Edge 232 — January 4, 2008
(113,100 words)


THE WORLD QUESION CENTER
The Edge Annual Question — 2008
WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT? WHY?


IN THE NEWS
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
Science snubbed
Vincent Carroll, Editor, Editorial Pages

THE MAIL
WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?
Review by Harry Ritchie

THE NEW YORK TIMES
OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Sidney Awards II
By David Brooks




The Edge Annual Question — 2008

When thinking changes your mind, that's philosophy.
When God changes your mind, that's faith.
When facts change your mind, that's science.

WHAT HAVE YOU CHANGED YOUR MIND ABOUT? WHY?

Science is based on evidence. What happens when the data change? How have scientific findings or arguments changed your mind?"

165 contributors; 112,600 words

"They are the intellectual elite, the brains the rest of us rely on to make sense of the universe and answer the big questions. But in a refreshing show of new year humility, the world's best thinkers have admitted that from time to time even they are forced to change their minds." James Randerson, The Guardian

"As fascinating and weighty as one would imagine." — Comment (Leading Article), The Independent

"A great event in the Anglo-Saxon culture."El Mundo

"A remarkable feast of the intellect... an amazing group of reflections on science, culture, and the evolution of ideas. Reading the Edge question is like being invited to dinner with some of the most interesting people on the planet." — Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Radar

"The splendidly enlightened Edge website (www.edge.org) has rounded off each year of inter-disciplinary debate by asking its heavy-hitting contributors to answer one question. I strongly recommend a visit."— Boyd Tonkin, The Independent

"Provocative ideas put forward today by leading figures." Roger Highfield, The Telegraph

"Even the world’s best brains have to admit to being wrong sometimes: here, leading scientists respond to a new year challenge." —Lewis Smith, The Times

"For an exceptionally high quotient of interesting ideas to words, this is hard to beat. ...What a feast of egg-head opinionating!" — John Derbyshire, National Review Online

"Answers ring like scientific odes to uncertainty, humility and doubt; passionate pleas for critical thought in a world threatened by blind convictions." Sandro Contenta, The Toronto Star

"A jolt of fresh thinking...The answers address a fabulous array of issues. This is the intellectual equivalent of a New Year's dip in the lake — bracing, possibly shriek-inducing, and bound to wake you up."
Margaret Wente, The Globe and Mail

"As in the past, these world-class thinkers have responded to impossibly open-ended questions with erudition, imagination and clarity."J. Peder Zane, The News & Observer

PRESS COVERAGE: Arts & Letters Daily; bloggingheads.tv; Corriere Della Sera; The Globe and Mail, The Guardian; Infectious Greed; The Independent; El Mundo; National Review Online; The News & Observer; O'Reilly Radar; Slashdot; The Telegraph, The Times, Toronto Star, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Die Zeit


CONTRIBUTORS

[165 contributors; 112,600 words; most recent first:]Daniel Kahneman, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, W. Daniel Hillis, David Goodhart, Ray Kurzweil, Mark Henderson, David Gelernter, Bart Kosko, Randolph M. Nesse, Linda S. Gottfredson, Kai Krause, Clay Shirky, Denis Dutton, Jamshed Bharucha, Lera Boroditsky, Gregory Benford, Richard Dawkins, Roger Bingham, Jesse Bering, Barry Smith, Steve Connor, Geoffrey Miller, George Johnson, Stephon Alexander, Beatrice Golomb, Chris DiBona, Jordan Pollack, Alison Gopnik, Paul Saffo, Neil Gershenfeld, J. Craig Venter, David Sloan Wilson, Simon Baron-Cohen, Austin Dacey, Daniel Engber, Roger Highfield, Francesco De Pretis, Dimitar Sasselov, Jaron Lanier, Janna Levin, Martin Rees, Esther Dyson, Anton Zeilinger, Gerd Gigerenzer, PZ Myers, Susan Blackmore, Adam Bly, Nicholas Humphrey, Paul Ewald, Seirian Sumner, Brian Eno, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Robert Shapiro, Sam Harris, Yossi Vardi, David Buss, Andrian Kreye, Daniel Goleman, James Geary, Tim O'Reilly, Philip Campbell, Frank Wilczek, Chris Anderson, Rupert Sheldrake Nicholas A. Christakis, Daniel C. Dennett, Helena Cronin, Aubrey de Grey, Nicholas Carr, Lisa Randall, Brian Goodwin, Carolyn Porco, William H. Calvin, Mary Catherine Bateson, Stanislas Dehaene, Linda Stone, Sean Carroll, Richard Wrangham, Marco Iacoboni, Scott Atran, Leo Chalupa, John Allen Paulos, Eduardo Punset, Rebecca Goldstein, Juan Enriquez, George Dyson, Paul Davies, Steven Pinker, Alan Alda, Patrick Bateson, Jon Haidt, George Church, Terrence Sejnowski, Judith Rich Harris, Oliver Morton, Stewart Brand, Daniel Gilbert, Sherry Turkle, John Horgan, Roger Schank, Carlo Rovelli, Xeni Jardin, Stephen Schneider, Diane Halpern, Alan Kay, Marti Hearst, Kevin Kelly, Marcel Kinsbourne, Peter Schwartz, Scott Sampson, Ernst Pöppel, John McCarthy, Seth Lloyd, Gary Klein, Stephen Kosslyn,Lawrence Krauss,Jeffrey Epstein, Ken Ford, John Baez, A. Garrett Lisi, Lee Smolin, Gary Marcus, Lee Silver, Laurence Smith, Robert Trivers, Rodney Brooks, Paul Steinhardt, Helen Fisher, Steve Nadis, Tor Nørretranders, Robert Sapolsky, Max Tegmark, David Dalrymple, Daniel Everett, David Myers, Keith Devlin, Todd Feinberg, Robert Provine, Marc D. Hauser, Thomas Metzinger, Dan Sperber, Leon Lederman, Timothy Taylor, Haim Harari, David Bodanis, Charles Seife, Mark Pagel, Arnold Trehub, Gino Segre, Nick Bostrom, Rudy Rucker, David Brin, Ed Regis, Freeman Dyson, Marcelo Gleiser, Irene Pepperberg, Colin Tudge, James O'Donnell, Michael Shermer, Donald Hoffman, Howard Gardner, Piet Hut, Douglas Rushkoff, Karl Sabbagh, Joseph LeDoux, Martin Seligman


THE NEWS & OBSERVER — Raleigh-Durham
January 6, 2008

Zane:

The changing of the mind

By J. Peder Zane, Staff Writer

... As in the past, these world-class thinkers have responded to Web site editor John Brockman's impossibly open-ended questions with erudition, imagination and clarity.

In explaining why they have cast aside old assumptions, the respondents' short essays tackle an array of subjects, including the nature of consciousness, the existence of the soul, the course of evolution and whether reason will ultimately triumph over superstition.

Two of the most interesting answers may signal a cease-fire in the gender wars.

In 2005, Harvard President Lawrence *. Summers was assailed for suggesting that innate differences might explain why there are few top women scientists. Now Diane F. Halpern, a psychology professor at Claremont Mc-Kenna College and a self-described "feminist," says Summers was onto something.

"There are real, and in some cases sizable, sex differences with respect to cognitive abilities," she writes.

Her views are echoed by Helena Cronin, a philosopher at the London School of Economics.

"Females," she writes, "are much of a muchness, clustering around the mean." With men, "the variance — the difference between the most and the least, the best and the worst — can be vast." Translation: There may be fewer female geniuses in certain fields, but there are also fewer female morons...

...



BLOGGINGHEADS TV
January 5, 2008

Science Saturday: New Beliefs for a New Year

• Edge.org’s annual question
• George’s answer to the Edge question
• John’s answer to the Edge question


John Horgan & George Johnson

John and George’s New Year resolutions; John softens his pessimism about neuroscience ; The soccer club theory of terrorism; The trouble with relying on experts; How George got hooked on garage-band science; Happiness is a burning bridge.

...



THE GLOBE AND MAIL
January 5, 2008
OPINIONS

Hark! A shriek-inducing wake-up call; Culture can change our genes. Men really do outperform women. We can't predict the future ...

Margaret Wente Comment Column; Second Thoughts

If you want to start your year with a jolt of fresh thinking, I have just the thing. Each year around this time, a Web-based outfit called the Edge Foundation asks a few dozen of the world's brightest scientific brains one big question. This year's question: What have you changed your mind about?

The answers address a fabulous array of issues, including the existence of God, the evolution of mankind, climate change and the nature of the universe. Some of the most provocative responses deal with the bonanza of new evidence from the fast-evolving fields of genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology. This is the intellectual equivalent of a New Year's dip in the lake - bracing, possibly shriek-inducing, and bound to wake you up. For the full menu, go to www.edge.org. Meantime, here's a taste. ...

...



THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
January 5, 2008

The Informed Reader
CULTURE
Change of Mind Could Spur A Hardening of the Heart

EDGE -- JAN. 4

When scientists and other prominent intellectuals change their mind about important things, their new outlook often is gloomier.

That, at least, is the theme of responses to a survey conducted by online science-and-culture publication the Edge, which asked some influential thinkers: "What have you changed your mind about? Why?" ... d

...Fittingly, Harvard University psychologist Daniel Gilbert says he has changed his mind about the benefits of changing one's mind. In 2002, a study showed him that people are more satisfied with irrevocable decisions than with ones they can reverse. Acting on the data, he proposed to his now-wife. "It turned out that the data were right: I love my wife more than I loved my girlfriend."

...



TORONTO STAR
January 5, 2008

CHANGING YOUR MIND
In praise of the flip
Ralph Waldo Emerson called consistency the hobgoblin of little minds, yet we live in a world where 'flip-floppers' are treated with contempt. An ambitious new survey of top thinkers, however, serves as a reminder of how healthy it is to change one's mind

Sandro Contenta
Staff Reporter

...Challenging this complacency is a project by the Edge Foundation, a group promoting discussion and inquiry into issues of our time. To kick off the New Year, the group put this statement and question to many of the world's leading scientists and thinkers:

"When thinking changes your mind, that's philosophy. When God changes your mind, that's faith. When facts change your mind, that's science. What have you changed your mind about?"

Answers, posted on the website www.edge.org, came from 164 people, many of them physicists, philosophers, psychologists and anthropologists. They ring like scientific odes to uncertainty, humility and doubt; passionate pleas for critical thought in a world threatened by blind convictions. In short, they're calls for more people who can change their minds. ...

...



WASHINGTON POST
January 4, 2008

RAW FISHER
Marc Fisher


RFQ: What Have You Changed Your Mind About? (Plus: Last Chance on the Coin Contest)

...University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt says he used to consider sports and fraternities to be the height of American celebration of stupidity. "Primitive tribalism, I thought. Initiation rites, alcohol, sports, sexism, and baseball caps turn decent boys into knuckleheads. I'd have gladly voted to ban fraternities, ROTC, and most sports teams from my university." But Haidt has changed his mind: "I had too individualistic a view of human nature. I began to see us not just as chimpanzees with symbolic lives but also as bees without hives. When we made the transition over the last 200 years from tight communities (Gemeinschaft) to free and mobile societies (Gesellschaft), we escaped from bonds that were sometimes oppressive, yes, but into a world so free that it left many of us gasping for connection, purpose, and meaning. I began to think about the many ways that people, particularly young people, have found to combat this isolation. Rave parties and the Burning Man festival are spectacular examples of new ways to satisfy the ancient longing for communitas. But suddenly sports teams, fraternities, and even the military made a lot more sense." ...

...



INFECTIOUS GREED
January 1, 2008

What Have You Changed Your Mind About?
by Paul Kedrosky

This year's Big Question at Edge from John Brockman, et al., is this, What have you changed your mind about? This is, at least, an interesting question, so I'll start by saying that what I've changed my mind about is whether, in general, the Edge's annual question is worth reading. Okay, sometimes it is.

That said, are any specific answers to this year's Big Question worth reading? Somewhat surprisingly, yes. Granted, some of the answers are just wankery, scientists and others saying that they used to think we wouldn't solve Problem X, and now they think we will, someday, etc. Or, worse yet, there is a passel of up-with-the-environment puffery, where the previously unconverted become carbon holy-rollers. ...

Here are a couple worth reading. Feel free to add more.

Economist Dan Kahneman on the aspiration treadmill
Clay Shirky on science and religion
Nassim Taleb on .... nothing (okay, incomplete, but I still like the semiotic pun)...

...



NATIONAL REVIEW ONLINE
January 3, 2008

the corner

Plato Had a Bad Year [John Derbyshire]

For an exceptionally high quotient of interesting ideas to words, this is hard to beat. ... What a feast of egg-head opinionating!

