Unlike rock stars, scientific ideas do not usually burn out. They fade away and outlast their usefulness.
This is what motivated a new survey of 166 scientists and intellectuals, asking which ideas ought to be “retired” from science, not quite because they are wrong, but because they are old and ineffective, like nature versus nurture, left-brain versus right-brain, or carbon footprints.
As with Newton’s law of gravity, which gave way to Einstein’s, many of these ideas were once on the cutting edge, but have since been revealed as incomplete, outdated and bland. So the survey, released Tuesday by U.S. literary agent John Brockman, founder of the web salon Edge.org, is like spring cleaning for science. The point is to clear away junk, but sometimes you rediscover something useful under the couch.
Each year, the magazine Edge.org poses a question to the brightest minds on the planet. On this occasion, the editor John Brockman and his team has raised the following question: What scientific idea is time to retire? In the prestigious intellectual survey involved scientists from the likes of British biologist Richard Dawkins and the novelist Ian McEwan.
As explained in the Brockman own The Observer , Edge.org was founded in 1996 as the online version of The Reality Club, an informal meeting of intellectuals between 1981 and this year were cited in Chinese restaurants, artist studios , investment banks, dance halls, museums, halls and other places. "
Although events have moved into cyberspace, the spirit of Reality Club remains in the lively discussions back and forth on topical today pivots on intellectual debate issues, "says Brockman.
"The online salon Edge.org is hosted on a living document of the millions of words he produced conversation Edge in the last 15 years. Available for free to all Internet users."
To summarize the vision that inspires the draft annual Edge question, Brockman quotes a sentence of James Lee Byars: "To achieve great things, you have to look for extraordinary people."
"Through the years, Edge.org has had a very simple criterion for choosing their partners. Sought people whose creative work has expanded our understanding of what and who we are. Some are best selling authors and celebrities of mass culture. Most do not. preferstimulate work on the cutting edge of culture and research ideas that are not usually exposed. interested in us' think smart ', not the topics of' received wisdom, "Brockman says.
Here are some of the best answers to the Edge.org annual question, assigned to the online edition of THE WORLD through an agreement with the digital magazine. The responses of all participants in this project can be read in English here .
Great investors, such as Warren Buffett and his partner Charlie Munger, don't just read annual reports or books on investing. Reading broadly can make you a smarter person and a better investor:
"This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking" by John Brockman (Harper Perennial, $16). Short concepts are presented by some 150 influential thinkers, covering biology, technology, negotiation and more.
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.
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. Foto wowe
...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!" ...
"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."
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.
I recommend Edge.org where the best brains in the world comes together to talk to each other and let us listen. Do not miss their conversations. Very interesting video about encapsulated universes Lera Boroditsky. According to her, the 7,000 languages in the world create parallel universes based on different conceptions of their customs and history.
According to Lera, is likely to set the language we speak the way we think.
If you're a consumer of various types and genres of media like me, we're probably thinking along the same lines - enough with the Best Of 2013 lists already! I've decided to take the opposite approach this week and look ahead at some of the books our staff and sales reps are most excited about for the first part of 2014. I've already read some, the rest are waiting in my to-read pile. Here's what we'll be reading:
What Should We Be Worried About? ed. by John Brockman.
The next installment in the groundbreaking science series by the founder of Edge.org. (February)
In the 90s, John Brockman sought to promote a range of activities and meetings to set the "third culture" that spoke CP Snow in his book The Two Cultures, back in the '60s, in which he expressed his hopes for a new culture to cover the gap between scientists and intellectuals. Since then, it has been developing and expanding group of researchers looking for the meeting of disciplines.
But, as said Brockman and against what one might expect, the bridges towards a comprehensive knowledge and integrity are not being stretched from shore humanistic as Snow thought, but from the scientific side. Here that which humanists discuss enclose themselves and then complain that the world suffers from "scientistic" is true, but do not do anything about it, much less to offer reasons to defend the claim that Brockman, against intellectual inbreeding of academic humanists, closed in themselves and in defense of ideas alien to all empiricism, scientists are more open:
Maybe their egos are so colossal as the iconic representatives of the academic humanities, but his way of dealing with that hubris is very different.Anytime an argument can sift, because they work in an empirical world of facts, reality-based world.They have fixed, immovable stances, they are both creators and critics of the company held in common. Ideas come from them, and it is they who call into question the respective ideas. Through the process of creativity, criticism and debate, decide which ideas must be eradicated and which become part of the consensus that leads to the next level of discovery. Unlike the humanities academicians who speak about about others, scientists speak of the universe.
