the lavin weekly | November 17, 2017

The Lavin Weekly: Broken Glass, Brain Software, A La Carte Reality, and Contagious Violence

In this Lavin Weekly, Teju Cole explores the role of broken glass in photojournalism; David Eagleman asks about the brain’s basic cognitive software; Jelani Cobb talks about what it’s like to be a journalist in the Trump era; and Derek Thompson explains how mass shootings are infectious. 

1. “The images that have stayed with me from the Las Vegas massacre are of broken glass.”

Because photojournalists can’t print photographs of the dead, when something like the tragedy in Vegas occurs, broken glass if left to tell the story: “An intact window is interesting mainly for its transparency. But when the window breaks, what intrigues us is the brittleness that was there all along.” Read Teju Cole’s full article, which made the cover of The New York Times this week.


2. “What is it that’s special about the human brain that allows creativity to happen?” 

“What is the basic cognitive software that’s running in the human brain that takes things in and spits out ideas?” Asks neuroscientist David Eagleman in a Big Think video this week. That’s the fundamental question that drove Eagleman (and co-writer, composer Anthony Brandt) to write their new book The Runaway Species, a moving examination of human creativity, as well as a practical guide to maximizing innovation at work and at home.  


3. “We have the echo chamber effect.”

“There’s this a la carte approach to reality, where if you want to view the world in a particular way you can find the information that justifies you having that point of view,” says Jelani Cobb in an insightful interview with the Columbia Journalism Review about race and journalism in Trump’s America. 


4. “Mass shootings in America are spreading like a disease.” 

“Each murderous event normalizes, or encourages, new participants to join the movement,” says Derek Thompson in The Atlantic this week, citing a 2015 study that says that mass shootings can spread like diseases “through the vector of mass media.” And male outcasts are most vulnerable to infection. He also talked to CBS news about the phenomenon. 


To book Teju Cole, David Eagleman, Jelani Cobb or Derek Thompson for your next speaking event, contact The Lavin Agency