"Gödel mistrusted our ability to communicate. Natural language, he thought, was imprecise, and we usually don't understand each other. Gödel wanted to prove a mathematical theorem that would have all the precision of mathematics—the only language with any claims to precision—but with the sweep of philosophy. He wanted a mathematical theorem that would speak to the issues of meta-mathematics. And two extraordinary things happened. One is that he actually did produce such a theorem. The other is that it was interpreted by the jazzier parts of the intellectual culture as saying, philosophically exactly the opposite of what he had been intending to say with it."
...on the research on mind, brain, and behavior that may be relevant to gender disparities in the sciences, including the studies of bias, discrimination and innate and acquired difference between the sexes.
"A black swan is an outlier, an event that lies beyond the realm of normal expectations. Most people expect all swans to be white because that's what their experience tells them; a black swan is by definition a surprise. Nevertheless, people tend to concoct explanations for them after the fact, which makes them appear more predictable, and less random, than they are. Our minds are designed to retain, for efficient storage, past information that fits into a compressed narrative. This distortion, called the hindsight bias, prevents us from adequately learning from the past."
"The kind of Christianity that pervades the religious right in this country divides the world between the saved and the damned, between God's people and Satan's people, between good and evil. We have all seen how this is played out in our politics. I used to think that President Bush was using this language as a political ploy. I still think he is, but I also think—to my disappointment—that he also believes it. His conviction that he is God's chosen one to "rid the world of evildoers" blinds him to the evil that he—and we, as Americans—are capable of doing. The conviction that we are on the side of good—of God—is, however, an ancient one—enormously powerful."
"What I'm going to suggest is a road map of factors in failures of group decision making. I'll divide the answers into a sequence of four somewhat fuzzily delineated categories. First of all, a group may fail to anticipate a problem before the problem actually arrives. Secondly, when the problem arrives, the group may fail to perceive the problem. Then, after they perceive the problem, they may fail even to try to solve the problem. Finally, they may try to solve it but may fail in their attempts to do so. While all this talking about reasons for failure and collapses of society may seem pessimistic, the flip side is optimistic: namely, successful decision-making. Perhaps if we understand the reasons why groups make bad decisions, we can use that knowledge as a check list to help groups make good decisions."
"Burda has the discipline of Germany but he also has certain qualities that Powerful Germany may not have respected in the past. He is stirring the pot, bringing people together, searching for new ideas, making things happen. When he meets talented people he brings them into his network, combines them into his mix. This is his discipline. This is his power. In addition to new people, he attracts new ideas, brings fruitful chaos to a world of certainty, shakes things up, and makes a mess out of the old order, the old way of thinking. Science (and the technology that follows) does not have to be beautiful or pure. Things do not need to be symmetrical or deducible from first principles. That esthetic, a great motivating force in science since Plato, is over. The sciences of complexity, which are the hallmark of the third culture, can be very messy. Out of chaos comes creativity. Hubert Burda is Germany's agent of change."
"The second globalization debate is now upon us, and it's no longer just an academic debate. It's in the streets, as we know since Seattle, since the meetings in Washington, since the carnival against capitalism in London, and similar kinds of events all over the world."