Russell’s Teapot

Russell’s teapot, sometimes called the celestial teapot or cosmic teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872–1970) to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims rather than shifting the burden of proof to others, specifically in the case of religion.

Russell wrote that if he claims that a teapot orbits the Sun somewhere in space between the Earth and Mars, it is nonsensical for him to expect others to believe him on the grounds that they cannot prove him wrong. Russell’s teapot is still referred to in discussions concerning the existence of God.

Wiki

inthenoosphere
inthenoosphere:

Symbolic representation of the participatory universe as developed by physicist, John Archibald Wheeler

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“We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan
A video of John Wheeler talking about this image.
Christopher Langan’s animated gif version of John’s idea, via Imagining the Tenth Dimension.
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I’m curious, who’s the artist of the above drawing? I haven’t been able to find a real source yet. It is Wheeler’s idea, but it’s unclear if this particular picture was drawn by him — seems not.

inthenoosphere:

Symbolic representation of the participatory universe as developed by physicist, John Archibald Wheeler

••••••

We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” ― Carl Sagan

A video of John Wheeler talking about this image.

Christopher Langan’s animated gif version of John’s idea, via Imagining the Tenth Dimension.

••••••

I’m curious, who’s the artist of the above drawing? I haven’t been able to find a real source yet. It is Wheeler’s idea, but it’s unclear if this particular picture was drawn by him — seems not.

Holding out a Candle in the Dark:

Books that help clarify what science truly is, explain its history and methods, and inspire curiosity about our universe.

As well, the books that debunk the myths which lead to confusion about our world and how it works, that we may slowly change our relationship to nature: from fear and superstition to awe and understanding.

TIL that Jason Silva calls himself a Futurist.
I want to talk about this. Because someone has to offer an opposing view, lest minds — especially young ones who haven’t read enough to know better — fall in this hole, never to return again. Mine nearly did, but I chose to hear out and learn from the skeptics, despite their “negativity”.
Silva is simply a filmmaker who enthusiastically uses buzzwords like “mindgasm" and "feedback loops" and "Quest Physics" — he borrows credibility. Many people are evidently apt to confuse this with profundity.
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For ease, the Wiki definition of a futurist:

Futurists (not in the sense of [the early 20th century art movement, futurism]) or futurologists are scientists and social scientists whose speciality is … to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present, whether that of human society in particular or of life on earth in general.

I don’t know if he does any of the above, but I can infer from what I’ve seen of it that Silva’s work does NOT involve science. It cannot. A scientifically literate person would not ever say the things this man says.
While many futurists do hold fringe beliefs/values/etc., futurism stems from a consideration of science and technology, and where they may lead us. Not New Age philosophy. NOT “The Secret”, not “intentions”, not “positive energy”, not mystical quantum anything. Some futurists may espouse those ideas, but they aren’t intrinsic to the movement.
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For more info about futurism, please visit:
SpaceCollective.org
KurzweilAI.net
To learn more about differentiating between New Age BS and science, please visit the following links. (In no specified order, just a small sampling):
Scientific Literacy (list on Goodreads)If you don’t have time for whole books, at least start with a few quotes or a wiki summary. But please don’t make the mistake of rejecting outright or arguing based on a few excerpts. (Here, one might try to say the same about how I’m reacting to Silva. But the truth is, I was deeply immersed in material like his in my teen years, ergo I accepted and understood it before critically dissecting and rejecting it.)
Skepdic: New Thought"The dominating idea of all forms of New Thought is that thoughts or beliefs have an effect on things and people around us independently of our doing anything. Thinking creates reality."
Skepdic: “Energy” (New Age)"New Age spiritualism has co-opted some of the language of physics, including the language of quantum mechanics, in its quest to make ancient metaphysics sound like respectable science."
Skepdic: “Law” of AttractionAn offshoot of New Thought. Central tenet of “The Secret”.
Carl Sagan’s CosmosVideo series; a historical overview of science. Part of Sagan’s agenda toward scientific literacy. Things we all should’ve learned in grade school. Available for free, nearly everywhere.
"Science Saved My Soul" by Phil HellenesA 5-min excerpt of the original video.
Excerpt from Feynman’s The Meaning of it All

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All that said… it’s difficult to live. People need the inspiration and personal values and philosophies that help them do so. Understanding that, I’m not anti-god nor anti-spirituality, etc. I am anti-obfuscation. There’s much more to this than I can cover in several paragraphs on a blog post.
I’m writing this not out of anger (although let’s be honest, some of this shit makes my blood boil), but in hopes of holding out yet another Candle in the Dark to anyone who may not otherwise have an opportunity to see one.

