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This Will Make You Smarter: 150 New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking [Kindle Edition]

John Brockman
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)

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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description presents brilliant, accessible, cutting-edge ideas to improve our decision-making skills and improve our cognitive toolkits, with contributions by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, Richard Dawkins, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and more. Featuring a foreword by New York Times columnist David Brooks and edited by John Brockman, This Will Make You Smarter presents some of the best wisdom from today’s leading thinkers—to make better thinkers out of the leaders of tomorrow.

Editorial Reviews


This Will Make You Smarter gives us better tools to think about the world and is eminently practical for life day to day. The people in this book lead some of the hottest fields.” (DAVID BROOKS, from the Foreword)

“The world’s smartest website ... Edge is a salon for the world’s finest minds” (The Guardian)

“ has become an epicenter of bleeding-edge insight across science, technology and beyond, hosting conversations with some of our era’s greatest thinkers” (Atlantic Monthly)

“A winning combination of good writers, good science and serious broader concerns.” (KIRKUS REVIEWS (starred review))


"The world's smartest website ... Edge is a salon for the world's finest minds"--The Guardian

Product Details

  • File Size: 1252 KB
  • Print Length: 451 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0062109391
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (February 14, 2012)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005LC1OR0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,073 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
89 of 94 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Bucket of Pearls April 25, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The origin of this book is a simple one: The editor, John Brockman, tossed out the question "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?" to over 150 contemporary thought leaders, and recorded the results. Brockman has worked for decades to bring thinkers together, under the premise that great things happen when cross-disciplinary exchanges of brilliant thinking take place. Bacteria, because they are so profligate in exchanging genetic information across species, are astoundingly capable of arriving at new and adaptive solutions to environmental (including antibiotics) challenges. Brockman, I'm guessing, would be comfortable with the notion that in posing annual questions to leaders in the fields of many different disciplines he is increasing the adaptability, creativity, and problem solving capabilities of the human race. This Will Make You Smarter is excellent evidence that he may well be correct. Bacteria have something to teach us.

Almost everyone gets a say here: astrophysicists, sociologists, environmentalists, historians, microbiologists, newspaper columnists, particle physicists, philosophers, and a host of notables in other disciplines. The result is a truly provocative treasure heap of notions that just might do what the title of the book claims. The book is a bucket of pearls: succinct (for the most part!) notions with real punch are the order of the day. John Brockman's website,, aims to represent cutting edge ideas, and the included authors often are forced to create neologisms or resurrect arcane vocabulary (e.g. Interbeing and apophenia) to express their thoughts fully.

This book is not a quick read.
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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Quick texts, quick reading April 18, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Description of the book doesn't make clear that it comprises over 100 small texts, all available for free on

In spite of that, texts are interesting and may help you on your life (or make you "smarter", as the title suggests). The book would be more useful if it contained suggestions on how to apply those concepts on daily life, or if texts were grouped in categories. They indeed follow a logic order, but grouping chapters could help organize content into blocks.

I'm just not sure if they are truly "New" scientific concepts as the subtitle suggests. But it's sure a good general guide on what some of the world's most important thinkers are focusing on their researches right now.
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90 of 105 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Cognitive Reference Guide for the Masses February 27, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Just got this book today, so perhaps I'm breaking a rule by posting a review before finishing the book. However, I love this book's structure and breadth of topics. If you like TED, you'll love this book since both distill topics to their essence by leading experts and both leave the audience more informed but wanting more. That and the price is a bargain.

First off the structure of this book is great. 397 pages of short essays ranging from one to several pages. The table of contents (all 24 pages of it) at the beginning gives you the essay titles, authors, and a short phrase describing the essay. There's also an index in the back if you prefer more topical browsing. This structure makes this book very accessible since you can pick it up and read as much or as little as you have time for.

Each essay is self-contained and distills topics which are easy to get out into the weeds on. As the book's title suggests, rather than just factual essays, the authors try to show how elements from their field of study can be used to alter your thinking or better understand the world around you. Each essay presents its own kind of mini world view, a single data point describing not not what to think but how to think.

The range of topics is amazing as well. From the back cover, topics include:
* cognitive illusions/delusions
* experimentation
* fear of the unknown
* biases
* negotiation
* culture
* paradigm shifts
* the natural world
* technology
* biology
* uncertainty & randomness
* time
* science
* and lots more

I highly recommend this book.
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100 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What is wrong with this picture....??? March 6, 2012
I am enjoying the concise and stimulating essays gathered together in This Will Make You Smarter. There are a number of positive reviews that paint a clear picture of this book, but the skewed one-star review by Open Sesame dated March 6, 2012 compels a rebuttal. This reviewer is apparently knowledgeable enough to judge the book to be devoid of new ideas, yet I expect most readers will find, as I have, an ample number of fresh ideas within their experience to stimulate thinking in new directions. Open Sesame is miffed to have purchased the book upon later discovering that the contents are available for free at the Edge web site, but this information is available through Amazon's "look inside" feature which displays a substantial amount of the book contents and the introduction describes how it was developed through the dialogue at the Edge web site. I find a touch of irony in such a smart individual broadcasting their own blunders. There is also a derisive implication that with the book contents being available online that it would be foolish to order the book; this doesn't recognize the perspective of many people who prefer the format and convenience of reading a physical book over that of reading online. Secret agent Maxwell Smart had a favored phrase that sums up the perspective of Closed Sesame: "He missed it by that much....."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice facts to have in a small book enjoy it very much
Nice facts to have in a small book enjoy it very muchNice facts to have in a small book enjoy it very muchNice facts to have in a small book enjoy it very muchNice facts to have in... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Alejandro V. Moreno
2.0 out of 5 stars Review For The Audio Version
I now wish that I had bought the print or kindle version. I thought I could listen in the car, but the reader is so wooden and monotone he nearly puts me to sleep. Read more
Published 13 days ago by David
4.0 out of 5 stars how to think
broadly informative and interesting book. I intend to get the new sequel as soon as I possibly can as well.
Published 15 days ago by Zelalem Dawit
3.0 out of 5 stars This will make you smarter
Not real impressed with this book. I guess I was expecting a lot more than what it gave me. Judy
Published 1 month ago by blondie
5.0 out of 5 stars A meal for the brain, and people who have one
Loaded with brief, mind blowing short paragraph to page long ideas in quick essay format. The contributors are from to remarkable
EDGE. Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Carson
4.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking book!
These very short essays written by many of John Brockman's EDGE participants were not just dashed off at the last minute. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Alice
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but with a bias to the left.
This is good reading as long as you understand that much of the "science" is based in confirmation bias, especially around the becoming-outdated global warming crises, which the... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bill Dalton
1.0 out of 5 stars This book made me dumber...
There is NOTHING more boring than listening to professors tell you how dumb you are and how smart they are. I hope we can keep these radicals confined in cages somewhere. Read more
Published 1 month ago by J. K. Wiggill
5.0 out of 5 stars This is what kids should learn in science class
Great book, easy to dive into and digest, but challenges your perceptions. Very inspiring. I've recommended this to my friends.
Published 2 months ago by Matt Baker
3.0 out of 5 stars It won't make you smarter!
This is just a bunch of excerpts, by thinkers, which should be common sense for anybody else who can think! It won't teach you how to think critically.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
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