JOHN BROCKMAN THIS WILL MAKE YOU SMARTER PDF

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Read This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockman for free with a 30 day free trial. Read unlimited* books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and. bestthing.info: This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking (Edge Question Series) (): John Brockman: Books . Read This Will Make You Smarter PDF - New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking by Mr. John Brockman Harper Perennial | bestthing.info


John Brockman This Will Make You Smarter Pdf

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bestthing.info presents brilliant, accessible, cutting-edge ideas to improve our decision-making skills and improve our cognitive toolkits, with contributions by Nassim. This Will Make You Smarter: Big Thinkers Each Pick a Concept to year for more than a decade, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman. "This Will Make You Smarter gives us better tools to think about the world and is The literary agent and all-purpose intellectual impresario John Brockman.

Biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, who has previously examined the neurochemistry of love and desire , zooms in on the temperament as the essential building block of the self: Personality is composed of two fundamentally different types of traits: those of 'character'; and those of 'temperament. Your childhood games; your family's interests and values; how people in your community express love and hate; what relatives and friends regard as courteous or perilous; how those around you worship; what they sing; when they laugh; how they make a living and relax: innumerable cultural forces build your unique set of character traits.

The balance of your personality is your temperament, all the biologically based tendencies that contribute to your consistent patterns of feeling, thinking, and behaving. Wrongologist Kathryn Schulz, whose recent talk on the psychology of regret you might recall, finds optimism in "the pessimistic meta-induction from the history of science" -- the idea that, because we now know scientific theories of yore have often been wrong, it's safe to assume our own present-day theories are quite possibly wrong as well.

At best, we nurture the fantasy that knowledge is always cumulative, and therefore concede that future eras will know more than we do.

But we ignore or resist the fact that knowledge collapses as often as it accretes, that our own most cherished beliefs might appear patently false to posterity. That fact is the essence of the meta-induction -- and yet, despite its name, this idea is not pessimistic. Or rather, it is only pessimistic if you hate being wrong. If, by contrast, you think that uncovering your mistakes is one of the best ways to revise and improve your understanding of the world, then this is actually a highly optimistic insight.

In fact, this seems to be one of the anthology's bigger running themes -- the idea that error, failure, and uncertainty are not only common to both the scientific method and the human condition, but also essential. Futurist and Wired founder Kevin Kelly joins the ranks of famous creators admonishing against the fear of failure : We can learn nearly as much from an experiment that does not work as from one that does.

Failure is not something to be avoided but rather something to be cultivated. That's a lesson from science that benefits not only laboratory research, but design, sport, engineering, art, entrepreneurship, and even daily life itself. All creative avenues yield the maximum when failures are embraced. The chief innovation that science brought to the state of defeat is a way to manage mishaps.

Blunders are kept small, manageable, constant, and trackable. Flops are not quite deliberate, but they are channeled so that something is learned each time things fell. It becomes a matter of failing forward. Starting with a presumption that a subject of interest represents a violation of the properties of the universe, that it was poofed uniquely into existence with a specific purpose, and that the conditions of its existence can no longer apply, means that you have leaped to an unfounded and unusual explanation with no legitimate reason.

What the mediocrity principle tells us is that our state is not the product of intent, that the universe lacks both malice and benevolence, but that everything does follow rules—and that grasping those rules should be the goal of science. If you keep asking why questions about what happens in the universe, you ultimately reach the answer because of the state of the universe and the laws of nature.

In ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle saw the world teleologically—rain falls because water wants to be lower than air; animals and slaves are naturally subservient to human citizens. From the start, there were skeptics. Democritus and Lucretius were early naturalists who urged us to think in terms of matter obeying rules rather than chasing final causes and serving underlying purposes. Theologians sometimes invoke sustaining the world as a function of God.

Pierre-Simon Laplace articulated the very specific kind of rule that the world obeys: If we specify the complete state of the universe or any isolated part of it at some particular instant, the laws of physics tell us what its state will be at the very next moment.

Applying those laws again, we can figure out what it will be a moment later.

THIS WILL MAKE YOU SMARTER: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking

And so on, until in principle, obviously we can build up a complete history of the universe. This is not a universe that is advancing toward a goal; it is one that is caught in the iron grip of an unbreakable pattern.

This view of the processes at the heart of the physical world has important consequences for how we come to terms with the social world.

Human beings like to insist that there are reasons why things happen. The death of a child, the crash of an airplane, or a random shooting must be explained in terms of the workings of a hidden plan.

Nature teaches us otherwise. Things happen because the laws of nature say they will—because they are the consequences of the state of the universe and the path of its evolution. None of which is to say that life is devoid of purpose and meaning. Only that these are things we create, not things we discover out there in the fundamental architecture of the world.