(Brockman, The New Humanism )
...Two cultures so. But "two" is it in itself a problem? Not really if you agree with the direction of Edgar Morin , who sees a Gordian knot to avoid slicing. Between subject and object, between nature and culture, between science and philosophy, we must distinguish without separating, he said.
This tension experienced between science and the humanities comes in scientific culture and culture "tout court" (as kidnapped by the Arts and Humanities), the parallel life is reflected even in their institutionalization. One brood is by the "Ministry of Culture" and the other by the "Ministry of Research." Here, again, it would be possible to distinguish, but without dissociating.
But before thinking about how, see why it would recombine these two cultures, one of which is concerned with "how it works" and the other "how we live" (that is less clear, although Sure, but this division seems useful to me).
First, because these two approaches, equally necessary as the other, are necessary to each other. Rationality and morality. Cognitive and emotional. Observation and action. Statistics and policy decisions.
Because the philosophy, history, ethics, literature, etc.. allow to give meaning to the objective data and organize sharing.
Because the great mass of knowledge accumulated by the scientific approach must exit the wardrobe to participate in the grand narrative of the world, this story told to little ones who want to know if they are born in cabbages. That most people are more familiar with the story concocted by the monotheistic religions that the history of our universe, our planet and our species, we say that there is somewhere something important that we failed to communicate - probably because it is still considered asides .
Because objective knowledge also enchants the world. "From the moment we begin to look at things, the world changes, the world poetizes immediately if you begin to pay attention to the grain of a jacket, the color of a curtain, or a falling drop tap, "says Thomas Clerc said of his Interior . From my side, it moves me deeply to know that there is a billionaire people who live in symbiosis me, and the nuclei of atoms forming the polyester carpet or constituting Miss Kitty (my cat) from the same star. But the poetry of the real world can only emerge from a reassembled culture.
More practically, because these two cultures must work together to "small" problems of our time. We come out a little better if our individual and collective decisions were informed by knowledge and inspired by a moral and ethic of the common good.
How to reassociate?
Thus, once territories distinguished must circulate flows, identify bridges.
But more than make connections, would not it be more powerful paradigm shift, to draw a new cultural map? A third culture, as advocated by a certain John Brockman.
Ah, there comes ... but 1000 words later, it is time to pause, and it will therefore follow in the next post.
"Substantial and engrossing. . .Brockman and the Edge contributors offer fresh and invaluable perspectives on crucial aspects of our lives.'
REVIEW OF THE DAY
What Should We Be Worried About? Real Scenarios That Keep Scientists Up at Night.
Each year, Edge founder Brockman and "Edgestalwarts" mark the anniversary of the speculative online science salon by posing a far-reaching question as the catalyst for a multidisciplinary essay collection. Brockman introduces this year's substantial and engrossing anthology, What Should We Be Worried About?, by noting, "Nothing can stop us from worrying, but science can teach us how to worry better, and when to stop worrying." The array of subjects 150 leading thinkers and scientists identify as worrisome is vast and varied, while the outlooks expressed in their pithy thought-pieces are provocative and enlightening.
Psychologist Steven Pinker identifies hidden threats to peace. Cosmologist and astrophysicist Martin Rees shares his concern about climate change. Philosopher Daniel C. Dennett and science historian George Dyson ponder the risky vulnerability of the Internet. Biologist Seiran Sumner shudders over the dangers of synthetic biology. Neuroscientist Sarah-Jayne Blakemore considers "how our rapidly changing world is shaping the developing teenage brain." Theoretical physicist Lisa Randall is one of many who fret that there won't be future funding for major long-term research projects. Water resources, viruses, low science literacy, and our failure to achieve global cooperation are all addressed with striking clarity. By taking this bold approach to significant quandaries, Brockman and the Edge contributors offer fresh and invaluable perspectives on crucial aspects of our lives.
Each year the website Edge.org, considered by many one of the publications of higher intellectual quality in the world, brings together hundreds of artists, scientists and the most renowned thinkers in the world and asks them a question, creating a kind of itinerant think thank that seeks dialogue and anticipates major issues facing humanity, or sometimes simply celebrates knowledge. This year the question was: "What Should We Be Worried About?", under the argument that "we are concerned because we are able to anticipate the future. Nothing can be done that we no longer worry about, but science can teach us how better care, and when stop worrying."
