Transcript: Timothy Caulfield: How to Keep Calm in a Busy World | Jan 06, 2021

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a blue suit and shirt, and a spotted blue tie.

A caption on screen reads "How to keep calm in a busy world. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says DECISIONS, DECISIONS. WE MAKE THEM ALL DAY LONG, AND WHETHER WE REALIZE IT OR NOT, CONSTANTLY WEIGHING PROS AND CONS TO MAKE THOSE CHOICES CAN BE EXHAUSTING. TIMOTHY CAULFIELD KNOWS A GOOD BIT ABOUT ANALYZING AND WEIGHING DATA TO DRAW CONCLUSIONS, AND HIS NEW BOOK MAY OFFER SOME RESPITE. IT'S CALLED, "RELAX, DAMMIT! A USER'S GUIDE TO THE AGE OF ANXIETY." HE IS A PROFESSOR OF HEALTH LAW AND SCIENCE POLICY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA, AND TIMOTHY CAULFIELD JOINS US NOW FROM EDMONTON, ALBERTA.

Timothy is in his late thirties, clean-shaven, with short, side-parted brown hair. He's wearing glasses and a black sweater.
A picture of his book appears briefly on screen. The cover features a picture of eight empty cups of coffee and one full one, all seen from above.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU ON OUR PROGRAM AGAIN, TIM. HOW ARE YOU DOING?

Timothy says I'M DOING WELL. THANKS FOR HAVING ME ON.

Steve says NOT AT ALL. HOW MANY DECISIONS DOES THE AVERAGE PERSON MAKE IN A DAY?

The caption changes to "Timothy Caulfield. University of Alberta."
Then, it changes again to "Decisions, decisions."

Timothy says DEPENDING ON WHAT STUDY THAT YOU LOOK AT AND HOW YOU KIND OF DEFINE DECISIONS, YOU KNOW, IT COULD BE AS MANY AS THOUSANDS. SOME OF THESE AREN'T VERY CONSCIOUS, BUT BOTTOM LINE, HUNDREDS FOR SURE.

Steve says ARE PEOPLE, WHEN THEY FEEL STRESSED, DO THEY TEND TO BE MORE STRESSED THAN THE CIRCUMSTANCES WOULD ACTUALLY WARRANT THEM BEING?

The caption changes to "Timothy Caulfield. Author, 'Relax, dammit!'"

Timothy says YOU KNOW, I THINK THAT THAT IS THE CASE AND I THINK THERE'S GOOD EVIDENCE TO BACK THAT UP AND WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL AGAIN WHEN WE LOOK AT THE EVIDENCE HERE BECAUSE PEOPLE FEEL STRESSFUL FOR DIFFERENT REASONS AND DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES IMPACT DIFFERENT PEOPLE IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. BUT THE BOTTOM LINE IS WE LIVE IN AN INCREDIBLY CHAOTIC INFORMATION ENVIRONMENT AND I THINK THERE'S A GOOD BODY OF EVIDENCE THAT SUGGESTS THAT THAT CHAOTIC INFORMATION ENVIRONMENT IS HAVING AN IMPACT ON OUR LEVEL OF STRESS AND OUR ANXIETY.

Steve says WELL, YOU COULD CERTAINLY ARGUE THAT FEELING MORE STRESSFUL IN THE MIDDLE OF A GLOBAL PANDEMIC WHERE, YOU KNOW, YOU MAY HAVE FRIENDS OR FAMILY WHO ARE COVID POSITIVE OR, WHO KNOWS, EVEN FIGHTING DEATH, I MEAN, THAT'S A REASONABLE THING, ISN'T IT?

Timothy says STEVE, I THINK THIS IS A REALLY IMPORTANT POINT. FEELING ANXIOUS, FEELING STRESS IS A COMPLETELY NORMAL HUMAN REACTION. IN FACT, IT'S BIOLOGICALLY WIRED. AND SO I THINK WE NEED TO BE CAREFUL ALSO NOT TO OVERINTERPRET THOSE KINDS OF FEELINGS. THAT'S HOW HUMANS SHOULD RESPOND.

Steve says A LOT OF YOUR BOOKS TALK ABOUT HOW BAD HUMANS ARE AT ASSESSING RISK, WHICH YOU WOULD THINK, AFTER MILLIONS OF YEARS, WE'D BE PRETTY GOOD AT BY NOW, BUT APPARENTLY NOT. WHY ARE WE NOT GOOD AT IT?

The caption changes to "Timothy Caulfield, @CaulfieldTim."

