Vanguard of the Age of Enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment

One of my favourite periods in history is the 18th Century Age of Enlightenment, a great outpouring of intellectual and scientific achievement. My heroes include vanguard philosophers, mathematicians and scientists who challenged norms, received wisdom and at times wilful ignorance. Bacon, Descartes, Spinoza and Hobbes as forerunners, Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith and David Hume, Newton, Diderot, Leibniz, Locke, Kant and Montesquieu and other influential thinkers across Scotland, England, France, Germany, Russia and Poland. Continue reading “Vanguard of the Age of Enlightenment”

Patterns, Fragility and the Black Swan

FLYING PIGS ARE MYTHICAL (or so we assume), but if flying pigs were suddenly discovered they would be ‘Black Swans’. In 16th century London Juvenal’s phrase was a common expression of impossibility (i.e. ‘you may as well see a black swan’) indicating that the existence of such was considered very much in the same vein as flying pigs in our time. A Dutch expedition led by Willem de Vlamingh discovered Black Swans in Western Australia in 1697 and so ‘destroyed’ a previously held certainty. I have only ever seen white swans, therefore all swans must be white was therefore an understandable, yet poor conclusion.

A rare bird in the lands, and very like a black swan [Juvenal]

Continue reading “Patterns, Fragility and the Black Swan”

Transforming Social Action into the Social Norm

IN THE LATEST of a series of publications, Cabinet Office release the “Giving” Green Paper outlining plans to “transform Social Action into the Social Norm.” Can technology and behavioural science be leveraged to increase the UK’s “time giving” generosity? A Harris Interactive poll commissioned by the Financial Times recently discovered that Britons are more likely to support charitable causes with financial donations than with scarce and more valued time. What initiatives are government considering to redress this, and ensure scalability of the ‘voluntary workforce’? Continue reading “Transforming Social Action into the Social Norm”

Understanding the Potential of Neuromarketing

NEUROMARKETING EXTENDS TRADITIONAL marketing techniques through the application of neuroscience, leveraging advances in greater understanding of brain function and developments in brain scanning techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG). The ability to “measure the brain while it is operating” and interpret emotional response and “engagement” provides new opportunity in measuring the effectiveness of many aspects of product design and advertising. Continue reading “Understanding the Potential of Neuromarketing”