The Lavin Agency Speakers Bureau

A speakers bureau that represents the best original thinkers,
writers, and doers for speaking engagements.

Meet David Eagleman, “the Malcolm Gladwell of Neuroscience”

We know neuroscience speaker David Eagleman has written a New York Times bestselling book about our brains, called Incognito. We know he's the man behind the exploratory Possibilianism movement, which carves a much-needed space between religion and atheism. We know he can hold his own on The Colbert Report. Now, thanks to a feature profile in The Independent, we know even more about this genius polymath whom the paper calls “The Malcolm Gladwell of neuroscience.”

1. He originally wanted to be a stand-up comedian

The comedy world's loss is neuroscience's gain, as the brilliant “super scientist” decided to investigate matters of the mind after attempting to break into comedy. But it's not like Eagleman gave up on humor. As anyone who's read his words or seen him speak knows, his clever writing and talks ooze with offhand witticisms and hilarity.

2. He once lived off microwaved potatoes

Students have a reputation for eating wacky things, but Eagleman—who takes the term ‘workoholic’ to another level—used to work on his PhD papers next to a microwave and a bag of potatoes. He’d pop in a potato anytime he got hungry. “I'm not a foodie,” he says. “As a result I have all this extra time.” Those precious minutes mean more thinking and less chopping, grilling, boiling, and frying.

3. He has never owned a television

Using the same argument employed to explain microwaved potatoes, Eagleman says he simply doesn't have time for television. In fact, he's not even into the idea of appearing on TV. After being contacted about hosting a Mythbusters-like program, he shied away from the idea, feeling that it will compromise his scientific work. “I care more about running a lab than I do about entertaining some 13-year-olds,” he said. (Though Eagleman is a great champion of popular science.)

4. He's currently writing six books

That's right, six.

Often called the Carl Sagan of neuroscience, David Eagleman provides a new framework for understanding our brains—and, by extension, ourselves. His speeches and articles deal with everything from how the brain rewires itself to why art and science must learn from each other. Erudite, engaging, and able to connect scientific discovery to daily life, Eagleman prompts audiences to celebrate the beauty of the brain, question what we perceive as reality, and re-think what we know about human nature.

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“There’s Somebody Else in My Head?” Stephen Colbert Talks to David Eagleman

Last night, David Eaglemanone of the most acclaimed neuroscientists today, and certainly the coolest—visited The Colbert Report to talk about his new bestseller, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. During the course of the interview, Colbert asked, with typical mock befuddlement: “What happens in dreams—is that real?” “Wait a minute, is this Inception? Are you DiCaprio?” “Are you saying my brain is British?” “There’s somebody else in my head?” In one of the funnier exchanges of the night, Eagleman, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, told Colbert that, “a cubic millimeter of brain tissue has as many connections as there are stars in the Milky Way.” “Bullsh*t,” said Colbert, without missing a beat. The audience roared with laughter.

Eagleman played along, dropped some ingenious lines himself (including a reference to Pink Floyd) and managed to slip in a fascinating lesson on how the brain works and why we know so little about it. We have no idea where the things we believe and think come from, Eagleman said. He explained that so much of who we are lies “under the hood of consciousness.” The conscious part of you—the part that “flickers awake” in the morning—is just the tiniest part of you. Eagleman asked Colbert to think of the brain not as a single entity, but as a team of rivals or as a Neuro parliament, with various political parties battling for control. Taken another way, the conscious part of the brain is like the CEO of a company: in charge of the long term vision, but oblivious to a lot of what’s going on with the larger day to day operations in the subconscious.

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David Eagleman’s Mind-bending New Book, Incognito

We might like to think our brains are fundamentally created equal, but David Eagleman, all-star neuroscientist and Lavin speaker, disagrees. “Many of us like to believe that all adults possess the same capacity to make sound choices,” he argues in his amazingly-received new book, Incognito. “It's a nice idea, but it's wrong.” This concept—one of many he tackles—is highlighted by a recent review in The New York Observer. This notion that our brains are, in fact, not created equal is novel to a general audience—but it’s absolutely ground-shaking for the legal sector, where sentences are not adapted on a scale of mental competency. Instead, sentences are doled out evenly, with flexibility limited to youth and those with mental disorders. The book itself remains flexible, not dwelling on one idea and deftly moving through many more mind-benders.

The Observer says Eagleman “aims, grandly, to do for the study of the mind what Copernicus did for the study of the stars.” And he doesn't stop at brain equality. He also goes after consciousness, too. He turns common perception on its head, saying consciousness isn't that important. Like Eagleman's illuminating and powerful talks, the book also has plenty of awe-inspiring brain-based bits that will dazzle anyone with an inkling of interest in how our minds work. As The Observer puts it, “the learned specialist is also a popularizer of impressive gusto.”

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In Defense of Popular Science: Neuroscientist David Eagleman

In a New Statesman interview, neuroscientist David Eagleman talks with incredible candor about a range of subjects relating to popular science—a phrase that he staunchly defends. “I am a believer in the mission of popular science,” said Eagleman, whose new book Incognito is a major—and accessible—work on the human brain, out this month of Alfred A. Knopf. “The uninformed criticism of popular science is that it’s a watering down of the work. I think when it’s done right it is just the opposite.” A 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, Eagleman was also forthcoming about other issues, including why his experimental novel Sum found a following, whether he’s received backlash for his popularity (not yet, thankfully), and why we may be in the midst of a scientific renaissance (two words: “TED talks”). To the question of whether “there is a comprehensive limit when it comes to neuroscience,” Eagleman responded with one of his typically vivid analogies that he spins out effortlessly in his keynotes:

Yes, sort of. Science is all about models. We have science to give a compressed representation of something. The model never catches reality perfectly, but that does not matter.If you had a magic microscope through which you could look inside the nucleus of a cell, you would go insane: you would have millions of proteins trafficking around, you would have strands of DNA. But if someone comes along and says: “All that matters is the order of the base pairs; all the rest is housekeeping,” then you can comprehend what is going on.

Read more about Neuroscience speaker David Eagleman