Think Inc. Thursdays #036

It’s a BIG day today at Think Inc. – tickets to our 2022 tour of the incredible theoretical physicist professor Brian Greene are now ON SALE! Don’t miss out on yours, it’s going to be a fantastic tour ☄️

Tickets to our Think Inc. Academy cosmology course with Professor Alan Duffy will go on sale at full price tomorrow. Some eager folk have already grabbed their earlybird tickets and it looks like it’s going to sell out fast, so get in quick! 💨

Aside from that, we’re bringing you news about Kathryn Paige Harden’s recent seminar at Princeton, Rob Brooks talks about sex, dating and AI, Jon Haidt shares his book recommendations for a happy life, and a chat simulator that helps you prepare for difficult discussions. We’ve also included the beautiful new snaps from the Hubble Telescope 🔭

As always, let us know if you come across any interesting news – we love hearing from you ❤️

Have a great week,
Suzi

Unfair genes

DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton, Peter Singer, recently chaired a seminar by Kathryn Paige Harden, a psychology professor and geneticist at the University of Texas.

Harden caused waves this year after publishing her revolutionary book The Genetic Lottery: Why DNA Matters for Social Equality, which is the culmination of her life's work on behavioural genetics and twin studies.

Many of us support a meritocracy- we think that people should be rewarded for how hard they work or how talented they are, but Harden's work shows us that we definitely don’t all start off on an equal footing.

If we want to reduce the gap between the haves and the have-nots, we’ve got to acknowledge that genetics plays a considerable role in how successful we are in all facets of life.

Sex, Dating and AI

Rob Brooks is Professor of Evolution at the University of New South Wales, where he spends his time researching and writing about some very spicy topics – mostly sex, dating and AI 🔥

Recently he went on the Tea For Two podcast with Iona Italia to chat about his latest article in Areo Magazine. Rob predicts that in the future, AI will have learned so much about human interaction that we might end up preferring the company of AI systems over humans. This is starting to sound a lot like the film Ex Machina! 🦾

Rob has written two fascinating books. The first was Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World, in which he argues that evolutionary biology can explain a lot about why are people getting fatter, why so many rock stars end up dead at 27, and why humans are so consumeristic.

His second book is Artificial Intimacy: Virtual friends, digital lovers and algorithmic matchmakers, which talks about how our human capacity for friendship, love, and intimacy, plays out in the modern world when we encounter new technologies like social media, online dating, and virtual reality sex.

jon's favourite books on happiness

Jonathan Haidt's books have helped millions of people better understand human psychology, but what books have helped him understand happiness?

Now we know. He recently gave us a list of his favourite books on happiness, and some of his choices are quite surprising. Have you read any of them?

He’s very humble and doesn’t list his own bestselling book, The Happiness Hypothesis, which is definitely our favourite book on happiness. Unfortunately, we're sold out of it in our shop, but we've still got signed copies of his equally incredible book The Righteous Mind.

Aside from his book recommendations, this week Jon also wrote a piece for The Atlantic, in which he continues his important work in educating the world about the detrimental effects that social media is having on adolescents. Social media definitely isn't a recipe for teenage happiness, it appears 😔

simulating better disagreements

Don’t be like Larry David- have healthy discussions!

Without a doubt, Christmas is a time when we’re spending more time with our families. Sometimes there’s some alcohol involved, and our tongues get a little looser. And while they say not to mix family with politics, that’s not always easy to do, especially when we’re spending so much time online and are bombarded with hot-button topics.

We recently discovered Open Mind, a non-profit on a mission to help people build the skills needed to have healthy discussions with people from different backgrounds and beliefs. This is very in-line with the work that Jonathan Haidt does, and the work we’ve been doing in our Think Inc. Academy course Politics as the New Religion: Understanding the Far Left and Right.

When we hear something we disagree with, a common impulse is to say “You’re wrong, and here’s why…”.. We think that if we give someone the facts, they’ll change their mind. If only us humans were so simple!

Psychologists have found that when we hit someone over the head with data, this rarely changes their mind. Instead, Open Mind has a conversation simulator that you can use to practise three techniques that help you have better conversations with people you don’t agree with.

Jon Haidt recently gave a talk at the Modern Data Stack Conference 2021 on this exact topic. Check it out here.

Also, have a read of our guide to handling tough conversations around the Christmas dinner table.

New Hubble Pics

Every year, the Hubble Space Telescope does a grand tour of the outer solar system planets, checking their atmospheres for changes. This year’s shots are now in, and there are a few surprises.

For example, astronomers noticed a deep orange band around the equator of Jupiter, which is normally a cloudy white colour.

In the new photo of Saturn we can see that it’s coming out of winter as noted by the pale blue colour peeking out from beneath its rings.

Uranus is sporting a bright white cap on the north pole and a sharp ring of blue around the middle, and scientists aren’t really sure why.

As for Neptune, we can see a  huge, dark storm visible in the northern hemisphere, towards the upper left.

WATCH THE LATEST THINK INC. THURSDAYS