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jerryking : mental_dexterity   11

Opinion | The Secrets of Jewish Genius - The New York Times
By Bret Stephens
Opinion Columnist

Dec. 27, 2019

** “Genius & Anxiety," by Norman Lebrecht.
An erudite and delightful study of the intellectual achievements and nerve-wracked lives of Jewish thinkers, artists, and entrepreneurs between 1847 and 1947. Sarah Bernhardt and Franz Kafka; Albert Einstein and Rosalind Franklin; Benjamin Disraeli and (sigh) Karl Marx — how is it that a people who never amounted even to one-third of 1 percent of the world’s population contributed so seminally to so many of its most pathbreaking ideas and innovations?.....The common answer is that Jews are, or tend to be, smart. When it comes to Ashkenazi Jews, it’s true. “Ashkenazi Jews have the highest average I.Q. of any ethnic group for which there are reliable data,”.....the “Jews are smart” explanation obscures more than it illuminates. Aside from the perennial nature-or-nurture question of why so many Ashkenazi Jews have higher I.Q.s, there is the more difficult question of why that intelligence was so often matched by such bracing originality and high-minded purpose. One can apply a prodigious intellect in the service of prosaic things — formulating a war plan, for instance, or constructing a ship. One can also apply brilliance in the service of a mistake or a crime, like managing a planned economy or robbing a bank.........But...Jewish genius operates differently. It is prone to question the premise and rethink the concept; to ask why (or why not?) as often as how; to see the absurd in the mundane and the sublime in the absurd. Ashkenazi Jews might have a marginal advantage over their gentile peers when it comes to thinking better. Where their advantage more often lies is in thinking different.
Where do these habits of mind come from?

There is a religious tradition that, unlike some others, asks the believer not only to observe and obey but also to discuss and disagree. There is the never-quite-comfortable status of Jews in places where they are the minority — intimately familiar with the customs of the country while maintaining a critical distance from them. There is a moral belief, “incarnate in the Jewish people” according to Einstein, that “the life of the individual only has value [insofar] as it aids in making the life of every living thing nobler and more beautiful.”

And there is the understanding, born of repeated exile, that everything that seems solid and valuable is ultimately perishable, while everything that is intangible — knowledge most of all — is potentially everlasting.
These explanations for Jewish brilliance aren’t necessarily definitive. Nor are they exclusive to the Jews......At its best, the American university can still be a place of relentless intellectual challenge rather than ideological conformity and social groupthink. At its best, the United States can still be the country that respects, and sometimes rewards, all manner of heresies that outrage polite society and contradict established belief. At its best, the West can honor the principle of racial, religious and ethnic pluralism not as a grudging accommodation to strangers but as an affirmation of its own diverse identity. In that sense, what makes Jews special is that they aren’t.

They are representational

The West, however, is not at its best. It’s no surprise that Jew hatred has made a comeback, albeit under new guises. Anti-Zionism has taken the place of anti-Semitism as a political program directed against Jews. Globalists have taken the place of rootless cosmopolitans as the shadowy agents of economic iniquity. Jews have been murdered by white nationalists and black “Hebrews.” Hate crimes against Orthodox Jews have become an almost daily fact of life in New York City. Jews of the late 19th century would have been familiar with the hatreds. Jews of the early 21st century should recognize where they could lead. What’s not secret about Jewish genius is that it’s a terribly fragile flower.
19th_century  20th_century  Albert_Einstein  anti-Semitism  books  Bret_Stephens  capitalization  genius  heresies  high-minded  human_capital  human_intelligence  IQ  Jewish  mental_dexterity  originality  outsiders  purpose  smart_people  talent  think_differently 
december 2019 by jerryking
Opinion: My declining years – and yours
JULY 5, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | by MARGARET WENTE

According to the experts, certain parts of my brain responsible for cognitive function are literally shrinking. My brain’s blood flow is slowing down, just like the rest of me. The inescapable result is lapses in the synapses. I’ve always thought that the worst threat to my vanity was advancing wrinkles. But now I know it’s cognitive slippage.

Perhaps it’s some consolation that my friends are getting dotty, too. Sure, they’re working gamely to keep their brains in tip-top shape. They do word puzzles, or try to learn a language. They take supplements and eat more leafy greens. Good luck to them. So far, nobody has figured out how to turn back the neurological clock.

The more I learn about brain aging, the more obvious it is that the kids really are smarter than we are. “The data are shockingly clear that for most people, in most fields, professional decline starts earlier than almost anyone thinks,” writes Arthur Brooks (no cognitive slouch himself) in a new essay for The Atlantic. He found that most of us reach our mental peak around 20 years after the start of our careers. We do our best work in our 40s and 50s and it’s all downhill from there.

