How To Find Out People's Secrets, With Seth Stephens-Davidowitz

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Secrets plague us all. In this episode of The Upgrade, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are explains what the internet can tell us about the prejudices, fears and fetishes we’re hiding.

We also talk with our Lifehacker writers about a Reddit thread where Redditors shared secrets that, if revealed, would ruin people’s lives. Psychiatrist Eileen Wachter visits the studio to discuss the psychological effects of keeping secrets. And our producer takes to the streets to find out what sort of secrets we’ve been keeping for other people.

Listen to The Upgrade above or find us in all the usual places where podcasts are served, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher and NPR One. Please subscribe, rate and review!

We covered quite a bit of territory in this episode, including (but by no means limited to):

  • The Reddit secret that’s almost too disgusting to talk about
  • The motivation behind confessing your secrets to strangers
  • How people tell things to Google that they wouldn’t otherwise reveal
  • Why people lie in surveys
  • What Pornhub data can teach us about our sexuality
  • The disconnect between what’s taught in sex ed and what young people are concerned about
  • When we first learn to keep secrets
  • The psychological (and physiological) effects of keeping secrets
  • When to reveal a secret and when to keep it to yourself
  • The secrets we keep from ourselves

Our Upgrades of the Week

Every week we like to let you in on the upgrades we’ve made in our own lives. This week we talked about facial expressions, chatting people up in public and remembering that laughter is important, too.


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