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You've heard of an educated guess? How do things like that play in to sexuality? Let's chat about that!

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Host: Dr. Lindsey Doe

Directing/Filming/Editing: Nicholas Jenkins

Titles: Michael Aranda

Executive Producer: Hank Green
You've heard of "common sense", "rule of thumb" and "educated guess"?

All of this falls under the category of heuristics. They're tools we use to problem-solve by drawing on our experiences and our surroundings.

I'm just going to put out there that they're not the optimal solution, but they're SO much faster than a full-on search for the truth. It's like taking mental shortcuts.


Here's an example: You're in the grocery store and you want sauerkraut. Where's the sauerkraut?! Is it with the canned vegetables, 'cause cabbage, or is it with the condiments, like other things that you put on a bratwurst. Finding kraut this way is not a research-based conclusion, but it's easy, it's efficient, accessible, and with very little work, boom, you've got an answer. When your brain is using these quick tricks of reasoning, it's using heuristics.

Alright, so, all of this happens with sexuality too. There are completely unscientific ways that we get to answers, make sexual decisions. We know we could be off, but it's so much easier this way! Here's how the brain on heuristics responds to sexual scenarios.

The person looks clean, showered, put-together, well-dressed: no diseases.
The person doesn't try to seduce me: must not want me.
She's not insisting on a condom: must be on the pill.
When should I call? Three days later.
Am I pregnant? Not if I get my period!
Kissing now: sexy time later.
She's bi: threesome!

Ahahaugh, no! Just because a person is attracted to guys and gals does not mean they're interested in having sex with more than one person at a time. And this is not the only error that you're making. Most of the time heuristics are gonna turn out okay, but they can be very troublesome if you have to be right.

Wrong aisle of the grocery store? Meh. Wrong call on what the non-verbal meant? BIG DEAL! If you have the time and ability to gather information, look at all your options and come up with the best solution to something critical, don't rely on heuristics.

I'm gonna give you some information and better solutions!

The person looks clean, showered, put-together, well-dressed, no diseases? Uh, no. You ask, you get tested, you wear protection. Fact: due to the halo effect, we apply our surface impression of someone to their entire character. Studies have concluded that we judge pretty people as being smarter, nicer, and healthier than others.

The person doesn't try to seduce me, must not want me? It is absolutely okay to ask, verbally or non-verbally, and by non-verbally I mean something like...

She's not insisting on a condom must be on the pill? Wear a condom anyway and ask for more information, including what her STI status is. This is going to be a much easier conversation to have than the one about the herpes outbreak, or the fetus that you're fathering.

When should I call? Mm, three days later. Who came up with that?! Fine, keep it as a heuristic, it's not even a matter of consequence.

Not pregnant if I get my period? For some women, they experience decidual bleeding, which feels like a period and looks like a period and can happen every single month of the nine months of pregnancy. You think, "I'm not pregnant," but your biology would say, "Yeah, you are." Here's a true rule of thumb, if you don't know the answer, ask more questions. Go to the gynecologist, ask your girlfriends, research it online, pass a note! Do you like me or not? Run your brain! That fine investigative system has the optimal option.

I don't want to take heuristics away from you; they are incredibly valuable. I just want you to use them wisely; don't be lazy, try something like the Chinese. This is what the erections will look like in your 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's. Stay curious.

...tool that allows you to make quick judgments (laughs)
A problem solving tool that allows you to make...
[Nick, from behind the camera]: Sorry, Abby, you gotta get out of the way.
Lindsey, to dog: You can't eat the diapers.
[From behind the camera]: There's no hurry in this dog. Lindsey: Hmm-mm.