People in different types of work peak at different ages, just as athletes do. Those who rely heavily on fluid intelligence – the ability to reason, think fast and solve problems in unique and novel situations – peak much younger than average. Mr. Brooks says his line of work is a good example. (He has just retired as the head of a well-known U.S. think tank.) “The most profound insights tend to come from those in their 30s and early 40s.”

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, chess grand masters and nuclear physicists are even more precocious – which means they burn out early. By the time they hit their 30s they’re already in creative decline. By contrast, lawyers, judges and professors draw more on what’s called crystallized intelligence – a stock of knowledge built up over time.They can coast on that knowledge well into their 60s. For most of us, however, cognitive decline begins in middle age.
aging  Arthur_Brooks  cognitive_skills  decline  elderly  elder_wisdom  journalism  Margaret_Wente  mental_dexterity  precociousness  retirement 
july 2019 by jerryking
Opinion | The Strange Failure of the Educated Elite - The New York Times
By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

May 28, 2018

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
See also
"Jun 18, 2007 | WSJ | Robin Moroney. Extreme intelligence might
undermine a person’s managerial capacity, he speculates. “What is
required at the top levels of govt. is not brilliance, but managerial
skill,” says Posner. That includes knowing “when to defer to the
superior knowledge of a more experienced but less mentally agile
subordinate.” Especially intelligent people also have difficulty
trusting the intuitions of less-articulate people who have more
experience than they do. That might be why many smart senior officials
in govt. have tried to reason their way through problems on their own,
assuming their civil servants’ inadequate explanations rendered their
judgments invalid."
the_best_and_brightest  books  civics  mental_dexterity  David_Brooks  diversity  dysfunction  elitism  failure  fractured_internally  the_Greatest_Generation  institutions  IQ  meritocratic  Steven_Brill  college-educated  baby_boomers  Tailspins 
may 2018 by jerryking
John Saringer: Medical device inventor has a healthy imagination - The Globe and Mail
PAUL ATTFIELD
The Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jul. 02 2014

“I think I have a unique ability, which is not common, which is the ability to visualize products in my head without building them,” he explains. “So when Dr. Salter or somebody else tells me a problem, I basically [come up with] 10, 20, 30 different approaches and in my mind I try to sort out which of them are most likely to achieve the objective and be cost-effective to make. And then I develop along that path. But most of the process actually occurs in my imagination.”
innovation  imagination  inventors  generating_strategic_options  medical_devices  mental_dexterity 
july 2014 by jerryking
What Thomas L. Friedman Didn’t Report About Getting Hired by Google | LinkedIn
Gary BurnisonInfluencer
Chief Executive Officer at Korn/Ferry International
What Thomas L. Friedman Didn’t Report About Getting Hired by Google
March 13, 2014

learning agility is the leading predictor of success – No. 1 above intelligence and education.

While Friedman reported on one company, I am writing to tell you that learning agility will get you a job anywhere – from Walmart to Twitter, to Google, to Facebook, to GM, to Tata, to L’Oreal and more.

And, in today’s workplace, jobs and job responsibilities change quickly. So, the key to retaining a job and growing in your career is learning agility.

The Peter Principle, which asserts that employees will continue to get promoted until they reach their highest level of incompetence, has evolved. Today employees don’t need to get promoted to become incompetent. They will become incompetent in their current jobs if they don’t grow, adapt, and evolve.

If you stop growing and learning, your job will outgrow you. If you grow and learn faster than your job, employers will always want you.

The other thing that Friedman did not tell you is that the “learning agile” uncover new challenges, solicit direct feedback, self-reflect, and find ways to get jobs done resourcefully. They see unique patterns and make fresh connections that others overlook.

A Korn Ferry study of sales managers bears this out: The higher an individual’s learning agility, the more promotions he or she received during a 10-year period. Similarly, longitudinal studies observed that managers who modified their behaviors, exhibited flexibility, and accepted mistakes as part of learning new competencies, were more successful than their counterparts as they climbed the corporate ladder.

There are five factors to Learning Agility: mental agility, self-awareness, people agility, change agility, and results agility.