Some of the answers compiled by Edge.org, are remarkable essays on the most pressing problems of the modern civilization modern; others are simply ironic (of course, predominantly about rational thought and science oriented). Worth taking a tour of this panorma today.
The enticing collections roll in with impressive frequency, bearing such titles as This Will Change Everything(2009), Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? (2011), This Will Make You Smarter (2012), Thinking (2013), and the latest (review adjacent), What Should We Be Worried About? Each anthology features stellar contributors from diverse fields, and all are edited by John Brockman, the founder and CEO of Brockman Inc., a literary agency for science writers, and founder of a nonprofit foundation that supports Edge.org, a world-renowned online science salon with the credo: "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." ...
...Brockman, who is also an author, finds that books are still the best place for scientists to present their work. "Increasing complexity is leading to an entirely new way of doing science, one in which all kinds of disciplines come together in various endeavors, and scientists have to be able to talk each other's language. Their trade books reflect this; they have to write in a way that's understandable to their intelligent colleagues. That's the hallmark of these new books. They are not popular science. This is science being presented by the scientist for people outside his or her field but still within the scientific community." Just the same, any curious reader can benefit from and be enthralled by Brockman's stimulating, jargon-free Edge books.
Jonathan Derbyshire on the collapse of the distinction between public and private
What is at work is a powerful vision of a world without inwardness, one in which the external record of a life is the same as our experience of it. He quotes something the science writer John Brockman said about the "collective externalised mind" promised by the internet. For Brockman, that's not dystopia, it's utopia. Yet, as Cohen points out, there's another name for it: "totalitarianism"–the slogan of the Khmer Rouge, for example, was "Destroy the garden of the individual".
Cohen suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy, which has grown dramatically in popularity in recent years, nourishes a similar fantasy of total liberation from the burden of the inner life. What many people find so threatening about psychoanalysis, by contrast, is its insistence that the self is never whole. It tells us that our best hope, as Cohen writes at the end of this unsettling book, lies in accepting that part of us will forever remain in the dark.
[ED. NOTE: The phrase "collective externalised mind"(above) is from the Introduction to DIgerati: Encounters with the Cyber Elite, 1996.]
Earlier this month, Noah Pred released his latest LP, the Exclaim!-approved Third Culture. ... The resulting 13-track album was named Third Culture, a reference to a 1995 John Brockman book, The Third Culture: Beyond the Scientific Revolution...
Speaking of the book's influence, Pred says, "It's a collection of essays and articles... about the future of human culture based on a synthesis of science and art. I find it really interesting that electronic music is an art form that couldn't exist without science."
Jonathan Derbyshire on the collapse of the distinction between public and private
In Henry James's 1893 short story "The Private Life", the narrator makes alarming discoveries about two members of his holiday party while holed up in a village in the Swiss Alps. After an evening spent listening to the table-talk of the London playwright Clarence "Clare" Vawdrey, he steals up to Vawdrey's room where he sees, "bent over the table in the attitude of writing", the man he thought he'd left downstairs in the company of his friends. Vawdrey, it seems, is double: there is his public self, which according to the narrator is burdened by "neither moods nor sensibilities", and his private, writing self, which remains hidden.
The effortlessly suave raconteur Lord Mellifont, meanwhile, suffers from the "opposite complaint". He is "all public", the narrator says, he has "no corresponding private life". There's nothing behind the pristine mask of his public self: Mellifont is all performance.
Josh Cohen discusses this story in his elegant and suggestive book. For him, James's tale can be read as a premonitory parable of the modern culture of celebrity, at the centre of which is the public's apparently insatiable demand for celebrities to be "no more or less than they appear" – that, like Lord Mellifont, they show us everything. Celebrities themselves collude in this demand and go to considerable lengths, as Cohen puts it, to "disappear seamlessly" into their public persona. They persuade their acolytes that there's nothing left over, no private remainder that, Vawdrey-like, they keep locked away from prying eyes. ...
There's a moral to be drawn from this about what Cohen calls the "modern malaise". It's not just about entertainment; it's also about our changing attitudes to our inner lives. What is it that connects the neuroscientists at Berkeley who want to map the neural activity of a dreaming person and put it on YouTube with the compulsive tweeter or the obsessive "lifelogger" who records and broadcasts her life, minute by minute?
What is at work is a powerful vision of a world without inwardness, one in which the external record of a life is the same as our experience of it. He quotes something the science writer John Brockman said about the "collective externalised mind" promised by the internet. For Brockman, that's not dystopia, it's utopia. Yet, as Cohen points out, there's another name for it: "totalitarianism" – the slogan of the Khmer Rouge, for example, was "Destroy the garden of the individual”. ...
