Here is the “Edge World Question Center”, a leading materialist think tank, with 2011’s Question:
THE WORLD QUESTION CENTER
James Flynn has defined “shorthand abstractions” (or “SHA’s”) as concepts drawn from science that have become part of the language and make people smarter by providing widely applicable templates (“market”, “placebo”, “random sample,” “naturalistic fallacy,” are a few of his examples). His idea is that the abstraction is available as a single cognitive chunk which can be used as an element in thinking and debate.
The Edge Question 2011
WHAT SCIENTIFIC CONCEPT WOULD IMPROVE EVERYBODY’S COGNITIVE TOOLKIT?
The term ‘scientific”is to be understood in a broad sense as the most reliable way of gaining knowledge about anything, whether it be the human spirit, the role of great people in history, or the structure of DNA. A “scientific concept” may come from philosophy, logic, economics, jurisprudence, or other analytic enterprises, as long as it is a rigorous conceptual tool that may be summed up succinctly (or “in a phrase”) but has broad application to understanding the world.
[Thanks to Steven Pinker for suggesting this year’s Edge Question and to Daniel Kahneman for advice on its presentation.]
164 contributors, many whose names you will recognize, participated.
Any thoughts of your own?
Note: Interesting, how many key words from medicine easily come to mind, yet medicine has slowly been moving away from a materialist paradigm, as Mario Beauregard and I noted in The Spiritual Brain.
Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose