Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Vali Nasr: How do you break out of the ivory tower?

Vali Nasr: American academia provides a lot of support for professors for researchers to travel outside of the United States, to focus on the countries that they are interested in, go there, spend time.

There are yearly scholarships like Fulbright that are a much shorter run scholarship.

The problem of knowing the country you’re working on, unless it’s a country like Iran or North Korea, is not really a problem in the United States. There’s ample funding and opportunity to travel.

The problem is not to get bogged down in the trees, and to keep a perspective about the forest; to have a broader perspective of where does your little country or your little area fits in much broader trends in the world.

And at the same time, also it’s a challenge for American academics to remain relevant. Because I think American society is not a society that values intellectuals. It’s not like France. Intellectuals are not a cherished aristocracy within [American] society. They are sort of isolated within their own ivory tower, and it’s very easy for them to just to talk to one another through their own lectures, through their own books, through their own mediums and lose sight of what is the relevance of what I’m doing for the broader public, for American foreign policy.

We often hear this complaint that, well, the United States is planning all these grand things to do in the Middle East. And here are all these experts sitting at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UCLA, etc., and they actually have no input into policymaking. Nobody asks them questions.  That’s a huge challenge that I think is structural to the United States. It’s structural to the way in which the establishment in America – foreign policy establishment, business establishments in New York – really don’t take American intellectuals seriously. University is for education. And then after that, the professional lives don’t really interact with academia very effectively.

Recorded on: Dec 3, 2007

When traveling for academic rearch, Nasr's advice is, to have a broader perspective of where..your little country or your little area fits in much broader trends in the world."

Why do people believe in conspiracy theories?

Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?

Videos
  • From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
  • "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
  • Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.

COVID-19 brain study to explore long-term effects of the virus

A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.

Coronavirus
  • The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
  • The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
  • Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Keep reading Show less

Neom, Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity, reaches its next phase

Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
  • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
  • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
  • It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
Keep reading Show less

Better reskilling can future-proof jobs in the age of automation. Enter SkillUp's new coalition.

Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.

Image: metamorworks / Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
  • More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
  • SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast