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

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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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.)
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About the Author

The publisher of the online science salon Edge.org, John Brockman is the editor of the national bestsellers This Idea Must Die, This Explains Everything, This Will Make You Smarter, and other volumes.

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Product Details

  • Series: Edge Question Series
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Edition edition (May 20, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061686549
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061686542
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #460,685 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book (actually a compilation of essays at the wonderful scientific websiteEdge.org). A number of prominent scientists like Richard Dawkins, Scott Atran, and Freeman Dyson explain what they changed their mind on and why. I particularly enjoyed Dyson's essay, although his was about history, not science. (He discusses why the atomic bombs did not cause Japan to surrender). Anyone interested in science should not only get this book, they should frequent Edge.org.
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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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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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This is a very interesting book with a lot of creative ideas by a lot of creative people. Of course, in a book of this type the writing is somewhat variable in readability since all people, especially scientists do not write well. Several write in such obscure language that, unless you are an expert in their field, you probably won't get much out of it. Nevertheless, the good writers provide a wealth of ideas and make the book more than valuable to make you think.
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