Timothy says YEAH, HUMANS ARE TERRIBLE AT IT, STEVE! WE'RE TERRIBLE AT ASSESSING RISK. THERE'S A BUNCH OF REASONS FOR THAT. ONE, WE HAVE THIS REALLY STRONG NEGATIVITY BIAS. WE'RE HARD-WIRED TO RESPOND MORE STRONGLY TO NEGATIVE NEWS THAN POSITIVE NEWS, AND THAT MAKES BIOLOGICAL SENSE, RIGHT? I MEAN, FOR MOST OF HUMAN HISTORY, THAT'S A GOOD PREDISPOSITION, RIGHT? YOU WANT TO REMEMBER THE BAD STUFF. THERE'S INTERESTING RESEARCH THAT SHOWS, FOR EXAMPLE, THAT HUMANS RESPOND MUCH STRONGER TO NEGATIVE HEADLINES THAN POSITIVE HEADLINES. NEGATIVE HEADLINES OUTPERFORM POSITIVE ONES. THAT'S NOT GOING TO SURPRISE YOU. YOU'RE IN THE NEWS. BUT THAT'S JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF HOW THAT CAN PLAY OUT. IN ADDITION TO THAT, THERE'S BEEN A LOT OF REALLY INTERESTING RESEARCH TO SHOW HOW NEGATIVE NEWS ON SOCIAL MEDIA ALSO RESULTS IN A STRONGER REACTION, AND SOME REALLY INTERESTING RECENT RESEARCH THAT HIGHLIGHTS HOW, IN THE CONTEXT OF COVID, ACTUALLY, STEVE, THAT HIGHLIGHTS HOW NEGATIVE SOCIAL MEDIA POSTING THAT IS OFTEN INCORRECT, IS MISINFORMATION, CAUSES US TO BE MORE STRESSED OUT AND, INTERESTINGLY, MAY CAUSE US TO POST MORE, RIGHT? SO WE HAVE THIS HORRIBLE CYCLE THAT STARTS TO FORM AROUND HOW WE'RE INTERPRETING THE CONTENT THAT WE'RE BOMBARDED WITH ALL THE TIME.

The caption changes to "Watch us anytime: tvo.org, Twitter: @theagenda, Facebook Live, YouTube."

Steve says I THINK YOU'VE JUST SUMMED UP THE LAST FOUR YEARS IN THE UNITED STATES IN THE LAST ONE MINUTE OF THIS PROGRAM. BUT, OKAY. LET'S DO THIS. I'D LIKE TO GO THROUGH SORT OF A TYPICAL DAY THAT PEOPLE WATCHING US OR LISTENING TO US RIGHT NOW MAY BE EXPERIENCING, AND TALK ABOUT THE CHOICES THAT THEY HAVE, THE DECISIONS THAT THEY MAKE IN THE COURSE OF A DAY. AND I SET THIS UP BY REMINDING MYSELF THAT BARACK OBAMA ONCE SAID, "I'VE GOT SUITS THAT ARE ONLY IN TWO COLOURS, AND I'VE GOT TIES THAT ARE ONLY IN TWO COLOURS, AND I ONLY WEAR WHITE SHIRTS BECAUSE I KNOW I'VE ONLY GOT SO MANY GOOD DECISIONS TO MAKE DURING THE DAY AND I DON'T WANT TO WASTE THEM ON PICKING CLOTHES." WITH THAT IN PLACE, TIMOTHY, LET'S DO A NUMBER OF TRUE OR FALSE QUESTIONS: WAKING UP EARLIER IS BETTER FOR YOU THAN WAKING UP LATER. TRUE OR FALSE?

The caption changes to "Minor dilemmas."

Timothy says FALSE, FALSE. IN FACT, THAT'S A REALLY GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW THERE'S THIS POP CULTURE BELIEF THAT IT'S ALWAYS BETTER TO WAKE UP EARLY, AND YOU HAVE ALL OF THESE REALLY GOOD EXAMPLES THAT ARE OUT THERE, THESE ANECDOTES, CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY, DWAYNE THE ROCK JOHNSON WHO ALL GET UP RIDICULOUSLY EARLY AND CREATED THIS MYTH THAT IT'S GOOD TO DO THAT, IT'S A NOBLE THING TO DO, YOU'RE GOING TO BE MORE PRODUCTIVE AND CREATIVE, WHEN IN REALITY THE SCIENCE DOESN'T BACK THAT UP AT ALL. WE EACH HAVE OUR OWN RHYTHM AND WE SHOULD TRY AS BEST AS WE CAN, GIVEN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR LIFE, TO FOLLOW THAT RHYTHM.

Steve says THEY DON'T SAY THE LATE BIRD GETS THE WORM, TIMOTHY, BUT THE SCIENCE DOESN'T BACK THAT UP, EH?

