As I sign off on the color printing proofs for my new book, I keep thinking of the great stories we tell. Becoming familiar with historian Joseph Campbell’s classic “hero’s journey” brings the whole world of myth, sales, and Hollywood into renewed focus.
And brings out the Lego bricks…
(Click image to enlarge.)
The incomparable Maria Popova (whom you must follow on twitter @brainpicker) recently posted a review of the incredible book “This Explains Everything” from John Brockman. The book presents 150+ brilliant thinkers’ answers to the question:
“What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?”
With magnificent insights from Jared Diamond, Brian Eno, Steven Pinker, and Susan Blackmore, the book covers pretty much everything we know — or really should know — about the underlying order of the universe. (In other words, there is a lot to think about in this book.)
But there’s a big problem. A huge problem. A problem that makes me want to either cry or start shouting REALLY LOUD.
Out of 150 brilliant minds introducing their favorite theories, only one* used pictures.
WHAT?!This is crazy — especially since EVERY ONE of the entries I’ve read so far (just passed 50) would benefit enormously from the addition of a simple clarifying sketch.
And these pictures aren’t hard to draw. I got so mad while reading this book on the short flight from San Francisco to Los Angeles, I managed to draw the first three while sitting on the plane. Here they are:
1) Susan Blackmore on Evolution
2) Matt Ridley on DNA
3) Richard Dawkins on how we process patterns
The big takeaway: If we’re explaining a theory, why wouldn’t we use every means available to make that theory clear, memorable, and alive? If we’re going to use words to describe an image, why don’t we just draw the image we’re trying to describe?
It’s not that hard. I did these three in less that 30 minutes, using nothing but a pen and paper. Imagine what a true genius could do in a day.
When the smartest people we have reject the use of simple images to support their own theories, is it really any wonder that more people reject science?
This really upsets me. Come on, smart people: SHOW me what you’re talking about.
(*That one BTW, is Stewart Brand. My new hero.)
May 29 event update: I still have 5 seats available in London and 4 seats available in Berlin. I really want you to have one of those seats, so I’m offering a last-minute special savings of £/€ 150.
Enter the coupon code BLACKPEN when you register and pay only £/€ 645. (Regular £/€ 795.)
London June 13: http://www.regonline.com/napkinacademy_london_2013
Berlin June 18: http://www.regonline.com/napkinacademy_berlin_2013
See you there!
Become a master visual-thinker!
- Think faster.
- Communicate more clearly.
- Solve complex problems.
- See the invisible.
I’ve trained thousands of businesspeople around the world to become master visual-thinkers. Following the sold-out success of my 2012 Amsterdam event, let’s continue the visual magic in Europe. Join me at London’s Novotel Paddington Hotel or Berlin’s Hotel Concorde for a full day of drawing, thinking, sharing, and inspiration.
The cost for the full day in London is £795 and Berlin is €795 . (Early bird special: Register for London before April 15, 2013 and save £100 OR Register for Berlin before April 15, 2013 and save €100! Only £/€695 for this limited time.) Your fee includes:
- 8 hours of intense, hands-on visual training.
- The Back of the Napkin Expanded Edition book.
- Personal whiteboard, pen, & erasure.
- Excellent lunch.
- True insight, useful tools, & real-world exercises.
In this fun, engaging, and inspiring seminar, we’ll cover:
- The essentials of visual-thinking.
- How to leverage visual cognition in business.
- Use the visual-thinking toolkit for discovery & decision-making.
- How to clarify and persuade with pictures.
This is the full-day version of the seminar I have delivered at Microsoft, Boeing, Google, Gap, Kraft, Philips, Siemens, Intel, the United States Senate, and the White House.