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We have often used radical open-mindedness even in our research—for example, we send advance versions of our research papers to people we know will dislike our work. It is a deep book of productivity that gets at the essentials of your life. Even if you have no interest in business, the book is worthwhile for its insights into contrarianism and creativity. Barb has used this book for years to teach basic ideas of engineering to ordinary non-engineering types.
Although Dr. Bloomfield would have no memory of it now, about a decade ago, Barb was able to visit and tour his fantastic physics demonstrations at the University of Virginia. These puppies are amongst the most effective sound protectors available. A great strength of this book was its broad coverage of prodigies of all sorts—from computer programming savants like Bill Gates to dance and acting prodigy Shirley Temple. Some parents with extraordinary IQs, for example, have pushed their children in bizarre ways—with often disastrous results.
Other parents have wholeheartedly devoted their lives to the children they wished to make into prodigies, only to find little solace in the long run. Somehow through all this, the book provides healthy encouragement for ordinary, non-savant types. There was a disconcerting tendency through the book to switch between prodigies even mid-paragraph, but otherwise, highly recommended! Sarah Levitt has written a book to help leaders better understand how other leaders wend their way through the difficult, sometimes lonely path of great leadership: A Book for Magnificent Leadership: Transform Uncertainty, Transcend Circumstance, Claim the Future.
Through interviewing successful leaders, Sarah has laid out guidelines that others can find useful. Sousa, now in its fifth edition , which was recommended to us as a top neuroscience-based book on learning. There are so many books to help teachers understand how younger students learn. But you may be surprised to learn that there are virtually no books for those students themselves, or for their parents. The funny but deeply informative pictures alone are worth the price of the book. We make it a practice to ask people about their all-time favorite book.
So we finally broke down and read it. This book, incidentally, has been on the New York Times best-seller list for weeks, and has over 7, Amazon reviews with a 4. Walls experienced, along with her brother and sisters, a deeply dysfunctional upbringing. The audiobook is read by Walls herself—you may be able to get two free audiobooks through this link. Highly recommended! If you are in any way involved in education, or you think education is important as we do! But unlike The New Education , The Case Against Education is rigorously argued, and it will force you to examine the premises of your support for learning.
Strongly recommended. The eloquence and intelligence with which Gatto vivisects the modern K world makes the book a very worthwhile read for anyone interested in education; it is particularly worthwhile for parents. Highly recommended. We went into this book with high hopes—Davidson characterizes herself as a contrarian instigator with provocative new ideas about how to revolutionize higher education.
Her ultimate underlying recommendation for improving universities?
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Throw more money at them. No wonder academicians love her despite her self-proclaimed contrarian stance. How readers would have benefited by seeing a profile a student like Tulio Baars , who has taken over MOOCs to self-educate and used that knowledge to found an innovative new data analysis company! This is one of the few books we are reviewing without recommending. Education and the State , by E.
We believe this is one of the most important books written in the last twenty years.
Audio book here. Peterson, with his wonderfully listenable accent from rural Canada, reads the audio version of his book. You may be able to get two free audiobooks through this link. Covey actually read the Audible version of his book. There is a reason this book has been translated into 32 languages and has sold over 5 million copies.
It is one of our personal, life-changing favorites—a synthesis of timeless principles for personal effectiveness that focus on character, rather than technique.
The stories he uses to convey key ideas help the ideas resonate unforgettably. We only wish that Dr. Covey were still alive to do a MOOC! He goes into the nitty-gritty of travel, preparation, and what it feels like to be on stage, plus tips on calming down about verbal flubs and the like. We were astonished to find a CEO who is the real deal as far as caring both for his customers and the employees of his company. Also includes interesting perspectives on quantum computing and artificial intelligence. This is basically a compendium of workaholic work habits of a number of famous writers and artists.
In one way, the book was a little unsatisfying, because most of the descriptions of people work habits were very short. On the other hand, the brevity of the entries is part of what made it such an intriguing book—Currey breezed through the lives of dozens of creative people in a way that allowed us to quickly glean key ideas from a lot of different people. It was gratifying to learn that many writers are bothered by noise, just as we are. Audible version available here. This is a nice book for listening. This is one of those books that we love because it confirms our own previous experiences with regards experts, particularly academic experts.
This book explores, in broad-ranging fashion, how helping can hurt. The reader will emerge with a much deeper and nuanced understanding of altruism in reading this book, the best on altruism in the last 15 years. Redirect is a great and thoughtful book. The book has terrific explanations—no wonder it is so highly rated! Yes, Steve did the Audible narrative , too. Working as a professional stand up comedian is hard. Right from the start, we were riveted to read of a ship sunk on a sunny afternoon within sight of shore—with over a thousand lives lost.