TIL that Jason Silva calls himself a Futurist.

I want to talk about this. Because someone has to offer an opposing view, lest minds — especially young ones who haven’t read enough to know better — fall in this hole, never to return again. Mine nearly did, but I chose to hear out and learn from the skeptics, despite their “negativity”.

Silva is simply a filmmaker who enthusiastically uses buzzwords like “mindgasm" and "feedback loops" and "Quest Physics" — he borrows credibility. Many people are evidently apt to confuse this with profundity.

Read More

Emerging and proposed technologies such as human cloning and genetic engineering have drawn a chorus of objections from politicians, pundits, and scholars. … Russell Blackford eschews the heated rhetoric that surrounds these technological developments and examines them in the context of secular and liberal thought.

… Blackford argues … that the challenge is that fear of these technologies has created an atmosphere in which liberal tolerance itself is threatened.

Secularism, Liberalism, and the Human Future, with Russell Blackford
Dates: Nov 9, 2013
Location: London, U.K.

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Sounds intresting; hope it’s webcasted.

Just a few years of early musical training benefits the brain later in life

Kurzweil AI
November 7, 2013

Older adults who took music lessons as children but haven’t actively played an instrument in decades have a faster brain response to a speech sound than individuals who never played an instrument, according to a new study by Northwestern University researchers.

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Nice. So those piano lessons didn’t go to waste, after all.

“Atheism” is a fine word, and I’m happy to describe myself as an atheist. God is an idea that has consequences, and those consequences don’t accord with the world we experience any better than countless other ideas we’ve given up on. But given a choice I would always describe myself first as a “naturalist” — someone who believes that there is only one realm of reality, the material world, which obeys natural laws, and that we human beings are part of it. “Atheism” is ultimately about rejecting a certain idea, while “naturalism” is about a positive acceptance of a comprehensive worldview. Naturalists have a lot more work to do than simply rejecting God; they bear the responsibility of understanding how to live a meaningful life in a universe without built-in purpose.
The Case for Naturalism
By Sean Carroll | May 7, 2012 9:03 am

Besides the few famous ones in film and books, do theoretical physicists actually exist, happily, doing interesting things?

Or are they magical unicorn butterfly creatures that are only rumored to have been seen in the wild, but are only miserably locked away in towers, trying to get impossible tenure positions?

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edit:

@ redcloud: haha. good one. yes.

@ thenoobyorker: the honest answer, I guess. I’m guessing it’s the latter. Janna Levin is one such unicorn that comes to mind, but… that’s just it. One. I don’t understand how one acquires the finances to live this life.

The naturalistic fallacy refers to the misguided belief that whatever is natural is good.

Sea Otters Are Jerks. So Are Dolphins, Penguins, and Other Adorable Animals.
By Brian Switek

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That applies to preference of products with natural ingredients, and extends to the belief that humans are separate from animals and nature — that human-created means unnatural. Whether it’s the cliche complaint, “Kids these days spend too much time with technology. It’s unnatural,” or naive religious/sexual views.

frrrst

It is not just our Western habits and cultural preferences that are different from the rest of the world, it appears. The very way we think about ourselves and others—and even the way we perceive reality—makes us distinct from other humans on the planet, not to mention from the vast majority of our ancestors. Among Westerners, the data showed that Americans were often the most unusual, leading the researchers to conclude that “American participants are exceptional even within the unusual population of Westerners—outliers among outliers.”

Given the data, they concluded that social scientists could not possibly have picked a worse population from which to draw broad generalizations. Researchers had been doing the equivalent of studying penguins while believing that they were learning insights applicable to all birds.

Not surprised. Do read the rest.