Most of us vastly overestimate our understanding of how things work. We think we know more than we do. Why? Because we get by with a little help from our friends. (Sorry.) Cognitive scientists Steven Sloman and Philip Fernbach explore why we think we're so smart in a new book titled The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone. Over at Scientific American, Gareth Cook interviews Sloman about how thinking turns out to be more of a community activity.
TELL ME MORE ABOUT THIS IDEA THAT WHAT WE KNOW IS “SOCIAL”?
People fail to distinguish the knowledge that’s in their own heads from knowledge elsewhere (in their bodies, in the world, and—especially—in others’ heads). And we fail because whether or not knowledge is in our heads usually doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have access to the knowledge. In other words, the knowledge we use resides in the community. We participate in a community of knowledge. Thinking isn’t done by individuals; it is done by communities. This is true at macro levels: Fundamental values and beliefs that define our social, political, and spiritual identities are determined by our cultural communities. It is also true at the micro-level: We are natural collaborators, cognitive team-players. We think in tandem with others using our unique ability to share intentionality.
Individuals are rarely well-described as rational processors of information. Rather, we usually just channel our communities.
Corie J Weaver writes to tell us that Dreaming Robot (previously is kickstarting its latest science fiction anthology for kids, The Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, "the fourth collection of science fiction stories for middle grade readers, with a focus on diversity and representation." Read the rest
Harvey Kurtzman is a hero of satire, the guy who convinced Bill Gaines's mother to bankroll a comic book called MAD, then doubled down by turning MAD into a magazine -- only to jump ship five issues later after a bizarre fight with the Gaineses, finding refuge with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner who gave him an unlimited budget to start an all-star, high-quality satire magazine called TRUMP, which lasted for two legendary, prized issues, now collected in a gorgeous hardcover from Dark Horse. Read the rest
A few days ago Jason Kottke posted his media diet - a list of books and movies he's read and watched recenty. I found some interesting things on his list, which I made a note of. (I keep a running list of media to consume on Workflowy, the best task manager. If I meet you and we chat, chances are good I will pull out my phone and add something we talked about to my list.)
In the spirit of Kottke's media diet list, here are some books that I've read recently and recommend.
People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo -- and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up, by Richard Lloyd Parry. A true crime novel about the disappearence of a young British woman who worked as a hostess in Toyko's Roppongi nightclub district. Her body was found several months later. The most interesting part was the glimpse into Tokyo's criminal justice system, which is very different from the United States'. In Japan, getting a suspect to confess is an essential part of the process, and their legal system almost breaks down when a suspect refuses to confess.
11/22/63: A Novel, by Stephen King. This was my first Stephen King novel, and many people say it's his best work. It's about guy who finds a secret portal to 1958. He enters it through the back of a diner, and no matter how long he is in that past, when he re-enters the present, only a few minutes have elapsed. Read the rest
Journalism After Snowden: The Future of the Free Press in the Surveillance State is a new essay collection from Columbia Journalism Review Books with contributions from Ed Snowden, Alan Rusbridger (former editor-in-chief of The Guardian); Jill Abramson (former New York Times executive editor; Glenn Greenwald, Steve Coll (Dean of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism), Clay Shirky, Cass Sunstein, and Julia Angwin. Read the rest
Gersh Kuntzman's serialized novel "Coup!" is notionally the memoir of a retired CIA operative ("Deep State") who, having discovered he had terminal cancer, decided to help Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment and stage a coup deposing Donald Trump and installing himself as President Handmaid's Tale, with a coterie of morally flexible billionaires who'd been bought off of Trump's cabinet with promises of special favors and steady leadership. Read the rest
Last October, the Dr Seuss estate used legal threats to halt a wildly successful crowdfunded Seuss/Star Trek mashup called "Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go," whose contributors included comics legend Ty Templeton and Tribbles creator David Gerrold. Read the rest
I'm on stage tomorrow at 11:30 with Mary Robinette Kowal (free tickets here) -- we'll be talking about my new novel, Walkaway. Can't wait to see you! Read the rest
Burgess's fascination with slang extended well past Nadsat, the synthetic Russo-English dialect he invented for A Clockwork Orange; his autobiography mentions in passing that he'd begun work on a dictionary of slang but gave it up: "I’ve done A and B and find that a good deal of A and B is out of date or has to be added to, and I could envisage the future as being totally tied up with such a dictionary." Read the rest