In the film A Beautiful Mind, John Nash struggles with realistic hallucinations of imaginary people. At one point, a representative from the Nobel Prize approaches Nash, and Nash checks with a student familiar to him to verify that the Nobel rep is real. How would someone in Nash's position know that the student was real? How would such a person establish the reality of anything? [more inside]
I really like the short explanations and exhaustive trove of links found in Cosma Shalizi's notebooks. Are there any other similar sites or books out there? [more inside]
I'm looking for stories of clever academic detection. [more inside]
I recall reading a story about a society where you are given a choice between choosing to wear a hat which gives you immediate access to all human knowledge, or having to slave away for years to gain knowledge the old fashioned way. The dilemma is that the hat controls you to some degree. Can anyone identify this? I've tried many times over the years to Google for it, but have always come up empty.
Spending time with geologists recently makes me want to find ways to live in the universe as it actually is (to the best current knowledge). I know, in a shallow way, that my body is a thriving microbial ecosystem, that the planet is billions of years old, that I'm (partially) breathing products of photosynthesis, that the universe is unimaginably vast, and so on. I'd like to find experiences, practices, places, and reading and other media that can help me internalize and understand more deeply what we actually know to be true. [more inside]
I am studying psychology and like to make associations and note similarities between different theories. For example, perhaps I see a relationship between Fromm’s concept of conformity and ideas of enculturation and socialization, from there maybe I can then link to constructs of social interaction in Vygotsy’s work on learning. I believe that I am looking for a non-linear organization system similar to a big mind map, semantic network, or a personal wiki. Any suggestions about how to structure something like this? [more inside]
For the last few months, I'm trying to find essays, texts, thoughts, manuals, blogs, about "a philosophy of practice" or a "philosophy of experience", and failing to do so. I'm looking for philosophers, scientists, artists, architects, military generals, business practitioners, etc, who write about ways of thinking that are applicable to practice. Defined more specifically inside: [more inside]
Wee Thumbscrew, aged nine, is a weird, morbid, hilarious child. Lately, at bedtime, we've been reading "weird Wikipedia" articles together, and they have been a HUGE hit. Please provide us with some of YOUR favorite utterly deranged Wiki pages. Spooky/gory/X-Files-y stuff is a-okay, real-life serial killers or smutty stuff is not. Here are some entries we've enjoyed: [more inside]
I have a daughter entering college, for a while I have been thinking of her leaving and about things that women have to look out for, which in general men don’t. Some examples [more inside]
What ways exist where would one keep up with big ideas or events in the academic publishing world, in some kind of passive way that involves me regularly checking in and picking out what's interesting and saving those for later. [more inside]
What is the basic cultural literacy and knowledge a post-collegiate adult "should" have in 2014? Are there certain humanities subjects you assume or expect everyone in your college-educated social circle to have a baseline understanding of - semiotics? Critical theory? Familiarity with a bunch of poetry, drama, novels, sociological texts, art, music? None of that? [more inside]
I am looking for one or more professionals to find interesting moments in the history of one of the detroit car makers. someone who can i.e. provide me with information out of which I can make interesting "on this day in 1952, this happened" articles. how should I go about finding the right person for this project? [more inside]
If you lived in Britain and were coming back from California with an empty suitcase what would you bring back. Are there things that are a) cool b) curious c) ultra useful d) much cheaper e) unique that you would bring. [more inside]
I want to learn science. [more inside]
Are there any horror works which do not derive increased horror from increased knowledge? [more inside]
I will be giving a newly minted 9-year-old gentleman of my acquaintance a wallet for his birthday. I was thinking of printing and laminating a card full of important reference information for a young man of his age. Sort of an ultra condensed Schott's Original Miscellany. What should I put on it?
So people like to name-drop authors and works that those who went to university and/or have a curiosity about the world should know as part of the basic vocabulary of being an educated Westerner. For example, "Kant" or "Dickensian", or "Gertrude Stein". I would like to learn this stuff, please. [more inside]
How does a writer like Kim Stanley Robinson, or any writer for that matter, obtain and integrate the vast amounts of knowledge necessary to create a fully detailed and realistic world on the page? [more inside]
What one book could pretty much give me a new, useful superpower if I follow it and put the methods inside into practice? In my life, I've come across a small handful of books that have really allowed me to learn to do some things that were previously unthinkable to me, and which I'm able to use all the time in my life. I'm most interested in a book that has actually worked to change your life, rather than one that seems like it would be good if you one day got around to following it. Thanks.
