Nobody likes owning up to past mistakes — people in the public eye are especially loath to do so — and that’s what makes John Brockman’s new Q&A collection, What Have You Changed Your Mind About?, so much fun: Here, 150 scientists, philosophers, and public intellectuals talk about missteps they’ve made in the course of their careers.
Steven Pinker admits that, despite his own, adamant arguments to the contrary, humans probably haven’t stopped evolving. Nature’s editor, Philip Campbell, comes out in favor of “cognitive enhancers” — like Ritalin for people without ADHD — whose use he once opposed. And social psychologist Jon Haidt, who spent years looking down his nose at football fans, now appreciates the social benefits of sports clubs and fraternities. Each admission is educational, but the book’s real lesson is that it’s never too late to make amends. As John Keynes once said, in reply to a critic: “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”
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