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10 Interesting Concepts That Everyone Should Know


The word cognitive refers to the act or process of knowing, perceiving, remembering or pertaining to the mental processes of perception, memory, judgment, and reasoning. These processes make us who we are and have a great impact on our life experience.


An understanding of the scientific concepts that everyone needs to understand are the premise of the book, This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockman. The book started by asking a simple question, What scientific concept would improve everybody’s cognitive toolkit? Many of the worlds most prolific thinkers and scientists answered the question, and a collection of the answers are contained in the book.

We have found 10 concepts from the book and shared a segment here with a link to the original work and the book.

Here are 10 Ways Your Brain Can Let You Down:

1. Cognitive Humility

This concept tells us that we are more likely to remember evidence that is in line with what we already believe. Knowing this can help us become better reasoners and make better decisions.

2. Constraint Satisfaction


When we are overloaded with too may choices, we can get paralyzed by indecision. It is something that is crucial to human reasoning and decision making. Research has shown that having limits and constraints is beneficial and can lead to solutions. By limiting our options, we are more likely to make a better decision for ourselves.

Psychologist; Director, Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences , Stanford UniversityAn extract from This Will Make You Smarter.

3. Contingent Superorganisms


This concepts points out that we are not always acting in our own self interest, but we are capable to act in the interest of a group when certain conditions are met (such as intergroup conflict like in sports, business, and war).

Social Psychologist; Professor, New York University Stern School of Business; Author, The Righteous MindAn extract from This Will Make You Smarter.

4. Cumulative Error

In this information age, many information sources are unknown and When information travels through multiple channels, it’s easy for some elements of the message to get distorted —  by biases, or simple human error.

Computer Scientist; Musician; Author, You Are Not A Gadget; Who Owns The Future?An extract from This Will Make You Smarter.


5. Deep Time And The Far Future


This is a belief that there is more time to come than has already passed. This way of thinking gives you a more expansive view of the world and the future. Our sun, for example has more time left than has already lapsed in its life cycle. It formed 4.5 billion years ago, but it’s got 6 billion more before the fuel runs out.

Former President, The Royal Society; Emeritus Professor of Cosmology & Astrophysics, University of Cambridge; Master, Trinity College; Author, From Here to Infinity – An extract from This Will Make You Smarter.

6.Failure Liberates Success

We can learn nearly as much from an experiment that does not work as from one that does. Failure is not something to be avoided but rather something to be cultivated. Failure is still not embraced as a virtue. It is a sign of weakness, and often a stigmata that prohibits second chances. Its a matter of learning lessons along the way and failing forward.

Editor at Large, Wired, Author-What Technology WantsAn extract from This Will Make You Smarter.

7. The Hidden Layers


With any new skill, at first it can seem very difficult but with more practice it can become like second nature. Such as riding a bike or learning to play the piano. The neurons in our brains process information by receiving the data, analyzing it, and distribute them to the effector neuros, the ones that actually make us move or function. The hidden layer is the part that has no interaction with the outside world and is simply used for processing the information.

Physicist, MIT; Recipient, 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics; Author, The Lightness of BeingAn extract from This Will Make You Smarter.

8. Holism

Holism is colloquially described as The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Perhaps the most impressive is that carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, iron, and a few other elements, mixed in just the right way, yield life. There is a kind of awesome synergy between the parts.

Holism does not come naturally. It is an appreciation not of the simple but of the complex.

Biological Anthropologist, Rutgers University; Author, Why Him? Why Her? How to Find and Keep Lasting LoveAn extract from This Will Make You Smarter.

9. Our Sensory Desktop

window to the world

We all perceive the world differently, and our sensory experiences such as vision, sound, taste, and touch can be thought of as sensory desktops that have evolved to guide adaptive behavior, not report objective truths. 

Cognitive Scientist, UC, Irvine; Author, Visual IntelligenceAn extract from This Will Make You Smarter.

10. Rational Unconsciousness

Until proven otherwise, why not assume that consciousness does not play a role in human behavior? The argument here is not that we lack consciousness, but that we over-estimate the conscious control of behavior.

Freud inspired the idea of the irrational subconscious, but many of today’s scientists dispute that idea. Instead they are bridging the conscious and unconscious and insisting that we operate on both levels, and have an awareness of this connection, more than we think.

Psychologist, UC, Berkeley; Author, The Philosophical BabyAn extract from This Will Make You Smarter.
Dr Prem Jagyasi

Dr Prem Jagyasi

Author, Publisher & Global Speaker at DrPrem.com
Dr Prem is an award winning strategic leader, renowned author, publisher and highly acclaimed global speaker. Aside from publishing a bevy of life improvement guides, Dr Prem runs a network of 50 niche websites that attracts millions of readers across the globe. Thus far, Dr Prem has traveled to more than 40 countries, addressed numerous international conferences and offered his expert training and consultancy services to more than 150 international organizations. He also owns and leads a web services and technology business, supervised and managed by his eminent team. Dr Prem further takes great delight in travel photography.
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