This is the question John Brockman, publisher of Edge.org, posed to 150 of the world’s brightest and most influential minds. Their paradigm-changing answers are collected here. Brockman invokes the term ‘scientific’ to home in on the most reliable ways of gaining knowledge about anything – whether it be qualities of human spirit, the role of great figures in history, or the structure of DNA. Exploring philosophy, psychology, economics and other broad disciplines, This Will Make You Smarter has the potential to help humanity better understand the world and its future.
This collection provides 148 answers to the 2012 Edge question: “What is your favourite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” Each entry is one-half to three pages; some are insightful, some are obvious, some are captured by the title, some are bonkers. The shortness of the essays makes the book a useful travelling companion, for those situations where reading can only occur in snatched fragments of time. But my objection at the end of my review of Cochran’s Tips for Time Travellers holds here too: the shortness of the articles allows no space for developing an argument.