involve relatively similar parts of the brain. It's simply a matter of what emotions are attached to those thoughts, and I would be oversimplifying any papers on the subject if I were to generalize that into brain areas or anything like that.


Branden Harvey

Absolutely. I'm a little bit kind of geeking out in speechless because I'm processing through all of this as we go. This is so interesting. Something I wanted to touch on is when I follow along with your work, I get the impression that you are a peacemaker that you're somebody who kind of creates peace in their own lives. And when I look at a lot of mainstream pop culture scientists who I love, like Bill Nye, et cetera, I feel like a lot of them kind of run towards conflict, and it almost seems like you're a lot more of a bridge builder.


Mike McHargue

I mean, I am telling I'm not.


Branden Harvey

Yeah.


Mike McHargue

If I get wound up on Twitter at just the right time, especially after a drink or two, I start knocking bridges down. But in general, absolutely. I'm heavily biased towards bridge building, and that's because it's how people learn. People don't learn very well from outright challenge. When you get into a debate or an argument, you have amygdala arousal. And people are primarily concerned with preserving social standing, defending themselves, or even outright winning. And it's only in more relaxed States of conversation that people are open to new ideas and open to learning.


Mike McHargue

So I always try to create a space of mutual admiration and expect or respect on any topic I discuss, and I make people feel like wherever they are right now, I understand that they're there. I think that it's a valid place to be, and I'm willing to listen to what they have to say to explain that state. And in return, people generally will listen back to me.


Branden Harvey

That's so good. And so basically, when we're getting close to the holidays and we're sitting down at the dinner table across from your crazy aunt, your crazy uncle, sit down, pay attention, and actually hear where people are at in a way where you can show that you're empathizing with them and that you're hearing what they're saying.


Mike McHargue

It's so hard to do what we said earlier. It's just as challenging for an urban progressive to go and embody the context of a rural conservative as the opposite. So by listening to the person, you're forcing your own brain to evaluate how you see the world and why you're brushing up against issues of social identity. So this is actually a relatively difficult posture to foster and to nurture over time. And if you're not careful and you overdo it, you'll experience such fatigue that you can end up lashing out at.


Mike McHargue

People are feeling despondent or despairing. So this is a practice you want to cultivate over time.


Branden Harvey

And it's interesting because it's also something that you don't master necessarily like. My impression would be that let's say that you grew up conservative, and at one point you had experiences that push you more Liberal. If you just stayed there, then you would just see the world just as black and white unless you continue to challenge yourself to kind of find that balance. Would that be accurate?


Mike McHargue

Absolutely. Yeah.


Branden Harvey

That's so interesting. Now my brain is hurting just thinking about all of the hurt that it's going to go through a lifetime of trying to not stay stagnant and trying not to stay still. But I think that those are my favorite people, people who are willing to kind of deal with that and push through because I think it's worth it to have relationships with people that you disagree with. And I think it's worth it to kind of see the world in a little bit more than a black and white perspective.


Mike McHargue

Yeah, I agree. I think it's essential. And I think it's difficult and in an increasingly polarized environment is harder and harder to do, which makes it all the more important.


Branden Harvey

That's good. That's really good. I want to get to this part of the show where every single episode, I ask three questions to every single guest. And my first question is, how would you describe the kind of person that you most admire in the world?


Mike McHargue

My gears are spinning, love it. The innovators people who realize that everything around us is just something somebody made up. At some point, they take nothing for granted, and they're willing to knock the whole thing over if they see a better way. If we look at that in industry, you're talking about Steve Jobs or Henry Ford. If we look at that socially, you're talking about Gandhi or Martin Luther King Jr. With all those people share in common is a realization that nothing in human culture and civilization is set in stone, that everything is just a decision someone made.


Mike McHargue

And then other people copied.


Branden Harvey

Question number two, what are you consuming that you love right now? And specifically, maybe something that is a little bit more science focused or something for listeners who are kind of psyched to hear about what's going on with you.


