White Peony 2014 by Katinka Matson
Click to Expand www.katinkamatson.com

"Take a look. No matter who you are, you are bound to find something that will drive you crazy." — The New York Times 
"A forum for the world's most brilliant minds." — The Guardian 



Science advances by discovering new things and developing new ideas. Few truly new ideas are developed without abandoning old ones first. As theoretical physicist Max Planck (1858-1947) noted, "A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." In other words, science advances by a series of funerals. Why wait that long?


Ideas change, and the times we live in change. Perhaps the biggest change today is the rate of change. What established scientific idea is ready to be moved aside so that science can advance?  


[175 essays; 129,000 words;] Geoffrey West, Andrei Linde, Nina Jablonski, Anton Zeilinger, Julia Clarke, Martin Rees, Seirian Sumner, Fiery Cushman, Laurie Santos & Tamar Gendler, Jay Rosen, Alan Guth, Robert Sapolsky, Andrian Kreye, David Berreby, Dean Ornish, Benjamin Bergen, Eric Weinstein, Kai Krause, Gary Marcus, Amanda Gefter, Paul Saffo, Ian Gold & Joel Gold, Dimitar Sasselov, Jamil Zaki, Scott Sampson, Susan Fiske, Alexander Wissner-Gross, Kate Jeffery, Tor Nørretranders, Kiley Hamlin, Oliver Scott Curry, Bruce Parker, Brian Christian, Kate Mills, Athena Vouloumanos, June Gruber, Eduardo Salcedo-Albaran, N.J. Enfield, Kathryn Clancy, Eldar Shafir, Ross Anderson, Ian Bogost, Simon Baron-Cohen, Bart Kosko, Tom Griffiths, Sarah Demers, Stephen Stich, Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, Roger Highfield, Todd Sacktor, Victoria Wyatt, Ernst Pöppel, Gavin Schmidt, Bruce Hood, David Buss, Nigel Goldenfeld, Steve Giddings, Michael Norton, Catherine Bateson, Laurence Smith, Frank Tipler, Stephen Kosslyn, Brian Knutson, Robert Provine, Gerd Gigerenzer, Paul Bloom, Laura Betzig, Buddhini Samarasinghe, Kurt Gray, Daniel Goleman, Susan Blackmore, Alun Anderson, Martin Nowak, Marcelo Gleiser, David Deutsch, Donald Hoffman, Samuel Arbesman, Gregory Benford, Seth Lloyd, Nicholas Carr, Thomas Metzinger, Alex Holcombe, Leo Chalupa, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Stuart Pimm, Ed Regis, Giulio Boccaletti, Nicholas Christakis, W. Daniel Hillis, Michael McCullough, Gary Klein, Alex "Sandy" Pentland, Luca De Biase, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Jonathan Gottschall, Azra Raza, M.D., Cesar Hidalgo, Aubrey de Grey, Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, Sherry Turkle, Scott Atran, Patricia Churchland, Gerald Smallberg, Peter Woit, Robert Kurzban, Charles Seife, David Myers, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Roger Schank, Paul Steinhardt, Peter Richerson, Helen Fisher, Abigail Marsh, Lisa Barrett, Irene Pepperberg, Adam Waytz, Andrew Lih, Steve Fuller, Stewart Brand, Gordon Kane, Andy Clark, Melanie Swan, Satyajit Das, Pascal Boyer, Richard Nisbett, Samuel Barondes, Jerry Coyne, Alan Alda, Paul Davies, Neil Gershenfeld, Dan Sperber, Richard Dawkins, Lawrence Krauss, Matt Ridley, Lee Smolin, Sam Harris, A.C. Grayling, Eric Topol, M.D., Timo Hannay, Ian McEwan, Alison Gopnik, Adam Alter, John McWhorter, Freeman Dyson, Emanuel Derman, Haim Harari, Jared Diamond, Carlo Rovelli, Jonathan Haidt, John Tooby, Max Tegmark, Richard Saul Wurman, Edward Slingerland, Christine Finn, Frank Wilczek, Victoria Stodden, Steven Pinker, Howard Gardner, David Gelernter, Rodney Brooks, Douglas Rushkoff, Hugo Mercier, Michael Shermer, Beatrice Golomb, Terrence Sejnowski, Sean Carroll, Daniel Everett, Margaret Levi, Richard Thaler, Tania Lombrozo, Daniel C. Dennett, Maria Spiropulu, Nicholas Humphrey, George Dyson, Kevin Kelly


Thanks to Laurie Santos for suggesting this year's Edge Question and to Paul Bloom and Jonathan Haidt for their refinements. As always, thanks to Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly, George Dyson, and Steven Pinker, for their continued support.

