Human-ities

What Is Wisdom?

We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, and effort which no one can spare us.- Marcel Proust (In Search of Lost Time Vol. II: Within a Budding Grove, 1919)

Proust was on to something. I think there is profound truth to the notion that it is only through our own experience that we gain wisdom. I also believe that there are certain kinds of experiences that are particularly suited to the development of wisdom.

Take a moment and think of someone whom you consider wise. Perhaps it is a revered spiritual or political leader, a grandparent or one of your high school teachers, maybe a pastor or a college professor, or perhaps, as one medical student expressed, it is the person who cleans the hallways of the hospital at night. What qualities or behaviors make you think they are wise? Finally, how do you think that they got so wise?

Excerpt from an article written by Margaret Plews-Ogan at BQO. Continue THERE

Animalia · Bio · Performativity · Science

The Real Wisdom of the Crowds

Consider this: shiners have a natural preference for darkness. Plop a shoal of them into a pool of water, and they’ll head for the shadiest bits. This is something that animals do all the time: They track gradients in their environment. A migrating robin might follow the Earth’s magnetic field, a moth might follow the scent of a flower, or an ant might track the pheromones laid by its nest-mates. But single shiners are laughably bad at this.

Andrew Berdahl and Colin Torney from Couzin’s team discovered their ineptitude by projecting shifting patterns of light over a shallow pool and adding the shiners in increasing numbers. Overhead cameras tracked their movements, and the team calculated how good they were at chasing the shadows.

The solo fish did so badly that they were almost swimming randomly. Only larger shoals were good at avoiding the shifting light. Even then, Berdahl and Torney found that the shiners’ movements were far more influenced by what their neighbours were doing, than by how bright the environment was.

Excerpt from an article written by Ed Yong at Phenomena. Continue HERE

Book-Text-Read-Zines · Human-ities · Theory

The Wisdom of Not Being Too Rational

Many children (and adults) have heard Aesop’s fable about the crow and the pitcher. A thirsty crow comes across a pitcher partly filled with water but can’t reach the water with his beak. So he keeps dropping pebbles into the pitcher until the water level rises high enough. A new study finds that both young children and members of the crow family are good at solving this problem, but children appear to learn it in a very different ways from birds.

Excerpt of an article written by Michael Balter, Science AAAS. Continue HERE

Bio · Performativity · Science

The Wisdom of Slime

THE United States interstate highway system is often celebrated as a simple yet highly efficient transportation scheme — one that, starting in the 1950s, transformed the American economy and lifestyle. Its network of roads was designed to maximally span the country with a minimal number of links, while still allowing for enough redundancy to help drivers overcome wrong turns and missed exits.

But it’s worth remembering that the highway system was created by mere humans, using only human intelligence. To find out if it’s optimally designed, we need to consult a higher authority. Namely, slime mold.

Let us explain.

There is a slime mold known as Physarum polycephalum that lives in forests around the world. It feeds on various kinds of microscopic particles. As it forages for food, protoplasmic tubes of slime extend out and bifurcate like tree branches; whenever it happens upon a source of nutrients, it gathers into a bloblike formation. The whole thing — blobs connected by tubes — is a single organism, and the network serves to transport nutrients throughout its “body.”

Excerpt of an article written by ANDREW ADAMATZKY and ANDREW ILACHINSKI, NYT. Continue HERE