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This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking Paperback – February 14, 2012

ISBN-13: 978-0062109392 ISBN-10: 9780062109392 Edition: Original

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Original edition (February 14, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062109392
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062109392
  • ASIN: 0062109391
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (155 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,127 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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)

“Edge.org 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))

From the Back Cover

Featuring a foreword by David Brooks, This Will Make You Smarter presents brilliant—but accessible—ideas to expand every mind.

What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? This is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, posed to the world’s most influential thinkers. Their visionary answers flow from the frontiers of psychology, philosophy, economics, physics, sociology, and more. Surprising and enlightening, these insights will revolutionize the way you think about yourself and the world.

Daniel Kahneman on the “focusing illusion” • Jonah Lehrer on controlling attention • Richard Dawkins on experimentation • Aubrey De Grey on conquering our fear of the unknown • Martin Seligman on the ingredients of well-being • Nicholas Carr on managing “cognitive load” • Steven Pinker on win-win negotiating • Daniel C. Dennett on benefiting from cycles • Jaron Lanier on resisting delusion • Frank Wilczek on the brain’s hidden layers • Clay Shirky on the “80/20 rule” • Daniel Goleman on understanding our connection to the natural world • V. S. Ramachandran on paradigm shifts • Matt Ridley on tapping collective intelligence • John McWhorter on path dependence • Lisa Randall on effective theorizing • Brian Eno on “ecological vision” • Richard Thaler on rooting out false concepts • J. Craig Venter on the multiple possible origins of life • Helen Fisher on temperament • Sam Harris on the flow of thought • Lawrence Krauss on living with uncertainty


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Customer Reviews

Very interesting topic.
Book Shark
Description of the book doesn't make clear that it comprises over 100 small texts, all available for free on Edge.org.
Gabriela Zago
I am still reading the book, but I can say that the book is worth reading.
Susil Manchanayaka

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

100 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Murphy on 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, Edge.org, 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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76 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Gabriela Zago on 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 Edge.org.

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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100 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Caleb W. Jones on 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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105 of 128 people found the following review helpful By John Odell on March 6, 2012
Format: Paperback
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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