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.


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.


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?



@ 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


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.


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.



See on Scoop.it - Philosophy everywhere everywhen
What’s the harm in believing in unproven concepts like Chinese medicine’s theory of Qi if its remedies seem to help?


Philosophers of science have been preoccupied for a while with what they call the “demarcation problem,” the issue of what separates good science from bad science and pseudoscience (and everything in between). The problem is relevant for at least three reasons.The first is philosophical: Demarcation is crucial to our pursuit of knowledge; its issues go to the core of debates on epistemology and of the nature of truth and discovery. The second reason is civic: our society spends billions of tax dollars on scientific research, so it is important that we also have a good grasp of what constitutes money well spent in this regard. Should the National Institutes of Health finance research on “alternative medicine”? Should the Department of Defense fund studies on telepathy? Third, as an ethical matter, pseudoscience is not — contrary to popular belief — merely a harmless pastime of the gullible; it often threatens people’s welfare, sometimes fatally so. For instance, millions of people worldwide have died of AIDS because they (or, in some cases, their governments) refuse to accept basic scientific findings about the disease, entrusting their fates to folk remedies and “snake oil” therapies.

See on opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com
Screw writing “strong” women. Write interesting women. Write well-rounded women. Write complicated women. Write a woman who kicks ass, write a woman who cowers in a corner. Write a woman who’s desperate for a husband. Write a woman who doesn’t need a man. Write women who cry, women who rant, women who are shy, women who don’t take no shit, women who need validation and women who don’t care what anybody thinks. THEY ARE ALL OKAY, and all those things could exist in THE SAME WOMAN. Women shouldn’t be valued because we are strong, or kick-ass, but because we are people. So don’t focus on writing characters who are strong. Write characters who are people.
via; read the rest.