This week we talk to Erik Vance about the power of our expectations
Erik Vance is a native Bay Area writer replanted in Mexico as a non-native species. Before becoming a writer he was, at turns, a biologist, a rock climbing guide, an environmental consultant, and an environmental educator.
His work focuses on the human element of science – the people who do it, those who benefit from it, and those who do not. He has written for The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, Harper’s, National Geographic, and a number of other local and national outlets.
His first book, Suggestible You, about how the mind and body continually twist and shape our realities was inspired by his feature in Discover.
In This Interview, Erik Vance and I Discuss…
- All the ways that our brain twists reality in order to make what it expects into reality
- How our brains are driven by expectations
- How we take the past, apply it to the present, to predict the future
- Whether we were alive at the same time as saber tooth tigers
- How powerful the placebo effect is
- How the placebo effect actually generates the neurochemicals in our brain we would expect to see
- It’s not that we imagine we feel a certain way; we really do feel it.
- “It’s All in Your Mind” is totally true
- How we have a wave of information from our brain, and a wave of information from our body; where they meet is what we feel
- His experience of being electro-shocked at the NIH
- How our brains don’t want to be wrong
- How we all have different responses to placebo and type of placebos
- The gene that helps predict whether you might be a placebo responder
- Placebo and chronic pain
- Belief and expectation play a large role in chronic pain
- The trouble in creating new drugs given such high placebo response rates
- How nocebo’s work
- How much of our pain is create by our expectations
- The power of hypnosis
- Hypnosis compared to meditation
- How fallible our memories are
- How easy it is to create false memories in people
Erik Vance Links
A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at war with each other.
One of them is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred and fear.
The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”
The grandfather quietly replies, the one you feedThe Tale of Two Wolves is often attributed to the Cherokee indians but there seems to be no real proof of this. It has also been attributed to evangelical preacher Billy Graham and Irish Playwright George Bernard Shaw. It appears no one knows for sure but this does not diminish the power of the parable.
This parable goes by many names including:
The Tale of Two Wolves
The Parable of the Two Wolves
Which Wolf Do You Feed
Which Wolf are You Feeding
Which Wolf Will You Feed
It also often features different animals, mainly two dogs.