There are many differences between the successes of the Harry Potter series and the successes of the Twilight series. However, I think Stephen King point out, most succinctly, the difference in their themes.
Below is a quote from John Gray’s review of David Brooks’ book, The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement. He’s talking about how the recent economic crisis was supposed to be impossible because of the psychic ability of quantitative models to predict the future of the economy.
[M]any economists refused to accept that such a crisis was possible—captivated as they were by the belief that quantitative models could predict the future, sheltering the field from messy reality. Economists were thus incapable of perceiving the dangers that were mounting around them. The attempt to domesticate the uncertainties of the future by turning them into calculable risks was discredited by the crash. A mode of thinking that was supposed to be supremely rational has proved in practice to be little more than an exercise in harebrained cleverness.
“It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, "whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection," and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.”—John Adams
Tim Black write in the Sp!ked Review of Books about how universities are deviating from their primary purpose: the pursuit of knowledge. However, universities now have the expectation to be economic engines, churning out smarter workers and economic producers.
An increase in the quantity of graduates will neither create a dynamic, wealth-producing economy nor will it create the conditions for the emergence of lots of dynamic, wealth-producing individuals. Universities are not what they are currently being cracked up to be. But that leads to another problem. So deeply entrenched is the belief that, to use the words of the 1998 Dearing report, ‘Higher education has become central to the economic wellbeing of nations and individuals’, that it is becoming increasingly difficult to recall what the purpose of institutions of higher education might be. Their autonomy as academic bodies, in which one ought to be free to pursue an interest in a subject area to a higher level, has been effaced by their thoroughgoing instrumentalisation as drivers of economic growth and social mobility.
Can applying the principles of computer hacking to the human body make for a better life?
Much as an engineer will analyse data and tweak specifications in order to optimise a software program, people are collecting and correlating data on the “inputs and outputs” of their bodies to optimize physical and mental performance. “We like to hack hardware and software, why not hack our bodies?” says Tim Chang, a self-quantifier and Silicon Valley investor who is backing the development of several self-tracking gadgets. Indeed, why not give yourself an “upgrade”, says Dave Asprey, a “bio-hacker” who takes self-quantification to the extreme of self-experimentation. He claims to have shaved 20 years off his biochemistry and increased his IQ by as much as 40 points through “smart pills”, diet andbiology-enhancing gadgets. “I’ve rewired my brain,” he says.
Will the internet ever replace books? Only if they’re able to replace a key and unique factor that up until now only books have successfuly been able to supply — linear concentration. Johann Hari has an article about the function of the book and how it will continue to persist in an age of distraction:
And here’s the function that the book – the paper book that doesn’t beep or flash or link or let you watch a thousand videos all at once – does for you that nothing else will. It gives you the capacity for deep, linear concentration. As Ulin puts it: “Reading is an act of resistance in a landscape of distraction…. It requires us to pace ourselves. It returns us to a reckoning with time. In the midst of a book, we have no choice but to be patient, to take each thing in its moment, to let the narrative prevail. We regain the world by withdrawing from it just a little, by stepping back from the noise.”
Jean-Phillipe De Tonnac says “the true function of books is to safeguard the things that forgetfulness constantly threatens to destroy.”
A gut feeling finally becomes a hunch when it is transmuted into the form of clear, precise, verbal statements uttered aloud to a receptive listener—internal or external—who responds in kind. A hunch twists inside the sinews and bones, integrating itself into the physicality of the moment, whereas a gut feeling can only struggle to become a hunch, and, once it does, is recognized in retrospect as a gut feeling.
[T]he simplicity of feedback loops is deceptive. They are in fact powerful tools that can help people change bad behavior patterns, even those that seem intractable. Just as important, they can be used to encourage good habits, turning progress itself into a reward. In other words, feedback loops change human behavior. And thanks to an explosion of new technology, the opportunity to put them into action in nearly every part of our lives is quickly becoming a reality.
A feedback loop involves four distinct stages. First comes the data: A behavior must be measured, captured, and stored. This is the evidence stage. Second, the information must be relayed to the individual, not in the raw-data form in which it was captured but in a context that makes it emotionally resonant. This is the relevance stage. But even compelling information is useless if we don’t know what to make of it, so we need a third stage: consequence. The information must illuminate one or more paths ahead. And finally, the fourth stage: action. There must be a clear moment when the individual can recalibrate a behavior, make a choice, and act. Then that action is measured, and the feedback loop can run once more, every action stimulating new behaviors that inch us closer to our goals.
“You don’t work on an assembly line any more. You work in project world, and more projects mean more chances to screw up, to learn, to make a reputation and to have more impact. When it’s you against the boss, the goal is to do less work. When it’s you against the project, the goal is to do more work.”—Seth’s Blog: When is it due?