If there's a common tendency running through many of these pieces, it is the fast-rising waters of naturalism, released by a half-century of discoveries in genetics, evolutionary biology, and neuroscience, submerging every other way of looking at the human world.

We are part of nature, a twig on the tree of life. If we are to have any understanding of ourselves, we must start from that. Final answers to ancient questions are beginning to come in. You may not be happy about the answers; but not being happy about them will be like not being happy about Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle.

...



DIE ZEIT
January 2, 2008

Small issue, big answers

Even the best minds of this world sometimes have to accept that they were wrong. Scientists to answer the question of Edge Foundation, which they change their mind — and why.

The responses of the intellectuals are personal, sometimes very technical, but also political. They cover a wide range of what people employed: Climate change, the difference between men and women, but also the question of the existence of God.

...



Correre Della Sera — Italy
January 2, 2008

UN'ASSOCIAZIONE CULTURALE HA CHIESTO A LUMINARI E

FILOSOFI DI RACCONTARE I PROPRI ERRORI

Quando lo scienza confessa: ho sbagliato
Dalle teorie sull'evoluzione alle differenze tra razze,
in rete i mea culpa degli studiosi

LONDRA — «Quando pensare modifica la tua opinione è filosofia, quando Dio ti fa cambiare idea è fede. Quando i fatti ti fanno vedere le cose in modo diverso è scienza». Questa l'introduzione al quesito per l'anno posto da un'associazione culturale cui aderiscono i principali pensatori del momento, da Richard Dawkins, lo zoologo britannico autore del libro culto Il gene egoista e più recentemente L'illusione di Dio, allo psicologo Steven Pinker passando per il musicista produttore Brian Eno.

Se nel 2006 aveva domandato ai suoi iscritti quale fosse l'idea più pericolosa e nel 2007 su che cosa si sentissero ottimisti, per il 2008 Edge (il sito è www.edge.org) ha lanciato una provocazione: su cosa avete cambiato idea? E perché? L'obiettivo era spingere gli scienziati, gli scrittori e i ricercatori che utilizzano regolarmente il sito ad ammettere, in un certo senso, i propri errori.

Centinaia di loro hanno raccolto l'invito (a tanta solerzia ha forse contribuito il fatto che le ultime edizioni delle risposte sono state pubblicate sotto forma di libro), rivelando una gamma di dietro front tra il clamoroso e il simpatico.

...



EL MUNDO — Spain
January 2, 2008

ZOOM: Edge Question


At the beginning of each year is a great event in the Anglo-Saxon culture, or rather, in the social life of that culture...The event is called the Edge Annual Question, bringing together much of the most interesting

Anthropologist Richard Wrangham has introduced a subtle shift in the explanation of the evolutionary history of man: he once believed it to be caused by eating meat, now he believes that the decisive factor is the kitchen, ie, changing from raw to cooked. The response from the musician Brian Eno explains how he went from revolution to evolution, and how he left Maoism for Darwin. ...



THE TIMES
January 1, 2008

Science has second thoughts about life
Even the world’s best brains have to admit to being wrong sometimes: here, leading scientists respond to a new year challenge


Lewis Smith, Science Reporter

The new year is traditionally a time when people tend to look back and try to work out where it all went wrong – and how to get it right in the future.

The new year is traditionally a time when people tend to look back and try to work out where it all went wrong – and how to get it right in the future.

This time the Edge Foundation asked a number of leading scientists and thinkers why they had changed their minds on some of the pivotal issues in their fields. The foundation, a chat forum for intellectuals, posed the question: "When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy. When God changes your mind, that’s faith. When facts change your mind, that’s science. What have you changed your mind about? Why?"

The group’s responses covered controversial issues, including climate change, whether God or souls exist and defining when humanity began.

This time the Edge Foundation asked a number of leading scientists and thinkers why they had changed their minds on some of the pivotal issues in their fields. The foundation, a chat forum for intellectuals, posed the question: "When thinking changes your mind, that’s philosophy. When God changes your mind, that’s faith. When facts change your mind, that’s science. What have you changed your mind about? Why?"

The group’s responses covered controversial issues, including climate change, whether God or souls exist and defining when humanity began.

...


Posted by Zonk on Tuesday January 01, @12:41PM
from the read-dawkins'-it's-awesome dept.

chrisd writes

"The Edge 2008 question (with answers) is in. This year, the question is: 'What did you change your mind about and why?'. Answers are featured from scientists as diverse as Richard Dawkins, Simon Baron-Cohen, George Church, David Brin, J. Craig Venter and the Astronomer Royal, Lord Martin Rees, among others. Very interesting to read. For instance, Stewart Brand writes that he now realizes that 'Good old stuff sucks' and Sam Harris has decided that 'Mother Nature is Not Our Friend.' What did Slashdot readers change their minds about in 2007?"

...



GUARDIAN UNLIMITED
January 1, 2008

Change of heart
What did you change your mind about in 2007? The world's intellectual elite spread some New Year humility.

James Randerson, science correspondent

Since I wrote my piece on this year's show of scientific humility for the New Year's day paper some big names have added their thoughts to the mix.

Here's evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on how being a "flip-flopper" is no bad thing in science...

The controversial geneticist Craig Venter has had a change of heart about the capacity of our planet to soak up the punishment humanity is throwing at it...

There are also interesting contributions from Simon Baron-Cohen, the University of Cambridge autism researcher who has changed his mind about equality; psychologist Susan Blackmore, who has gone from embracing the paranormal to debunking it; and artist and composer Brian Eno, who was once seduced by Maoism, but now believes it is a "monstrosity".

What did you change your mind about in 2007?

...



THE INDEPENDENT
January 1, 2008

Deep thinkers reveal that they, too, can change their minds
Steve Connor

Helena Cronin, a philosopher at the London School of Economics, turns her attention to why men appear far more successful than women, by persistently walking off with the top positions and prizes in life — from being heads of state to winning Nobels.

Dr Cronin used to think it was down to sex differences in innate talents, tastes and temperament. But now she believes it has also something to do with the fact that women cluster around a statistical average, whereas men are more likely to be represented at the extreme ends of the normal spectrum — both at the top and the bottom.

