The information arms race can’t be won, but we have to keep fighting

The tactics that work now won't work for long.

Arms races happen when two sides of a conflict escalate in a series of ever-changing moves intended to outwit the opponent.

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Politics & Current Affairs

Why are IQ scores rising? Industrialization rewired our minds.

300 years of industrialization have boosted our IQ scores in one very specific way.

  • Human intelligence is increasing by approximately 3 IQ points per decade, a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect.
  • The increases come from one area of intelligence in particular: abstract thinking, which can be tested using puzzles like Raven's Progressive Matrices. Watch this video to see two kinds of puzzles: One your modern mind is perfectly geared for, and another that might just fool you.
  • In this video, David Epstein recounts a natural experiment in the Soviet Union in the 1930s that tested the intelligence of isolated subsistence farmers compared to people who had been exposed to industrialization. The experiment revealed fascinating information about abstract thinking, intelligence transfer, and how modern life has changed the way we perceive the world.
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Image source: tristan tan/Shutterstock
  • Asian elephants often leave protected areas to feed and come into conflict with humans.
  • The elephants, it turns out, can recognize the largest quantities of food by smell.
  • This insight could lead to keeping Asian elephants out of harm's way via redirection using olfactory cues.
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Surprising Science

Self-command: Learn this powerful thinking tool

When should you censor yourself, and when should you speak up? Emily Chamlee-Wright explains moral philosopher Adam Smith's 'impartial spectator'.

  • 18th-century moral philosopher Adam Smith argued that you could measure the appropriateness of your words and actions by satisfying an imaginary judge he called the impartial spectator.
  • Switching perspectives to listen to that impartial spectator is a difficult skill as it requires self-command to triumph over self-love. Wise people imagine the spectator's response and use it to help steer productive discourse – especially in difficult and chaotic debates.
  • Self-command is an intellectual virtue. It's a thinking tool that helps us know when to self-censor and when to speak up in the interest of civil discourse and truth seeking.
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Sponsored by the Institute for Humane Studies

How junior high school kills scientific curiosity

Rote memorization doesn't cut it for theoretical physicist Michio Kaku. Here's why.

  • What is the greatest destroyer of young scientists? Junior high school, avers physicist Michio Kaku.
  • Why? Because it's during this time when science is reduced to memorization of things that are "totally irrelevant," such as the parts of a flower.
  • Kaku believes all this memorizing detracts from the moving force of science, which is discussing principles and concepts.
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