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The Bigger Picture
Roni Firon Fouks
Conversations that go beyond the everyday, where psychology researchers, scientists, and cultural revolutionaries share their insights to help you become everything you’re meant to be.
3 days ago
Ep. 30 - Prof. Uriel Reichman: Saving Democracy in Israel
Prof. Uriel Reichman | Founding President & Chairman of the Board, Reichman University In today's episode, Uriel and I discussed the current state of affairs in Israel, the judicial reform that is threatening Israel's democracy and has caused millions of Israelis to organize in massive protests weekly. We spoke about the ideologies that are driving the harmful policies of the current extremist government - and what true democracy, based on Zionist humanistic values, really means. For more information on Uriel Reichman's legacy founding the first private university in Israel and his vision for a Jewish democratic state, visit his website here: https://www.urielreichman.com/en/
3 days ago
Ep. 29 - Anna Lembke: Dopamine and Why America is Addicted
In today's episode, I spoke with Anna Lembke, a psychiatrist, author of Dopamine Nation, Chief of the Stanford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic at Stanford University, and an expert on the opioid crisis. We spoke about the 'pain-pleasure' mechanism of the dopaminergic systems, how they can induce addictive behaviors through over stimulation, and how understanding these mechanisms can help us lead a healthy, balanced life that is free of addiction. We also zoomed in on cannabis addictions and workaholism, and how to distinguish when these behaviors become problematic.
Sep 23, 2023
Ep. 28 - Delroy Paulhus: Psychopaths, Narcissists, Sadists, & Online Trolls | The Bigger Picture Podcast
In today's episode, I spoke with Delroy Paulhus, a personality researcher focusing on antisocial, Dark Tetrad personality traits such as psychopathy, narcissism, Machiavellianism, and sadism. We spoke about how the internet provides a platform for sadists to get their kicks by trolling others online. And we spoke about the idea of human evil, our own shadow sides, and how we can better understand human malevolence.
Jun 13, 2022
Ep. 27 - John Vervaeke: Awakening from the Meaning Crisis
In today’s episode, I spoke with John Vervaeke, professor of cognitive science at the University of Toronto and creator of the YouTube lecture series “Awakening from the Meaning Crisis”. In his brilliant 50-part series, John weaves together philosophy, the history of ideas, and cognitive science to explain why we collectively find ourselves today in a crisis of meaning. In our conversation, we spoke about the origins of the meaning crisis, its symptoms today and how modern health issues are connected, and the practices that we can integrate into our lives to regain meaning and enhance our capacity for insight.
1 hr 10 min
May 16, 2022
Ep. 26 - Ben Volkow: Otonomo and the Future of Smart Cars
In today’s episode, I spoke with Ben Volkow, the CEO and Founder of Otonomo, a company that’s revolutionizing the world of car data. Otonomo offers the leading data platform and marketplace for sharing and utilizing vehicle data, with over 40 million connected cars and 4 billion data points. The opportunities are far-reaching for this unprecedented amount of car data, from traffic management and smart cities, to emergency services and smarter insurance policies. Ben was full of insights from his journey founding Otonomo and bringing the company to IPO at a 1.26 billion dollar valuation. We spoke all about his vision for Otonomo and how this kind of data can completely transform the way we drive, the way entire cities are planned, and much much more.
Mar 21, 2022
Ep. 25 - Mark Solms: Emotions are the Source of Consciousness
In today’s episode, I spoke with Prof. Mark Solms, a psychoanalyst and neuropsychologist from South Africa who is well known for his groundbreaking research on the brain mechanisms of dreaming. Today we spoke about the unique field of neuropsychoanalysis, some of his earlier research showing why Freud was right about dreaming, and about his new book The Hidden Spring: A Journey to the Source of Consciousness. In his book, Mark brings forth a revolutionary theory of consciousness that returns emotions and feelings to the center of our mental lives.
1 hr 1 min
Feb 20, 2022
Ep. 24 - David Schapiro: The Booming Field of Insuretech
In today’s episode, I spoke with David Schapiro, an expert in the insurtech space, who combines his silicon valley cowboy past with the old-school culture of the insurance industry. David explains why we’re seeing the emergence of a great number of tech companies within the insurance space, and why this is just the tip of the iceberg. David has been involved in companies such as ClickSoftware, PLANCK, BoughtByMany, Sayata Labs, and Earnix. We spoke about David’s experience in this space, his insights about insurtech specifically and entrepreneurship more generally, and about the track record we’re seeing of Israeli high-tech companies making a global splash and bringing innovation to the forefront.
Jan 24, 2022
Ep. 23 - Micha Kaufman: On Founding Fiverr & Revolutionizing the Gig Economy
In today’s conversation, I spoke with Micha Kaufman, founder and CEO of Fiverr. Fiverr has completely revolutionized the gig economy, making freelance work accessible for people all over the world. Fiverr simplifies the process of connecting freelancers with their customers, which allows freelancers to truly make a living from their work, and provides easy access for businesses large and small to highly skilled individuals. We spoke about where the idea for Fiverr came from, how the company looked in its early days, and what it took to make the Fiverr dream a reality. Micha shared his insights about what it takes to build a strong company culture and what values are important to cultivate in order to keep an ever-expanding company integrated and focused on the grander vision. Fiverr has opened so many doors for so many people around the world, and one of the things that were clear from our conversation was that at Fiverr, they never lose sight of the people they are serving.
Jan 16, 2022
Ep. 22 - Prof. James Pennebaker: Writing Therapy, What the Words We Use Say About Us, and the Power of Pronouns
In today’s episode, I spoke with Prof. James Pennebaker, a social psychology professor from UT Austin. Needless to say, within the psychology community, Pennebaker is a well known name. James is a pioneer in the field of writing therapy, where he has explored how writing about a past trauma can help people recover, as well as how the language we use can indicate the state of our mental health. He then went on to explore how people use language differently. For instance, how gender and personality can affect the language we use. One of the surprising things that emerged from James’s research is that the biggest differences between people’s use of language are actually to be found in their use of pronouns - those little words that no one quite pays attention to. Interestingly enough, it’s precisely the way we use pronouns that can tell us a lot about who we are.
1 hr 10 min
Dec 22, 2021
Ep. 21 - Tara Stiles: How To Feel Better With Strala Yoga
In today’s episode, I spoke with Tara Stiles, the founder of Strala Yoga, a revolutionary approach to being, moving, and healing. Strala Yoga is not like other styles of yoga. Strala combines the principles of tai-chi with yoga and delivers an easy-going flow, that allows you to sync with your breath, tune inwards, really listen to your body, and ultimately, to become good friends with yourself. Finally, there’s a style of yoga that really feels like you. In Strala, the focus isn’t on getting the alignment of the pose just right. Instead, poses are thought of as waypoints to move and flow through. This way of practicing yoga shifts your attention from how the pose looks to how you feel as you’re moving and breathing. Tara Stiles was private yoga teacher to Deepak Chopra, walked the red carpet with Jane Fonda, and along with her husband, Mike Taylor, Tara has devoted herself to making yoga accessible for everyone. Strala is all about slowing down, softening, moving with your breath, and practicing being kind to yourself, on and off the mat. There’s no pretentiousness, no strict rules or codes of dress. Strala is open to everyone. In our conversation, we spoke about how Strala Yoga was born, where the philosophy came from, and how the Strala community has developed and grown over the years. I feel really lucky that my introduction into the world of yoga was through Tara’s Strala Yoga videos, and I hope that after hearing today’s conversation, you’ll invite a bit of Strala Magic into your own lives as well. So without further ado, here’s my conversation with Tara Stiles.
1 hr 24 min
Dec 8, 2021
Ep. 20 - Yuval Tal: The Psychology of Entrepreneurship
Do you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur? A conversation with Yuval Tal, Founder & President of Payoneer and Managing Partner at Team8 Fintech. Yuval and I spoke about the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Yuval shared his lessons and insights from his entrepreneurial journey, and what kind of personality makes for a successful entrepreneur.
1 hr 1 min
Dec 7, 2021
Ep. 19 - Irvin Yalom: On Life, Love, & Existence
A very special episode with a very special person! In today' s episode I spoke with Irvin Yalom, the author of best-selling books such as When Nietzsche Wept and Love's Executioner, the father of existential psychotherapy and a pioneer in the field of group theory. We spoke about his latest book, A Matter of Death and Life, which he co-authored with his late wife, Marylin Yalom. Marylin and Irvin weave together a beautiful and touching tale of true love, old age, and a life well-lived. Click here for their latest book: A Matter of Death and Life
Dec 7, 2021
Ep. 18 - Simon Baron-Cohen: How Autism Drives Human Innovation
Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen and I discussed his new book, Pattern Seekers, and how autism has been a driving force for innovation throughout human history. We spoke about the difference between the Systemizing Mechanism and the Empathy Circuit, and how there is a big overlap between individuals with autism and those who are hyper-systemizers. Simon explained how, for most of human history, the true innovators and inventors were individuals who were curious, focused, and constantly trying to understand the systems that govern our world. Check out his latest book The Pattern Seekers: https://www.amazon.com/Pattern-Seekers-Autism-Drives-Invention-ebook/dp/B083J1G9PY
1 hr 3 min
Nov 17, 2021
Ep. 17 - Prof. David Buss: On His New Book "When Men Behave Badly" & Taking an Evolutionary Look at Human Sexuality
In today’s episode, I spoke with Prof. David Buss, an evolutionary psychologist from UT Austin, about his latest book - When Men Behave Badly: The Hidden Roots of Sexual Deception, Harassment, and Assault. This conversation was incredibly enlightening. David employs an evolutionary framework to better understand the dynamics of human mating. What I love about the evolutionary approach is that it allows us to really understand the motives of our actions and why we behave the way we do. Evolutionary psychology lets us look at human emotion, cognition, and behavior through a historic lens. And so we can understand how the environments of our far past shaped us to what we are today. And how in our modern world, certain evolved tendencies may no longer serve us and may seem maladaptive, but really, for the majority of human history, they had a very purposeful function. So by studying human mating and sexual conflict through the evolutionary lens, we can take a hard look at the darker…
1 hr 47 min
Oct 13, 2021
Ep. 16 - Prof. Sam Gosling: What Your Room Says About Your Personality, and How Physical Spaces Affect Our Psychology
In today’s episode, I spoke with Prof. Sam Gosling, a personality researcher from UT Austin. To start with - we should first ask ourselves - what is personality? There are endless theories and frameworks that try to describe, explain, and predict a person’s characteristic nature - as well as many different approaches to studying and measuring an individual’s personality. In this episode, Sam gave us his take on what personality actually means and explained the different levels of analysis that we should pay attention to when venturing into this field. Throughout his career, Sam has studied how our personalities are reflected in the physical spaces that we inhabit. What do our rooms, offices, and homes say about who we are? How can we learn more about someone’s personality, just by observing their room or office for instance? We spoke about all of the different clues we should look for when observing someone’s space - as well as which personality traits are the most easily de…
1 hr 7 min
Sep 30, 2021
Ep. 15 - Prof. Bernard Berofsky: Having Free-Will in a Somewhat Determined World, A Compatibilist's View
In today’s episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Prof. Bernard Berofsky, an Emeritus Professor of Philosophy from Columbia University, who in his career has explored topics such as free-will, determinism, liberation, autonomy, and creativity. Bernard is an exceptional philosophical thinker, and his devotion to the pursuit of knowledge and truth is an inspiring one. This conversation was a deep dive into the mind of an analytical philosopher. In some parts, we explored the deeper philosophical arguments around these ideas, and in others we spoke about how they can be related and applied to our everyday lives. First of all, you might be asking yourself, what is this idea of free-will and determinism? What is the big dilemma here? Well this is a huge question that has been occupying philosophers for ages - and it asks - do we, as humans, have free-will over our choices? Or is the universe we live in already predetermined, which would mean that everything that ever was and ever…
2 hr 4 min
Sep 12, 2021
Ep. 14 - Prof. Ran Barkai: The Life of Prehistoric Man, Cave Paintings, & Altered States of Consciousness