Is there a name or pathology for this kind of behaviour (in psychiatry)? Basically, it feels like I'm falling in love all the time - with human knowledge - and I keep on pushing the lever because it feels good. [more inside]
I'm memorizing all of the world capitals. What other flash-cardable things would be useful/impressive to memorize? [more inside]
I'm going to college! (fo' realz this time, yo). So, what should I study? (or, How do I learn to stop worrying I won't get to do everything and love just one subject?) [more inside]
If you could study anything, what would it be? I have some free time and a desire to get my neurons firing. [more inside]
Can you think of any examples of a famous character in a film (or book) who knew the future, or knew that a big event was definitely going to happen, and couldn't cope with that knowledge?
Please help me come up with jobs where the main duty is organizing or classifying information. [more inside]
Where in central PA/NY might be unboring to wait out a hurricane? [more inside]
I have a serious problem with being seen to be intellectually 'wrong'. I need ways to get over it [more inside]
I very much enjoy my daily word and poem sites. What other daily life-enriching, mind-expanding sites (or email lists or similar) exist? [more inside]
Looking for outstanding examples of animations and videos that explain a difficult-to-understand concept or topic. Not KhanAcademy-type, but rather interactive Flash works or videos with 3D animation. [more inside]
I know I'd like to buy my first house in the next five years. Help me learn as much as possible before I get to the point where I'm ready to do it! [more inside]
Was this a snoop? Spouse and I have a magazine stack by the toilet. Was reading the other day and pulled out an old copy of Oprah magazine and noticed she filled out one of those self-assessment questionnaires. As a result I've learned something about her that many, many months of couples therapy couldn't get me to understand about her. I'd like to invoke my new knowledge but I feel like I snooped...or did I? [more inside]
What I should be reading about the general concept of "best practices"? [more inside]
What books can you recommend that do for their subject what 'A Short History of Nearly Everything' does for science i.e. cover a broad topic in an entertaining and engaging way which is easy for the layperson to understand? I am interested in improving my General Knowledge and want to build a little library of similar books covering topics such as art, film, geography, history, literature, music, philosophy etc. [more inside]
How can I learn a large amount about a topic in a few days? [more inside]
What are some limits of the human brain? I think everyone knows that people can't keep more than 7 items in short term memory, and I was just reading an article here that mentions limits to the theory of mind (A knows that B thinks that C thinks.. etc). What are some other things that it is just impossible to think about or remember or to visualize? I'd prefer actual studies and hard data to anecdotes and folk wisdom, but I'll take either.
When is it legally, ethically, practically, or otherwise necessary for people NOT to know something? For example, I've heard of linguists trying to do research on monolingual native speakers (they can't know another language), or jurors, who can't know about the defendant. Bonus questions: why can't they know, and how is it enforced? I'm particularly interested if a person has to protect his or her own lack of knowledge.
How should I negotiate for a salary at a place I'm applying to, when I already know the starting salary of one of their recent hires? (Anonymous because I don't want to jeopardize my candidacy at this place, or get my acquaintance there in trouble.) [more inside]
Please give me your favourite trivia questions that really make you think and scratch your head. [more inside]
I am about to embark on a massive technical book reading escapade. Please share your information retention methods. [more inside]
I want to fill my brain with useful and common knowledge. What can I put in there? [more inside]
Need help with organizing and storing documents and files as part of personal knowledge management. Snowflakes inside. [more inside]
I want a liberal arts education without going back to school. What should I do? [more inside]
I'm wondering what research has found, in general, about the relationship anger, partisanship, and truth. [more inside]
Health-care workers of MeFi: how do you act around doctors when you or a family member is receiving care? [more inside]
How do you know if you are being honest with yourself? What's the difference between making excuses/rationalizing and being honest about the positive/negative of a situation? [more inside]
I have $1000 to invest and I'd like to do it wisely. One problem: I have never invested any amount of money in anything. Ever. Where should I start? [more inside]
What's a good way to expand one's vocabulary? [more inside]
Nuclear fusion physics and tokamak reactors: where to start? [more inside]
Is there a theory or law (formal or otherwise) that postulates that given enough time, "truth" or "knowledge" is more likely to be understood? [more inside]
"This is how it really works." I'm looking for things you know that work differently than people assume they do. For instance, people usually assume that school textbooks are chosen strictly on merit, when actually it is Texas book events that end up controlling textbook sales. Or like the comment that said "what the FBI does is collect evidence for prosecution. They rarely solve crimes on their own and they rarely prevent them." Before payola was widely talked about in recent years, most people thought songs on the radio got there solely because of popularity. I'm looking for other examples where widely common perceptions about how something operates are not accurate.