The net-net is that most successful executives are able to move out of their comfort zone, take risks, learn from mistakes, and begin anew as they encounter new assignments. The successful leaders continually learn, bend, and flex as their work world changed.
LinkedIn  Korn_Ferry  Google  Tom_Friedman  hiring  character_traits  learning  learning_curves  learning_journeys  learning_agility  mental_dexterity  self-awareness 
march 2014 by jerryking
Why Imagination and Curiosity Matter More Than Ever - The CIO Report - WSJ
January 31, 2014 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

How can you foster imagination and curiosity? This was the subject of the 2011 book co-authored by JSB: A New Culture of Learning: Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. One of its key points is that learning has to evolve from something that only happens in the classroom to what that he calls connected learning, taking advantage of all the available resources, including tinkering with the system, playing games and perhaps most important, absorbing new ideas from your peers, from adjacent spaces and from other disciplines....How do you decide what problems to work on and try to solve? This second kind of innovation–which they call interpretation–is very different in nature from analysis. You are not solving a problem, but looking for a new insight about customers and the marketplace, a new idea for a product or a service, a new approach to producing and delivering them, a new business model. It requires the curiosity and imagination.
ideas  idea_generation  STEM  imagination  tacit_data  Roger_Martin  Rotman  critical_thinking  innovation  customer_insights  books  interpretation  curiosity  OPMA  organizational_culture  cross-pollination  second-order  new_businesses  learning  connected_learning  constant_change  Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  worthwhile_problems  new_products  mental_dexterity  tinkerers  adjacencies 
february 2014 by jerryking
The economic imperative for investing in arts and culture
Mar. 27 2013 | The Globe and Mail | TODD HIRSCH.

A better reason why the economy needs a strong cultural scene is that it helps to attract and retain labour. This is especially important for cities trying to draw smart professionals from around the world. The best and brightest workers are global citizens, and if they (or their families) are not pleased with the cultural amenities, they won’t come. Calgary, where I live, is a perfect example: world-class fly fishing and a great rodeo will attract some people, but without fantastic arts and sports amenities, the pool of willing migrants would be shallow....The third reason, however, is the most important. To become the creative, innovative and imaginative citizens that our companies and governments want us to be, Canadians need to willingly expose themselves to new ideas. A vibrant arts and culture community is the easiest way to make this possible.

American neuroscientist Gregory Berns, in the introduction to his 2008 book Iconoclast, wrote: “To see things differently than other people, the most effective solution is to bombard the brain with things it has never encountered before.” Living and travelling abroad is a great way to do this, but for most of us that isn’t a practical reality. Arts and culture on our home turf offer us the chance to “bombard” our brain with new stimulus without leaving town.