How did it happen? Dan himself reads the Audible version, here. We received this delightful book for Christmas. By making fun, in hilarious fashion of common parental foibles, it also helps us keep in mind what good parenting really entails. Barb regifted this to her pediatrician daughter—the book is now an even bigger hit, making the rounds with her fellow pediatrician-residents.
But you may not know that exercise coupled with a healthy diet has a bigger impact on our health, and our ability to learn, than either exercise or a healthy diet alone. But which diet is best? So read this book to help you do your part in making healthier and tastier! Pre-order to be first in line for a copy! We prefer the hard copy over the e-reader copy, because the images are easier to see on the hard copy.
There is a reason this book has been translated into translated into 32 languages and has sold over 5 million copies. Influence will help you to see more clearly the subtle influences that others are exerting on you—and allow you to more easily bring people to agreement with your own ideas. If you want to try Audible, you can get two free audiobooks through this link. This stealth world-wide best-seller has been translated into over a dozen languages worldwide.
Unlike most books on learning, A Mind for Numbers delves into the neuroscience—walking you through research insights that are immediately and practically useful. Wynne and Donald M. Silver, This 32 page long, award-winning coloring book is actually used in some regular classes, and could be a particular boon for the wide-ranging interests of home-schooled kids.
Suitable for ages 8—12, but grownups also seem to enjoy the relaxing process of coloring while they learn. The Audible version seems to be on sale now. We read this book when it first came out in , and then reread it again recently. This has clearly been beneficial! But instead, as we like to say in English, it knocked our socks off! This riveting book should be read by anyone who needs to communicate with others which means everyone , and especially by teachers.
Even as Anderson regales us with the intriguing and sometimes hilarious stories that lie behind the great TED talks, he gives all sorts of useful nuggets about how we grow to trust and learn from others. Highly recommended, also in the Audible version , which is actually read by Chris Anderson. Peter the Great: His Life and World , by Robert Massie, is in our opinion, truly one of the greatest biographies ever written—fully deserving of its Pulitzer Prize. Not only does the book provide great insight into Peter the Great—it also takes us down some of the stranger rabbit holes of history.
Barb babbled so much about this book at home that she was temporarily banned from discussing it. Author Jack Weatherford has spent years traveling, exploring, and researching in Mongolia. This is a not-t0-be-missed biography! Jack Weatherford himself narrated the audio version. Who would have thought that a little physically handicapped boy in manly Mongolia, and his more-than-a-decade older mentor and, eventually, wife , could grow a nation? Yet Walker is also a masterful writer, full of witty, insightful metaphors that give an in-depth understanding of how and why we need to sleep.
Do not miss this book. Audio version here. Da Vinci will always remain something of an enigma, because the inner turmoil he communicated so poignantly in his paintings is not something he described in his otherwise comprehensive notebooks. Da Vinci tackled virtually every field of science and turned it into art. As Isaacson observes, we ourselves can learn to observe life more fully by seeing how the magnificent Leonardo did it. Not only was Waitzkin an eight-time National Chess Champion—he is also a world champion in martial arts. Josh is a wonderful writer with a wealth of telling stories—his book is hard to put down.
We love The Like Switch! With the information in this book, you can find yourself making friends quite literally with the flick of an eyebrow. The level of effort to produce this fantastic volume, and the extraordinary nature of the illustrations themselves, have to be seen to be appreciated!
Why a SuperCharged Memory is the Secret Sauce to Spice up your Career
At first, her recommendations may simply seem impossible. Dan Pink says it best! When some of the most prestigious business schools in the world began providing free versions of their courses online, Laurie Pickard whose great ideas Barb featured in her latest book, Mindshift saw an opportunity to get the business education she had long desired, at a fraction of the typical MBA price tag.
Ver eBook. Frank Felberbaum. The first memory programme specifically geared to business success - from the expert whose corporate seminars have boosted the careers of tens of thousands of employees and executives. When I spoke with Sahakian she had just flown from England to Scottsdale, Arizona, to attend a conference, and she was tired. Take me. I'm over here and I've got jet lag and I've got to give a talk tonight and perform well in what will be the middle of the night, UK time. For the moment, people looking for that particular quick fix have a limited choice of meds. But given the amount of money and research hours being spent on developing drugs to treat cognitive decline, Provigil and Adderall are likely to be joined by a bigger pharmacopoeia.
