Announcing: Brain Meets World Event Series

Science is often presented in the form of the finished product—the answer. But we don’t read a novel solely for its ending, and the allure of travel isn’t the destination alone. Similarly, the power of science is its process, and what drives that process are questions, not answers.

That’s the spirit with which we created Brain Meets World, our second print edition and event series. 

In its print form, Brain Meets World takes readers on a hero’s journey of ideas, through prose, poetry, historical archives, and art. Leading behavioral scientists and science writers provide glimpses into the electric, surprising, painful, and peculiar paths that our ideas take—and take us on.

Now we’ll explore these journeys in a series of live conversations this fall. In each of the conversations, we’ll speak with a contributor to Brain Meets World about the questions they were trying to answer, what they found out, and what they’re asking now. In the spirit of the scientific journey, the Brain Meets World Event Series invites you to make connections, to fill in gaps, to ask questions, and take ideas in new directions.

Below, you’ll find the schedule, session descriptions, and information on how to secure your ticket. We hope you’ll join us on the journey of Brain Meets World.


Wednesday, September 28
Social Science, Ideology, Culture, & History | Featuring Barry Schwartz

In September, we’ll speak with Barry Schwartz about how our theories of human nature, even if they’re false at first, can become true by shaping our social institutions that in turn shape us. We’ll also explore the perils of assuming the social sciences and physical sciences are one and the same, and hear about how Schwartz changed his mind about what social science can tell us and what it can’t. 

Wednesday, October 19
Places Unexpected | Featuring Thomas Andrillon & Chiara Varazzani

In October, we’ll speak with Thomas Andrillon and Chiara Varazzani, two road-tripping neuroscientists, who traded the lab for a year on the road. They’ll share how thousands of miles and a crash in the Patagonian desert changed their views on life and work, and took Thomas’s research on mind wandering in an exciting new direction. 

Wednesday, November 16
Journey to Robbers Cave | Featuring Jennifer L. Bazar

In November, we’ll speak with Jennifer Bazar, who pored over the archives of one of psychology’s most famous experiments—the Robbers Cave summer camps—to tell the story of one psychologist’s bold attempt to address global conflict through psychology.

Wednesday, December 7
Behavioral Science in the Backcountry | Featuring Greg Rosalsky

And in December, we’ll speak with Greg Rosalsky, an economics reporter and avid backcountry snowboarder, about his leap into the history of avalanche safety, and how behavioral science transformed the way avalanche safety is taught around the world.

You can find the full session descriptions below.

Timing, Platform, & Recordings

Dates: Wednesdays — September 28, October 19, November 16, and December 7
Time*: 9:00am San Francisco | 12:00pm New York | 5:00pm London | 6:00pm Berlin
Duration: 1 hour
Platform: Crowdcast
Recordings: Available to everyone who purchases a copy or ticket. 

*Note: The Oct 19 event will start one hour earlier: 8:00am San Francisco | 11:00pm New York | 4:00pm London | 5:00pm Berlin

How to Attend

There are two ways to secure your ticket to the Brain Meets World Event Series:

  • Purchase the Brain Meets World print edition here (every copy comes with a ticket). Brain Meets Worlds ships anywhere in the world (a digital version is available for purchase on request). Once you’ve purchased a copy, a link to claim your ticket will be delivered to you via email. 
  • Purchase a ticket directly through Crowdcast, if you’d like to attend the event series without purchasing the print edition.

One ticket covers all four events in the series.

If you’ve already purchased a copy, you should have received an email with a link to claim your ticket. If you didn’t receive the email or have additional questions, please email us at

Purchasing a copy and ticket supports independent behavioral science journalism and Behavioral Scientist, a fiscally sponsored 501(c)3 nonprofit, in its mission to help you make sense of today’s world through a deeper understanding of human behavior.

Session Descriptions

Social Science, Ideology, Culture, & History | Featuring Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz believes in the power of ideas. But not all powerful ideas are true. “There is something special about [the] technology of ideas. Search engines and microchips don’t change the world unless they work. Ideas, in contrast, can have a major impact on the world even when they are false.”

