This Will Make You Smarter: 151 Big Thinkers Each Pick a Concept to Enhance Your Cognitive Toolkit
by Maria Popova The importance of “the umwelt,” or why failure and uncertainty are essential for science and life. Every year for more than a decade, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman has been asking the era’s greatest thinkers a single annual question, designed to illuminate some important aspect of how we understand the world. In 2010, he asked how the Internet is changing the way we think. In 2011, with the help of psycholinguist Steven Pinker and legendary psychologist Daniel Kahneman, he posed an even grander question: “What scientific concept will improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit?” Brockman prefaces the essays with an important definition that captures the dimensionality of “science”: Here, the term ‘scientific’ is to be understood in a broad sense — as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be human behavior, corporate behavior, the fate of the planet, or the future of the universe. Marketers exploit the focusing illusion.