Among the drugs in the pipeline are ampakines, which target a type of glutamate receptor in the brain; it is hoped that they may stem the memory loss associated with diseases like Alzheimer's. But ampakines may also give healthy people a palpable cognitive boost. A study of 16 healthy elderly volunteers found that mg of one particular ampakine "unequivocally" improved short-term memory, though it appeared to detract from episodic memory - the recall of past events. Another class of drugs, cholinesterase inhibitors, which are already being used with some success to treat Alzheimer's patients, have also shown promise as neuroenhancers.
In one study the drug donepezil strengthened the performance of pilots on flight simulators; in another, of 30 healthy young male volunteers, it improved verbal and visual episodic memory. Several pharmaceutical companies are working on drugs that target nicotine receptors in the brain in the hope that they can replicate the cognitive uptick that smokers get from cigarettes. Zack and Casey Lynch are a young couple who, in , launched NeuroInsights, a company that advises investors on developments in brain-science technology. Since then, they've also founded a lobbying group, the Neurotechnology Industry Organization.
Casey and Zack met as undergraduates at UCLA; she went on to get a master's in neuroscience and he became an executive at a software company. Last summer I had coffee with them in San Francisco and they both spoke with casual certainty about the coming market for neuroenhancers. Zack, whose book, The Neuro Revolution, was published in July, said: "We live in an information society. What's the next form of human society? The neuro-society. Zack explained that he didn't really like the term enhancement: "We're not talking about superhuman intelligence.
No one's saying we're coming out with a pill that's going to make you smarter than Einstein! What we're really talking about is enabling people. New psychiatric drugs have a way of creating markets for themselves. Disorders often become widely diagnosed after drugs come along that can alter a set of suboptimal behaviours.
In this way Ritalin and Adderall helped make ADHD a household name, and advertisements for antidepressants have helped define shyness as a malady. If there's a pill that can clear up the wavering focus of sleep-deprived youth or mitigate the tip-of-the-tongue experience of middle age, then those rather ordinary states may come to be seen as syndromes.
The Lynches said that Provigil was a classic example of a related phenomenon: mission creep. In , Cephalon, the pharmaceutical company that manufactures it, received US government approval to market the drug but only for "excessive daytime sleepiness" due to narcolepsy; by , Cephalon had obtained permission to expand the labelling so that it included sleep apnoea and "shift-work sleep disorder". Cephalon executives have repeatedly said that they do not condone off-label use of Provigil, but in the company was reprimanded by the FDA for distributing marketing materials that presented the drug as a remedy for tiredness, "decreased activity" and other supposed ailments.
Later this year, Cephalon plans to introduce Nuvigil, a longer-lasting variant of Provigil. Candace Steele, a spokesperson, said: "We're exploring its possibilities to treat excessive sleepiness associated with schizophrenia, bipolar depression, traumatic injury and jet lag. Unlike many hypothetical scenarios that bioethicists worry about - human clones, "designer babies" - cognitive enhancement is already in full swing.
But how much do they actually help? Are they potentially harmful or addictive? Then there's the question of what we mean by "smarter". Could enhancing one kind of thinking exact a toll on others? All these questions need proper scientific answers, but for now much of the discussion is taking place furtively, among the increasing number of people who are performing daily experiments on their own brains.
Paul Phillips was unusual for a professional poker player. When he joined the circuit in the late s he was already a millionaire: a twentysomething tech guy who helped found an internet portal called go2net and cashed in at the right moment. He was cerebral and at times brusque. On the international poker scene Phillips cultivated a geeky New Wave style.
He wore vintage shirts in wild geometric patterns; his hair was dyed orange or silver one week, shaved off the next. Most unusual of all, Phillips talked freely about taking prescription drugs - Adderall and, especially, Provigil - in order to play better cards. He first took up the game in , when he was in college. He recalled: "It was very mathematical, but you could also inject yourself into the game and manipulate the other guy with words" - more so than in a game like chess.
Phillips soon felt that he had mastered the strategic aspects of poker. The key variable was execution. At tournaments he needed to be able to stay focused for 14 hours at a stretch, often for several days, but he found it difficult to do so. Adderall not only helped him concentrate, it also helped him resist the impulse to keep playing losing hands out of boredom.
In , Phillips asked his doctor to give him a prescription for Provigil, which he added to his Adderall regimen. He took mg of Provigil a day, which he felt helped him settle into an even more serene and objective state of mindfulness; as he put it, he felt "less like a participant than an observer - and a very effective one". Though Phillips sees neuroenhancers as essentially steroids for the brain, they haven't yet been banned from poker competitions.
