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Original Essays | August 21, 2014

Richard Bausch: IMG Why Literature Can Save Us

Our title is, of course, a problem. "Why Literature Can Save Us." And of course the problem is one of definition: what those words mean. What is... Continue »
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    Before, During, After

    Richard Bausch 9780307266262

Original Essays | August 20, 2014

Julie Schumacher: IMG Dear Professor Fitger

Saint Paul, August 2014 Dear Professor Fitger, I've been asked to say a few words about you for Having dreamed you up with a ball-point... Continue »
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    Dear Committee Members

    Julie Schumacher 9780385538138


Tech Q&A

Gary Marcus

Describe your latest project.
Kluge is a curmudgeonly yet optimistic guide to all that is clumsy and absurd about the human mind.

It's also a kind of alternative take on the field of evolutionary psychology, which has often placed too much emphasis on the things that evolution does really well — without enough attention to the consequences of evolution's intrinsic blindness.

Kluge is also, in a funny way, a self-help book; the more we know about our own species-wide limitations, the better equipped we will be to do something about them.

  1. Kluge: The Haphazard Construction of the Human Mind "Using evolutionary psychology, Marcus educates the reader about mental flaws in a succinct, often enjoyable way." Publishers Weekly

    "Marcus develops his idea of the kluge-like mind...with appealing clarity." Booklist

  2. The Birth of the Mind: How a Tiny Number of Genes Creates the Complexity of Human Thought
    $8.50 Used Trade Paper add to wishlist
    "A lucid, pleasing chronicle of how genes construct the human mind." Booklist
What inspires you to sit down and write?
I spend my days trying to understand how the mind works. The questions are fascinating, and I think it's important for scientists to share what they learn with the broader public.

I also love the process of writing itself, and the challenge of taking complex ideas and distilling them to their essence.

Describe your favorite childhood teacher and how that teacher influenced you.
Steve Alpern (2nd grade) inspired me to think about thinking; Joe Lynch (7th grade Latin) launched me into the study of language, and taught me something about memory that I'll never forget: "3 times for the normal mind."

Have you ever taken the Geek Test? How did you rate?
Is there, like, an advanced version of the test?

Chess or video games?

What's your favorite Blog right now?
Pharyngula. But there are so many good ones — especially in the area of science — that it's hard to choose.

Douglas Adams or Scott Adams?
Douglas. Dilbert is funny; 42 priceless.

What was your favorite book as a kid?
What Makes it Work, What Makes it Go, a guide to science and technology. (Free to Be You and Me was a close second.)

If you could be reincarnated for one day to live the life of any scientist or writer, who would you choose and why?
Da Vinci. Nobody thinks of him as scientist, but, man, he was cool.

What are some of the things you'd like your computer to do that it cannot now do?
I'd like my computer to anticipate my needs, not just respond to my requests.

÷ ÷ ÷

Gary Marcus is a professor of psychology at New York University and director of the NYU Infant Language Learning Center. A high school dropout, Marcus received his Ph.D. at age twenty-three from MIT, where he was mentored by Steven Pinker. He was a tenured professor by age thirty. The author of The Birth of the Mind and editor of the Norton Psychology Reader, he has been a fellow at the prestigious Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Los Angeles Times, and other major publications.

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