Mike McHargue

I've been on tour, so I usually read six or eight books a month. And right now I've been reading more like a book every other month. I got you, but I just read a collection of short stories I was absolutely compelled and fascinated by it's called Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Cheyang. I might be saying that incorrectly. It's C-H-I-A-N-G. Each one of the short stories kind of takes a different take on either alternate ways consciousness could exist or alternate cosmologies or alternate theologies. And it's a fascinating, but the stories are well told, but the premise of each story alone is worth the price of admission.


Mike McHargue

I later learned I bought a used copy, and I later realized it's now issued in a very shiny cover called Arrival. And there's a movie coming out that is based on one of the stories, but apparently it's like 100% on the tomato meter, so I'll probably see the film, too. That one's really good. Let's see in terms of a more traditionally science book that I'm consuming right now. The Master and His Emissary by Ian McGilchrist is a book about holistic versus reductive thinking as it relates to Western philosophy and the brain.


Branden Harvey

Fascinating. Is that something that's a little bit more advanced for somebody like you, or is that anyone could read it?


Mike McHargue

It's meant to be for popular audiences. It is heavy, it is heavy and it's writing style, one that's more accessible. And maybe if people are dealing with trauma in their life, a book I really enjoyed recently is The Body keeps the score and that was a really phenomenal book.


Branden Harvey

Interesting.


Mike McHargue

And also how to not be wrong. The power of mathematical thinking was excellent.


Branden Harvey

I love these. These are great recommendations. My final question is based on the ways you've chosen to step out and live your life differently. What's one thing you'd encourage someone else to do in their own life today?


Mike McHargue

Stop fantasizing about your dream and start making it today. Right now, as soon as this podcast is over, there's a million steps to making the thing you dream of. What is the one you can take two day do it and do that again tomorrow and the next day and repeat. And before you know it, your life will be completely and radically different. If you dream of writing a book, write 200 words today, call a friend who's written a book and ask them for advice if you want to make a record work on the song today.


Mike McHargue

One of my favorite quotes is I only write when I'm inspired. Fortunately, I'm inspired every morning at 09:00 and it is showing up to do the work that changes your life and changes the world. So dream less. Do more.


Branden Harvey

That's really good. Dream less. Do more. Mike, this has been incredible. I really appreciate you being willing to kind of geek out and share some fantastic knowledge. Where can people find you online? Where can they find out more about you and most of all, where can they find your book?


Mike McHargue

I wrote a book that if you think of this conversation as how we view different things scientifically. I wrote a book about viewing God Scientifically. It's called Finding God in the waves. You can learn more about it at findinggodandeways. Com. I'm also on tour right now, so I may actually be coming to your city. So if you go to Finding outandwaves. Comtor, I'd love to see you in person. If you'd like to listen to any of my podcasts or connect with me on social media, just go to asksciencelike. Com and click around like maybe to the work tab and you can find everything that I do, man.


Branden Harvey

Perfect. Well again, Mike, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate your wisdom, the way that you see the world and I'm hoping it just rubs off on me a little bit, so thank you.


Mike McHargue

Thank you, Brandon. It was a thrilled talking to you.


Branden Harvey

Thank you so much to each of you who tuned into Sounds Good this week. I love getting to have these conversations so much and if you love listening to them, please consider sharing about it online while you're at it. I'm on Instagram, I'm on Twitter, I'm on Snapchat and I'm sometimes on Facebook all of those are at Brandon Harvey Brandon spelled B-R-A-N-D-E-N. We should totally hang out on the Internet. It's going to be great this week and every week, you can find the show notes for this week's episode of Soundsgood.


Branden Harvey

Branden Harvey. Com / podcast in this show, sounds good at Branden Harvey is part of the Gradient Podcast Network. It's created in collaboration between Gradient Tonight. And with that, that's a wrap for this week's podcast. I'll see you online and I'll talk to you next week when we get the opportunity to learn from another. Inspiring Sounds good.


Episode Details

December 20, 2016
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Sounds Good is the weekly podcast that hosts hopeful conversations with optimists and world-changers about the headlines we can be hopeful about — and how you can get involved and make a difference.

Every week, Good Good Good founder Branden Harvey sits down with the people driving positive change against the world's greatest problems. Each episode will leave you with a sense of hope about the good in the world — and a sense of direction on how we can all be a part of that good. Episodes are released every Monday.

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