Some replies to the Edge question ponder the perennial problem of God. Professor Patrick Bateson of Cambridge University has changed his mind on what to call himself after meeting a virulent creationist. He is no longer an agnostic but an atheist. Meanwhile the actor and writer Alan Alda said that he has changed his mind about God — twice.

What have you changed your mind about? Why?

...



O'REILLY RADAR
January 1, 2008

What Have You Changed Your Mind About?
By Tim O'Reilly

...I eventually offered some ideas and he jumped on one: my skepticism about the term "social software" after Clay Shirky's "Social Software Summit" in November 2002. As it turns out, Clay was right and I was wrong. This was a powerful meme indeed, just five years early.

Here's what I wrote for the 2008 Edge question. As I suspected, it's a meager offering at a remarkable feast of the intellect. Use it, if you must, as an entry point to an amazing group of reflections on science, culture, and the evolution of ideas. Reading the Edge question is like being invited to dinner with some of the most interesting people on the planet.

...



THE GUARDIAN
January 1, 2008

Second thoughts on life, the universe and everything by world's best brains

The changes of mind that gave philosophers and scientists new insights


James Randerson, science correspondent

They are the intellectual elite, the brains the rest of us rely on to make sense of the universe and answer the big questions. But in a refreshing show of new year humility, the world's best thinkers have admitted that from time to time even they are forced to change their minds.

When tackling subjects as diverse as human evolution, the laws of physics and sexual politics, scientists and philosophers, including Steven Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Paul Davies and Richard Wrangham, all confessed yesterday to a change of heart.

The display of scientific modesty was brought about by the annual new year's question posed by the website edge.org, which drew responses from more than 120 of the world's greatest thinkers.

...



THE INDEPENDENT
31 December 2007

Boyd Tonkin: This year, how about some new year's irresolution?

Changes of mind lie at the core of almost every breakthrough in science, art and thought

From tomorrow morning, we can all sample the reasoning that drives shifts in position by a selection of leading scientists and social thinkers. Since 1998, the splendidly enlightened Edge website (www.edge.org) has rounded off each year of inter-disciplinary debate by asking its heavy-hitting contributors to answer one question. This time, the new-year challenge runs: "What have you changed your mind about? Why?". I strongly recommend a visit to anyone who feels browbeaten by fans of that over-rated virtue: mere consistency.

...



ARTS & LETTERS DAILY
January 1 2008

Articles of Note
What have you changed your mind about, and why? John Brockman’s Edge put the question to over a hundred scientists and scholars... more»



THE INDEPENDENT
January 1 2008
COMMENT

Leading article: Why, oh why?

It's becoming something of a New Year ritual. For almost a decade, the website www.edge.org has been asking a selection of eminent thinkers and scholars to answer a single question and publishing the results on 1 January.

In the past it has presented such posers as "What do you believe is true, even though you cannot prove it?" and "What is the most important invention of the past 2,000 years?"

This year Edge wanted to know: "What have you changed your mind about and why?" As usual, it's a good question. And the responses of the likes of Steven Pinker and Helena Cronin are as fascinating and weighty as one would imagine.

...



THE TELEGRAPH
December 31, 2007

Scientists reveal what changed their minds
By Roger Highfield, Science Editor

The best men really do outperform the best women, drugs should be used to enhance our mental powers, and marriages suffer from a "four year itch", not a seven year one.

These are among the provocative ideas put forward today by leading figures who have been asked what has changed their minds about some of the biggest issues.

The poll of Nobel laureates, scientists, futurists and creative thinkers is published by John Brockman, the New York-based literary agent and publisher of The Edge website.

...


JUST PUBLISHED!
What Are You Optimistic About?:
Today's Leading Thinkers on Why Things Are Good and Getting Better

Introduction by Daniel C. Dennett

"Persuasively upbeat." O, The Oprah Magazine "Our greatest minds provide nutshell insights on how science will help forge a better world ahead." Seed "Uplifting...an enthralling book." The Mail on Sunday


What Is Your Dangerous Idea?: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Unthinkable
Introduction by Steven Pinker
Afterword by Richard Dawkins

"Danger —brilliant minds at work...A brilliant book: exhilarating, hilarious, and chilling." The Evening Standard (London) "A selection of the most explosive ideas of our age." Sunday Herald "Provocative" The Independent "Challenging notions put forward by some of the world's sharpest minds" Sunday Times "A titillating compilation" The Guardian "Reads like an intriguing dinner party conversation among great minds in science" Discover


What We Believe but Cannot Prove:
Today's Leading Thinkers on Science in the Age of Certainty
Introduction by Ian McEwan

"An unprecedented roster of brilliant minds, the sum of which is nothing short of an oracle — a book ro be dog-eared and debated." Seed "Scientific pipedreams at their very best." The Guardian "Makes for some astounding reading." Boston Globe 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 "Intellectual and creative magnificence" The Skeptical Inquirer

Harvard Coop, December 24, 2007


INDEX

MARTIN SELIGMAN
Psychologist, University of Pennsylvania, Author, Authentic Happiness

We Are Alone


JOSEPH LEDOUX
Neuroscientist, New York University; Author, The Synaptic Self

Like many scientists in the field of memory, I used to think that a memory is something stored in the brain and then accessed when used.


KARL SABBAGH
Writer and Television Producer; Author, The Riemann Hypothesis

I used to believe that there were experts and non-experts and that, on the whole, the judgment of experts is more accurate, more valid, and more correct than my own judgment.


DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF
Media Analyst; Documentary Writer; Author, Get Back in the Box: Innovation from the Inside Out

The Internet


PIET HUT
Professor of Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

Explanations


HOWARD GARDNER
Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Changing Minds

Wrestling with Jean Piaget, my Paragon


DONALD HOFFMAN
Cognitive Scientist, UC, Irvine; Author, Visual Intelligence

Veridical Perception


MICHAEL SHERMER
Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American; Author, Why Darwin Matters

The Nature of Human Nature


JAMES O'DONNELL
Classicist; Cultural Historian; Provost, Georgetown University; Author, Augustine: A New Biography

I stopped cheering for the Romans


COLIN TUDGE
Science Writer; Author, The Tree: A Natural History of What Trees Are, How They Live, and Why They Matter

The Omniscience and Omnipotence of Science


- PAGE 2 -

IRENE PEPPERBERG
Research Associate, Psychology, Harvard University; Author, The Alex Studies

The Fallacy of Hypothesis Testing


MARCELO GLEISER
Physicist, Dartmouth College; Author, The Prophet and the Astronomer

To Unify or Not: That is the Question


FREEMAN DYSON
Physicist, Institute of Advanced Study, Author, A Many Colored Glass

When facts change your mind, that's not always science. It may be history. I changed my mind about an important historical question: did the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki bring World War Two to an end?


ED REGIS
Science Writer, Author, Nano

Predicting the Future


DAVID BRIN
Physicist; Technical Consultant; Science Fiction Writer; Author, The Transparent Society

Sometimes you are glad to discover you were wrong. My best example of that kind of pleasant surprise is India. I'm delighted to see its recent rise, on (tentative) course toward economic, intellectual and social success.


RUDY RUCKER
Mathematician, Computer Scientist; CyberPunk Pioneer; Novelist; Author,
Lifebox, the Seashell, and the Soul

Can Robots See God?


NICK BOSTROM
Philosopher, University of Oxford; Author,

Everything


GINO SEGRE
Physicist, University of Pennsylvania; Author: Faust In Copenhagen: A Struggle for the Soul of Physics

The Universe's Expansion


ARNOLD TREHUB
Psychologist, University of Massachusetts, Amherst; Author: The Cognitive Brain

I have never questioned the conventional view that a good grounding in the physical sciences is needed for a deep understanding of the biological sciences. It did not occur to me that the opposite view might also be true.


MARK PAGEL
Evolutionary Biologist, Reading University, England

We Differ More Than We Thought


- PAGE 3 -

CHARLES SEIFE
Professor of Journalism, New York University; formerly journalist, Science magazine; Author, Zero: The Biography Of A Dangerous Idea

I used to think that a modern, democratic society had to be a scientific society.


DAVID BODANIS
Writer; Consultant; Author, Passionate Minds

The Bible Is Inane


HAIM HARARI
Physicist, former President, Weizmann Institute of Science

Clear and simple is not the same as provable and well defined


TIMOTHY TAYLOR
Archaeologist, University of Bradford; Author, The Buried Soul

Relativism


LEON LEDERMAN
Physicist and Nobel Laureate; Director Emeritus, Fermilab; Coauthor, The God Particle

The Obligations and Responsibilities of The Scientist


DAN SPERBER
Social and cognitive scientist; Directeur de Recherche, CNRS, Paris; Author, Rethinking Symbolism

How I Became An Evolutionary Psychologist


THOMAS METZINGER
Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz; Author, Being No One

There are No Moral Facts


MARC D. HAUSER
Psychologist and Biologist, Harvard University: Author, Moral Minds

The Limits Of Darwinian Reasoning


ROBERT PROVINE
Psychologist and Neuroscientist, University of Maryland; Author, Laughter

In Praise of Fishing Expeditions


TODD E. FEINBERG, M.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Author, Altered Egos

Soul Searching


- PAGE 4 -

KEITH DEVLIN
Mathematician; Executive Director, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford; Author, The Millennium Problems

What is the nature of mathematics?


DAVID G, MYERS
Social psychologist, Hope College; author, Psychology, 8th edition

Reading and reporting on psychological science has changed my mind many times....


DANIEL EVERETT
Researcher of Pirahã Culture; Chair of Languages, Literatures, & Cultures, Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology, Illinois State University

Homeopathic Bias and Language Origins


DAVID DALRYMPLE
Student, MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms; Researcher, Internet 0, Fab Lab Thinner Clients for South Africa, Conformal Computing

Maybe MBAs Should Design Computers After All


MAX TEGMARK
Physicist, MIT; Researcher, Precision Cosmology

Do we need to understand consciousness to understand physics?  I used to answer "yes", thinking that we could never figure out the elusive "theory of everything" for our external physical reality without first understanding the distorting mental lens through which we perceive it.


ROBERT SAPOLSKY
Neuroscientist, Stanford University, Author, A Primate's Memoir


 
I'm both a neurobiologist and a primatologist, and I've changed my mind about plenty of things in both of these realms. But the most fundamental change is one that transcends either of those disciplines — this was my realizing that the most interesting and important things in the life sciences are not going to be explained with sheer reductionism.


TOR NØRRETRANDERS
Science Writer; Consultant; Lecturer, Copenhagen; Author, The Generous Man

Permanent Reincarnation


HELEN FISHER
Research Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University; Author,
Why We Love

Planned Obsolescence?  The Four-Year Itch


STEVE NADIS
Science writer; Contributing Editor, Astronomy Magazine


The Myth Of The "Open Mind"


PAUL STEINHARDT
Physicist; Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Princeton University; Coauthor, Endless Universe: A New History of the Cosmos

What created the structure of the universe?


- PAGE 5 -

RODNEY A. BROOKS
Panasonic Professor of Robotics, MIT, and CTO, iRobot Corp; author Flesh and Machines

Computation as the Ultimate Metaphor


ROBERT TRIVERS
Evolutionary Biologist, Rutgers University; Coauthor, Genes In Conflict: The Biology of Selfish Genetic Elements

The Science of Self-deception Requires a Deep Understanding of Biology


LAURENCE C. SMITH
Professor of Geography, UCLA

Rapid climate change


LEE M. SILVER
Professor of Molecular Biology and Public Policy,  Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton; Author, Challenging Nature


"If we could just get people to understand the science, they'd agree with us." Not.


GARY MARCUS
Psychologist, New York University; Author, The Birth of the Mind

What's Special About Human Language


LEE SMOLIN
Physicist, Perimeter Institute; Author, The Trouble With Physics

Although I have changed my mind about several ideas and theories, my longest struggle has been with the concept of time.


A. GARRETT LISI
Independent Theoretical Physicist; Author, "An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything"

I Used To Think I Could Change My Mind


JOHN BAEZ
Mathematical Physicist

Should I be thinking about quantum gravity?


KEN FORD
Retired Physicist & Writer; Coauthor (with John Archibald Wheeler), Geons, Black Holes, and Quantum Foam: A Life in Physics

I used to believe that the ethos of science, the very nature of science, guaranteed the ethical behavior of its practitioners. As a student and a young researcher, I could not conceive of cheating, claiming credit for the work of others, or fabricating data.


JEFFREY EPSTEIN
Science Philanthropist

The question presupposes a well defined "you", and an implied ability that is under "your" control to change your "mind". The "you" I now believe is distributed amongst others (family friends , in hierarchal structures,)....


- PAGE 6 -

LAWRENCE KRAUSS
Physicist, Case Western Reserve University; Author, Atom

What is the Universe Made of and How Will it End?


STEPHEN M. KOSSLYN
Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, Wet Mind

The World in the Brain


GARY KLEIN
Research Psychologist; Founder, Klein Associates; Author, The Power of Intuition

Exchanging Your Mind


ALAN KRUEGER
Bendheim Professor of Economics and Public Affairs at Princeton University; Author, What Makes a Terrorist: Economics and the Roots of Terrorism

I used to think the labor market was very competitive, but now I think it is better characterized by monopsony, at least in the short run.


SETH LLOYD
Quantum Mechanical Engineer, MIT, Author, Programming the Universe

I have changed my mind about technology.


JOHN MCCARTHY
Computer Scientist; 1st Generation Artificial Intelligence Pioneer, Stanford University

Attitudes Trump Facts


ERNST PÖPPEL
Neuroscientist, Chairman, Board of Directors, Human Science Center and Department of Medical Psychology, Munich University, Germany; Author, Mindworks

Being Caught In The Language Trap — Or Wittgenstein's Straitjacket


SCOTT SAMPSON
Chief Curator, Utah Museum of Natural History; Associate Professor, University of Utah; Host, Dinosaur Planet TV series

The Death of the Dinosaurs


PETER SCHWARTZ
Futurist, Business Strategist; Cofounder. Global Business Network, a Monitor Company; Author, The Long Boom

In the last few years I have changed my mind about nuclear power.


MARCEL KINSBOURNE, M.D.
Neurologist & Cognitive Neuroscientist, The New School; Coauthor, Children's Learning and Attention Problems

The Impressionable Brain


KEVIN KELLY
Editor-At-Large, Wired; Author, New Rules for the New Economy

Much of what I believed about human nature, and the nature of knowledge, has been upended by the Wikipedia.


- PAGE 7 -

MARTI HEARST
Computer Scientist, UC Berkeley, School of Information

Computational Analysis of Language Requires Understanding Language


ALAN KAY
Computer Scientist; Personal Computer Visionary, Senior Fellow, HP Labs

A Big Mind Change At Age 10: Vacuums Don't Suck!


DIANE F. HALPERN
Professor, Claremont McKenna College; Past-president, American Psychological Association; Author, Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities

From A Simple Truth To "It All Depends"


STEPHEN H. SCHNEIDER
Biologist; Climatologist, Stanford University; Author, Laboratory Earth

Climate Change: Warming Up To The Evidence


XENI JARDIN
Tech Culture Journalist; Co-editor, Boing Boing; Commentator, NPR; Host, Boing Boing tv

Online Communities Rot Without Daily Tending By Human Hands


CARLO ROVELLI
Physicist, Universite' de la Mediterrane' (Marseille, France); Author: What is time? What is Space?

There is nothing to add to the standard interpretation of quantum mechanics


ROGER C. SCHANK
Psychologist & Computer Scientist; Engines for Education Inc.; Author, Making Minds Less Well Educated than Our Own

AI?


JOHN HORGAN
Director, the Center for Science Writings, Stevens Institute of Technology; Author, Rational Mysticism

Changing My Mind About the Mind-Body Problem


SHERRY TURKLE
Psychologist, MIT; Author, Evocative Objects: Things We Think With

What I've Changed My Mind About


DANIEL GILBERT
Harvard College Professor of Psychology at Harvard University; Author, Stumbling on Happiness

The Benefit of Being Able to Change My Mind


- PAGE 8 -

STEWART BRAND
Founder, Whole Earth Catalog, cofounder; The Well; cofounder, Global Business Network; Author, How Buildings Learn

Good Old Stuff Sucks


OLIVER MORTON
Chief News and Features Editor, Nature; Author, Mapping Mars

Human Spaceflight


JUDITH RICH HARRIS
Independent Investigator and Theoretician; Author,
No Two Alike: Human Nature and Human Individuality

Generalization


GEORGE CHURCH
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School; Director, Center for Computational Genetics

Evolution of Faith In Experiments


TERRENCE SEJNOWSKI
Computational Neuroscientist, Salk Institute, Coauthor, The Computational Brain

I have changed my mind about cortical neurons and now think that they are far more capable than we ever imagined.


JON HAIDT
Psychologist, University of Virginia, author The Happiness Hypothesis

Sports and fraternities are not so bad


PATRICK BATESON
Professor of Ethology, Cambridge University, author Design for a Life

Changing my Mind


ALAN ALDA
Actor, writer, director, and host of PBS program "Scientific American Frontiers."

So far, I've changed my mind twice about God


STEVEN PINKER
Psychologist, Harvard University; Author, The Stuff of Thought

Have Humans Stopped Evolving?


PAUL DAVIES
Physicist, Arizona State University; Author,
The Cosmic Jackpot

I used to be a committed Platonist


- PAGE 9 -

GEORGE B. DYSON
Science Historian; Author, Project Orion

Russian America


JUAN ENRIQUEZ
CEO, Biotechonomy; Founding Director, Harvard Business School's Life Sciences Project; Author, The Untied States of America

The source of long term power


REBECCA GOLDSTEIN
Philosopher, Harvard University; Author, Betraying Spinoza

Falsifiability


EDUARDO PUNSET
Scientist; Spanish Television Presenter; Author, The Happiness Trip

The soul is in the brain


JOHN ALLEN PAULOS
Professor of Mathematics, Temple University, Philadelphia; Author, Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments ofr God Just Don't Add Up

The Convergence of Belief Change


LEO CHALUPA
Ophthalmologist and Neurobiologist, University of California, Davis

Brain plasticity


SCOTT ATRAN
Anthropologist, University of Michigan; Author, In God's We Trust

The Religious Politics of Fictive Kinship


MARCO IACOBONI
Neuroscientist, UCLA Brain Mapping Center; Author, Mirroring People

The eradication of irrational thinking is (not) inevitable (it will require some serious work)


RICHARD WRANGHAM
Professor of Biology and Anthropology, Harvard University' Coauthor (with Dale Peterson), Demonic Males: Apes, and the Origins Of Human Violence

The Human Recipe


SEAN CARROLL
Theoretical Physicist, Cal Tech

Being a Heretic is Hard Work


- PAGE 10 -

LINDA STONE
Former VP, Microsoft & Co-Founder & Director, Microsoft's Virtual Worlds Group/Social Computing Group

