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Sunday, July 12, 2009

But Can a Goose Help Me Find my Car Keys: Review of Collin Ellard's "You are Here"

Jonah Lehrer writes:

Let’s begin with a quick geography quiz: Which city is farther west, Los Angeles or Reno? If you’re like most people, you carefully reasoned your way to the wrong answer. Because Los Angeles is on the coast, and Reno is in landlocked Nevada, you probably assumed that Los Angeles is farther west. It doesn’t matter that you’ve stared at countless maps or taken a road trip across California — the atlas that we keep in our head is reliably unreliable.

Colin Ellard, a behavorial neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, probes this and other shortcomings of human spatial intelligence in his delightfully lucid book “You Are Here.” (The Canadian version of the book is titled “Where Am I?” Apparently, Americans don’t like asking for directions.) While modern life is full of tools that keep us from straying off course, from Google maps to the ­iPhone, Ellard sees the need for such contrivances as a sign that we’ve already lost our way. We’ve become hopelessly disconnected from our setting, burdened with a brain that needs a GPS satellite just to get across town.

link: Book Review - 'You Are Here - Why We Can Find Our Way to the Moon but Get Lost in the Mall,' by Collin Ellard - Review -


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