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Covering technological, scientific, and cultural trends that are changing–and will change–human beings in fundamental ways.

Editor's Blog

Lisa Rein
October 4, 2009


Gary Marcus, Professor of Psychology at New York University and Director of the NYU Center for Child Language, presented an overview of the strengths and weakness of the human mind.

He argued that it is unrealistic to expect the human to be optimal, and that although nature is often "cleverer than we are," we can't assume that it always is.

As a case study, he discussed the architecture of human memory, comparing the biological human mind to that of a computer, and specifically, a computer's buffering, storage, and access system to a human brain's cue-driven memory.

Giving examples of how evolution can wind up with inelegant solutions, such as the spinal cord, he discussed the role of evolutionary inertia, and how biological structure is a product of both of adaptive pressures and accidents of history.

He also discussed framing and the incredible effect that just changing the name of something can have on people's positive or negative impressions of it, and the role the brain plays in this phenomenon. He then described the role of memory in "confirmation bias," where you only notice things that confirm what you already believe to be true, and other tricks played on us by our brain's cue-driven memory.

 



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