Timothy says THAT'S RIGHT. AND IT'S A GREAT EXAMPLE OF THIS EMBEDDED MYTH... YOU KNOW, THIS IS A MYTH THAT'S BEEN AROUND FOR A VERY LONG TIME AND THIS IDEA OF THIS PROTESTANT ETHIC AROUND WAKING EARLY BUT REALLY NO EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT IT.

Steve says OKAY. NEXT ONE: BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY, AND WE SHOULD NEVER SKIP IT. TRUE OR FALSE?

Timothy says FALSE. FALSE. NOW, THIS ONE IS A LITTLE BIT MORE COMPLEX, BECAUSE I USE THIS ONE IN THE BOOK AS AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE EVIDENCE IS ACTUALLY WAY MESSIER THAN OFTEN PORTRAYED. THE EVIDENCE AROUND, YOU KNOW, DESPITE WHAT WE'VE HEARD OVER AND OVER AGAIN, THE EVIDENCE IS ACTUALLY LESS THAN CLEAR ON WHETHER BREAKFAST IS GOOD OR BAD, AND BY THAT I MEAN, BY THE IMPACT IT'S GOING TO HAVE ON HOW MUCH YOU EAT THROUGHOUT THE DAY. WEIGHT LOSS IS OFTEN TIED TO EATING BREAKFAST. BUT IN FACT THE EVIDENCE IS LESS THAN CLEAR. SO YOU SHOULD REALLY FIND A HEALTHY RHYTHM THAT WORKS FOR YOU AND THAT'S RELEVANT FOR WHEN YOU WAKE UP BUT IT'S ALSO RELEVANT WITH RESPECT TO WHETHER OR NOT YOU HAVE BREAKFAST OR NOT. YOU KNOW, A LOT OF OUR BELIEF IN BREAKFAST COMES FROM KELLOGG, THE CEREAL MAGNET. YOU KNOW, HIS ADVERTISING REALLY HELPED FUEL THIS IDEA THAT BREAKFAST IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MEAL OF THE DAY.

Steve says OKAY. NEXT ONE: IF YOU CAN, IT'S BETTER FOR PARENTS TO DRIVE THEIR CHILDREN TO SCHOOL THAN TO LET THEM WALK? TRUE OR FALSE?

Timothy says FALSE, FALSE. THAT ONE IS AN EASY ONE. I THINK THE EVIDENCE IS ACTUALLY PRETTY DEFINITIVE ON THIS. AND I USED THAT ONE IN THE BOOK. THAT'S A REALLY GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW FEAR... FEAR CAN DRIVE SORT OF AN IRRATIONAL CHOICE AND IT'S ALSO A REALLY GOOD EXAMPLE OF HOW OUR INTENTIONS OFTEN DON'T MATCH WHAT THE EVIDENCE ACTUALLY SAYS BECAUSE OF COURSE OUR INTENTION IS, WE WANT WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR KIDS. AND, STEVE, WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON THAT PARENTS DON'T LET THEIR KIDS WALK TO SCHOOL?

Steve says WELL, THEY'RE FEARFUL OF THEIR SAFETY OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

Timothy says THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT. THAT'S EXACTLY RIGHT. THERE'S A RELATIVELY GOOD BODY OF EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT STRANGER DANGER, THE FEAR OF THE MAN IN THE WHITE VAN, DRIVES THIS. AND THE CHANCE OF YOUR CHILD BEING ABDUCTED OR HAVING SOME KIND OF CRIMINAL ACTIVITY HAPPEN TO THEM IS SO VANISHINGLY RARE, SO INCREDIBLY RARE, THAT YOU CAN CATEGORIZE IT AS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE EQUATION IS THE CLEAR BENEFIT THAT KIDS COULD GET FROM WALKING TO SCHOOL: EXERCISE, A LITTLE BIT OF INDEPENDENCE, PERHAPS SOCIALIZING WITH THEIR FRIENDS. AND, STEVE, EVEN, YOU KNOW, 20 MINUTES OF QUIET... YOU KNOW, THAT CAN BE BENEFICIAL ALSO. SO YOU HAVE THESE CLEAR BENEFITS WEIGHED AGAINST THIS FEAR. AND IT ALSO REALLY HIGHLIGHTS OUR AVAILABILITY BIAS. THIS FEAR IS SO HORRIFIC, ANY HEADLINE THAT CONFIRMS THAT FEAR IS GOING TO BE REMEMBERED AND IT'S GOING TO DRIVE OUR DECISIONS.

Steve says WELL, SINCE I'M ON SUCH A ROLL HERE WITH ASKING QUESTIONS THAT ALMOST ALWAYS END WITH FALSE, LET'S TRY ANOTHER ONE HERE: CYCLING, GENERALLY SPEAKING, IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN WALKING? TRUE OR FALSE?

The caption changes to "Subscribe to The Agenda Podcast: tvo.org/theagenda."

Timothy says SO, FALSE, BUT IT'S CLOSE.
[LAUGHTER]
YOU HAD ME HESITATING THERE. I THINK THE BETTER WAY TO FRAME IT, IF I COULD, IS, YOU KNOW, THAT IT'S NOT... THERE'S NOT A HUGE DIFFERENCE HERE. THAT ALSO GOES WITH DRIVING YOUR CAR. AND IT'S, AGAIN, HARD TO MEASURE THIS AND THERE ARE CLEARLY DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH CYCLING, ESPECIALLY IF THE INFRASTRUCTURE ISN'T THERE. BUT IF YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS... YOU KNOW, WALKING PROBABLY IS A LITTLE BIT SAFER BUT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, A RISK, AN ORDER OF MAGNITUDE THAT IS TINY, RIGHT? IT'S TINY. AND SO THIS SHOULDN'T BE DRIVING YOUR DECISION ABOUT WHETHER TO RIDE YOUR BIKE OR NOT. NOW, LISTEN. IT'S VERY CONTEXT-SPECIFIC. EVERY CITY'S DIFFERENT. EVERY INFRASTRUCTURE IS DIFFERENT. BUT THE REALITY IS, IT'S MUCH MORE COMPLEX THAN OFTEN PORTRAYED.

Steve says SURE. BUT THERE IS THIS PRESUPPOSITION, PROBABLY MOSTLY AMONG NON-CYCLISTS, THAT CYCLING, PARTICULARLY IN A CITY, IS AN INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS THING TO DO. WHERE DOES THAT COME FROM?

Timothy says THAT'S RIGHT. AND, AGAIN, A LITTLE BIT OF OUR CONFIRMATION BIAS. THE OTHER THING THAT PEOPLE THINK IS CYCLISTS ARE HORRIBLE AND DANGEROUS AND THEY'RE INTERFERING... THERE'S ACTUALLY BEEN STUDIES DONE THAT HAVE SHOWN THAT IN GENERAL CYCLISTS OBEY THE RULES MORE THAN DRIVERS. I KNOW THAT'S HARD TO BELIEVE. OBSERVE THE RULES MORE THAN DRIVERS. THEY USUALLY BREAK THE RULES FOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL SAFETY WHEREAS CARS BREAK THE RULES BECAUSE OF TIME. THEY WANT TO DO SOMETHING THAT'S GOING TO GET THEM TO WHERE THEY'RE GOING FASTER. SO THE REASON THAT WE THINK THIS IS BECAUSE WE REMEMBER THAT MANIAC DRIVER... CYCLIST, RIGHT, THE ONE THAT'S HOPPING, THE SINGLE SPEED GUY HOPPING THE CURBS AND STUFF. THAT'S THE ONE WE REMEMBER, RIGHT? AND THERE'S ALSO THIS REALLY FASCINATING RESEARCH THAT SHOWS THAT PEOPLE THINK OF A CYCLIST AS SOMEHOW THEY'RE FREE RIDERS. THE ROAD IS FOR CARS AND, LOOK, THEY'RE DRIVING BY ME. THAT CAN'T BE RIGHT. HE SHOULD HAVE TO WAIT TOO. SO IT CAUSES PEOPLE TO GETTING A GRAFTED EVEN THOUGH THERE'S ALL THIS EVIDENCE TO BACK UP HOW BENEFICIAL COMMUTING IS, HOW BENEFICIAL SESSION NOT ONLY FOR THE PERSON DOING IT BUT ALSO FOR YOUR COMMUNITY.

Steve says NEXT ONE: WE SHOULD ALL BE DRINKING A LOT MORE WATER. TRUE OR FALSE?

Timothy says YOU KNOW, FALSE. AND IF YOU'RE THIRSTY, THEN YOU SHOULD BE DRINKING. THE EVIDENCE TELLS US THAT THIS MYTH, THIS IDEA THAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO DRINK EIGHT GLASSES OF WATER A DAY HAS NO REAL SCIENCE BEHIND IT AT ALL. YOU SHOULD JUST DRINK WHEN YOU'RE THIRSTY, THANK YOU, EVOLUTION. BUT WE HAVE THIS HUGE... WE HAVE THIS HUGE INDUSTRY THAT HAS NOW BUILT UP AROUND THIS IDEA THAT WE'RE SUPPOSED TO DRINK ALL THE TIME. WE HAVE SPECIAL WATER. WE HAVE WATER BOTTLES. WE HAVE A LOT OF FEAR MONGERING ABOUT TAP WATER. YEAH, YOU DRINK WHEN YOU'RE THIRSTY AND IN MOST PLACES YOU CAN JUST DRINK TAP WATER.

