DiscoverTED Radio HourHow Things Spread

How Things Spread

Update: 2017-05-0510


What makes an idea, a brand, or a behavior catch fire? This hour, TED speakers explore the mysteries behind the many things we spread: laughter and sadness, imagination, viruses and viral ideas. TED speakers include Microsoft founder Bill Gates, neuroscientist Sophie Scott, entrepreneur and blogger Seth Godin, physician and social scientist Nicholas Christakis, and historian Yuval Harari. (Original Broadcast Date: March 04, 2016)

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support for this podcast and the following message come from C D W I T orchestration by CW brings together experts technologies and partners like Cisco to turn complexity into simplicity CW people who get it hey it's guy here and we are just back from the Ted conference in Vancouver with some incredible ideas for new episodes but in the meantime take a listen to this one from our archives it's called how things spread and it explores the mysteries behind how things catch fire go viral things like disease is laughter sadness imagination even ideas to hear from Bill Gates Sophie Scott Seth Godin and Duvall Harare enjoy this is the Head Radio Hour each week groundbreaking had the Technology Design Design at Stanford Ted conferences around the world gift of the human had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy Russ took a few weeks ago we were talking with a research scientist named Sophie Scott by speaking so he works in London that we live versus recorded and we were recording Of course fantastic done so check it would be crazy for those live and now let's take your calls for so he can help realize the amount that sound the whole what happens to your brain when you're that is exactly what Sophie studies as a cognitive neuroscientist so I study study human brains but I'm interested in but we're doing right now we can see each other but we are having empathy for fluids can decide to write and I'm interested in how that goes on in terms of perception and production and I'm interested in the verbal stuff that we do and also in the other noises we make with our mouths and one noise in particular that Sophie focuses on his laughter and white like it cold or even AI ya know there's something contagious about it a yawning is very light left in this respect even catch it from somebody and the ol' much will a catcher for some the you know some you don't know ok so to set this up live the more you might remember this viral video that went around a couple years back the Slough was reading something on a five a break basically this was an improv group in Berlin and they filmed a stunt a Metra train there one lady is looking at our farm and she see something funny so she shows it to a friend and they start laughing the somebody else around or special I think the flood like the packed train and Germans are not you know the kind of serious stare like the paper's hilarious minions slowly but surely the rest of the passengers can see the first woman is fun and don't know what she's laughing at the laughter spreads and spreads until he says even though the initial spark of laughter was staged and planned the spread I was real even go from very strange love of a polite enough to be social up to thirty genuine the helpless involuntary laughter along the same route as last adjust prices love to eat anywhere in the world rip you want people to love the you get the mom thing and then you keep them going in this part time nurse scientists like Sophie Scott they understand it pretty well laughter it spreads but we understand less is why here Sophie on the Ted stage I don't eat today about laughter and insight into the science of love there is very much for those it does turn out that pretty much everything we think we know about laughter is wrong is not unusual for example to hear people cite him as many animals love me to the humans the animals laughed in fact the fund lost a two out the mammals has been well described the well observed in primates use a seat in rats and where to find it humans primates Bass and Associates the things that tickle a Muslim for humans if one or so says reply in all mammals play the following dates associated with interactions so what prize I knew the work a missus pointed out that you off the tee times more likely to love you're with somebody else finish on your own when you find most beloved at ease in social instructions like conversation so if you asked human beings when you laugh they'll talk about comedy about the human doubts about jokes if you look at when I laugh laughing with their friends and we love the people I hardly ever actually laughing at jokes you are nothing to show people you understand them but you agree with them they oppose the same group as them nothing should be like them you love them less the same time is talking to him in trouble after seeing the emotional work for you you the the it's the kind of laughter you experience maybe later tonight when you're a little slap happy with your friends because that kind of laughter the head of laughter we heard on that trend her land it's just another way we have of saying I know you like he doesn't come and be a hangout with u love this set of mirroring other people's behavior like guests in behavior contagion it's always with a positive meaning and in fact when conversations you novelist author to breathe the same time as soon as she started speaking we didn't decide to do this we just have to do with the sheets have a conversation have caught a nice graph you'll also find is the more you like the person you're talking to the more the other things as well so you'll start he's saying what his band of Nazis and grammatical structures i e don't do that if you would like somebody could do it when you like someone got the social egg on a show today exploring those social links how things spread trying to understand how emotions disease even ideas themselves spread among us and highest together the food but first back to Sophie Scott and a really interesting part of her research on laughter which she presented on the Ted stage the interest today is different kinds of love to have some Euro biological evidence about how human beings vocal eyes suggests there might be two kinds of loss that we have safe seems possible that the neural