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Bill Nye partners with Google Chromebook to explain the science of fear

In a new campaign with Google, pop culture’s resident scientist Bill Nye breaks down why we have such a hard time letting go of something.

Bill Nye partners with Google Chromebook to explain the science of fear
[Photo: courtesy of Google]

While brand loyalty certainly plays a role in the almost tribe-like mentality some people have around certain companies or products, there could be another factor at play: fear.

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In a new campaign with Google Chromebook, pop culture’s resident scientist Bill Nye breaks down why we have such a hard time letting go of something, even when there might be better options out there. “The Science of Switching” is part of Chromebook’s series “Creators + Chromebook,” where the brand partners with a creator to make a video using Chromebook and then a follow-up video explaining the process.

Nye’s aim is to spotlight the larger concept of how switching your behaviors and ideas can lead to more positive outcomes—as exhibited, of course, with switching your laptop to a Chromebook.

He explains how a discord between your amygdala (the part of your brain responsible for emotions) and your prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain associated with decision-making) can lead to risk aversion and fear.

“Sometimes it’s hard to let go of a bad decision,” Nye says in the video. “In behavioral economics, this principle is commonly known as the sunk-cost fallacy. Let me give you an example: Let’s say you paid for a vacation months in advance and you work hard—you deserve it. But when you arrive, there’s a giant storm, and you’re determined to stick it out, because you already paid for it.”

“Fear of loss,” he goes on to explain, “can cause irrational attachment to things familiar to us. It’s called the status quo bias.”

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But switching your mindset isn’t just about shilling products. Nye has long been an advocate of climate change education, and “The Science of Switching” dovetails with his overall mission of using entertainment to make complex (and now politicized) issues more digestible.

“To address our climate crisis, we need to be ready to make big changes. And the first step is recognizing that change is hard,” Nye said in a statement. “My collaboration with Google Chromebook gave me a chance to tell a story about why humans resist change, and how science can help us overcome those self-imposed obstacles. If we can get past our own roadblocks, we can accomplish amazing things.”

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About the author

KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America," where he was the social media producer.

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