Steve says LET'S SEE IF I CAN GET A TRUE ONE ON THE RECORD HERE. CAT NAPS. CAT NAPS. DURING THE DAY ARE A GOOD THING. TRUE OR FALSE?

Timothy says UH, CAN I... (LAUGHING) I'M GOING TO SAY MOSTLY FALSE. SORRY. AND THIS ONE IS UNREAL. THIS ONE IS UNREAL BECAUSE WE LIVE NOW IN AN ERA WHERE EVERYBODY THINKS NAPPING IS GOOD FOR YOU. LOOK. THE REASON I HESITATED SO LONG IS BECAUSE THERE ARE CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN NAPPING MIGHT BE A GOOD IDEA. IF YOU ARE REALLY TIRED AND YOU NEED TO BE WAKEFUL FOR SOMETHING THAT... MAYBE YOU HAVE A BIG PRESENTATION, MAYBE YOU HAVE AN ATHLETIC EVENT AND YOU WANT TO BE READY TO GO FOR THAT. THE PROBLEM WITH NAPPING, DESPITE WHAT YOU HEAR IN POP CULTURE IS ALL THE TIME, IS THAT IT CAN REALLY INTERFERE WITH YOUR NIGHTTIME SLEEP, RIGHT? AND SO MANY OF US HAVE INSOMNIA OR WE'RE JUST NOT GREAT SLEEPERS. BY THE WAY, STEVE, I'M ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE, I'M NOT A GREAT SLEEPER. AND IF YOU NAP DURING THE DAY, YOU CAN INTERFERE WITH NIGHTTIME SLEEP, RIGHT? IF YOU ARE GOING TO NAP, IT SHOULD BE AS SHORT AS POSSIBLE AND IT SHOULD BE NOT CLOSE TO WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO BED AT NIGHT, RIGHT? SO, AGAIN, I THINK I'D CATEGORIZE THIS, STEVE, AS THE EVIDENCE IS MUCH MESSIER AGAIN AS OFTEN PORTRAYED IN POP CULTURE, BECAUSE RIGHT NOW NAPS ARE HAVING A MOMENT, RIGHT? IT'S PORTRAYED AS ALWAYS GOOD TO NAP. YOU'RE GOING TO GET ALL THESE BENEFITS FROM IT. BY THE WAY THERE IS A LITTLE BIT OF EVIDENCE, CORRELATIONAL IN NATURE, SO WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL NOT TO OVERINTERPRET IT, THAT LONG NAPS ARE ACTUALLY BAD FOR YOU. AGAIN, THE EVIDENCE MUCH MORE COMPLICATED THAN OFTEN PORTRAYED. NAPS ARE NOT ALWAYS GOOD.

Steve says LET'S DO ONE MORE HERE WITH THE HOPES OF FINDING A TRUE BUT I HAVE A FEELING... WHY DO I HAVE A FEELING IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. IN OUR BUSY WORLD PARENTS SOMETIMES FEEL VERY GUILTY ABOUT THE FACT THAT THEY ARE SPENDING, QUOTE, UNQUOTE, ONLY QUANTITY AS OPPOSED TO QUALITY TIME WITH THEIR CHILDREN AND THEY SHOULD FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THAT. TRUE OR FALSE?

Timothy says FALSE. FALSE. AND, AGAIN, YOU KNOW, I WANT TO BE CAREFUL HERE. THIS IS COMPLICATED STUFF. AND THAT'S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE LONGER CHAPTERS IN MY BOOK. I FOUND THE LITERATURE ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING. I HOPE THE READERS FIND IT FASCINATING TOO. DESPITE THE INCREDIBLE GUILT THAT PARENTS... I'M A PARENT AND I HAVE THIS GUILT, I FEEL THIS GUILT, SO I'M SPEAKING FROM EXPERIENCE. DESPITE THE GUILT THAT WE DON'T SPEND ENOUGH TIME WITH OUR KIDS, HUMANS TODAY SPEND MORE TIME WITH THEIR KIDS THAN EVER BEFORE, OR AT LEAST SINCE WE'VE COUNTED. LET'S SAY WE GO BACK 100, 150 YEARS, BECAUSE... BECAUSE OF THIS SOCIAL PRESSURE TO DO EXACTLY THAT. SO THAT'S NUMBER ONE. WE ARE ACTUALLY, DESPITE THIS FEELING WE'RE SPENDING MORE TIME WITH OUR KIDS THAN WE HAVE IN THE PAST. AND NUMBER TWO, THERE REALLY ISN'T THAT MUCH EVIDENCE TO SUGGEST THAT MORE IS ALWAYS BETTER. I UNDERSTAND THAT YOU MAY WANT TO SPEND MORE TIME WITH YOUR KIDS. I ENJOY SPENDING TIME WITH MY KIDS. BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO HAVE THIS HUGE NECESSARILY BENEFIT ON YOUR CHILDREN EVEN THOUGH THAT'S THE REASON THAT WE'RE DOING IT, WE HAVE THIS PROFOUND GUILT THAT WE SHOULD BE DOING IT. AGAIN, YOU KNOW, BE CAREFUL ABOUT HOW YOU INTERPRET THE SOCIAL PRESSURES THAT ARE OUT THERE. IF I COULD SAY ONE MORE THING? ONE OF THE REASONS WE FEEL THIS WAY IS BECAUSE OF SOCIAL COMPARISONS. SOCIAL MEDIA, THERE ARE ALL THESE UNBELIEVABLY GREAT PARENTS OUT THERE AND THEY POST ABOUT ALL THESE SPECIAL EVENTS WITH THEIR KIDS AND THEY'RE ON THE BEACH WITH THEIR KIDS, THEY'RE GOING FOR A WALK WITH THEIR KIDS, PLAYING A BOARD GAME WITH THEIR KIDS AND POSTING ABOUT IT AND MAKING US FEEL GUILTY. THE SOCIAL COMPARISON TO THE STORY IS ALSO IMPORTANT.