biology for helpless involuntary love to have a different basis to its somewhat more polite social off that you encounter which is the horrible laughter from the spider somebody is doing his part that communicates back to you but the interaction of you they are choosing to do this so I've been looking at us in more detail to do this that make recordings people laughing let's do whatever it takes to make people laugh I mean the same people to produce more power social officers imagine a friend told a joke and you'll often be like if read but not in a really good the judge will ask some may play a couple of hours going to tell me he's lost his real love to rethink its home season in College Hill after all move on she laughed I was at seventy eight post was about Islam the banks the the the hell was loath to an intense two week old but Wednesday was because me watching one of my friends listening to something I knew she was the last I just doing this now will you find is that people are good at selling the difference to impose laws they seem to be different things to us again this cannot see how brains respond when he laughed at and what he seems to be the case when you have some real acting voluntarily you hear sounds you would never hear another context is very ambiguous and it seems to be so she's been great so did she pricing reasonable sounds in conscious when you hear somebody laughing in opposed way we see these regions which are occupying brain areas associated with men slicing thinking about what somebody else is thinking what that means even having a brain scan which is completely boring another interesting when you hear some guy haha you're trying to work out were they laughing the show so I get that laughter is always meaningful and that something's going on the brain right but we don't really understand why it's contagious Ryan let Wyatt spread snow gnome we know the days we know that happens we know is contagious but clearly comb the whole story we know it's more complex than that am we don't really understand and see you know she's on the time cools the boys love for the end of sentences for example and they really caught my tail off to very tightly to do that so it's not just contagious is actually being really highly orchestrated where is um with um skull of spontaneous hell was left the country costs low people can hear something that makes him start to laugh and then a few beats later they still really laughing hard and then the last fifteen minutes the tiny levels of the love of all mammal behavior which is a huge amount of good helping you make even the trends in social relationships go slightly faster the the obese guy has a cognitive neuroscientist at University College London you can see her entire talk to Doc on the the the the a the to hello it's an ok Seth boo hoo thank you for joining us for continuing traditions of place my name is Seth Godin and author of Blogger and sometimes an entrepreneur some folks like all you ate like a kind of a Toyota of marketing I hope I'm better looking than Yoda I'm really interested in people who have something to say the change they want to make I can't figure out why they can't make it spread fast written and blogged so much about marketing that if you google the word just works at the P comes up is the first hit so it's safe to say he kind of knows what he's doing right except that even with all of his expertise Seth will be the first to tell you that getting an idea to spread is not an exact science there are tricks you can try of course but they won't always work and as he explained the Ted stage even the greatest idea of all time it almost fell apart I gotta tell you about slice bread now before sliced bread was invented in nineteen ten mins I wonder what they said like the greatest invention since the Telegraph or something but the thing about the invention of sliced bread is this for the first fifteen years after sliced bread was available no one wanted no it it was a complete and total failure and the reason is that until wonder came along and figured out how to spread the idea of size bread no one wanted that the success of sliced bread is not always about what the patent is like or what the factories like it's about time you get your idea to spread or not and it doesn't matter whether you run a coffee shop or intellectual or you're in business or flying hot air balloons people can spread ideas regardless what those ideas are women but consumers they got way more choices than they used to and way less time and a world where we have too many choices and too little time the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff and my parable here is driving down the road and you see a cow and you keep driving because you've seen cows before cows are invisible cows are boring who's going to stop in Columbus OH like a cow nobody the but if the cow was curveball you notice it I mean that's going to decide what gets talked about what gets done what gets change what gets purchased what gets built is is it remarkable remarkable day really cool word because we think it just means neat but it also means worth making a remark about and that is the essence of where I didn't use is going ok so how do you translate remarkable into an idea that spreads when we come back Seth Godin with some secrets that sell blenders hot sauce and a billion cups of coffee and Guy rise and you're listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR o Hey Everyone Just a quick thanks to two of our sponsors who helped make this podcast possible first two Delta Airlines aims to make your travel experience easy and enjoyable with Delta studio to studio offers one hundred percent free entertainment with over a thousand hours to choose from including HBO Showtime up to three hundred movies and eighteen channels of live satellite TV on select flights last podcast thousands of songs tv and games all available on the Delta studio The thanks also to racket mortgage by Quicken loans when it comes to the big decision of choosing a mortgage lender it's important to work with someone you can trust who has your best interests in mind with racket mortgage you'll get a transparent online process that gives you the confidence you need to make an informed decision skip the banks get the waiting and go completely on line at Quicken loans dot com