What Scientific Concept? | Edge
This year's Edge question is: "What scientific concept would improve everybody's cognitive toolkit?"
Scanning through all the responses, here are a few that caught my attention.
W. DANIEL HILLIS
Possibility Spaces: Thinking Beyond Cause and Effect
One of the most widely-useful (but not widely-understood) scientific concepts is that of a possibility space. This is a way of thinking precisely about complex situations. Possibility spaces can be difficult to get your head around, but once you learn how to use them, they are a very powerful way to reason, because they allow you to sidestep thinking about causes and effects.
HAZEL ROSE MARKUS & ALANA CONNER
The Culture Cycle
The culture cycle is the iterative, recursive process by which 1) people create the cultures to which they later adapt, and 2) cultures shape people so that they act in ways that perpetuate their cultures. In other words, cultures and people (and some other primates) make each other up. This process involves four nested planes: individual selves (their thoughts, feelings, and actions); the everyday practices and artifacts that reflect and shape those selves; the institutions (such as education, law, and media) that afford or discourage certain everyday practices and artifacts; and pervasive ideas about what is good, right, and human that both influence and are influenced by all these levels.
That idea, or bundle of ideas, seems to me the most important revolution in general thinking in the last 150 years. It has given us a whole new sense of who we are, where we fit, and how things work. It has made commonplace and intuitive a type of perception that used to be the province of mystics — the sense of wholeness and interconnectedness.
Is global well being possible? ...
Well being is about what individuals and societies choose for its own sake, that which is north of indifference. The elements of well being must be exclusive, measurable independently of each other, and ideally, exhaustive. I believe there are five such elements and they have a handy acronym, PERMA:
P Positive Emotion
R Positive Relationships
M Meaning and Purpose