Steve says I SUSPECT THE PANDEMIC IS GOING A LONG WAY TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THEY DON'T NEED TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT TIME WITH THEIR KIDS ANYMORE. MOST OF WHAT I HEAR FROM PARENTS THESE DAYS IS I LOVE MY KIDS BUT I'VE REALLY HAD ENOUGH AT THIS MOMENT. BE THAT AS IT MAY, LET'S MOVE ON. PEOPLE LIKE TO TALK ABOUT HOW BUSY THEY ARE, BUSY BRAGGERS, I GUESS YOU'D CALL THEM. WHAT DOES THAT SOUND LIKE?

Timothy says BUSY BRAGGING. OH, GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU. I'M DOING GREAT, TIM, BUT SO BUSY. YOU KNOW WHAT, STEVE? DESPITE THE FACT THAT I RESEARCHED THIS SECTION, I RESEARCHED TIME MANAGEMENT FOR THE BOOK, I KNOW THE REALITY, I STILL DO IT. IT'S BECOME THIS SOCIAL TICK WE HAVE WHEN WE'RE COMMUNICATING WITH PEOPLE. WE ALWAYS SAY WE'RE BUSY. AND THE INTERESTING THING IS, IT'S KIND OF TRUE IN THAT WE DO FEEL BUSY, AND THIS IS WHAT I HIGHLIGHT IN THE BOOK, WE DO FEEL BUSY. AND THAT'S PARTLY BECAUSE I THINK WE CARRY OUR OFFICE AROUND WITH US IN OUR POCKETS, RIGHT? WE CAN ALWAYS BE ON EMAIL, WE CAN ALWAYS BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA. SO WE ALWAYS FEEL LIKE THERE'S SOMETHING WE COULD BE DOING. LAYER ON TOP OF THAT THIS BUSY BRAG KIND OF SOCIAL NORM THAT HAS EMERGED THAT SAYS IF YOU DON'T FEEL BUSY YOU'RE NOT ACCOMPLISHING ENOUGH, RIGHT? FEELING BORED IS NORMAL. THE REALITY IS, THE REALITY IS, IN THE AGGREGATE... AND THERE'S A CAVEAT I WANT TO COME BACK TO... IN THE AGGREGATE, WE HAVE MORE FREE TIME NOW THAN WE HAVE HAD FOR DECADES, FOR DECADES, RIGHT? WE ACTUALLY HAVE MORE FREE TIME. THE BIG CAVEAT IS I ABSOLUTELY KNOW THERE ARE SECTORS OF THE ECONOMY THAT ARE INCREDIBLY BUSY FOR SINGLE PARENTS THAT MAYBE HAVE TWO JOBS, INCREDIBLY BUSY, SO I'M TALKING ABOUT IN THE AGGREGATE IT'S AN INVITATION TO ASK PEOPLE, HOW BUSY ARE YOU REALLY? AND SHOULD YOU REALLY FEEL THIS SORT OF GUILT THAT YOU'RE NOT WORKING ALL THE TIME?

Steve says NO, WE UNDERSTAND THAT PARTICULARLY DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC THAT DOCTORS, NURSES, HEALTH CARE WORKERS, FIRST RESPONDERS, PEOPLE WHO ARE STOCKING THE SHELVES OF OUR SUPERMARKET, WE UNDERSTAND THAT THEY ARE BUSIER AND MORE OCCUPIED THAN NORMAL.

