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Veronique Greenwood

Writer,

Veronique Greenwood is a science journalist. Her work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Discover Magazine, and Scientific American, among others. She is based in Switzerland.

Written by Veronique Greenwood



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Night school

Veronique Greenwood

Information transfer is a very interesting answer. I’ve often thought about the fact that we humans are technically able to learn from the mistakes and revelations of others, but we show very little inclination to do so. We can’t really believe that speeding will cause more close calls and accidents until we have a few; that eating too much really is linked to gaining weight until we look at the scale and see proof; that calculus works the way it does until we’ve sat down and worked through the problems ourselves. I guess that school could be a way of forcing everyone to re-live what everyone else did before them so they can believe it for themselves. Not that it works all that well–peopl...

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The free-will scale

Veronique Greenwood

I’ve never much cared whether I have free will or not, in the strict philosophical sense. It has never seemed relevant to the day-to-day prosecution of my life. But recently I realized how much of what I do is unexplainable to me–how I know what order to put words in, why I decide I need to go for a walk now and not later, why I dislike the smell of well-done bacon (this one surprised me when I noticed it). This makes me think that if we were more aware of how much of our “selves” we do not know well, much less control, we’d look differently at others and their pettiness. It makes me wonder if we’d be kinder to each other.

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