In today’s episode, I got to speak to Prof. Ran Barkai, an archeologist from Tel Aviv university. Archeology is a fascinating field that provides us with a very real, physical, sensory connection with our past. By uncovering certain objects, remnants, and markings left behind by prehistoric man, we can paint a picture of what the life of our early ancestors was really like. Each new discovery adds to this tapestry of history, and the new technological advancements we have today help make our estimations of the past even more accurate. One of the exciting discoveries that Ran and his team have found is that of cave paintings - that were so deep within the caves - that the prehistoric humans that ventured in there must have used fire to light their way. What Ran and his colleagues were able to show was that at such depths - due to the lack of circulation - lighting a fire would cause oxygen levels to lower to such a degree - that a state of hypoxia would be induced in these early pain…
1 hr 21 min
Aug 11, 2021
Ep. 13 - Prof. Nicholas Dirks: Science for the Public Good, the Future of Innovation, and Uniting the Humanities and the Sciences
How can scientific innovations transform society? What can learning about different cultures teach us about ourselves? What can learning about our past teach us about our future? And what do we truly need in order to drive scientific progress? In today’s episode, I spoke with Prof. Nicholas Dirks, the President of the New York Academy of Sciences, former Chancellor of UC Berkeley, and former dean of the Humanities at Columbia university. Nicholas started his academic journey in history and anthropology, having been fascinated with Eastern cultures, especially India, from a young age. Throughout his career, Nick has embodied the spirit of the interdisciplinary approach and the pursuit of furthering human knowledge through investigation and exploration. This conversation was definitely a hopeful one. We spoke about the role of science in our society, the wonderful innovations that science is able to produce, and we also spoke about the importance of interdisciplinary dialogue and col…
2 hr 6 min
Jul 31, 2021
Ep. 12 - Prof. Reuven Dar: A New Outlook on OCD, How It Differs from OCPD, and Why Internal Awareness Matters
In today’s episode, I spoke with Prof. Reuven Dar, a clinical psychologist and researcher, who studies OCD. Ruvi and his colleagues have developed a model that approaches OCD in a different way from the mainstream consensus. They’ve come up with a framework for OCD called “Seeking Proxies for Internal States”. The idea behind this is that individuals suffering from OCD have a harder time accessing their own internal states. And in order to deal with this, they seek proxies, or things that are external to them, in order to gauge what exactly their internal states are. This is quite a different way of looking at OCD, and it shines a light on the difficulties that these individuals often experience when trying to understand what exactly they themselves are feeling. And so their ritualized and compulsive behavior become these kinds of external crutches that help them gain more certainty around their uncertain evaluations of their own internal worlds. We talked about the different…
1 hr 2 min
Jul 25, 2021
Ep. 11 - Prof. Leo Corry: The Evolution of Science, Science & Religion, and the Importance of the Humanities
In today's episode, I spoke with Prof. Leo Corry, a historian and philosopher of mathematics and science, and the former dean of the Humanities at Tel Aviv university. Leo has studied mathematics, history, and philosophy, and has such an extensive mapping of the history and evolution of science and mathematics, as well as how different cultural and social movements worked together and created the environment that made certain technological advancements and progressions in humanity’s understanding of the world. We spoke at length about the philosophy of science, how we need to stay humble in the face of uncertainty, and how for the greater part of history, science and religion have been married to one another, science having been born out of religion, with the fundamental goal of both being to understand the world and the universe we find ourselves in. We talked about the point at which science became divorced from religion, to the extent that today most people would find the two an…
1 hr 19 min
Jul 12, 2021
Ep. 10 - Dr. Yulia Golland: Synchronizing with Others, Social Neuroscience, and the Individual & the Collective
What does it really mean to be on the same wavelength with someone? Is there any truth to these kinds of metaphors? Dr. Yulia Golland shows that on a certain level - yes there is. Dr. Yulia Golland is a social neuroscientist who studies interpersonal synchrony. In other words, she studies how people get in-sync with one another. Human beings are inherently social creatures, and we are constantly shaping and being shaped by our social environments. A lot of this communication happens verbally, but the majority of it happens below our conscious radar, on levels that we may not be aware of. When we interact with someone else, sometimes we can have the feeling that we’re clicking or that we’re on the same wavelength, so to speak. What these metaphors help us describe is that feeling when we feel a sense of rapport and connectedness with the other person. We’ve all had these experiences, but what Yulia does is show that not only do we experience these moments of connectedness subjec…
Jun 20, 2021
