This Will Make You Smarter

To arrive at the edge of the world’s knowledge, seek out the most complex and sophisticated minds, put them in a room together, and have them ask each other the questions they are asking themselves.

Every era has its intellectual hotspots. The most influential thinkers in our own era live at the nexus of the cognitive sciences, evolutionary psychology, and information technology. John Brockman gathers members of this network for summits. He arranges symposia and encourages online conversations. Through Edge.org, he has multiplied the talents of everyone involved.

The disciplinary structure in the universities is an important foundation. It enforces methodological rigor. But it doesn’t really correlate with reality. Why do we have one field, psychology, concerning the inner life and another field, sociology, concerning the outer life, when the distinction between the two is porous and maybe insignificant? If there’s going to be a vibrant intellectual life, somebody has to drag researchers out of their ghettos, and Brockman has done that through Edge.

This will make you smarter were contributions to the conversation in response to the Edge Question for 2011 – What scientific concept would improve everyone’s cognitive toolkit?

Here the term “scientific” is to be understood in a broad sense, – as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be human behaviour, corporate behaviour, the fate of the planet, or the future of the universe. A Scientific concept” may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or any other analytical enterprises, as long as it is a rigorous tool that can be summed up succinctly but has broad application to understanding the world.

This Will Make You Smarter