Can you make yourself, your kids, and your parents smarter?
Expanding upon one of the most-read New York Times Magazine features of 2012, Smarter penetrates the hot new field of intelligence research to reveal what researchers call a revolution in human intellectual abilities. Shattering decades of dogma, scientists began publishing studies in 2008 showing that "fluid intelligence" - the ability to learn, solve novel problems, and get to the heart of things - can be increased through training. But is it all just hype?
With vivid stories of lives transformed, science journalist Dan Hurley delivers practical findings for people of every age and ability. Along the way, he narrates with acid-tongued wit his experiences as a human guinea pig, road-testing commercial brain-training programs, learning to play the Renaissance lute, getting physically fit, even undergoing transcranial direct-current stimulation.
Smarter speaks to the audience that made best-sellers out of Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, and Moonwalking with Einstein.
"Hurley captures the history and mystery of intelligence, but, most of all, the exciting new science of intellectual growth. This may be the most important revolution of our time!" (Carol Dweck, Author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success)
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- W Perry Hall ""There is scarcely any passion without struggle." Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays"
A deeper look at a crucial question
A revolution has been going on in the area of brain science. About 10-15 years ago the idea that intelligence was fixed by genetics was challenged. It started with a single research study, but it's exploded to hundreds on the topic. Dan Hurley waded into the controversies and breakthroughs, with one big question driving him: Can I make myself smarter?
Taking us on the journey with him, he explores all the options and gives his conclusion on whether they're legit or not. And then he picked seven--those the research says have a real shot at improving brain function--and did them for several months. He took a battery of accepted intelligence tests before and after...but I'll let you read the ending to see if it worked.
For me, there was one HUGE concept in this book. Hurley addressed the challenge that many scientists have made, namely that each of these brain training programs only gets you better at that particular test--that you can't improve overall intelligence, only get better at particular skills. I'd heard that enough that I came to believe it--like the book I read on memory training where they guy learns to remember strings of numbers, but can't do it with letters, let alone have a better memory in real life. Hurley shows that while this can be true when you use special techniques (like the memory guy did), there are other approaches that have been shown to increase overall intelligence.
However, he does a good job explaining that there are limits. Genetics are still the largest factor in setting intelligence levels--we don't all start identical. We just get to add to whatever we started with. Oh, and the studies show that those who started with lower intelligence scores benefit the most from training--they can catch up some on those who started smarter.
Well written and important, if you're curious about the latest thinking on brain science, this is a great read for you.
- Scott Wozniak