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Rapper's Delight: Professor Mixes It Up Off Broadway

Originally published in the Union College Magazine, Spring 2013

Christopher Chabris, rap star?

Not quite. But the associate professor of psychology got to spin his science recently on the stage of “Ingenious Nature,” a theatrical mixtape that recently completed its run at the SoHo Playhouse.

A creation of Canadian rapper and playwright Baba Brinkman, “Ingenious Nature” featured “mashed up stories from his love life with findings from the seductive field of evolutionary psychology, which tries to explain gender relations, political beliefs and teenage recklessness through the lens of millions of years of genetic selection,” according to the New York Times.

Throughout its six-week run, the show featured members from the science community who would speak to audiences after the performance. Brinkman was familiar with Chabris, having referenced his notable book with Daniel J. Simons, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, The Invisible Gorilla, and Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us, on his 2010 album, “TheRap Guide to Human Nature.”

Chabris spoke about his research on cognition, intelligence and behavior genetics after one performance.

Chabris, who joined Union in 2007, has appeared on the Today show and National Public Radio (NPR). He has written for the New York Timesand The Wall Street Journal.

But he never expected his research to infiltrate the world of rap.

“A lot of things have happened as a result of writing our book, but being cited in rap lyrics and appearing on the stage of a rap show have to be two of the best,” Chabris said.