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Archive for February, 2009

Has anyone read the entire text of the stimulus package?

The ambiguity of this question is intentional.

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My Favorite TED Talks of 2009

My other favorites were these:

  • Tim Berners-Lee
  • Bonnie Bassler
  • Rosamund Zander
  • Willie Smits
  • Dan Ariely
  • Liz Coleman

I’ll post their talks when they come out, but you can check them out from the program guide in the mean time.

What were your favorites?

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Daniel Dennett and others have called Darwin’s theory of evolution the best idea anyone has ever had.  That means that all the ideas that Socrates, Da Vinci, Newton and Einstein ever had, plus all the ideas that everyone else has ever had are also rans.  It would be impossible to really justify such a claim objectively, but I will give my guess as to why it might be considered so, at least by luminaries in Western society.

My suggestion is that evolution is the first theory — in the scientific tradition — based on the principle of emergence.  That is, it looks at a system from the bottom up, starting with behavior at the micro level and yielding behavior at the macro level.

Regardless of the above, what gets your vote for the best idea ever?

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Thought of the Day

We talk about how we are all one, more similar than we are different.  And of course it’s true, but…

Our lives are so different.  And the gap is widening all the time.  The diversity of experience increases, as the world becomes more complex, as we create new ways of existing, physically, mentally, socially, virtually.

This is part of the paradox of “progress” and the global network effect; the possibility for common understanding increases, yet the difficulty of such a feat does too, as we branch farther and wider from our common experience.

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Gary Marcus says he’d like for there to be a course on metacognition for kids:

Call it “The Human Mind: A User’s Guide,” aimed at, say, seventh-graders.  Instead of emphasizing facts, I’d expose students to the architecture of the mind, what it does well, and what it doesn’t.  And most important, how to cope with its limitations, to consider evidence in a more balanced way, to be sensitive to biases in our reasoning, to make choices in ways that better suit our long-term goals.

What a brilliant and practical idea.

Anyone want to take a stab at a syllabus?

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