Monday, August 6, 2012


This is short because I skimmed through this book.  Relatively.

We live in a time of rapid change which really means a lot of new things.  Although the pace has accelerated the seeking of new things has always played a critical role in our evolution.

Humans are now dominant on earth, but this was not always the case.  We had to be alert to danger--often indicated by some very slight change that if we failed to react we could be dinner.  On the other hand noticing small changes alerted us to new opportunities such as in agriculture or weaponry.

As history moved forward our abilities to look for advantage helped us become dominant.  It boils down to looking for new things.  Curiosity helps nourish knowledge.

The author classifies humans into three groups.  One group, labeled neophobes fear new things and are very resistant to change.  Another group, labeled neophiliacs actually seek novelty.  The third group labeled neophiles, are quick to adopt change and are fascinated by new things.  Most of us fall into this last category and are considered more cautious.  As we age our fascination with new things fades.

Conceding that adapting to new opportunities and alert to dangers has served mankind well, there is danger in the constant stream of new things that seems to energize our contemporary society.  There are so many new things that neophiliacs in particular are distracted.  There is so much information that is easily accessible that we are all over loaded.  Neophiliacs in particular are prone to multi tasking, thinking they are keeping on top of everything important.  The author brought to my attention a term new to me, "thrashing".  It means we actually go back and forth between each of our multi-tasks with an ever increasing chance of error and fail to comprehend everything we might have if we had concentrated.  Can you identify with that?

There is still value in being attracted to new information, but as there is more information than anyone can handle it is wisest to be selective.  It is also a good idea to allow yourself time to study important things in depth.  Novelty seekers are in danger of becoming addicted, too often seeking a new high.  Addictions can be drugs, infidelity and information seeking itself.  The author uses the counter example of Mennonites who do things the old way, not because they aren't able to adapt, but because their priority is people, particularly their own people.

I could write a little bit more, but then this wouldn't be a short review.  This is still a new idea for many of us.

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