Our loss of wisdom

Our loss of wisdom
Barry Schwartz

Barry Schwartz makes a passionate call for “practical wisdom” as an antidote to a society gone mad with bureaucracy. He argues powerfully that rules often fail us, incentives often backfire, and practical, everyday wisdom will help rebuild our world.




You should enjoy this

Neil Gaiman Turns His Grad Speech Into ‘Good Art’
May 14, 2013

0:32 I got out into the world and wrote, and I became a better writer the more I wrote, and I wrote some more.

On the advice he got from horror writer Stephen King:
the most important piece of advice I was ever given, came in 1992 from Stephen King:
‘This is really wonderful, this is special. You should enjoy this. Just make a point of enjoying it.’

9:11 GAIMAN: And that feeling of just having created something, it’s a very, very real thing, that being able to look around and go, I’ve just improved the world by something that wasn’t there before

The old rules are crumbling and nobody knows what the new rules are. So make up your own rules.
18:43 Someone asked me recently how to do something she thought it was going to be difficult. In this case recording an audiobook.
I suggested she pretends that she is someone who could do it. No pretend to do it, but pretend she was someone who could. She put up a note to this effect on the studio wall and she said it helped.
So be wise, because the world needs more wisdom.
And if you cannot be wise, pretend to be someone who is wise and then just behave as they would.
[related: Shonda Rhimes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lGMC6WjhldM]

Now go and make interesting mistakes. Make amazing mistakes, make glorious and fantastic mistakes. Break rules, leave the world more interesting …



Is human intelligence still evolving?

How smart is smart?
Is human intelligence still evolving?
EMBO reports (2009)  10 (11),  1198-1201
Philip Hunter

The development of higher cognitive functions in Homo sapiens—commonly and perhaps wrongly described as intelligence …

Bob Sternberg, for instance, a psychologist from Tufts University (Medford, MA, USA) and a pioneer of human intelligence research, believes that intelligence is an adaptive trait, but not a quantity that can be measured by standard intelligence quotient (IQ) tests. Instead, he has defined human intelligence as “a mental activity directed toward purposive adaptation to, selection, and shaping of real‐world environments relevant to one’s life” (Sternberg, 1985). However, there is a caveat to this so‐called ‘triarchic’ theory: its human devisers are not objective bystanders. “Higher levels of intelligence as we conceive of it can be and [have] been adaptive,” Sternberg said. “I say ‘as we conceive of it’ because the concept [of intelligence] is in large part a human invention of successful people to explain their own success.”

“For a neuroscientist, any aspect of ‘intelligent behaviour’ involves many different processes—attention, motivation, arousal, motor skills, perception, memory.
To lump all these together into one ‘crystallized intelligence’ makes no biological sense

A 2006 study from the University of Chicago (IL, USA) suggested that two genes, microcephalin and ASPM (abnormal spindle‐like microcephaly‐associated), which are thought to regulate brain size, have been under strong selective pressure since humans left Africa (Evans et al, 2005). However, the team, led by Bruce Lahn, do not claim that these genes are associated with cognitive functions, and others have suggested that they might have undergone selection to cope with the decreasing amounts of good daylight as humans migrated northwards through Europe, Asia and possibly North America. “There is now nice evidence of selection over recent time for genes that promote large brains at high latitudes, such as Bruce Lahn’s work,” Robin Dunbar agreed. “But this is almost certainly due to the need for a larger visual area at high latitudes [where light levels are lower], not for greater intelligence, although this is as yet unpublished data.”

However, human brains have actually decreased by about 10% in volume during the past 30,000 years[1]; the rapid evolution of new cognitive functions—language in particular—might therefore have resulted from structural rather than volume changes.

One explanation for this reverse trend in human brain size is that brains come with metabolic costs attached—the brain consumes about 20% of the basal calories used by our bodies each day—and human evolution might have reached a point where increased metabolic demand outweighed the benefits of greater brain volume. Instead, selective pressures might have begun to favour genes that conferred greater processing efficiency and improved coordination between functional units.

“We should be more concerned with what is likely a distinctively human quality—wisdom—the skill in how to use our intelligence in a way that promotes a common good, over the long term as well as the short term, through the infusion of positive ethical values.”

average brain volume of 1274 cm3 for men, and 1131 cm3 for women
Neanderthals: 1,500–1,800 cm3


The Continuum of Understanding

By Matthew.viel – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49310779

The Continuum of Understanding
Information is also not the end of the continuum of understanding. Just as data can be transformed into meaningful information, so can information be transformed into knowledge and, further, into wisdom.
By Nathan Shedroff

Data -> Information -> Knowledge -> Wisdom

The Continuum of Understanding
Information Interaction Design: Unified Field Theory of Design
Producers, consumers, context, data, information, knowledge, wisdom

How to Live: A Search for Wisdom

Book Distills The Wisdom Of The Over-70 Set
Talk of the Nation. January 01, 2009

Henry Alford interviews people over the age of 70. “How to Live: A Search for Wisdom From Old People”

A clever person solves a problem; a wise person avoids it. That’s Albert Einstein’s definition of wisdom.

Mr. ALFORD: Yeah. The three biggies for me are doubt, reciprocity and nonattachment:

  • Doubt being this idea that, you know, you can say if A happens and B happens, then usually C will happen. However, there’s always a chance that a grand piano will come crashing down on our heads.
    there’s always wiggle room.
  • Nonattachment is this idea that you shouldn’t fixate on things.
  • Reciprocity, of course, is the “do unto others” kind of thinking.

Trust in God but tie your camel.

Wisdom of the Crowds

Wisdom of the Crowds

So You Think You’re Smarter Than A CIA Agent
by Alix Spiegel
April 02, 2014
When I asked if she goes to obscure Internet sources, she shook her head no.
“Usually I just do a Google search,” she said.