Last summer, I visited Phillips in the high desert resort town of Bend, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Kathleen, and their two daughters, Ivy and Ruby. Wearing shorts, flip-flops and a black T-shirt, he said: "Poker is about sitting in one place, watching your opponents for a long time, and making better observations about them than they make about you. Though there is no question that Phillips became much more successful at poker after taking neuroenhancers, I asked him if his improvement could be explained by a placebo effect, or by coincidence.
He doubted it, but allowed that it could. Still, he said, "there's a sort of clarity I get with Provigil. With Adderall, I'd characterise the effect as correction - correction of an underlying condition. Provigil feels like enhancement. He had "zero difficulty sleeping". On the other hand, Phillips said, Provigil's effects "have attenuated over time. The body is an amazing adjusting machine, and there's no upside that I've been able to see to just taking more. He was good, but not that good. He was older than many of his rivals and he needed to undertake a lot of rote memorisation, which didn't come as easily as it once had.
It's going to make you better able to use the tools you have for a sustained period. Similarly, a year-old who published a letter in Nature last year offered a charmingly specific description of his modafinil habit: "Previously I could work competently on the fracture-mechanics of high-silica stone while replicating ancient tool-flaking techniques for about an hour. With modafinil I could continue for almost three hours. Cephalon has publicly downplayed the idea that the drug can be used as a smart pill. If you're not tired, it's not going to do anything.
But Baldino may have been overly modest. In , researchers at Cambridge University gave 60 healthy young male volunteers a battery of standard cognitive tests. One group received modafinil, the other a placebo. The modafinil group performed better on several tasks, such as the "digit span" test, in which subjects are asked to repeat increasingly longer strings of numbers forwards, then backwards. They also did better in recognising repeated visual patterns and at a spatial-planning challenge known as the Tower of London task.
It's not nearly as fun as it sounds. Writing in the journal Psychopharmacology, the study's authors said the results suggested that "modafinil offers significant potential as a cognitive enhancer".
Phillips told me that, much as he believes in neuroenhancers, he did not want to be "the poster boy for smart-in-a-pill". At one point, he said: "We really don't know the possible implications for long-term use of these things. Nor does he think we need to be turning up the crank another notch on how hard we work.
Provigil may well confer a temporary advantage on healthy people, but this doesn't mean that it's ready to replace your morning espresso. Anjan Chatterjee told me that there "just aren't enough studies of these drugs in normal people". One study, published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggests that Provigil can be habit-forming. A group led by Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, scanned the brains of 10 men after they had been given a placebo, and also after they had been given a dose of modafinil. The modafinil appeared to lead to an increase in the brain chemical dopamine.
On the website Erowid, where people vividly and anonymously report their experiences with legal and illegal drugs, some modafinil users have described a dependency on the drug. One man, who identified himself as a former biochemistry student, said that he had succeeded in kicking cocaine and opiate habits but couldn't stop using modafinil. Whenever he ran out of the drug, he said, "I start to freak out. Eliminating foggy-headedness seems to be the goal of many users of neuroenhancers. But can today's drugs actually accomplish this?
I recently posed this question to Chatterjee's colleague Martha Farah, who is a psychologist at Penn and the director of its Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. She is deeply fascinated by, and mildly critical of, neuroenhancers, but basically in favour - with the important caveat that we need to know much more about how these drugs work.
Boost Your Brain Power
While Farah does not take neuroenhancers, she had just finished a paper in which she reviewed the evidence on prescription stimulants as neuroenhancers from 40 laboratory studies involving healthy subjects. Most of the studies looked at one of three types of cognition: learning, working memory, and cognitive control.
A typical learning test asks subjects to memorise a list of paired words; an hour, a few days, or a week later, they are presented with the first words in the pairs and asked to come up with the second. Neuroenhancers did improve retention, especially where subjects had been asked to remember information for several days or longer. Working memory has been likened to a mental scratch pad: you use it to keep relevant data in mind while you're completing a task. Imagine a cross-examination, in which a lawyer has to keep track of the answers a witness has given and formulate new questions based on them.
In one common test subjects are shown a series of items - usually letters or numbers - and then presented with challenges: was this number or letter in the series? Was this one?
Give Your Memory the Boost it Deserves
In the working-memory tests, subjects performed better on neuroenhancers, though several of the studies suggested that the effect depended on how good a subject's working memory was to begin with: the better it was, the less benefit the drugs provided. The third category was cognitive control - how effectively you can check yourself in circumstances where the most natural response is the wrong one. A classic test is the Stroop Task, in which people are shown the name of a colour let's say orange written in a different colour let's say purple.