This elegant fact can be extended to encompass a powerful idea, known as the Copernican Principle, which holds that we are not in a special or favorable place of any sort. By looking at the world in light of this principle, we can overcome certain preconceptions about ourselves and reexamine our relationship with the universe.

And the Copernican Principle helps guide our understanding of the expanding universe, allowing us to see that anywhere in the cosmos one would perceive other galaxies moving away at rapid speeds, just as we see here on Earth. We are not anywhere special. The Copernican Principle has also been extended to our temporal position by astrophysicist J.

Richard Gott to help provide estimates for lifetimes of events, independent of additional information.

As Gott elaborated, other than the fact that we are intelligent observers, there is no reason to believe we are in any way specially located in time.

This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking

The Copernican Principle allows us to quantify our uncertainty and recognize that we are often neither at the beginning of things nor at the end. It allowed Gott to estimate correctly when the Berlin Wall would fall and has even provided meaningful numbers on the survival of humanity.

This principle can even anchor our location within the many orders of magnitude of our world: We are far smaller than most of the cosmos, far larger than most chemistry, far slower than much that occurs at subatomic scales, and far faster than geological and evolutionary processes.

This principle leads us to study the successively larger and smaller orders of magnitude of our world, because we cannot assume that everything interesting is at the same scale as ourselves.

The paradox of the Copernican Principle is that by properly understanding our place, even if it be humbling, we can only then truly understand our particular circumstances.

Craig Venter Genome scientist; founder and president, J. Craig Venter Institute; author, A Life Decoded I cannot imagine any single discovery that would have more impact on humanity than the discovery of life outside our solar system. There is a humancentric, Earthcentric view of life that permeates most cultural and societal thinking. Finding that there are multiple, perhaps millions, of origins of life and that life is ubiquitous throughout the universe will profoundly affect every human.

We live on a microbial planet. We have more than trillion microbes on and in each of us. We have microbes that can withstand millions of rads of ionizing radiation or acids and bases so strong they would dissolve our skin. We have life that lives on carbon dioxide, on methane, on sulfur, on sugar. The stupendous time spans of the evolutionary past are now part of common culture and understanding—even though the concept may not yet have percolated to all parts of Kansas and Alaska.

Our sun is less than halfway through its life. It formed 4. It will then flare up, engulfing the inner planets and vaporizing any life that might then remain on Earth. That, at least, is the best long-range forecast that cosmologists can offer, though few would lay firm odds on what may happen beyond a few tens of billions of years. Awareness of the deep time lying ahead is still not pervasive.

Indeed, most people—and not only those for whom this view is enshrined in religious beliefs—envisage humans as in some sense the culmination of evolution. But no astronomer could believe this; on the contrary, it would be equally plausible to surmise that we are not even at the halfway stage. There is abundant time for posthuman evolution, here on Earth or far beyond, organic or inorganic, to give rise to far more diversity and even greater qualitative changes than those that have led from single-celled organisms to humans.

Indeed, this conclusion is strengthened when we realize that future evolution will proceed not on the million-year time scale characteristic of Darwinian selection but at the much accelerated rate allowed by genetic modification and the advance of machine intelligence and forced by the drastic environmental pressures that would confront any humans who were to construct habitats beyond the Earth.

Darwin himself realized that not one living species will preserve its unaltered likeness to a distant futurity. We now know that futurity extends far further—and alterations can occur far faster—than Darwin envisioned.

And we know that the cosmos, through which life could spread, is far more extensive and varied than he envisioned. So humans are surely not the terminal branch of an evolutionary tree but a species that emerged early in cosmic history, with special promise for diverse evolution. But this is not to diminish their status.

We humans are entitled to feel uniquely important, as the first known species with the power to mold its evolutionary legacy. It needs to make a difference to us as a species, or, more to the point I am going to make, as a key factor in defining our collective role. This concept must affect the way we perceive who we are and why we are here.

It should redefine the way we live our lives and plan for our collective future. This concept must make it clear that we matter. A concept that might grow into this life-redefining powerhouse is the notion that we, humans on a rare planet, are unique and uniquely important. But what of Copernicanism, the notion that the more we learn about the universe the less important we become? I will argue that modern science, traditionally considered guilty of reducing our existence to a pointless accident in an indifferent universe, is actually saying the opposite.

Whereas it does say that we are an accident in an indifferent universe, it also says that we are a rare accident and thus not pointless. But wait! After all, as we discover more and more worlds circling other suns, the so-called exoplanets, we find an amazing array of possibilities. Also, given that the laws of physics and chemistry are the same across the universe, we should expect life to be ubiquitous: If it happened here, it must have happened in many other places.

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So why am I claiming that we are unique? There is an enormous difference between life and intelligent life. Life is in the business of surviving the best way it can in a given environment.

