MSNBC covers "Defining Wisdom" in "Are old people really wise?"

MSNBC reporter Robin Lloyd interviews Defining Wisdom grantees Deborah Coen ("Uncertain Ground: A Historical Tectonics of Wisdom"), Ankur Gupta ("Wisdom is Compression: Data Compression as a Mathematical Measure of Wisdom"), and Jean Gordon ("Wisdom in Words: The Relationship Between Language Use and the Perception of Wisdom") for a story about the Defining Wisdom project.

Are Old People Really Wise?
Scholars tackle murky concept of wisdom
By Robin Lloyd

December 15, 2008

"There is more information than ever at our fingertips, yet we're none the wiser it seems.

And many old people are wise, as most of them will tell you, but sometimes they can't remember your name, so how smart is that?

It's paradoxes like these that lie at the heart of a new $2 million research project called Defining Wisdom. Based at the University of Chicago, the four-year initiative, supported by the Templeton Foundation, has enlisted 23 scholars ranging from historians to economists to psychologists to computer scientists to examine the idea of wisdom, with the aim of cultivating it and better understanding its nature.

Definitions of wisdom are all over the map, even among the funded scholars interviewed for this story. The communications scientist says wisdom involves intelligence that is sensitive to the needs of others and makes a good use of judgment. The computer scientist says wisdom involves being able to quickly access information from compressed datasets. And the historian refuses to impose a definition and prefers to draw it out of the historical contexts she studies..."

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