Are geniuses real? The neuroscience and myths of visionaries

Labeling thinkers like Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs as "other" may be stifling humanity's creative potential.

  • Revolutionary ideas and culture-shifting inventions are often credited to specific individuals, but how often do these "geniuses" actually operate in creative silos?
  • Tim Sanders, former chief strategy officer at Yahoo, argues that there are three myths getting in the way of innovative ideas and productive collaborations: the myths of the expert, the eureka moment, and the "lone inventor."
  • More than an innate quality reserved for an elite group, neuroscientist Heather Berlin and neurobiologist Joy Hirsch explain how creativity looks in the brain, and how given opportunity, resources, and attitude, we can all be like Bach, Beethoven, and Steve Jobs.

Can better data defeat the next pandemic?

Northwell Health has built an elaborate data system to track and fight COVID-19. If this system goes global, it could prevent a future pandemic.

  • This coronavirus pandemic is very much still ongoing, but now is the time to discern its lessons so that we are more prepared for the next one. Michael Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health, shares how their health system is collecting and utilizing vast amounts of health data to best care for patients and to quickly identify and manage COVID-19 surges.
  • "I would say that we probably had the most elaborate dashboard of any health system dealing with this crisis," says Dowling. Northwell Health has also developed a "local surveillance tracking system" which has allowed them to react to COVID spikes early. Dowling hopes that these systems will be adopted by and improved upon by other networks.
  • In addition to improvements to New York State's illness surveillance system, Dowling hopes to see a more global approach to fighting the pandemic where infection data is tracked shared between nations and warning signs can be acted on early enough to avoid another crisis.
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Twitter turns to the hive mind for moderation via its Birdwatch program

The platform experiments with letting users decide what content needs flagging.

Credit: Twitter/Big Think
  • Birdwatch is a new effort by Twitter to crowdsource content moderation.
  • Still in testing, volunteers can comment on tweets they find problematic.
  • Reactions to the new experiment are predictably colorful and bird-brained.
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Why large groups of people often come to the same conclusions

Study confirms the existence of a special kind of groupthink in large groups.

Credit: Kaleb Nimz/Unsplash
  • Large groups of people everywhere tend to come to the same conclusions.
  • In small groups, there's a much wider diversity of ideas.
  • The mechanics of a large group make some ideas practically inevitable.
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The 3 keys to solving complex global problems

We have the money to change the world. What's standing in the way?

  • What does it actually take to drive large-scale change? Co-Impact founder and CEO Olivia Leland argues that it takes more than money, voting in elections, and supporting your favorite nonprofit. Solving complex global issues takes philanthropy in concert with community advocacy, support from businesses, innovation, an organized vision, and a plan to execute it.
  • Leland has identified three areas that need to be addressed before real and meaningful change can happen. To effectively provide support, we must listen to the people who are already doing the work, rather than trying to start from scratch; make it easier for groups, government, and others to collaborate; and change our mindsets to think more long-term so that we can scale impact in ways that matter.
  • Through supporting educational programs like Pratham and its Teaching at the Right Level model, Co-Impact has seen how these collaborative strategies can be employed to successfully tackle a complex problem like child literacy.

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