Creative Thinking / Life of Johnny Rosselli

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Date Host George Noory
Guests Leonard Mlodinow, Lee Server

With a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of California, Berkeley, Leonard Mlodinow is the co-author with Stephen Hawking of the best-seller A Briefer History of Time. In the first half, he discussed his recent work on creative or "elastic" thinking which can be useful for dealing with new or changed situations. It's a way of generating ideas to look at something in a different way, he said, and getting out of our comfort zone. We need to rise above conventional mindsets, especially now, when society is changing much faster than ever before, he added.

The advances of AI are bringing in a new set of abilities and challenges-- with neural networks and "deep learning" computers themselves can practice a kind of elastic thinking. Such computers, he explained, are designed not to follow a specific program, but to evolve their own strategy to best suit the ongoing situation. To adopt elastic thinking in one's own life, he suggested getting rid of the fear of failure. The subconscious mind is capable of continually generating new ideas, and to embrace original or creative thinking one must not be afraid to harness some of this potential, even at the risk of being wrong at times.

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A graduate of New York University Film School, Lee Server has written several books about Hollywood cinema and pulp fiction. In the latter half, he detailed how a poor immigrant from Italy, Johnny Rosselli, rose through the ranks of the mob, helping them get control of Hollywood and the Las Vegas Strip and was eventually recruited by the CIA in a plot to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro. A man of great style and charm, Rosselli got his start bootlegging during the Prohibition era of the 1920s in Los Angeles and became a protege of Al Capone.

Though he was well-liked by the Hollywood elite, Rosselli played an important part in efforts to extort the movie business, Server noted. He became an inside man in labor negotiations and used threats of a strike to get the studios to fork over large payouts to the mob. According to Server, Rosselli was involved in two separate plots to kill Castro-- the CIA wanted the mob to do it so they wouldn't have their "fingerprints" on it. Some have claimed Rosselli was also connected to the JFK assassination and was even one of the gunmen at Dealey Plaza, but Server found no credible evidence for that in his research. Rosselli's life soured in his later years. His decomposing body was found floating in a steel drum near Miami in 1976-- he'd been testifying before Congress, said Server, and members of the mob may have killed him to prevent further revelations.

News segment guest: Jeff Nelken

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