Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TED2011: David Brooks

This review was written by Nina Khosla.

Score: 8 balloons

David Brooks has a certain, calm demeanor and stood up on stage in the presentational equivalent of being stark naked - it was just him, in front of a podium, sharing with us his insights from many years as a journalist and observer of human nature.

In a thread continued from many of his columns, and as an introduction to the ideas in his new book, Brooks asked and explored a perplexing mystery: when did our views of human nature become so flat-minded, particularly in the way we approach it from an economic or political point of view? This revolution is slowly happening, as we begin to understand more about human nature, and this is being particularly driven by new scientific insights.

What particularly caught my imagination was Brooks' descriptions of the kinds of things that are unmeasurable, but predict so much of our success. While we would like to be able to measure the human capital available in our economic institutions through SAT and IQ scores, the human mind and potential incorporates much more depth. He describes a few of these factors, for example, the human capacity for "mind sight," which   describes our ability to empathize, to place our selves in another's mind and imagine the world from their perspective. Other intangibles include things such as our ability to work in a group - "it's not the IQ of the group, it's how well they communicate," that defines success in groups, and our sensitivity to our physical environment, which encapsulates our ability to notice things from around us and see patterns.

 See the Guide to TED Talks 2011.

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