The World Questions Centre made this their questions of 2011
James Flynn has defined “shorthand abstractions” (or “SHA’s”) as concepts drawn from science that have become part of the language and make people smarter by providing widely applicable templates (“market”, “placebo”, “random sample,” “naturalistic fallacy,” are a few of his examples). His idea is that the abstraction is available as a single cognitive chunk which can be used as an element in thinking and debate.
The Edge Question 2011
WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY’S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?
The term ‘scientific”is to be understood in a broad sense as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be the human spirit, the role of great people in history, or the structure of DNA. A “scientific concept” may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or other analytic enterprises, as long as it is a rigorous conceptual tool that may be summed up succinctly (or “in a phrase”) but has broad application to understanding the world.
The list of people who answer the questions are quite staggering.
The list of concepts runs to 17 pages and also are quite staggering.
the ones which i particularly liked were
Terrance Sejnowski – Powers of 10 also see Carl Page – Powers of 10
Gerd Gigerenzer – Risk literacy
Carlo Rovelli – The Uselessness of Certainty
Evgeny Morozov – Einstellung Effect
an entertaining and thought provoking way to spend an evening!
you should visit
so when plating with the newish, and rather cool Wolfram Alpha search engine I asked the obvious question. Below is the type of answer which possibly will save the internet from itself.
I like a search engine that is not afraid to give you a shrug of its shoulders and the ubiquitous “dunno” answer.
p.s. on the other big question, yes, the answer is still 42.
I am involved with The Project and we are doing an online consultation…
The PROJECT (Scotland) is a Scottish festival of arts, culture and faith.
Initially inspired by the Greenbelt Festival, the PROJECT aims to provide a culturally incarnate event in Scotland which possesses the same qualities of adventurous, creative and relevant contemporary exploration.
In 2009-10 we will be organising a series of ‘interim’ events to bring people together. These will primarily aim to gather like minds, enable meeting each other in the flesh and begin to build a dynamic community in order to work towards a larger event. In these, we’ll be able to discern folk’s talents, to give a taste of what might appear in a larger festival event and to discern the shape and timing – and the admirable wisdom/ or glorious foolhardiness! – of any such subsequent festival event in 2011.
We’re interested in finding out more about the interests and skills interested folk have, in order to help us plan events and to begin to create participation.
So if you wouldn’t mind taking about 5 minutes to complete this questionnaire, we’d be most grateful.
if you have 5 minutes and are interested, click this link
Attention students, and those writing who lack motivation or time or skill but need to get words out. The ever wonderful Lifehacker points to one of the coolest online applications I have seen in the last wee while.
‘Gentle” and you get a text box reminder
‘Normal’ plays a sound file
‘kamikazie’ is a killer though. It starts deleting the text you have written until you start typing again.
I hate to think what happens if you put it on ‘electric shock’
I figure in this the season of intense essay writing this may become handy for some folks!