"Knowledge has exponentiated and is available to all"by Prospect Team / February 15, 2017 / Leave a comment
Published in March 2017 issue of Prospect Magazine
What is the first historical event you can recall?
I noticed my mother referring to “President Kennedy” rather than “President Eisenhower.” That dates the memory to shortly after John F Kennedy’s inauguration in early 1961, when I was six. The first discrete event I recall was the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. We had the radio on over dinner, and there was a test of an air raid siren. I still can feel the dread.
What is the book you most wish you had written?
As I ponder the books I’ve savoured, I don’t feel the covetous wish to have authored any of them. Much of the enjoyment in reading is hearing another person’s voice, learning from that writer’s insights. As soon as I imagine having written the book myself, I feel the pleasure draining away.
One bit of advice you’d give to your younger self?
Professional: master a range of demanding subjects while you have the time and brainpower—more mathematics, economics, languages; less psychology. Personal: if a life situation is unsustainable, better to change it with moderate pain now than with greater pain later.
What is your favourite saying?
From the 1st century BC Rabbi Hillel: “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? If not now, when?”
Where do you want to be buried or have your ashes scattered?
The mouth of the Pamet River in Truro, Cape Cod, near our summer home, where I proposed, in a tandem kayak, to my wife Rebecca Newberger Goldstein.
If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why?
Giving What We Can, a meta-charity inspired by the Effective Altruism movement, which calculates which charitable donations can deliver the greatest human benefit.
Would you rather have composed a great symphony, penned an important book or invented something that saves lives?
Are you kidding? Something that saves lives, no question!