The important part, as Dr. Berns puts it, is to concentrate on things your brain has never encountered before. If you’re an opera fan, going to see opera season after season will be enjoyable, but you won’t reap the creative benefits that come from exposure to other things. Maybe you need to skip the next performance of Don Giovanni and take in some indie rock. Or if you’re a hockey nut, turn off the game one night and take in an exhibit of contemporary visual art. You’re not required to enjoy an unfamiliar art or sport (although if you go with an open mind, you’ll be surprised). The point is to purposely take it in, absorb what’s going on, and let your mind be bombarded. It gets the brain’s neurons firing in different ways...We have to stop thinking about arts and culture as simply nice-to-haves. They are just as important as well-maintained roads and bridges. By giving us the chance to stimulate our minds with new ideas and experiences, they give us the opportunity to become more creative. Arts and culture are infrastructure for the mind.
cultural_institutions  art  artists  Calgary  creativity  prosperity  creative_class  funding  fine_arts  value_propositions  mental_dexterity  creative_renewal  Todd_Hirsch  imagination  idea_generation  ideas  iconoclasts  contemporary_art  open_mind  economic_imperatives  the_best_and_brightest 
march 2013 by jerryking
Why Less Brilliant Presidents Do Better - The Informed Reader - WSJ
Jun 18, 2007 | WSJ | Robin Moroney. Extreme intelligence might
undermine a person’s managerial capacity, he speculates. “What is
required at the top levels of govt. is not brilliance, but managerial
skill,” says Posner. That includes knowing “when to defer to the
superior knowledge of a more experienced but less mentally agile
subordinate.” Especially intelligent people also have difficulty
trusting the intuitions of less-articulate people who have more
experience than they do. That might be why many smart senior officials
in govt. have tried to reason their way through problems on their own,
assuming their civil servants’ inadequate explanations rendered their
judgments invalid. Furthermore, many of the situations that presidents
face are defined by uncertainty, rather than complexity. In cases e.g.
Vietnam, where presidents and their inner circle were dealing with an
ambiguous situation, “having great information-processing skills is not
worth a lot if you have no reliable info..”
ambiguities  civil_servants  complexity  execution  experience  Gary_Becker  gut_feelings  intuition  IQ  mental_dexterity  Richard_A._Posner  smart_people  uncertainty  White_House 
october 2010 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - The New Untouchables - NYTimes.com
October 20, 2009 | New York Times | By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN. The
economic downturn has coincided with an education breakdown on Main
Street — precisely as a 'Flat World' enables so many more people to
compete with Americans for middle-class jobs. "“... education failure is
the largest contributing factor to the decline of the American worker’s
global competitiveness, particularly at the middle and bottom ranges,”
"...those [professionals] who have the ability to imagine new services,
new opportunities and new ways to recruit work [will be] retained. They
are the new untouchables." .......A Washington lawyer friend recently told me about layoffs at his firm. I asked him who was getting axed. He said it was interesting: lawyers who were used to just showing up and having work handed to them were the first to go because with the bursting of the credit bubble, that flow of work just isn’t there. But those who have the ability to imagine new services, new opportunities and new ways to recruit work were being retained. They are the new untouchables...........Survival means actively engaged in
developing new ideas or recombining existing technologies or thinking
about what new customers want......those who have some interpersonal skills — the salesperson who can deal with customers face to face or the home contractor who can help you redesign your kitchen without going to an architect — have done well.”.....Just being an average accountant, lawyer, contractor or assembly-line worker is not the ticket it used to be. As Daniel Pink, the author of “A Whole New Mind,” puts it: In a world in which more and more average work can be done by a computer, robot or talented foreigner faster, cheaper “and just as well,” vanilla doesn’t cut it anymore. It’s all about what chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherry you can put on top. So our schools have a doubly hard task now — not just improving reading, writing and arithmetic but entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity.
Tom_Friedman  Daniel_Pink  schools  education  individual_initiative  decline  future-proofing  non-routine  Managing_Your_Career  imagination  skills  special_sauce  idea_generation  Flat_World  unarticulated_desires  middle_class  new_thinking  intrinsically_motivated  winner-take-all  entrepreneurship  innovation  creativity  Lawrence_Katz  mental_dexterity  interpersonal_skills 
october 2009 by jerryking
A Wandering Mind Heads Toward Insight - WSJ.com
JUNE 19, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | by ROBERT LEE HOTZ.

the crucial role of insight is a cherished theme. To these epiphanies, we owe the concept of alternating electrical current, the discovery of penicillin, and on a less lofty note, the invention of Post-its, ice-cream cones, and Velcro. The burst of mental clarity can be so powerful that, as legend would have it, Archimedes jumped out of his tub and ran naked through the streets, shouting to his startled neighbors: "Eureka! I've got it."

In today's innovation economy, engineers, economists and policy makers are eager to foster creative thinking among knowledge workers. Until recently, these sorts of revelations were too elusive for serious scientific study.....Lately, though, researchers have been able to document the brain's behavior during Eureka moments by recording brain-wave patterns and imaging the neural circuits that become active as volunteers struggle to solve anagrams, riddles and other brain teasers.

To be sure, we've all had our "Aha" moments. They materialize without warning, often through an unconscious shift in mental perspective that can abruptly alter how we perceive a problem. "An 'aha' moment is any sudden comprehension that allows you to see something in a different light," says psychologist John Kounios at Drexel University in Philadelphia. "It could be the solution to a problem; it could be getting a joke; or suddenly recognizing a face. It could be realizing that a friend of yours is not really a friend."

These sudden insights, they found, are the culmination of an intense and complex series of brain states that require more neural resources than methodical reasoning.
Aha!_moments  brainstorming  creativity  daydreaming  epiphanies  human_brains  insights  imagination  knowledge_workers  mapping  mental_dexterity 
june 2009 by jerryking
FT.com / Columnists / Luke Johnson - Ideas for challenging times
Published: June 17 2008 FT column By Luke Johnson looking at
how emerging companies can generate new ideas. Recommends a little book
called A Technique for Producing Ideas by James Webb Young. Its thesis
is both simple and applicable to many sorts of problems. The central
premise is that any new idea is in fact only a fresh combination of old
elements, plus the ability to see new relationships between known facts.
What every successful business needs is competent execution--you cannot
patent an idea and protect it from replication by a rival. Companies
are increasingly using their customers--social networking-- to help
design their products and improve their offerings.
books  brainstorming  execution  hard_times  ideas  idea_generation  Luke_Johnson  mental_dexterity  mind-mapping  serial_entrepreneur  social_networking  reinvention 
february 2009 by jerryking

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