Ep. 9 - Dr. Elran Haber: The Microbiome, Computational Biology, & Integrating Business and Science
Did you know we have trillions of bacteria, yeast, and virus cells living within us? How does this "microbiome" affect our health and well-being? Today we spoke about the microbiome with Dr. Elran Haber, who is the CEO of Biomica, an emerging biopharmaceutical company developing innovative microbiome-based therapeutics for the treatment of immune-mediated and infectious diseases, with a specific focus on immuno-oncology and GI related disorders. Their company is composed of an A-Team of brilliant scientists from Israel and from around the world. Elran and I spoke about the microbiome at large, what it is, why it’s a fascinating new frontier of research, and how we can apply this new knowledge in our own lives to improve our health and longevity. We got to hear about the exciting new interventions that Biomica are developing, as well as other success stories that have been popping up in the field. It’s amazing to think that there’s an entire ecosystem living within us, and that ou…
May 28, 2021
Ep. 8 - Nir Minerbi & Amir Naveh: Quantum Computing, Founding a Start-Up, & Work-Life Balance
Nir Minerbi and Amir Naveh are two of the founders of a quantum computing company called Classiq. So it turns out, quantum computing is a thing. Quantum computing is an exciting new approach that integrates computers as we know them today with the principles of quantum physics. An important distinction between the classic Newtonian physics and quantum physics is that, in Newtonian physics, things are considered causal, meaning, one thing causes the other. So if we have complete knowledge of the past, that means that we can compute the future, and vice versa. But in quantum physics, things get a little more complicated. Objects, such as atoms, are neither particles nor waves, but instead, are a weird combination of the two. We can’t be 100% certain where things actually are and how they move. So in this paradigm, if we have complete knowledge of the past, we can only make probabilistic predictions of the future. And so quantum computing introduces this probability factor into the mi…
1 hr 9 min
May 16, 2021
Ep. 7 - Dr. Orly Flakowicz Idan: Psycholinguistics, How Language Shapes Thought, and the Magical Power of Words
How do words shape our thoughts and our reality? How can changing one word dramatically impact people's opinions? What really is the importance of being precise in your speech? Orly studies psycholinguistics, which is the meeting place between psychology and linguistic studies. In particular, she researches how language can affect our attitudes, emotions, and responses. We spoke about the research she’s done in the field of conflict resolution and negotiations, where she and her colleagues have shown that different wordings, often very subtle, can have a substantial impact on how we perceive different texts and messages. It’s incredible how much our language and the words we choose to use shape our reality and our interpersonal relationships. Language is this miraculous human instinct, and it’s such an integral part of our experience that we often take it for granted. So I hope this conversation will help shed some light on some of the different aspects of language - how it wor…
1 hr 23 min
May 16, 2021
Ep. 6 - Prof. Danny Hamiel: How to Build Resilience & Making Psychology Scalable
What makes some people resilient, and others not? How can we make psychology scalable? Prof. Danny Hamiel is a clinical psychologist by trade and a researcher. Danny's bigger picture is to promote well-being on a larger scale. He is the head of the Cognitive-Behavioral unit in the Tel-Aviv university mental health center and is the director of the unit for school interventions at the Cohen-Harris Center for Resilience, which has been chosen by the Israeli Ministry of Education as the national program for school interventions to promote resilience and help children deal with daily stressors and to cope with trauma. These programs are especially important in cities that are at high risk for mass disasters. Danny has devoted his life to developing programs and interventions that promote well-being in the community and that are scaleable, and we speak about how he thinks we can apply the insights of psychology in a way that improves many people's lives rather than just a few. We spoke ab…
1 hr 20 min
May 16, 2021
Ep. 5 - Prof. Eilon Solan: Game Theory & Emergent Ethics
How are game theory, math, and values related? In this episode, we spoke about Game Theory and its different applications in real life with Prof. Eilon Solan from Tel Aviv University. Eilon holds a PhD in Mathematics from the Hebrew university. Besides his fascination with math, Eilon is also a fan of sci-fi and he authored two science fiction books in Hebrew. One of the topics we spoke about is the exciting idea of emergent ethics arising out of game theory models. One of the things that we discover after investigating different models of game theory is that the best long term strategy in many games is a cooperative strategy. So in a sense, in game theory, the idea of cooperation can be "mathematically proven".