And that’s especially important when it comes to ideas about human nature. “Ideas about human nature that are false when they are made can become true as social institutions, like workplaces, become shaped by them.”

With Schwartz, emeritus professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, we’ll discuss the unique position that social behavioral scientists find themselves in—when the ideas about what you study have the power to change what you study. 

Schwartz will also tell the story of how a serendipitous intellectual partnership formed with two professors from the philosophy department transformed his understanding of human nature. Far from being an overnight “Aha!” the transformation took time. In addition to a conversation about the power of our ideas and the bounds of the social sciences, it’s also a story of intellectual humility and collaboration, which ultimately lead to deep insights about the nature of the social sciences. 

Barry Schwartz is a visiting professor at Haas School of Business, U.C. Berkeley, emeritus professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, and the author of The Paradox of Choice, Why We Work, and Practical Wisdom (with Kenneth Sharpe).

Places Unexpected | Featuring Thomas Andrillon & Chiara Varazzani

Craving adventure after finishing their Ph.D.s in neuroscience, Thomas Andrillon and Chiara Varazzani set off on a round-the-world trek in their 2006 Land Rover Defender, nicknamed Bechamel. For more than a year, they journeyed through Europe, Africa, and South America, off the beaten path. 

But the trip almost didn’t happen. Career and family pressure threatened to keep Bechamel in the driveway. And once they were on the road, they almost didn’t make it back. On a remote road in Patagonia, Thomas lost control of the car and rolled Bechamel, leaving them hanging upside down in the middle of the desert. 

But what could have been the end was actually the start. The crash catalyzed a new area of research for Thomas about the connection between sleep, mind wandering, and creativity. 

On October 19, Thomas and Chiara will discuss their experience on the road, how it changed the course of Thomas’s research, and the way they approach their life and work. They’ll also share their thoughts on questions like: How can we integrate adventure into our lives and work? What helped them take the leap and take the path less traveled? What advice do they have for others weighing both adventure and a career trajectory? 

Thomas Andrillon is a neuroscientist at The Paris Brain Institute. Chiara Varazzani is the lead behavioral scientist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Journey to Robbers Cave | Featuring Jennifer L. Bazar

On the heels of WWII, just over 70 years ago, a team of psychologists set out to solve global conflict. Their lab? Boys summer camps. Their goal? Set the 11- and 12-year-old boys against one another to discover what, if anything, could restore peace. The result? One of psychology’s most enduring and controversial experiments, known collectively as the Robbers Cave studies. 

Recently, Jennifer L. Bazar, assistant director at the National Museum of Psychology, pored over the experiment’s archives housed at the museum to tell the story of the experiments and the researcher who led them. The conversation with Bazar will explore the bold vision for the experiment, its methods, ethics, and results. We will also showcase pieces from the experiment’s archive—photos, letters, and camp flags from the experimental camps. 

What lessons from the studies endure as conflicts continue to flare around the globe?

Jennifer L. Bazar is the assistant director at the Cummings Center for the History of Psychology at the University of Akron. She received her Ph.D. in history and theory of psychology from York University.

Behavioral Science in the Backcountry | Featuring Greg Rosalsky

Greg Rosalsky, an economics reporter and avid backcountry snowboarder, dives into the history of avalanche safety, and how behavioral science transformed the way avalanche safety is taught around the world. Rosalsky traces the story of two avalanche experts, Ian McCammon and Bruce Tremper, as they sought to uncover the psychology underlying avalanche deaths and develop new training methods.

On December 7, Rosalsky will share his experience going through avalanche training and what he learned reporting the story. Why were backcountry experts susceptible to avalanches? Why did the field resist incorporating human psychology into safety protocols? What are the innovative, behaviorally informed ways the backcountry community are bringing human psychology into their designs? And what can other fields learn from them?

Greg Rosalsky is a reporter at NPR’s Planet Money. He writes a weekly newsletter about economics and regularly contributes to the show’s podcasts and NPR’s radio programs. Prior to this he was a producer at Freakonomics Radio.