Tomorrow's People

Shutterstock_2587445_2In a recent interview in Discover, Baroness Susan Greenfield, Fullerian Professor of Physiology and Comparative Anatomy at Oxford University, discussed her radical views on happiness, the human brain the differencess between men and women, and the future of the species in a cyberworld.

Greenfield heads a team of scientists who are focused on the genetics of Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. She is the first female director of the 204-year-old Royal Institution of Great Britain and a cofounder of two biotech start-ups that specialize in brain diseases. She holds a seat in the House of Lords, has hosted a BBC series on the brain, and wrote The Human Brain: A Guided Tour. Her next book will be titled Tomorrow's People.

Her thoughts are reminisent of Freud's in his Civilization and It's Discontents: The key to Greenfield's philosophy is that "happy people do not build civilizations."

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The Big Brain & the Pursuit of Happiness

060912_happiness_vsmall_1130aDan Gilbert is a psychology professor at Harvard, and author of Stumbling on Happiness. In this memorable talk on the evolution of the human brain and the pre-frontal cortex and our ability to simulate the future. Gilbert would like to outfit this metaphor with a side-view mirror, one reading: "Objects in future appear much larger than they are." A pioneer in the research of affective forecasting, Dr. Gilbert has illuminated a startling and fundamental mistake that both men and women make: we overestimate how future successes and failures will affect their happiness, for the better or worse. Posted by Jason McManus