Ideas Lab

Analyzing the Limits of Rational Choice in Political and Cultural Conflict

presented by Scott Atran

With our team of pol­i­cy­mak­ers, aca­d­e­mics, for­mer mil­i­tary, of play­wrights, we explore why peo­ple refuse polit­i­cal com­pro­mise, go to war, attempt rev­o­lu­tion, or resort to ter­ror­ism, focus­ing on what Darwin called those virtues highly‐esteemed and even sacred,” that give immense advan­tage to any group with devot­ed actors inspired to sac­ri­fice for them.

Deducing the Cognitive Basis of Attempting to Influence Others

presented by Bahador Bahrami

In the course of Donald Trump’s rise to pow­er, peo­ple have repeat­ed­ly been ask­ing, Why did he tweet that? What was he think­ing about?” Our fas­ci­na­tion with his men­tal states high­lights a very impor­tant ques­tion for us: What hap­pens in our minds and brains when we try to influ­ence oth­ers?

Discovering Health Innovations in Humanitarian Settings

presented by Kamalini Lokuge

During the war in Afghanistan, the mil­i­tary decid­ed to air drop food pack­ages as part of its win­ning hearts and minds cam­paign. Unfortunately, the food pack­ages were very sim­i­lar in appear­ance to the clus­ter bombs they were drop­ping at the same time. If mil­i­tary decision‐makers had spo­ken to com­mu­ni­ties, aid work­ers, mil­i­tary per­son­nel on the ground, they’d have fig­ured out there were smarter ways to deliv­er food and win the trust of the Afghan peo­ple.