slash ideas just get an equal Housing lender licensed in all fifty states and MLS consumer access dot org Number thirty thirty it's the Ted Radio Hour from NPR and I rise on the show to date how things spread hell id is emotions behaviors disease is spread from one person to another and just a minute ago we were hearing from Seth Godin he's kind of like the Yoda of marketing he says that whatever you're trying to spread whether it's an idea or a brand or whatever it is those things spread faster when the people you know and like talk about them when you think about Hoover and error be in D and the other companies are turning things upside down Hoover isn't because they ran a lot of hats their big because someone took out the iPhone and said to their friend watch this and pressed a button in a car pulled up this is exactly how I feel about my Vita Mix I talk about it with friends all the time it is alright of course I had my breakfast from a Vita Mix today and they're amazing I talk about all the time so the blender stories interesting when a few years ago a guy took over chemical blend tank which was Vita Mix is competitor so what blend TEC started to do but will it land was taken at things that should not be in a blender that's fine like an iPhone but then blended the the they did a series of videos called with the plan we are going to boil and cube it draconian imitation diamonds today we're going to plan forty than half a chicken mascara the aisle and then my DVD remote control has pushed this movie but the those commercials are super powerful not because he stood up and said wanna see my blender but he said if you show your friends this they will start to appreciate your sense of humor so by giving people a tool that they can share and benefit from it a form of media that isn't controlled by Rupert Murdoch are the guys at Viacom is a form of media has earned every single time it spreads so what happened and they sought a lot of lenders I have one at home as well and if I ever you need to blend a hockey puck over a bunch of pencils it's my go to the what marketers use to do is make average products for average people that's what mass marketing is they would ignore the geeks and God forbid the loggers it was all about going for the center I don't think that's a strategy instead you have to find a group they're really just really cares you have to say talk to them they have something I call Pataki is a great Japanese word that describes the desire of Sony's obsessed to say drive across Tokyo to try a new place because that's what they do they get obsessed with to make a product to market an idea to come up with any probably want to solve that doesn't have a constituency within a ta KU is almost impossible there's a hot sauce otaku but there's no mustard taco that's why there's lots and lots and lots of kinds of hot sauces or not to many kinds of mustard that because it's hard to make interesting mustard you can make interesting mustard but people don't because no one is obsessed with it and thus no one tells their friends the the the is depression or pair it with the loudest voice is the idea that is most amplified is that those who want to spread sometimes I think it depends on the segment and I think it depends on the steaks you have to pay the price to be in the right place at the right time often enough that people tend to see you as the regular kind so I look at Starbucks Howard Schultz has made many brilliant decisions and one of the things they did was they invented the third space it's not working at home that's one of the engines of its pet but at the same time he was doing that he bet the farm to open more and more stores in any given town and making ubiquitous made it much easier to say dear friend Ami you at Starbucks the other people have tried that right like the desk a graveyard of businesses in which there was this idea that community would be the center of oven that will attract people and those didn't work bingo or better in the rearview mirror and we are predicted as you never going to be right every time you can handicap but you can point to certain elements that make it work and many of those elements come straight out of epidemiology right that the horrible Zeke a virus or HIV we can look at what it means to be patient Zero what it means to need not much contact to spread and all of those things follow into the way ideas spread sheets you can do that you can compare the spread of disease did to this pair of ideas oh I'm sure that if I look at an auditorium full of high school students and the big man on campus and his girlfriend are busy talking while the lectures going on the rest of them is going to do it because they're powerful sneezes day of influence they reach out to a whole bunch of people in a way that makes the idea of being disrespectful spread or I take that same auditorium and I make it much bigger and put more space between the seats will be quieter because it's much harder when you're not in physical contact with people to spread a virus from person to person all sorts of patterns that we see in epidemiology to help us understand why something spans the Golden he's the author of Purple cow and many other books on marketing you can see all of his Ted talks at Ted dot com The The The and excess talking about Comic sans if you think about it right like that idea is can spread like viruses viruses are things that of course we don't want to spread it is the worst Ebola outbreak in history and it continues to wreak havoc across West Africa has reached crisis point most of those who get it will die through uncontrollable so this was the summer of two thousand and fourteen everybody who thinks about the Bohol spent July and August and that you're wondering why is this formidable in spreading so fast this is Bill Gates who of course does a lot of work on global health at first we weren't sure how was spreading the really dark in that border the epidemic is still out of control they can no longer stand team's new outbreak site at the time it seemed like Ebola could become pandemic and there are a lot of questions about whether humans actually have the capacity to contain the dynamics once we got into urban areas to quarantine to do not quarantine the health professionals who are getting sick the numbers rising even health workers not amusing