Arts and Culture

One of the speakers at this year’s Idea Festival in Louisville will explore how people are able to survive in a world of uncertainty.

Jamie Holmes is the author of “Nonsense: The Power of Not Knowing.” He’s a Future Tense Fellow at New America and a former Research Coordinator in the Department of Economics at Harvard University. His work has appeared in several publications including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Slate and Politico.

jamie holmesCourtesy IdeaFest

Jamie Holmes

Holmes will make a presentation at this year’s IdeaFestival, which gets started next week at the Kentucky Center in Louisville. I spoke with him recently. Listen to our conversation in the audio player above.

On what he means by “nonsense”: 

“The book is not about gibberish, I actually had that question at a talk. The book is about non-dash-sense. So it’s about sense-making and challenges to sense-making and a lot of it is about ambiguity — information, experiences that are unclear because the information is missing or too complicated or contradictory — and what happens when we experience those things and we feel uncertain, and how does that affect decision-making and how does that affect creativity and how does that affect even empathy, how we look at other people.”

On engaging uncertainty:

“People are really designed as consistency machines. We are seeking out consistency and we are trying to resolve contradictions. And we each have our own kind of baseline comfort with feeling uncertain. And then depending on the situation we’re in, that can go up or down, you know, whether we’re rushed or we’re bored or we’re tired we become less likely to want to engage in uncertainty.”

Jamie Holmes will present at the 2016 IdeaFestival on Wednesday, Sept. 28 at noon. More information about the festival can be found here.

Rick Howlett is WFPL's Broadcast Editor and also produces feature and general assignment radio stories.