Is there a science behind making sense of our lives and creating a world that makes sense?

Can the way information is presented affect the quality of our decisions and even our sanity? What if our attempts to address a mental health crisis are just making things worse? How much of the destruction do we see in the world stem from misunderstanding the nature of our own intelligence and instead of cultivating intelligence we are cultivating short-sightedness? Are there real factors and forces that are keeping us from being able to make sense of our lives? And if so, what can we do to overcome them? Are there design principles for engineering sanity or insanity into the technologies we interact with every day? Could we engineer technology to amplify the kind of intelligence we need to make sense of our lives and even ultimately survive as a species?

About the Book

Starting from first principles in cognitive science, Race Against Insanity reveals with new clarity the untapped power of natural human intelligence and how to identify the every day forces that are holding it back.

Through the careful synthesis of crucial scientific findings across multiple fields including brain science, linguistics, physics, psychology, and computer science, Race Against Insanity brings to light information that challenges conventional assumptions about the human mind and information systems to give way to a new framework for understanding.

In this pioneering work, Race Against Insanity doesn't just demonstrate that we are smarter than we think. Most importantly, it provides a blueprint for how technology can amplify our natural intelligence by orders of magnitude, giving us an unprecedented capacity to solve our own problems and restore sanity to the world.

About the Author

Jill Nephew is the founder of Inqwire, PBC a company on a mission to help the world make sense. The Inqwire project takes Jill's background in creating tools and models to help people think about complex systems, and applies it to the mother of all complex systems - the human mind.

The designing of the Inqwire system, required her to attempt to answer a fundamental question: how does technology interact with the mind's ability to make sense, and what are the principles that technology should follow to maximize natural intelligence and self-efficacy?

Her 7 year journey to answer these questions took her across an expanse of research. What she saw was that in every field she examined; natural science and policy, psychology, sociology, artificial intelligence, computer science, linguistics, information science, philosophy, history, statistics, and neuroscience, researchers were each in their own way revealing the same systematic errors in human thinking that are leading us towards a future of greater suffering.

In this cross discipline hunt for answers, she revealed a powerful story of hope for the escape from preventable human suffering with the revival of human spirit and the restoration of self efficacy.

Jill brings a diverse science and engineering background to this book. She has worked as an engineer developing tools, platforms, and software languages to integrate complex systems and help people find solutions to complex, real world problems. She developed algorithms and models in the area of constraint based optimization (Artificial Intelligence) to help people schedule, plan and forecast across large supply, manufacturing, and distribution systems.

She has modeled a variety of complex physical systems, such as drug binding, motorized motion control, disease kinetics, protein folding and drug binding dynamics, atmospheric pollution transit, human articulated movement, and how complex fluids behave under different conditions, where her investigations revealed a new mechanism for spontaneous pattern formation.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Making Sense of Making Sense

In part 1 we journey across various domains of science to collect and examine the most powerful evidence and arguments for defining what making sense is, what blocks it, what enhances it, and how it affects us individually and collectively.

Chapter 1. Why Making Sense of Life Matters

What is the relationship between making sense of life and meaning, purpose, wisdom, compassion, life satisfaction, and health?

Chapter 2. Key Concepts and First Principles of Making Sense

What do we know about the making sense process that can serve as foundational first principles to build upon?

Chapter 3. Sanity and Insanity: Coming to our Senses and Nonsense

How does the way we think and the way information is presented to us affect the sanity of our decisions?

Chapter 4. Making Sense and The Vital Role of Inquiry

How do question forms and the way questions are asked affect our ability to make sense?

Chapter 5. Making Sense Together

How do social effects enhance or destroy our ability to make sense?

Chapter 6. Cultural Sources of Insanity

What are the societal forces and factors that block our ability to make sense?

Chapter 7. Technologies for Making Sense and Nonsense

How do different types of information technologies and ways of using them affect our ability to make sense?

Chapter 8. The Race of Your Life: Making Sense of Life While Living It

What are the biological processes involved in making sense of our lives and how long do they take? Can we expect to ever make sense of our lives without technology?

Part 2: Accelerating The Process and Winning the Race

In part 2, we look at technology's role in our ability to make sense and create a world that makes sense as well as reveal a blueprint for how we could engineer technology to work around biological limitations to enhance and accelerate our ability to make sense both individually and collectively.

Chapter 9. Making the Complex Simple

What can we learn from the formal study of complex systems that we can apply to making sense of our complex lives?

Chapter 10. Finding a Universal Template for Making Sense

Is it possible to define a universal template for making sense that could capture the wild variability of human lives?

Chapter 11. Leveraging the Power of Human Computer Interactions

How is it different to interact with a computer than a person? Are there ways they would be better at helping us make sense than human interactions?

Chapter 12. The Bigger Race: One Shared Planet with Dwindling Resources

How can we apply these principles collectively to create a world that makes sense?

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