YANSS 208 – How to escape brainbound thinking and take advantage of your extended mind

In this episode we sit down with Annie Murphy Paul, the acclaimed science writer, whose new book, The Extended Mind is all about how the brain is part of systems, and it is those systems that constitute the mind.

In other words, our minds are not, as she puts it, brainbound, but they extend to our computers, our notebooks, our friends and neighbors and colleagues and partners. The environments in which we move, natural and otherwise, deeply influence how we think, what we think, and what we CAN think, and in addition, everything the brain does becomes a reference for extended thinking, and these feedback loops extend what minds can do.

An excerpt from The Extended Mind: 

“Our culture insists that the brain is the sole locus of thinking, a cordoned-off space where cognition happens. This book argues otherwise: it holds that the mind constructs our thought processes from the resources available outside the brain. These resources include the feelings and movements of our bodies; the physical spaces in which we learn and work; and the other minds with which we interact—our classmates, colleagues, teachers, supervisors, friends. Sometimes, all three elements come together in especially felicitous fashion, as they did for the brilliant intellectual team of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. The two psychologists carried out much of their groundbreaking work on heuristics and biases—the human mind’s habitual shortcuts and distortions—by talking and walking together, through the bustling streets of Jerusalem or along the rolling hills of the California coast. “I did the best thinking of my life on leisurely walks with Amos,” Kahneman has said.

From The Extended Mind by Annie Murphy Paul
Annie Murphy Paul

From her official bio:

Annie Murphy Paul’s work has appeared in the New York Times, the Boston GlobeScientific AmericanSlateTime magazine, and The Best American Science Writing, among many other publications. She is the author of Origins, reviewed on the cover of The New York Times Book Review and selected by that publication as a “Notable Book,” and The Cult of Personality, hailed by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker as a “fascinating new book.” Paul has spoken to audiences around the world about learning and cognition; her TED Talk has been viewed by more than 2.6 million people. A graduate of Yale University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, she has served as a lecturer at Yale University and as a senior advisor at the Yale University Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Spotify – Patreon –  Soundcloud Omny


Support the show directly by becoming a patron! Get episodes one-day-early and ad-free. Head over to the YANSS Patreon Page for more details.

Links and Sources

Download – iTunes – Stitcher – RSS – Spotify – Patreon –  Soundcloud Omny

Previous Episodes

Annie Murphy Paul’s Website

Annie Murphy Paul’s Twitter