Timothy says ABSOLUTELY.

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Steve says YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT GENERALLY SPEAKING HERE. AND, OKAY, GIVE US SOME ADVICE HERE THEN. THE NEXT TIME YOU BUMP INTO SOMEBODY OR YOU GET ONTO AN ELEVATOR AND THERE'S ANOTHER PERSON IN THE ELEVATOR, WHICH ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS ANYMORE, BUT, OKAY. SOMEBODY SAYS TO YOU, "ARE YOU BUSY?" WHICH IS WHAT PEOPLE GET ASKED DOZENS OF TIMES A DAY, WHAT'S THE RIGHT ANSWER?

Timothy says I THINK THE RIGHT ANSWER IS, IF YOU ARE BUSY, SAY YOU ARE. BUT YOU CAN SAY, THINGS ARE OKAY, IT'S THE USUAL. THAT'S WHAT I TRY TO SAY NOW. IT'S FUNNY, THOUGH, BECAUSE I EVEN THINK ABOUT THOSE... IN THE BOOK I JOKE ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THOSE CHRISTMAS LETTERS THAT EVERYONE WRITES. IN THOSE CHRISTMAS LETTERS, EVERYBODY IS SO INCREDIBLY BUSY. THEY'RE PLANNING A TRIP TO MARS. NOBODY SAYS WE DIDN'T DO THAT MUCH THIS YEAR. JUNIOR IS SPENDING 8 HOURS A DAY ON SOCIAL MEDIA. YEAH, I'VE WATCHED A LOT OF NETFLIX. IT WAS A FUN YEAR. NO ONE EVER SAYS THAT.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON THAT, TIM. IF THERE IS ONE THING PEOPLE HAVE DONE MORE OF IN THE LAST NINE MONTHS IT'S BINGE-WATCH TV. WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED ABOUT THE PRACTICE OF BINGE-WATCHING TV OVER THE PAST NINE MONTHS?

Timothy says STEVE, I'M GLAD YOU ASKED ME THAT. I LOVED WRITING THIS PART OF THE BOOK. THERE'S ACTUALLY RESEARCH ON BINGING WHICH I DIDN'T KNOW UNTIL I STARTED RESEARCHING THE BOOK AND THERE'S EXPERTS OUT THERE. SO WHAT I FOUND IS THAT... AND I HAVE BINGERS IN THIS HOUSE, BY THE WAY. WHEN YOU BINGE-WATCH A TV... A SHOW, YOU ACTUALLY GET LESSEN JUST A MOMENT OUT OF IT... LESS ENJOYMENT OUT OF IT. I APPRECIATE IT. IT'S HARD TO STUDY THIS PHENOMENON AS WELL. BUT BEAR WITH ME. YOU GET LESS ENJOYMENT OUT OF IT AS OPPOSED TO SPREADING IT OUT. THERE'S A SHOW YOU LOVE AND IF YOU BINGE IT ALL IN A DAY, THERE'S LESS ENJOYMENT. THERE ARE STUDIES THEY'VE DONE AND YOU CAN'T DO A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF THE SHOW AS SOMEONE WHO HAS SORT OF PARSED THE SHOW OUT OVER TIME. IN ADDITION TO THAT, THERE ARE HEALTH CONCERNS WITH BINGING, SEDENTARY BEHAVIOUR, IT'S ASSOCIATED WITH NOT EATING WELL. THERE'S A WHOLE BUNCH OF REASONS WHY YOU SHOULDN'T BINGE ALL THE TIME. BY THE WAY I'M PROBABLY GOING TO BINGE TONIGHT SO I'M A HYPOCRITE.

Steve says I'VE GOT TO ASK: WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING TONIGHT?

Timothy says COBRA KAI. REMEMBER THE KARATE KID? IT'S NOSTALGIA. I CAN'T FOR A LITTLE BIT OF EDGE. KIND OF SWEET.

Steve says IF YOU WANT SOMETHING COMPLETELY THE OPPOSITE, NOT SWEET, NOT FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY, "YOUR HONOUR." I JUST STARTED WATCHING THAT. THAT IS A CRAZY, INTENSE, OOF, DIFFICULT SHOW BUT YOU'VE GOT TO BE IN A DIFFERENT KIND OF MOOD FOR THAT ONE. LET'S DO THIS, WE'RE GOING TO DO A QUOTE FROM YOUR BOOK. THIS IS FROM "RELAX, DAMMIT!"

