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What Have You Changed Your Mind About?: Today's Leading Minds Rethink Everything Paperback – May 20, 2014


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Edition edition (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061686549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061686542
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #300,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this wide-ranging assortment of 150 brief essays, well-known figures from every conceivable field demonstrate why it's a prerogative of all thoughtful people to change their mind once in a while. Technologist Ray Kurzweil says he now shares Enrico Fermi's question: if other intelligent civilizations exist, then where are they? Nassim Nicholas Taleb (The Black Swan) reveals that he has lost faith in probability as a guiding light for making decisions. Oliver Morton (Mapping Mars) confesses that he has lost his childlike faith in the value of manned space flight to distant worlds. J. Craig Venter, celebrated for his work on the human genome, has ceased to believe that nature can absorb any abuses that we subject it to, and that world governments must move quickly to prevent global disaster. Alan Alda says, So far, I've changed my mind twice about God, going from believer to atheist to agnostic. Brockman, editor of Edge.org and numerous anthologies, has pulled together a thought-provoking collection of focused and tightly argued pieces demonstrating the courage to change strongly held convictions. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

The publisher of the influential online science salon Edge.org, John Brockman is the editor of Thinking, This Explains Everything, This Will Make You Smarter, and What Should We Be Worried About? He founded the literary agency Brockman Inc. and lives in New York City.


More About the Author

The founder and publisher of the on-line science salon Edge.org, John Brockman is the editor of THIS WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING, WHAT IS YOUR DANGEROUS IDEA?, WHAT WE BELIEVE BUT CANNOT PROVE. He is the CEO of the literary agency Brockman Inc. and lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

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A wonderful piece, one that I will read again at random, again and again.
Pablo
The acceptance and reliance on our perceived data is almost universal in these essays, as if none of these scientists ever took Philosophy 101 and studied Kant.
Gary Loren Mccallister
I think that we could all benefit from reading about how thoughtful men and women were humble and open enough to admit that they were wrong.
G. M. Arnold

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David Larson on January 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
I love this whole series. Even though these essays range in length and quality, one gets the sense of being at a dinner party with a long table of great thinkers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pablo on September 6, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As all books in the [...] series (I have read three of the four), this recompilation of articles is a treasure. One is forced to stop reading in between opinions in order to think about the points being brought up by the authors. A wonderful piece, one that I will read again at random, again and again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr G. on January 20, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Interesting overview of very short "answers" to the title question, from a variety of scientists/experts. I didn't find in it anything that surprised me too much, but it's a good overview of "hot topics" in modern science.

You can find it all at the Edge website.
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By Jazzmandan on June 23, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Each book in this series has a sizable number of (supposed) great thinkers responding to the same (supposedly) provocative question.

Of the three books I've seen, this one contains the fewest interesting responses, and I lost interest about half way through
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By Abner Rosenweig on May 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I keep reading reviews of how provocative these essays are, and my only response to these people is: you need to get out more--or maybe stay inside and read more books. While there are some good reads in the collection, the vast majority of these essays retread familiar themes from the choir of new-Atheist intellectuals (there is no god; yea, science!; beware, climate change). Before a new-atheist jumps out of a laboratory and assaults me: I am not claiming that the ideas in the book are inferior or wrong, only that there is very little here that is suprising, provocative, or different from anything I've read from these folks before. One would think these qualities would be especially apparent in a book titled, "What Have You Changed Your Mind About?" Anthologies like this are a great introduction to some wonderful contemporary thinkers for the uninitiated, and I particularly enjoyed the essays from Joseph Ledoux, Nicholas Carr, Ray Kurzweil, Nick Bostrom, Donald Hoffman, Timothy Taylor, Robert Sapolsky, Tor Norretranders, Helen Fisher, Linda Stone, Alison Gopnik, and Jamsheed Bharucha. But be warned--even for those who are unfamiliar with these thinkers, there is an irritating rhythm of self-righteousness and in-group thinking that beats through this book, and it quickly becomes tiresome.
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Format: Paperback
This is the fourth of John Brockman's books that I have read and reviewed, and I think the best. Previously Brockman asked scientists, What do you believe but cannot prove?, What's your dangerous idea?, and What are you optimistic about? Here he asks scientist the title question, What have you changed your mind about? I think this question energized the 150 respondents and made the responses most interesting.

What Princeton Professor Lee M. Silver has changed his mind about is the effectiveness of modern education to get humans to reject supernatural beliefs or "to accept scientific implications of rational argumentation." What he has discovered over the years is that "irrationality and mysticism seem to be an integral part of normal human nature." (pp. 144-146)

Well, I've noticed the same thing and so have a lot of other people. The question is why should our minds be in such a sorry state? The broad answer is evolution made them that way because that was what worked.

Irrationality works? Strange to say, but sometimes it does--or has. Since even the most rational of our prehistoric ancestors could not know when the tsunami was coming or how to avoid drought and disease, rational thinking had a limited applicability. In some cases more value was to be found in certain rituals and mumbled words that gave our ancestors heart and allowed them to avoid despair.

The problem with this is that in the modern world, with the power of science and our knowledge of history to guide us, we would be much better off if we were able to throw off the irrationality and work together toward logical and informed solutions to our problems.
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