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Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on Itby Ian Leslie
Synopses & Reviews
I have no special talents,” said Albert Einstein. I am only passionately curious.”
Everyone is born curious. But only some retain the habits of exploring, learning, and discovering as they grow older. Those who do so tend to be smarter, more creative, and more successful. So why are many of us allowing our curiosity to wane?
In Curious, Ian Leslie makes a passionate case for the cultivation of our desire to know.” Just when the rewards of curiosity have never been higher, it is misunderstood, undervalued, and increasingly monopolized by a cognitive elite. A curiosity divide” is opening up.
This divide is being exacerbated by the way we use the Internet. Thanks to smartphones and tools such as Google and Wikipedia, we can answer almost any question instantly. But does this easy access to information guarantee the growth of curiosity? No — quite the opposite. Leslie argues that true curiosity the sustained quest for understanding that begets insight and innovation — is in fact at risk in a wired world.
Drawing on fascinating research from psychology, economics, education, and business, Curious looks at what feeds curiosity and what starves it, and finds surprising answers. Curiosity isn't, as were encouraged to think, a gift that keeps on giving. It is a mental muscle that atrophies without regular exercise and a habit that parents, schools, and workplaces need to nurture.
Filled with inspiring stories, case studies, and practical advice, Curious will change the way you think about your own mental habits, and those of your family, friends, and colleagues.
"In this curiously uninspiring study, British journalist Leslie (Born Liars) superficially draws on science, psychology, and history to survey the evolution of curiosity in human life and culture and to lament its supposed recent decline. Leslie tracks the evolution of 'diversive curiosity,' which opens our eyes to the new around us; to 'epistemic curiosity,' the deeper and more disciplined kind of curiosity; and to 'empathic curiosity,' which causes us to wonder about others' thoughts and feelings and gives curiosity its deeply social quality. He then offers a brief historical survey of curiosity from the ancient world through the Middle Ages, when curiosity was often viewed as subversive and thus not encouraged, to the 'age of questions,' beginning with the Renaissance and going up to the mid-20th-century, when curiosity drove scientific developments. Leslie dubs the period from around 1945 until today the 'age of answers,' when the ready availability of answers to any question fostered a lack of curiosity about the world. As an antidote to the waning of curiosity in our time, Leslie offers seven ways to stay curious, including staying foolish, asking the big why, being a 'thinkerer,' and turning puzzles into mysteries, but the book's blandness mirrors the corporate and advertising worlds toward which it is geared. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
If you weren't the curious sort, you'd likely never even crack this book. But then you'd be missing out on a world of interesting science exploring just why humans find the urge to learn and know so utterly irresistible.” The Scientist
With heavy implications for the future of education, the author makes a strong case for a more inquiry-based approach. Highly recommended for educators of all kinds. Leslie reaches to the true heart of education — turning students into 21st-century learners by bringing back that curiosity.” Library Journal
A searching examination of information technology's impact on the innovative potential of our culture.” Kirkus Reviews
With this enthralling manifesto on the power of curiosity, Ian Leslie has written a book that displays all the key characteristics of its subject matter: an inquisitive, open-minded, and ultimately deeply rewarding exploration of the human minds appetite for new ideas.” Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age
Today it seems we have the world at our fingertips. Thanks to smartphones and tools such as Google and Wikipedia, were able feed any aspect of our curiosity instantly. But does this mean we are actually becoming more curious? Absolutely not. In Curious, Ian Leslie argues that true curiosity — the sustained quest for understanding that begets insight and innovation — is becoming increasingly difficult to harness in our wired world. We confuse ease of access to information with curiosity, and risk losing our ability to ask questions that extend our knowledge gap rather than merely filling it. Worst of all, this decline in curiosity has led to a decline in empathy and our ability to care about those around us.
Combining the latest science with an urgent call to cultivate curious minds, Curious draws on psychology, social history, and popular culture to show that being deeply curious is our only hope when it comes to solving current crises — as well as an essential part of being human.
About the Author
Ian Leslie writes on psychology, social trends, and politics for publications in the UK and US, including Slate, The Economist, NPR, Bloomberg.com, The Guardian, Daily Mail, The Times, Daily Telegraph, and Granta.
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