Breathtaking New Technologies


STANISLAS DEHEANE
Cognitive Neuropsychology Researcher, Institut National de la Santé, Paris; Author, The Number Sense

The brain's Schrödinger equation

MARY CATHERINE BATESON
Cultural Anthropologist; President, Institute for Intercultural Studies; Author, Willing to Learn: Passages of Personal Discovery

Making and Changing Minds


WILLIAM CALVIN
Professor, The University of Washington School of Medicine; Author, A Brain For All Seasons

Greenland changed my mind


CAROLYN PORCO
Planetary Scientist; Cassini Imaging Science Team Leader; Director CICLOPS, Boulder CO; Adjunct Professor, University of Colorado

I've changed my mind about the manner in which our future on this planet might evolve


BRIAN GOODWIN
Biologist, Schumacher College, Devon, UK; Author, How The Leopard Changed Its Spots

I have changed my mind about the general validity of the mechanical worldview that underlies the modern scientific understanding of natural processes


LISA RANDALL
Physicist, Harvard University; Author, Warped Passages

When I first heard about the solar neutrino puzzle, I had a little trouble taking it seriously


NICHOLAS CARR
Author, The Big Switch

The Radiant and Infectious Web


AUBREY de GREY
Gerontologist; chairman and chief science officer of the Methuselah Foundation; author, Ending Aging

Curiosity is addictive, and this is not an entirely good thing


HELENA CRONIN
Philosopher, London School of Economics; director and founder [email protected]; author, The Ant and the Peacock

More dumbbells but more Nobels: Why men are at the top


- PAGE 11 -

DANIEL C. DENNETT
Philosopher; University Professor, Co-Director, Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University; Author, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon

Competition in the brain


NICHOLAS A. CHRISTAKIS
Physician and social scientist, Harvard

Culture can change our genes


RUPERT SHELDRAKE
Biologist, London; Author, The Sense of Being Stared At

The skepticism of believers


CHRIS ANDERSON
Editor in Chief, Wired Magazine; Author, The Long Tail

Seeing Through a Carbon Lens


FRANK WILCZEK
Physicist, MIT; Recipient, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics; Author, Fantastic Realities

The Science Formerly Known as Religion


PHILIP CAMPBELL
Editor-in Chief, Nature

I've changed my mind about the use of enhancement drugs by healthy people.


TIM O'REILLY
Founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc.

I was skeptical of the term "social software"....


JAMES GEARY
Former Europe editor, Time Magazine; Author, Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists

Neuroeconomics really explains human economic behavior


DANIEL GOLEMAN
Psychologist; Author, Social Intelligence

The Inexplicable Monks


ANDRIAN KREYE
Feuilleton (Arts & Ideas) Editor, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Munich

The empirical data of journalism are no match for the bigger picture of science

- PAGE 12 -

DAVID BUSS
Psychologist, University of Texas, Austin; Author, The Murderer Next Door

Female Sexual Psychology


YOSSI VARDI
Chairman, International Technologies

Life experience changed my mind


SAM HARRIS
Neuroscience Researcher; Author, Letter to a Christian Nation

Mother Nature is Not Our Friend


ROBERT SHAPIRO
Chemist, New York University; Author, Planetary Dreams

Smothering Science with Silence


HANS ULRICH OBRIST
Curator, Serpentine Gallery, London

The question of objects


BRIAN ENO
Artist; Composer; Recording Producer: U2, Talking Heads, Paul Simon; Recording Artist

From Revolutionary to Evolutionary


SEIRIAN SUMNER
Research Fellow, Institute of Zoology, London

Reassessing Relatedness


PAUL EWALD
Professor of Biology, Amherst College; Author, Evolution of Infectious Disease

Trusting Experts


NICHOLAS HUMPHREY
Psychologist, London School of Economics; Author, Seeing Red

The hardness of the problem of consciousness is the key to its solution


ADAM BLY
Founder & Editor-in-Chief, Seed

Technology is Not So Bad


- PAGE 13 -

SUSAN BLACKMORE
Psychologist and Skeptic; Author, Consciousness: An Introduction

The Paranormal


PZ MYERS
Biologist, University of Minnesota; blogger, Pharyngula

I always change my mind about everything, and I never change my mind about anything.


GERD GIGERENZER
Psychologist; Director of the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin; Author, Gut Feelings

The Advent of Health Literacy


ANTON ZEILINGER
University of Vienna and Scientific Director, Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Information, Austrian Academy of Sciences

I used to think what I am doing is "useless"


ESTHER DYSON
Editor, Release 1.0; Trustee, Long Now Foundation; Author,
Release 2.0

What have I changed my mind about? Online privacy.


MARTIN REES
President, The Royal Society; Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics; Master, Trinity College, University of Cambridge; Author, Our Final Century: The 50/50 Threat to Humanity's Survival

We Should Take the 'Posthuman' Era Seriously


JANNA LEVIN
Physicist, Columbia University; Author, A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines

I used to take for granted an assumption that the universe is infinite.


JARON LANIER
Computer Scientist and Musician; Columnist, Discover Magazine

Here's a happy example of me being wrong.


DIMITAR SASSELOV
Astrophysicist, Harvard

I change my mind all the time — keeping an open mind in science is a good thing.


FRANCESCO DE PRETIS
Journalist, La Stampa; Italy Correspondent, Science Magazin

A book on "What is really Science?"


- PAGE 14 -

ROGER HIGHFIELD
Science Editor, The Daily Telegraph; Coauthor, After Dolly

Science as faith


DANIEL ENGBER
Science editor, Slate Magazine

It's hard to perform ethical research on animals


AUSTIN DACEY
philosopher, Center for Inquiry; author, The Secular Conscience

What Matters


SIMON BARON-COHEN
Psychologist, Autism Research Centre, Cambridge University; Author, The Essential Difference

Equality


DAVID SLOAN WILSON
Biologist, Binghamton University; Author, Evolution for Everyone

I Missed the Complexity Revolution


J. CRAIG VENTER
Human Genome Decoder; Director, The J. Craig Venter Institute

The importance of doing something now about the environment.


NEIL GERSHENFELD
Physicist, MIT; Author, FAB

I've long considered myself as working at the boundary between physical science and computer science; I now believe that that boundary is a historical accident and does not really exist.


