new logic

Domenic Bahmann

IT IS not obvious what connects a falling apple and the rising sun. It took a genius to realise these two effects are the product of a single hidden cause, one that also explains the stars’ positions and the fact that our feet are firmly planted on the ground – the invisible pull of gravity.

That genius was Isaac Newton, a man gifted with “the power of holding continuously in his mind a purely mental problem until he had seen straight through it”, in the words of economist John Maynard Keynes. We could use a few of his stamp now more than ever. While Newton’s successors stutter as they try to find further unifying laws of the cosmos, the world at large grapples with problems on unprecedented scales – economic instability, poverty and disease, climate change.

Finding solutions means doing what Newton did with gravity: asking the right questions, teasing out causes and effects, and so building an intellectual framework to explain the puzzle. But how do we do that with the sheer quantity of data sloshing around in today’s world? It’s this problem that has led some to think we need to think seriously about the way we think. Only by rebooting our powers of logic and going beyond what nature has hardwired into our brain can we hope to grapple with problems that are far bigger than any of us. It’s time to install Thinking 2.0.

For most of us, Thinking 1.0 is taxing enough. We humans love to sideline logic in favour of the easy answer. We might make life decisions based on …

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