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Monday, January 14, 2008

"What Have You Changed Your Mind About?"

Edge has published it's fascinating "World Question," with answers, for 2008. For this year, the "World Question" is "What Have You Changed Your Mind About? Why?"

Each year, Edge poses this question to a group of more or less influential people, scientists, computer experts, and others, and publishes their replies. The replies are mostly about something in the contributor's area of expertise, but this is not always so. There are something like 160 responses included this year. I confess that I have not read them all, and probably won't. It is also true that some of the responses weren't interesting to me, for various reasons. But some of them were very interesting. Generally, the responses are about a page each, and well-written.

This page of responses included several responses that I found interesting.

The most interesting response on the page was the shortest. Joseph Ledoux has, he says, changed his mind radically about how human memory works, and says why. If he's right, I need to change my mind, too.

Martin Seligman (there's a line or two about the accomplishments of each person, and you can click on the name to find out more about each contributor) has come to believe that there aren't any other civilizations in the galaxy, or maybe the universe.

Douglas Rushkoff says that the Internet hasn't changed people very much, if at all, and he's obviously pretty sour about the whole thing.

Howard Gardner says that psychologist Jean Piaget raised good questions, but came up with wrong answers.

Donald Hoffman believes that natural selection often has not selected for senses that bring in exact information about the world.

James O'Donnell writes about the Fall of Rome.

Colin Tudge thinks that genetic engineering of crops won't solve all the problems of agriculture, world-wide, because scientists don't understand all these problems, and that this merely illustrates that science as a whole is not as powerful an enterprise as many of us think it is.

Thanks for reading!

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