Leveraging differences

Stephen Kosslyn’s answer to the Edge Annual Question (“What will change everything”) is Leveraging differences. He explains how worthy, and how difficult to attain, this goal is.

If we knew more about mental differences, many activities could become more effective, such as learning, communicating, psychotherapy, hiring, or team building.

“Researchers have argued that some people learn more effectively by verbal means, others by visual means if shapes are used, others by visual means if spatial relations are used, and so on. People no doubt vary in a wide range of ways in their preferred and most effective learning styles.”

(Note that he distinguishes two visual styles and does not refer to VAK).

He describes an approach of studying a “periodic table of the mind”. And because the “atoms of mind” are not independent, we then need to study how the factors interact.

I like the chemical metaphor. It lends itself to a gloomy view of the common research focus on high performers and measuring intelligence — the alchemists’ pursuit of synthesizing gold? At least it seems plausible to me that a thorough understanding of all the diverse elements /cognitive styles is more promising than a bias on the shiny ones.

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