Episode 51: Annaka Harris | On Consciousness | Click to Listen


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After On Podcast #51: On Consciousness

Like me, Annaka Harris is a nonscientist who nonetheless spends a huge fraction of her waking hours marinating in scientific concepts. But unlike me, she has long had a science- adjacent career – working as an editor and consultant for academic scientists and science writers, specializing in physics and neuroscience.

 
Annaka Harris

Annaka Harris

 

Now, I'm obviously a fanatical proponent of hearing directly from the people who are conducting research and pioneering emerging fields. But I also believe that nonscientists are often among the best guides to complex disciplines. 

For one thing, they have a visceral understanding for what is, versus. is not obvious about a field to their fellow non-scientists. And when clever nonscientists do conquer especially complex topics, they often manage this by creatively anchoring it in familiar terms and intuitive metaphors, which they can then transmit to the rest of us. 

Knowing this, and also knowing Annaka to be a gifted communicator and methodical thinker, I was delighted when I heard that she was writing a survey of one of the thorniest subjects in all of science – which is the nature and function of consciousness. Consciousness is such a hard problem that it's often bluntly referred to as “THE hard problem.”

Annaka’s book, Conscious, was published just two weeks ago, on June 4th. With it as our jumping-off point, our conversation explores many of the most befuddling & bewitching questions that lie at the roots of consciousness.

Rob Reid