Happy New Year!

John Brockman
Editor & Publisher, Edge.org


Edge.org was launched in 1996 as the online version of "the Reality Club", an informal gathering of intellectuals who met from 1981 to 1996 in Chinese restaurants, artist lofts, investment banking firms, ballrooms, museums, living rooms and elsewhere. Reality Club members presented their work with the understanding that they will be challenged. The hallmark of The Reality club has been rigorous and sometimes impolite (but not ad hominem) discourse. The motto of The Reality Club was inspired by the late artist-philosopher James Lee Byars: "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." 

James Lee Byars (1932-1997), Founder of The World Question Center


John Brockman: A Portrait of
The World Mind That Came in From the Counter Culture 

[10.01.2014] Be imaginative, exciting, compelling, inspiring: That's what John Brockman expects of himself and others. Arguably, the planet's most important literary agent, Brockman brings its cyber elite together in his Internet salon "Edge." We paid a visit to the man from the Third Culture.     JORDAN MEJIAS

At the age of three John Brockman announced: "I want to go to New York!" For decades he has been a leading light behind the scenes in the city's intellectual life.  

... Like the idea of the Internet—which was slowly acquiring contours during these rambling 1960s discussions—the idea of Edge, the Internet salon around which Brockman's life now revolves, was also taking shape. Edge is the meeting place for the cyber elite, the most illustrious minds who are shaping the emergence of the latest developments in the natural and social sciences, whether they be digital, genetic, psychological, cosmological or neurological. Digerati from the computer universe of Silicon Valley aren't alone in giving voice to their ideas in Brockman's salon. They are joined in equal measure by other eminent experts, including the evolutionary biologists Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker, the philosopher Daniel Dennett, the cosmologist Martin Rees, the biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, the economist, psychologist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman, the quantum physicist David Deutsch, the computer scientist Marvin Minsky, and the social theorist Anthony Giddens. Ranging from the co-founder of Apple Steve Wozniak to the decoder of genomes Craig Venter, his guest list is almost unparalleled even in the boundless realm of the Internet. Even the actor Alan Alda and writer Ian McEwan can be found in his forum. 

The bridge of the third culture

A question is sent out to all salon members at the start of every year. This year it is: "What scientific idea ready to be retired?" The "editorial marching orders," written by Brockman, reveal the heart of Edge: "Go deeper than the news. Tell me something I don't know. You are writing for your fellow Edgies, a sophisticated bunch, and not the general public. Stick to ideas, theories, systems of thought, disciplines, not people. Come up with something new, be exciting, inspiring, compelling. Tell us a great story. Amaze, delight, surprise us!" ...

[Continue reading English translation] 
Safari / Firefox / Internet Explorer / Google Chrome
[NOTE: Chrome auto-translate re-translates the English version on the FAZ webstie into a machine language translation.]

The Sunday Observer
January 10, 2014
Pre-Publication Serialization:

"A forum for the world's most brilliant minds." 

"The online salon at Edge.org is a living document of millions of words charting the Edge conversation over the past 15 years. It is available, gratis, to the general public.

"As the late artist James Lee Byars and I once wrote: 'To accomplish the extraordinary, you must seek extraordinary people.' At the centre of every Edge project are remarkable people and remarkable minds—scientists, artists, philosophers, technologists and entrepreneurs." ...

[Continue Reading on TheGuardian.com]

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
January 10, 2014
Pre-Publication Serialization:

Every year, the American literary agent John Brockman asks the Cyber-Elite year the Edge question. Read a selection of the most exciting and surprising answers.

[Continue Reading on FAZ.net: Google Translation] 

Dennis Overbye

Over the Side With Old Scientific Tenets 

Jan. 14, 2014

...Here are some concepts you might consider tossing out with the Christmas wrappings as you get started on the new year: human nature, cause and effect, the theory of everything, free will and evidence-based medicine.

Those are only a few of the shibboleths, pillars of modern thought or delusions — take your choice — that appear in a new compendium of essays by 166 (and counting) deep thinkers, scientists, writers, blowhards (again, take your choice) as answers to the question: What scientific idea is ready for retirement?