The world's smartest website is which? You might say that this issue is too funny, clever is not wise site also divided. Yes, it really has a web site is known as the world's smartest website. It is the Edge, Wuyishan teacher be translated as "cutting-edge network." Edge is positioned as "a true thinker forum" occasional interview it the world's most renowned scientists, philosophers, writers, artists, etc., so that they express humanity's most important issues facing the thinking.
From 1998 onwards, Edge editor John Brockman the end of each year will raise a question, a leader invited to express their views and, of course, including many Edge 's author. Edge of concern are: human beings have had a lot of knowledge, and are often able to finally find a solution to many problems, so for ideological and science, it is important not now the questions and answers, but whether they can raise new questions , or forward-looking and futuristic; most insightful if we can bring together ideas and causes more discussion makes sense. ...
NOTE: "Currently, Web of Science magazine subscribers nearly thirty million people, mainly from domestic universities and research institutes, as well as nearly 50,000 overseas Chinese scientists."
If you're not hip to Edge.org, it's legendary book agent John Brockman's hub for really smart scientists and other big thinkers to share ideas with each other and the public. At the site, you'll find hundreds of conversations and essays from the likes of Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, Daniel Kahneman, Rebecca Saxe, Douglas Rushkoff, Ryan Phelan, and many other very, verybright people. Recently, Edge hosted a small conference, HeadCon '13: What's New In Social Science, and they're now rolling out a series of videos documenting the provocative talks from the event. With this series, they took a rather nontraditional approach to the videos.
Novelist Ian McEwan and theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed met at the Science Museum in London to mark the opening of the Large Hadron Collider exhibition. This is an edited extract of their conversation.
DO THE TWO CULTURES STILL EXIST?
IAN McEWAN: That old, two-culture matter is still with us, ever since [CP] Snow promulgated it back in the 50s. It still is possible to be a flourishing, public intellectual with absolutely no reference to science but it's happening less and less. And I think it's less a change of any decision in the culture at large, just a social reality pressing in on us. And it's true that climate change forces us to at least get a smattering of some idea of what it is to predict systems that have more than two or three variables and whether this is even possible. The internet has created sites like John Brockman's wonderful edge.org, where it's possible for laymen to sit in on conversations between scientists. And when scientists have to address each other out of their specialisms they have to speak plain English, they have to abandon their jargons, and we're the beneficiaries of that.
NIMA ARKANI-HAMED: It's an asymmetry that doesn't really need to exist. Certainly many scientists are very appreciative of the arts. The essential gulf is one of language and especially in theoretical physics, the basic difficulty is that most people don't understand our language of mathematics which we use to describe everything we know about the universe. And so while I'm capable of listening to and intensely enjoying a Beethoven sonata or an Ian McEwan novel it can be more difficult for people in the arts to have some appreciation for what we do. But at a deeper level there's a commonality between certain parts of the arts and certain parts of the sciences. ... MORE
Nima Arkani-Hamed, Martha Kearney and Ian McEwan at London's Science Museum Photograph: Jennie Hills/Science Museum
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Related reading on Edge: "The Third Culture", 1991]
Novelist Ian McEwan in a lively conversation with theoretical physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed in an exploration of the similarities, differences and connections between art and science. This discussion is part of the opening of the Large Hadron Collider exhibition at the Science Museum in London. Arkani-Hamed is a winner of the Fundamental Physics Prize.
[IAN MCEWAN:] ...That old two culture matter is still with us. Ever since Snow promulgated it back in the '50s, it still is possible to be a flourishing public intellectual with absolutely no reference to science. It still can go on but it's happening less and less and I think it's less a change of any decision in the culture at large, just a social reality pressing in on us.
It was touched on just briefly earlier this evening that bioethics is now a critical matter. We all carry around with us miraculous tiny machines that involve at least some passing admiration for the engineering that created them. It's true also that climate change forces those of us who have no interest in science to at least get a smattering of some idea of what it is to predict systems that have more than two or three variables and whether this is even possible. So, I think it's been borne in on us.
For example, the Internet has created in sites like John Brockman's wonderful site, edge.org, where it's possible for laymen to sit in on conversations between scientists and when scientists have to address each other out of their specialisms they have to speak a lingua franca of plain English. They have to abandon their jargons. And we're the beneficiaries of that. ...
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Related reading on Edge: "The Third Culture", 1991]