If the environment changes, those creatures that can survive under the new conditions will. It makes us the special outcome of some grand plan. There have been many transitions toward greater complexity, none of them obvious: As we look at planet Earth and the factors that enabled us to be here, we quickly realize that our planet is very special. A further point: Even if SETI finds evidence of other cosmic intelligences, we are not going to initiate an intense collaboration.

And if we are alone, and alone are aware of what it means to be alive and of the importance of remaining alive, we gain a new kind of cosmic centrality, very different and much more meaningful than the religion-inspired one of pre-Copernican days, when Earth was the center of Creation.

We matter because we are rare and we know it. The joint realization that we live in a remarkable cosmic cocoon and can create languages and rocket ships in an otherwise apparently dumb universe ought to be transformative. Until we find other self-aware intelligences, we are how the universe thinks. As someone who just spent a term teaching freshman introductory biology and will be doing it again in the coming months, I have to say that the first thing that leaped to my mind as an essential skill everyone should have was algebra.

And elementary probability and statistics. Elementary math skills are an essential tool we ought to be able to take for granted in a scientific and technological society. What idea should people grasp to better understand their place in the universe? And opposition to the mediocrity principle is one of the major linchpins of religion and creationism and jingoism and failed social policies.

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There are a lot of cognitive ills that would be neatly wrapped up and easily disposed of if only everyone understood this one simple idea. Most of what happens in the world is just a consequence of natural, universal laws—laws that apply everywhere and to everything, with no special exemptions or amplifications for your benefit—given variety by the input of chance.

Everything that you as a human being consider cosmically important is an accident.

The rules of inheritance and the nature of biology meant that when your parents had a baby, it was anatomically human and mostly fully functional physiologically, but the unique combination of traits that make you male or female, tall or short, brown-eyed or blue-eyed, were the result of a chance shuffle of genetic attributes during meiosis, a few random mutations, and the luck of the draw in the grand sperm race at fertilization.

The stars themselves form as a result of the properties of atoms, the specific features of each star set by the chance distribution of ripples of condensation through clouds of dust and gas. Our species itself is partly shaped by the force of our environment through selection and partly by fluctuations of chance.

If humans had gone extinct a hundred thousand years ago, the world would go on turning, life would go on thriving, and some other species would be prospering in our place—and most likely not by following the same intelligence-driven, technological path we did. We look for general principles that apply to the universe as a whole first, and those explain much of the story; and then we look for the quirks and exceptions that led to the details.

Starting with a presumption that a subject of interest represents a violation of the properties of the universe, that it was poofed uniquely into existence with a specific purpose, and that the conditions of its existence can no longer apply, means that you have leaped to an unfounded and unusual explanation with no legitimate reason.

What the mediocrity principle tells us is that our state is not the product of intent, that the universe lacks both malice and benevolence, but that everything does follow rules—and that grasping those rules should be the goal of science.

Theoretical physicist, Caltech; author, From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time. The world consists of things, which obey rules. If you keep asking why questions about what happens in the universe, you ultimately reach the answer because of the state of the universe and the laws of nature.

In ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle saw the world teleologically—rain falls because water wants to be lower than air; animals and slaves are naturally subservient to human citizens. From the start, there were skeptics. Democritus and Lucretius were early naturalists who urged us to think in terms of matter obeying rules rather than chasing final causes and serving underlying purposes. Theologians sometimes invoke sustaining the world as a function of God.

Pierre-Simon Laplace articulated the very specific kind of rule that the world obeys: If we specify the complete state of the universe or any isolated part of it at some particular instant, the laws of physics tell us what its state will be at the very next moment. Applying those laws again, we can figure out what it will be a moment later. And so on, until in principle, obviously we can build up a complete history of the universe. This is not a universe that is advancing toward a goal; it is one that is caught in the iron grip of an unbreakable pattern.

This view of the processes at the heart of the physical world has important consequences for how we come to terms with the social world. Human beings like to insist that there are reasons why things happen.

The death of a child, the crash of an airplane, or a random shooting must be explained in terms of the workings of a hidden plan. Nature teaches us otherwise.Jul 09, Ali Sattari rated it really liked it Shelves: Even for those who are online and uncensored, the most valuable information can be hard to find, buried in an unscientific media avalanche.

Books by John Brockman.

The discussion about the focusing illusion Daniel Kahneman and shorthand abstraction Richard Nisbett gave me that "aha" moment. It allowed Gott to estimate correctly when the Berlin Wall would fall and has even provided meaningful numbers on the survival of humanity. The thousands of new genes they found double the total previously discovered showed what proteins the genes would generate and therefore what function they had, and that began to reveal what the teeming bacteria were really up to.

Gloria Origgi writes about Kakonomics, our preference for low-quality outcomes.

Mathew Ritchie's "Systematic Equilibrium.

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