This Idea Must Die: Scientific Theories That Are Blocking Progress

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The bestselling editor of This Explains Everything brings together 175 of the world’s most brilliant minds to tackle Edge.org’s 2014 question: What scientific idea has become a relic blocking human progress?

Each year, John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org—”The world’s smartest website” (The Guardian)—challenges some of the world’s greatest scientists, artists, and philosophers to answer a provocative question crucial to our time. In 2014 he asked 175 brilliant minds to ponder: What scientific idea needs to be put aside in order to make room for new ideas to advance? The answers are as surprising as they are illuminating. In :

  • Steven Pinker dismantles the working theory of human behavior
  • Richard Dawkins renounces essentialism
  • Sherry Turkle reevaluates our expectations of artificial intelligence
  • Geoffrey West challenges the concept of a “Theory of Everything”
  • Andrei Linde suggests that our universe and its laws may not be as unique as we think
  • Martin Rees explains why scientific understanding is a limitless goal
  • Nina Jablonski argues to rid ourselves of the concept of race
  • Alan Guth rethinks the origins of the universe
  • Hans Ulrich Obrist warns against glorifying unlimited economic growth
  • and much more.

Profound, engaging, thoughtful, and groundbreaking, This Idea Must Die will change your perceptions and understanding of our world today . . . and tomorrow.

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More by John Brockman

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Brilliant but overlooked ideas you must know, as revealed by today’s most innovative minds 

What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known? That is the question John Brockman, publisher of the acclaimed science salon Edge.org (“The world’s smartest website”—The Guardian), presented to 205 of the world’s most influential thinkers from across the intellectual spectrum—award-winning physicists, economists, psychologists, philosophers, novelists, artists, and more. From the origins of the universe to the order of everyday life, This Idea Is Brilliant takes readers on a tour of the bold, exciting, and underappreciated scientific concepts that will enrich every mind. 

Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel JARED DIAMOND on the lost brilliance of common sense * Oxford evolutionary biologist RICHARD DAWKINS on how The Genetic Book of the Dead could reconstruct ecological history * philosopher REBECCA NEWBERGER GOLDSTEIN on how to extend our grasp of reality beyond what we can see and touch * author of Seven Brief Lessons on Physics CARLO ROVELLI on the interconnected fabric of information * Booker Prize–winning novelist IAN McEWAN on the Navier-Stokes equations, which govern everything from weather prediction to aircraft design and blood flow * cosmologist LAWRENCE M. KRAUSS on the hidden blessings of uncertainty * psychologist STEVEN PINKER on the fight against entropy * Nobel Prize–winning economist RICHARD THALER on the visionary power of the “premortem” * Grammy Award–winning musician BRIAN ENO on confirmation bias in the Internet age * advertising guru RORY SUTHERLAND on the world-changing power of sex appeal * Harvard physicist LISA RANDALL on the power of the obvious * Wired founding editor KEVIN KELLY on how to optimize your chances at success * Nobel Prize winner FRANK WILCZEK on the creative potential of complementarity * Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter JOHN MARKOFF on the synthetic metamaterials that soon will transform industry and technology * euroscientist SAM HARRIS on the lost art of intellectual honesty *Berkeley psychologist ALISON GOPNIK on the role of life history in the human story, and many others.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Harper Collins
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Published on
Feb 17, 2015
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Pages
592
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ISBN
9780062374356
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Cognitive Psychology & Cognition
Science / Cognitive Science
Science / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Drawing from the horizons of science, today's leading thinkers reveal the hidden threats nobody is talking about—and expose the false fears everyone else is distracted by.

What should we be worried about? That is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org ("The world's smartest website"—The Guardian), posed to the planet's most influential minds. He asked them to disclose something that, for scientific reasons, worries them—particularly scenarios that aren't on the popular radar yet. Encompassing neuroscience, economics, philosophy, physics, psychology, biology, and more—here are 150 ideas that will revolutionize your understanding of the world.

Steven Pinker uncovers the real risk factors for war ● Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi peers into the coming virtual abyss ● Nobel laureate Frank Wilczek laments our squandered opportunities to prevent global catastrophe ● Seth Lloyd calculates the threat of a financial black hole ● Alison Gopnik on the loss of childhood ● Nassim Nicholas Taleb explains why firefighters understand risk far better than economic "experts" ● Matt Ridley on the alarming re-emergence of superstition ● Daniel C. Dennett and george dyson ponder the impact of a major breakdown of the Internet ● Jennifer Jacquet fears human-induced damage to the planet due to "the Anthropocebo Effect" ● Douglas Rushkoff fears humanity is losing its soul ● Nicholas Carr on the "patience deficit" ● Tim O'Reilly foresees a coming new Dark Age ● Scott Atran on the homogenization of human experience ● Sherry Turkle explores what's lost when kids are constantly connected ● Kevin Kelly outlines the looming "underpopulation bomb" ● Helen Fisher on the fate of men ● Lawrence Krauss dreads what we don't know about the universe ● Susan Blackmore on the loss of manual skills ● Kate Jeffery on the death of death ● plus J. Craig Venter, Daniel Goleman, Virginia Heffernan, Sam Harris, Brian Eno, Martin Rees, and more

Most of us recognize that climate change is real, and yet we do nothing to stop it. What is this psychological mechanism that allows us to know something is true but act as if it is not? George Marshall's search for the answers brings him face to face with Nobel Prize-winning psychologists and the activists of the Texas Tea Party; the world's leading climate scientists and the people who denounce them; liberal environmentalists and conservative evangelicals. What he discovered is that our values, assumptions, and prejudices can take on lives of their own, gaining authority as they are shared, dividing people in their wake.

With engaging stories and drawing on years of his own research, Marshall argues that the answers do not lie in the things that make us different and drive us apart, but rather in what we all share: how our human brains are wired-our evolutionary origins, our perceptions of threats, our cognitive blindspots, our love of storytelling, our fear of death, and our deepest instincts to defend our family and tribe. Once we understand what excites, threatens, and motivates us, we can rethink and reimagine climate change, for it is not an impossible problem. Rather, it is one we can halt if we can make it our common purpose and common ground. Silence and inaction are the most persuasive of narratives, so we need to change the story.

In the end, Don't Even Think About It is both about climate change and about the qualities that make us human and how we can grow as we deal with the greatest challenge we have ever faced.
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