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Finding the path." The quote reads "I realize that relying on evidence isn't the only way people make decisions, but I think that a journey through a typical day of decisions will allow us to recognize that, more often than not, we can relax. It probably doesn't really matter as much as we think. In a world where information is increasingly twisted for commercial, ideological, and personal gain, finding a path to the objective truth on any topic, from toothpaste to toilet seats, can be difficult. But the path does exist, and finding it can be liberating."
Quoted from Timothy Caulfield, "Relax, dammit!" 2020.

Steve says YOU KNOW, WHEN I READ THAT, IT SORT OF REMINDED ME OF THE FORMER... I THINK SHE'S A CHILD PSYCHOLOGIST, BARBARA COLLAROSO, WHO USED TO GIVE PARENTING ADVICE AND SAYING IF IT'S NOT LIFE-THREATENING AND NOT HEALTH THREATENING, JUST LET THEM DO IT. HOW DO WE FIND THAT PATH, THOUGH, TO A MORE RELAXING US?

The caption changes to "Sorting through the confusion."

Timothy says WELL, IN THE BOOK I REALLY TRIED TO INVITE PEOPLE TO KIND OF IGNORE THE NOISE. YOU KNOW? OR WATCH THAT NOISE AND ENJOY THE NOISE IN A LITTLE BIT MORE OF A REMOVED MANNER. THERE IS SO MUCH NOISE OUT THERE, AND WE CAN USUALLY IGNORE MOST OF IT AND JUST FOCUS ON THOSE SCIENCE-INFORMED BASICS. AND SO THAT REALLY IS WHAT THE BOOK IS AN INVITATION TO DO, AND I TRY TO PROVIDE PEOPLE WITH SORT OF THE CRITICAL THING SKILLS TO DO THAT AND I DO TRY TO POINT PEOPLE IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION. LOOK, AS YOU KNOW FROM THE BOOK, I DON'T TRY TO TELL PEOPLE HOW THEY SHOULD LEAD THEIR LIVES. ALMOST ON THE CONTRARY. OFTEN THE CONCLUSION IS, YOU KNOW WHAT? YOU SHOULD DO WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND IGNORE THESE PRESSURES AND THIS CONFLICTING INFORMATION THAT IS CONSTANTLY STRESSING US OUT.

Steve says IT'S TOUGH ON THOSE OF US WHO AREN'T SCIENTISTS, THOUGH. WE HEAR ABOUT SO MANY STUDIES THAT TELL YOU TO DO ONE THING AND YOUR BOOK IS TELLING YOU, YOU KNOW, THAT'S REALLY NOT TRUE. WHAT IS A POOR NON-SCIENTIST TO DO?

Timothy says YOU'RE RIGHT ABOUT THAT. SO OFTEN YOU'LL SEE THE HEADLINES AND THIS IS THE ACTION, COFFEE IS BAD FOR YOU, COFFEE IS GOOD FOR YOU. ONE OF THE THINGS I DO IS I ALWAYS INVITE PEOPLE TO REMEMBER THERE'S A BODY OF EVIDENCE OUT THERE, AND ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU'RE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING LIKE HEALTH, YOU KNOW, IT'S NEVER GOING TO BE ONE STUDY, IT'S NEVER GOING TO BE, YOU KNOW, ONE ANIMAL STUDY IN PARTICULAR. YOU HAVE TO TALK ABOUT A BODY OF EVIDENCE. SO ALWAYS ASK YOURSELF, YOU KNOW, WHAT KIND OF EVIDENCE ARE THEY USING TO MAKE THIS CLAIM? AND I GIVE PEOPLE SORT OF A CHECKLIST OF THINGS THEY CAN GO THROUGH, IS IT AN ANIMAL STUDY, AN OBSERVATIONAL STUDY, A SMALL STUDY? IF THERE'S ANY OF THOSE KINDS OF THINGS, IT'S NOT GOING TO BE DEFINITIVE. AND REMEMBER THERE'S A BODY OF EVIDENCE THAT'S NUDGING US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION AND THAT'S PROBABLY WHAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW.

The caption changes to "Producer: Cara Stern, @carastern."

Steve says WHOEVER COMES UP WITH THE TITLES OF YOUR BOOKS IS DOING A HECK OF A GOOD JOB. I DON'T KNOW IF IT WAS THE LAST ONE THE SCIENCE OF CELEBRITY OR WHY GWYNETH PALTROW IS WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING. THAT WAS A CATCHY TITLE AND SO IS THIS ONE. "RELAX, DAMMIT! A USER'S GUIDE TO THE AGE OF ANXIETY" WHICH HAS BROUGHT TIMOTHY CAULFIELD TO OUR VIRTUAL STUDIO TONIGHT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA. TIM, GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN AND THANKS, AS ALWAYS.

Timothy says THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME ON, STEVE. REALLY ENJOYED IT.

Watch: Timothy Caulfield: How to Keep Calm in a Busy World