Mar 21, 2021
Ep. 4 - Prof. Gilad Hirschberger: Political Psychology & Existential Threats
How can insights from political psychology help us improve the debate between the right and the left? In this episode we spoke with Prof. Gilad Hirschberger, an experimental social and political psychologist who studies collective threats and their relevance to group survival concerns and to intergroup relations. Based on a multidimensional existential threat (MET) model that he developed, he studies how the shadow of past threats, such as the Holocaust, and the specter of threats looming in the future can influence attitudes, behaviors, and cognitions. In our conversation, we spoke about how his MET model can provide us with a different lens through which we see politics, and how his framework can help create a healthier dialogue, allowing the right and the left to work through disagreements, recognize each other's value, and to overall help us make progress and get out of the political rut in which we find ourselves. Gilad received his BA in psychology from Berkeley, and a Ph.D. in…
Mar 21, 2021
Ep. 3 - Prof. Daniel Levy: Neuroscience and the Philosophy of Free Will & Determinism
Have you ever asked yourself, "Do I really have free-will? Or is everything that happens already pre-determined"? If so, you're in luck. In this episode we spoke with Prof. Daniel Levy, a cognitive neuroscientist and the dean of the school of Psychology at IDC. Daniel's research focuses on understanding the processes of the human mind, specifically on different aspects of memory and attention. Notably, Daniel began his explorations of psychology through the humanities and the study of philosophy, leading to much exploration around the philosophy of consciousness and free-will. He received his Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and did his post-doctoral fellowships on human memory at the University of California in San Diego and Bar-Ilan University. He's also taught cognitive neuroscience at the Weizmann Institute. To this day he remains fascinated by the integration of psychology and philosophy, and has written about the *neuroscience of Free Will*…
Mar 21, 2021
Ep. 2 - Dr. Guy Hochman: Behavioral Economics, Rational Decision Making, & Moral Behavior
Are we rational? Are we as moral as we think we are? Can we really trust ourselves to make rational ethical decisions? In this episode, we have Dr. Guy Hochman, who is a senior lecturer and the head of the MA program in Behavioral Economics at Reichman University. Guy received his PhD in organizational psychology from the Technion university and then went on to complete his post-doctorate at Duke University under the supervision of Prof. Dan Ariely. His research focuses on heuristics and biases, behavioral economics, pro-social and anti-social behavior, and the cognitive processes that underlie decision making. We got into some of the basics of behavioral economics and the revolutionary way that this field incorporates the human element into economic research. We'll also explore the idea of ethical decision making, and how such research can help us promote moral behavior and bring about a more ethical society.
Mar 21, 2021
Ep. 1 - Prof. Shimon Schocken: Computers, Education, & Building a University
In this episode, we spoke with Prof. Shimon Shocken, the founding dean of the school of Computer Science at Reichman University. After being a tenured professor at NYU for 10 years, Shimon came back to Israel to take part in building a new academic institution from scratch. Over the years, Shimon was also a visiting professor at Harvard and Stanford, and served as chairman of the Computer Science Curriculum committee of Israel's Ministry of Education from 2009 to 2012. Shimon is a passionate educator, and has developed revolutionary courses such as NandtoTetris and Matific, which we spoke about in this episode.