Feb 17, 2022 • 1HR 0M

Dr Dimitris Xygalatas on rituals

On body piercing, arousal & Nazi parades

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Daniel Ross
Interviews with the experts, entertainers and academics in the weird, wonderful and creative world of behavioural science.
Episode details

Friends, welcome to A Load of BS podcast where we continue to explore why on earth you behave as you do, why you constantly make flawed, emotional decisions and what’s going on in that jelly in your head. So if that gets you going, please stick around for plenty of entertainment and self-improvement.

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Brand update

Now the keen eyed amongst you will have noticed that I didn't publish a podcast last week. I'm making a couple of small changes to my schedule to make the whole experience better for you, my listeners.

A number of you have fed back that you'd prefer conversations to remain as whole, rather than split into two parts, but then land every other week rather than weekly. So I think that's going to work well for all of us; you get a longer and full interview to enjoy but proper time to digest and enjoy.

In doing that, I'm going to make a little adjustment to my newsletter, and move that from Mondays to Thursdays, so from now on, you'll get one email from me a week, alternating between a podcast and some written word. The latter will change from Monday BS to Behavioural Science Shorts with everything unified under the A Load of BS umbrella.

Introducing Dr Dimitris Xygalatas

Branding exercises over, to today's show. And this is one I've been really looking forward to sharing with you. I'm talking to anthropologist and cognitive scientist Dr Dimitris Xygalatas, who is an expert in rituals, whether religious, sporting, tribal, individual, collective or otherwise.

Thaipusam Kavadi festival in Mauritius

Rituals are part of all our lives, unconsciously so sometimes. Whether it's birthdays, pre-match warmup exercises or religious ceremonies, we're familiar mainly with low intensity, repetitive ones. It's the more intense, extreme rituals, in particular, which fascinate me for their arousing nature, their extravagance, their social breadth, and their emotional and physiological consequences; like that Thaipusam Kavadi body piercing festival in Mauritius or the fire walking celebrations in San Pedro Manrique, Spain. On top of these highly prosocial rituals, we also address how synchrony affects gatherings and the collective effervescence, goose steps and goose bumps of very antisocial Nazi parades.

Fire walking ceremony in San Pedro Manrique, Spain

Dimitris is going to walk us through all these ideas and more. I think you'll enjoy it!

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Next time with Jeff Kreisler

Next time on A Load of BS, I'll be talking money with Jeff Kreisler. Jeff wrote the book Small Change: Money Mishaps and How to Avoid Them with Dan Ariely. Jeff is a qualified lawyer, stand-up comedian and now Head of BS at J.P. Morgan Chase bank.

When it comes to money, we make absurd decisions about how to spend it all the time. Whether this is buying a £3.50 latte at Starbucks while we price compare groceries to save 10 pence on apples, bolting on a ‘special’ car cleaning kit for £250 after spending £15,000 on a new vehicle, or hopelessly overbidding on eBay auctions because we already feel attached to the item in question, we are irrational, emotional and flawed creatures. How on earth are we supposed to value things? Well, we'll be discussing this question and a whole lot more BS with Jeff. Money has never been so much fun to talk about so I really hope you'll join me.

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Be well and till next time,