The Dark Side of the Sun

transcendent

I belong to a couple of Facebook groups on Transhumanism and the Singularity, and I avidly read the articles and posts. But I don't buy into every one of them. Yes, I want fantastic things to happen. Hell, I fully EXPECT fantastic things to happen. But ... a lot of the articles are more about possibilities than realities.  For instance, I think we've been predicting safe, abundant fusion energy -- any time now -- for the past 50 years. I've kinda begun to wonder "What if it just isn't … [Read more...]

GMOs, Part 3: Sociopaths in Paradise

sociopath

GMOs, Part 1: The Horizon of Sanity GMOs, Part 2: Functional Sociopaths I should probably make the point here that when I use the term “sociopath,” I’m using more of a common-colloquial understanding of the term than a clinical one. One of the more formal definitions goes like this: Diagnostic Criteria (DSM-IV) 1. Since the age of fifteen there has been a disregard for and violation of the rights of others, those rights considered normal by the local culture, as indicated by at … [Read more...]

GMOs, Part 2: Functional Sociopaths

sociopath

[ Start here: GMOs, Part 1: The Horizon of Sanity ] Given this horizon of sanity, is it possible there are people out there who not only seem crazy but crazy in some really bad way? Well, sure. Perfectly ordinary people, people who function in the real world just as well as you and I do, nevertheless believe and do things that you’d consider insane, even evil. And here’s the thing: The people around them, the ones used to them and well within their horizon of sanity, think they’re … [Read more...]

GMOs, Part 1: The Horizon of Sanity

horizon

I've gotten into several arguments online about GMOs, and inevitably, if you have any reservations at all about genetically modified foodstuffs, somebody will instantly claim you're an idiot, a luddite, a conspiracy theorist, and a wearer of tinfoil hats. (Why do you want to kill the starving children, you bastard?) Science aficionados will earnestly point out that thousands and thousands of studies have shown GMOs to be totally safe. Besides which -- and here's a glib argument I truly hate … [Read more...]

Prairie Dogs are Calling You Fat

Prairie Dogs

I don't think I ever got to meet this guy when I lived in Flagstaff and edited an arts and entertainment magazine for 3 years, but I wish I had. He's doing some amazing work. Dr. Con Slobodchikoff, Ph.D., assisted by students at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, has managed to decode some of the content of prairie dog language. As it turns out, they're pretty expressive. You might not think it to look at them, but prairie dogs and humans actually share an important commonality -- and … [Read more...]

Neuroscientist: Fundamentalism As Mental Illness

A HuffPo article from yesterday (Friday, May 31) says: Kathleen Taylor, Neuroscientist, Says Religious Fundamentalism Could Be Treated As A Mental Illness An Oxford University researcher and author specializing in neuroscience has suggested that one day religious fundamentalism may be treated as a curable mental illness. Kathleen Taylor, who describes herself as a "science writer affiliated to the Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics," made the suggestion during a presentation … [Read more...]

The First Music Video in Space … Rocks.

Chris_Hadfield_2011

I know you've probably seen this already. But it's special enough that *I* wanted to put it somewhere permanent. This is so cool it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks to ISS Commander Chris Hadfield. (Hurrah for Canadian intelligence, talent and bone-deep class!) Video below:     … [Read more...]

Well, This Is Disturbing.

bill-the-cat

Before I started A Citizen of Earth, I blogged as The Blue Collar Atheist. The name was mostly intended to underline my lack of a college degree, or any great amount of advanced education, to make the point that giving up religion, become an agnostic or atheist, is not something you need a Ph.D. to do. You can be a complete doofus and still reason yourself free of it. Speaking of which, even *I* can see the gaping holes in some of the stuff from this site (hat tip to commenter Chris for … [Read more...]

4th Grade Quiz: Four Ways Not to be Fooled

Science Quiz

"What do you get when you cross an elephant with a rhino?"  goes the old joke. The answer: Elephino (hell if I know)! To the question of whether the attached image is the real thing, that's the best I can figure out. (Click to see it full-size.) I saw it this morning on the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Science and Reason Facebook page, a link shared by J.O., commenter from Gothenburg, Sweden. The original image appears to be from Imgur. The Imgur side-caption says the picture was … [Read more...]

Adventures in Cholecystectomy Land – Part 1

Probably more than you wanted to know, but ... I promised myself I would blog about this, and so I am: I went to the hospital on Friday for my pre-admission session, in preparation for gallbladder surgery – by an actual robot! – next Friday. Before surgery, they want to make sure you’re up to it, so they do blood tests, EKG, etc. I aced the tests. One of the nurses even told me she really liked having people like me, because so many of her patients were, you know, smokers and such, and … [Read more...]