The discussion is posted at edge.org. Take a look. No matter who you are, you are bound to find something that will drive you crazy. ...

The whole thing runs more than 120,000 words. You can dip into it anywhere and be maddened, confused or stirred. If there is an overall point, it is that there is no such thing as a stupid question. ...

[Continue Reading on NYTimes.com]

Andrian Kreye

Weizenkornlegende des Internets

No. 15, Montag, 20. Januar 2014

Once a year, the New York literary agent John Brockman on his online forum for science and culture Edge.org, asks one question. He gets answers from his network of scientists, intellectuals and artists. For 2014 was the question was "What Scientific Ideas Should We Retire?" Among the 174 responses received to date by the evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins ("Essentialism"), the science historian George Dyson ("Science and Technology"), the neuro-scientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore ("Left Brain/Right Brain"), as well as the response of the SZ-Feuilleton Editor, Andrian Kreye's "Moore's Law".)

[Subscription Paywall]

Domingo, 19 2014 

From culture to altruism, to the left and right hemispheres of the brain, to universal grammar, to the very notion of scientific progress: for some of the brightest minds in the world, these concepts deserve to retired from the scientific conversation.

This is this year's provocative result of the question, which is proposed every year, by Edge, a website associated with a literary agent that promotes thinking and discussion of cutting-edge science, arts and literature, who invited his usual collaborators and guests, to think about "What scientific idea is ready to retire?". Some 170 scientists, philosophers, scholars, and writers responded with short essays that can be read online (www.edge.org) and, as has happened in previous years, will surely soon be published as a book. Here, a selection of some of the answers: 

"Simple Answers", Gavin Schmidt, Climatologist, NASAs Goddard Institute; "Information Overload", Jay Rosen, Associate Professor of Journalism, New York University; "Markets Are Bad; Markets Are Good", Michael I. Norton, Associate Professor of Marketing, Harvard Business School; "The Illusion of Scientific Progress", Paul Saffo, Technology Forecaster; "Certainty. Absolute Truth. Exactitude", Richard Saul Wurman, Founder, TED Conference; eg Conference; TEDMED Conferences; "Anti-anecdotalism", Nicholas G. Carr, Author, The Shallows and The Big Switch; "Retire nothing!", Ian McEwan, Novelist; Author, Sweet Tooth; Solar; On Chesil Beach

[Subscription Paywall]

Laboratory mice, human superiority, infinity and other obsolete scientific ideas

DISCUSSION With the participation of some of the most prestigious scientists and writers of world

This year the magazine Edge.org has asked some of the brightest minds on the planet the following question: "What scientific idea is ready for retirement?"

[Continue Reading on El Mundo.es


"The World's Smartest Website; a salon for the world’s finest minds."
The Guardian

 "...A collection that reads like the best TED talks ever. It's an absolute pleasure to read." (Click for 20-second video)
—  Fareed Zakaria, GPS, CNN

"Thrilling ... Everything is permitted, and nothing is excluded from this intellectual game."
— Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

"We'd certainly be better off if everyone sampled the fabulous Edge symposium which, like the best in science, is modest and daring at once."
— David Brooks, New York Times Column

"An epicenter of bleeding-edge insight across science, technology and beyond, hosting conversations with some of our era's greatest thinkers. ...(A)  lavish cerebral feast ... one of this year's most significant time-capsules of contemporary thought."
The Atlantic 

"The most stimulating English-language reading to be had from anywhere in the world.
— The Canberra Times

"The inquiry becomes an a fascinating experience. The pleasure of intelligence is a renewable source of intellectual energy." 
Il Sole 24 Ore

"Brilliant, essential and addictive. It interprets, it interrogates, it provokes. Each text can be a world in itself."
— Publico

"Open-minded, free ranging, intellectually playful ... an unadorned pleasure in curiosity, a collective expression of wonder at the living and inanimate world ... an ongoing and thrilling colloquium."  
— Ian McEwan, The Telegraph

"A kind of thinker that does not exist in Europe.”
— La Stampa

"Not just wonderful, but plausible."
— Wall Street Journal

"One of the purest outlets of intellectual thought on the Web."
— Süddeutsche Zeitung

"Fantastically stimulating...It's like the crack cocaine of the thinking world.... Once you start, you can't stop thinking about that question."
— BBC Radio 4

"The brightest minds in the known universe."
— Vanity Fair

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