Is Your Doctor "Health Blind"?

There are those among us who are “health blind”, i.e., handicapped at sensing the health signals...

The Ravenous Color-Blind: New Developments For Color-Deficients

Last year, as our O2Amp technology got into the hands of more and more users (mainly interested...

Don’t Hold Your Breath Waiting For Artificial Brains

I can feel it in the air, so thick I can taste it. Can you? It's the we're-going-to-build-an-artificial...

Welcome To Humans, Version 3.0

Where are we humans going, as a species? If science fiction is any guide, we will genetically evolve...

User picture.
picture for Hank Campbellpicture for Brian Taylorpicture for Bente Lilja Byepicture for Sascha Vongehrpicture for Helen Barrattpicture for Michael White
Mark ChangiziRSS Feed of this column.

Mark Changizi is Director of Human Cognition at 2AI, and the author of The Vision Revolution (Benbella 2009) and Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed... Read More »


Crying is a waste of perfectly good water. So why we do it? I have no idea, so I would like to hear your ideas. To get the ball rolling, here are eight hypotheses, each surely inadequate and probably false.

"My plan for today:

1. Pick up dry cleaning.
2. Go to dentist.
3. Think up brilliant idea.”

Good luck with that third bullet. Big ideas can’t be planned like growing tomatoes in one’s garden. We stumble upon ideas, and although we can sometimes recall how we got there, we could not have anticipated the discovery in advance. That’s why grant proposals never wrap up as, “And via following this four-part plan, I will have arrived at a ground-breaking new hypothesis by year three.” 

The hardback of The Vision Revolution has been out for one year, and I couldn’t be happier with the reaction it has received, including reviews in fantastic places like the Wall Street Journal and Sciam Mind and mentions in places like the New York Times. Soon it will appear in China, Korea and Germany.

You are an idea-monger. Science, art, technology – it doesn’t matter which. What matters is that you’re all about the idea. You live for it. You’re the one who wakes your spouse at 3 AM to describe your new inspiration. You’re the person who suddenly veers the car to the shoulder to scribble some thoughts on the back of an unpaid parking ticket. You’re the one who, during your wedding speech, interrupts yourself to say, “Hey, I just thought of something neat.” You’re not merely interested in science, art or technology – you want to be part of the story of these broad communities.

I recently finished the draft for my upcoming book, Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Ape to Man (Benbella, 2011). To give you a better idea of it’s aim, here is the current draft of the introduction.

The Reading Instinct
Have a talent and enjoyment for inflicting prescribed doses of pain? Your dream job awaits. (Biology undergraduate required.) Contact: 555-8428

  …as seen in classified ads.

You are not supposed to be reading this. You’re an ape who never evolved to read, but you can do so because writing culturally evolved to be shaped just right for your illiterate visual system. As I have argue in my research and recent books, culture’s trick for getting writing into us was to harness our ancient visual system for a new purpose (The Vision Revolution), a trick also used for speech and music (upcoming in Harnessed). (Hint: The trick to harnessing is, in each case, to mimic nature.)