Where do cool ideas come from? Every year, the online salon Edge.org poses one question and gets a bunch of smart people to answer it.
Note, he asked contributors how the internet has changed the way ''you'' - not ''we'' - think. Brockman's aim is not treatises. He wants personal responses, and to a satisfying degree he gets them. ... The question for his 2010 edition (even the internet has not sped the arrival of this print-format book to our shores) produces little consensus. This proves a central strength.
What scientific concept would most improve everybody’s ability to think? ... As Brockman points out, the “tools” in his book are like magic hammers in that they can help you now and through life to make the world better and to allow readers to see their biases more accurately.
These are people who live at the outermost frontiers of human knowledge -- thinkers who spend their lives using what we do know to discover what we don't. Their words are inspiring, comforting and occasionally alarming. Their wisdom is great. But their tone is never arrogant or elitist.
He compiled the results in "This Will Make You Smarter" (Harper Perennial), a provocative, wiz bang collection of essays by experts in fields as wide ranging as neuroscience and economics, philosophy and biological anthropology, addressing such topics as collective intelligence and the paradox of daydreaming.
As is usual at Edge, the whole article is speculative, yet fascinating.
In a notable essay titled "The third culture", he initiated the idea of a third culture, the cross-disciplinary "Edge" has since been mainly attracted thinkers from the science field, but also philosophers and novelists. One can mention names like Steven Pinker, Janna Levin, EO Wilson and Rebecca Goldstein.
Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, belongs to the intellectual hot bed of the edge.org set, a salon of scientific thinkers that has assembled over the years under the auspices of their intriguing host, John Brockman. The ethos of the edge.org crowd is one of unapologetic sophistication; its mission is to bring cutting-edge thinkers together in an ongoing, open-ended conversation, where ideas can beget ideas.
The list of writers with scientific training who have jumped the gap between empiricism and literature is well nourished. The Chilean poet Nicanor Parra, recent Cervantes Prize is awarded physicist and mathematician and worked as Professor of Rational Mechanics at the University of Chile for 51 years. ... And if you search an apostle of this, should go to John Brockman, author of The Third Culture (Tusquets), which states that the current culture is scientific and intellectual argues that the classical (letters, that is) are outdated. "
The answers, which come predominantly from scientists or social scientists, make for fascinating reading. Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman thinks that we often fall prey to the “focusing illusion,” in which problems that we are thinking about seem more grave the more we think about them. Yale psychologist Paul Bloom says we need to adopt scientific reasoning in daily thinking. NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen suggests that we often lose sight of the fact that most problems we face are so complex that they defy simple definition.
Brockman believes that scientists, natural and social, are asking some of the best questions in the air today. And we are not talking only about global warming or the future of the universe. Personal questions and corporate behavior are included as well: how to live a better life, to think more clearly about personal and social issues and how to lead a better company are all part of the game.
The brain science of bizarre behavior. If someone wants to, say, amputate his perfectly healthy arm, the call goes out to V.S. Ramachandran... more»
John Brockman is the editor of the new book “This Will Make You Smarter.” He also runs the website Edge.org, which features discussions on cutting edge science by some of the world’s most brilliant minds. In this NEW and UNCUT interview, Brockman talks with Steve Paulson about “third culture” intellectuals and how he was inspired by New York’s avant-garde arts scene in the 1960s, when he used to hang out with John Cage, Marshall McLuhan and other visionaries who laid the groundwork for today’s Internet culture.
Brockman had had such a brilliant exposition on the "third culture" with the impact and historical significance: "Scientists and experience of other thinkers in the world, showing the deep meaning of our lives, and to redefine ' who we are, what we are 'aspects are its works and descriptive writing, and gradually replace the traditional intellectuals.
The always-on nature of the web, which constantly beckons us to check what’s happening, may seem at odds with our natural instincts, but, as June Cohen of Ted Media suggests, the internet “may be returning us to the intensely social animals we evolved to be”.
This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts To Improve Your Thinking.
....As infinitely fascinating and stimulating as This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking is, its true gift — Brockman’s true gift — is in acting as a potent rupture in the filter bubble of our curiosity, cross-pollinating ideas across a multitude of disciplines to broaden our intellectual comfort zones and, in the process, spark a deeper, richer, more dimensional understanding not only of science, but of life itself.