how much elect to pass the same place for that but see over one cases by January now Boehner has already killed and Sophie everything seemed to fall apart there you probably remember all that the summer of fear the news coverage that continued well into the fall but you may not remember how it all stopped by December it was clear that there was less geographic spread and you could see some positive news even though ten thousand people died from Ebola it never became millions and that's because gradually health workers managed to contain it and that was a part of it but Bill Gates as the other part that was luck so this is not like the measles or flu were a significant percentage of everybody in the population would be infected to catch Ebola you literally had to come into contact with bodily fluids of an infected person and only then from a really sick infected person so it's not actually that easy to catch but next time Bill Gates as the next pandemic could be airborne it could spread faster and it could be harder to detect which means we're not ready for the next epidemic Bill Gates speaks of this idea on the Ted stage let's look at the progression of a ball the problem wasn't that there was a system that didn't work well enough the problem was that we didn't have a system that all we did have a group of epidemiologist ready to go would have gone scene with the disease was see how far did spread of the case reports came in on paper I was very delayed before they were put online and they were extremely inaccurate we didn't have a medical team ready to go we were far slower than we should have been getting the thousands of workers into these countries and a large epidemic would require us to have hundreds of thousands of workers there was no one there to look at treatment approaches no one to figure out what tools should be used the Still year to prepare could allow the next epidemic to be dramatically more devastating than able you can have the virus where people feel well enough while the infectious that they get on a plane or they go to market the source the virus could be an actual epidemic likable or could be bioterrorism and so there are things that would literally make things a thousand times worse the what you think are not ready for the next epidemic in this it is a lack of ability or is it just a lack of will we are under invested in both the risk of a national epidemic and the risk of a intentionally caused our bioterrorism epidemic and yet the United States government actually spends more on these issues than all other governments put together even so know every report that comes out after SARS and eight one AM on the report's call on governments to do more but things that have a low probability of happening but a very high cost toys very tricky whose posts to invest to get ready for those things but in fact we can build a really good response system we have the benefits of all the science and technology that we talk about here we got cell phones to get information from the public can get information out to them we have satellite maps were can see where people are and where their movie with advances in biology that should dramatically change to turn around time to look at a pathogen and be able to make drugs and vaccines so we can have tools but those tools need to be put into an overall global whole system what are the key pieces first is we need strong health systems in poor countries that's where mothers can give birth safely kids to get all the vaccines but also where Will C outbreak very early on we need a Medical Reserve Corps lots of people have got the training and background who are ready to go with the expertise and then we need to pair those medical people with the military taking advantage of the military's ability to move fast and secure areas when two simulations germ games not war games so that we see where the holes are finally we need lots of advanced R and D in areas of vaccines and diagnostics there are some big breakthroughs that could work very very quickly how long do we have before we can put this these tools in place like you have a system to actually stop an epidemic before it spreads out of control well eventually will have some type of extreme surveillance for taking biological samples from people traveling around and doing full sequencing and saliva blood feces and try and understand what's out there and catch it at a very early states eventually having a super effective digital immune system for the world hopefully that would catch something in a very early stage also our technology to very quickly make new vaccines or other protective constructs over the next ten years that stuff is getting a lot better so we should hope that we take it more seriously we should hope that nothing bad happens in the next ten years and then we will be better equipped to deal with a national epidemic the Bill Gates he heads that Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation you can see his talk on Ebola as well as others he's given Ted dot com Show today ideas about how things spread the oso use the word spread and we think we understand what we're saying but actually germ spread differently than emotions which spread differently than money which spread differently than behavior so different things spread in different ways this is Nicholas Kris docket I'm a physician in a social scientist at Yale University where I direct human nature lab and I'm also the co director of the Yale Institute for network science and understand the places of interest or obsession really with the question of how things spread the first twenty to go back about three hundred years this is in seventeen forty four something like that time some French mathematicians decided to examine death among monks and nuns and the conventional wisdom at the time was that living and holy purity no sex no marriage it should have meant that monks and nuns live longer and they began to find that actually the monks and nuns did not live longer is a perplexing to them because I was in keeping with their sort of religious ideas about what's going on so very question but then about one hundred years later but eighteen fifty eight I think it was a British statistician named William far I think you could think of him as the father of
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