Wisdom in the lab

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Some things you just can't measure. Where is the scale that can measure the inner life? Where is the lab that can calibrate wisdom? Well, actually, there are quite a few of them. Neurologists the world over are studying wisdom. Their results, on this episode of Tapestry. 

 

Stephen Hall is a "hardcore" science writer who writes primarily for The New York Times Magazine. His editor called him up one day and asked for a piece about an emerging field in neurology: the measurement of wisdom.

Hall wasn't so sure at first. The idea of applying something as precise as science to something as malleable as wisdom seemed a stretch. But when he began his research, his mind changed. Through psychology and the technology of brain mapping, science is finding ways to measure wisdom. Hall's work has become a book: Wisdom: From Philosophy to Neuroscience.

After that, a mystery of medical healing in the Siberian wilderness. Jon Turk was a research chemist who decided he couldn't stand the lab, quit his job, and became an adventure traveller. Severely injured, he one day found himself in the hands of Moolynaut, a Koryak shaman. She taught Turk that a man of science can journey into the realm of the spiritual, although it's best to prepare for a really strange trip. Turk shares his story in this documentary by Heiko Decosas. He's also written a book about it called The Raven's Gift.

There are two footnotes about Jon Turk's story. The first is that Moolynaut died in December 2011. The second is that Jon Turk has been named one of National Geographic's Adventurers of the Year for 2012. He talks about his incredible trip in this interview.
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