PAUL SAFFO
Technology Forecaster

The best forecasters will be computers


ALISON GOPNIK
Psychologist, UC-Berkeley; Coauthor, The Scientist In the Crib

Imagination is Real


JORDAN POLLACK
Computer Scientist, Brandeis University

Electronic Mail


- PAGE 15 -

CHRIS DIBONA
Open Source Programs Manager, Google

Oversight and Programmer productivity


BEATRICE GOLOMB, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine & Associate Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine at UCSD

Reasoning from Evidence: A Call for Education

STEPHON ALEXANDER
Assistant Professor of Physics, Penn State

The Light Side of Locality


GEORGE JOHNSON
Science writer; Author, Miss Leavitt's Stars

Experimental Physics


GEOFFREY MILLER
Evolutionary Psychologist, University of New Mexico; Author, The Mating Mind

Asking for directions


STEVE CONNOR
Science Editor, The Independent in London

The 21st Century

BARRY SMITH
Philosopher, School of Advanced Study, University of London; Coeditor,
Knowing Our Own Minds

The Experience of the Normally Functioning Mind is the Exception


JESSE BERING
Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queens University, Belfast

I Have No Destiny (and Neither Do You)


ROGER BINGHAM
Cofounder and Director, The Science Network; Neuroscience Researcher, Center for Brain and Cognition, UCSD; Coauthor, The Origin of Minds; Creator PBS Science Programs

Changing My Religion


RICHARD DAWKINS
Evolutionary Biologist, Charles Simonyi Professor For The Understanding Of Science, Oxford University; Author,
The God Delusion

A flip-flop should be no handicap


- PAGE 16 -

GREGORY BENFORD
Physicist, UC Irvine; Author, Deep Time

Evolving the laws of physics


LERA BORODITSKY
Cognitive Psychology & Cognitive Neuroscience, Stanford University

Do our languages shape the nuts and bolts of perception, the very way we see the world?


JAMSHED BHARUCHA
Professor of Psychology, Provost, Senior Vice President, Tufts University

Education as Stretching the Mind


DENIS DUTTON
Professor of the philosophy of art, University of Canterbury, New Zealand, editor of Philosophy and Literature and Arts & Letters Daily

The Self-Made Species


CLAY SHIRKY
Social & Technology Network Topology Researcher; Adjunct Professor, NYU Graduate School of Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)

Religion and Science


KAI KRAUSE
Software and Design Pioneer

Software is merely a Performance Art


LINDA S. GOTTFREDSON
Sociologist, University of Delaware; co-director of the Project for the Study of Intelligence and Society.

The Calculus of Small but Consistent Effects


RANDOLPH M. NESSE
Psychiatrist, University of Michigan; Coauthor, Why We Get Sick

Truth does not reside with smart university experts


BART KOSKO
Information Scientist, USC; Author, Noise

The Sample Mean


DAVID GELERNTER
Computer Scientist, Yale University; Chief Scientist, Mirror Worlds Technologies; Author, Drawing Life

Users Are Not Reactionary After All


- PAGE 17 -

RAY KURZWEIL
Inventor and Technologist; Author,
The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

SETI


MARK HENDERSON
Science Editor. The Times, London

Consulting the public about science isn't always a waste of time — but consulting bioethicists often is


DAVID GOODHART
Founder & Editor, Prospect Magazine

The nation state is too big for the local things, too small for the international things and the root of most of the world's ills


W.DANIEL HILLIS
Physicist, Computer Scientist; Chairman, Applied Minds, Inc.; Author, The Pattern on the Stone

Try the Experiment Yourself


NASSIM NICHOLAS TALEB
Epistemologist of Randomness and Applied Statistician; Author, The Black Swan

The Irrelevance of "Probability"


DANIEL KAHNEMAN
Psychologist, Princeton; Recipient, 2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences

The sad tale of the aspiration treadmill


[Click Here to Proceed to The Edge Annual Question — 2008]




ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS
January 1, 2008

CARROLL: We've always bickered
By Vincent Carroll, Editor, Editorial Pages

Science snubbed

...Take the fact that The New York Times' "100 Notable Books of the Year" from its Book Review includes no science books. The reader who pointed this out to me saw it reported on John Brockman's Edge Web site. Brockman's indignant assessment: "Given the well-documented challenges and issues we are facing as a nation, as a culture, how can it be that there are no science books (and hardly any books on ideas) on the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year list; no science category in the Economist Books of the Year 2007; only Oliver Sacks in The New Yorker's list of Books From Our Pages?"

Since Brockman wrote those words nearly two weeks ago, the Times' three daily reviewers have published lists of their favorite books, too. Only one is about science - although science decades old (Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr, and the Struggle for the Soul of Science).

Brockman argues that "Elite universities have nudged science out of the liberal arts undergraduate curriculum" and thus produce graduates "who don't even know that they don't know." Maybe so, but those graduates, if they work at a paper like the Times, must know this much: Their readers include many people trained in the sciences who might prefer a book on what scientists think, about our future, say, to a book on what Tina Brown thinks about Princess Diana.

Yes, The Diana Chronicles actually made the Times' "notable" list.

...




THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
December 30, 2008

WHAT ARE YOU OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?
Review by Harry Ritchie


"The planet's overheating, the icecaps are melting, the population is exploding, there's a bird-flu epidemic waiting to get us and even if we avoid a terrorist Armageddon, there's bound to be an asteroid up there with all our names on it. We are, to quote Private Frazer, doomed.

"Nonsense, say the 150 leading scientists assembled by John Brockman in this uplifting anthology.

"Asked the title's question, the world's best brains examined our prospects - and all of them found reasons to be very cheerful indeed. Once again, the scientific community seems to challenge our instinctive, common-sense assumption. First they told us the Earth isn't flat. Then, that solid objects are made up of empty space. ...

"...This is an enthralling book that delivers two very significant truths: we've never had it so good and things can only get better. Global warming — and asteroids — permitting."




THE NEW YORK TIMES
December 28, 2008

OP-ED COLUMNIST
The Sidney Awards II
By David Brooks

...Three other essays are worth your time. In the online magazine Edge, Jonathan Haidt wrote "Moral Psychology and the Misunderstanding of Religion," an excellent summary of how we make ethical judgments.

...


Edge Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit private operating foundation under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.


John Brockman, Editor and Publisher
Russell Weinberger, Associate Publisher

contact: [email protected]
Copyright © 2008 By Edge Foundation, Inc
All Rights Reserved.

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