Thinking According To Scale

PZ and Crommunist offer nice denunciations of the significance of a graphic which has been going around the internet which concludes that the chance of any given individual alive today ever existing was 1 in 102,685,000.  Below the fold is the graphic, key snippets of their remarks and the lesson to draw for how we should consider [Read More...]

What Are Monkeys', Chimps', and Dogs' Thoughts Like?

In this audio file from Philosophy Bites, philosopher of mind Tim Crane discusses what philosophical and psychological methods there are for potentially figuring out what kinds of minds and thoughts animals might have. He has the most to say about chimps, monkeys, and dogs. He is the author of The Mechanical Mind: A Philosophical Introduction to Minds, Machines and Mental Representation,Elements [Read More...]

Mimicking the Brain in Silicon

MIT researchers make progress towards a potentially amazing accomplishment: For decades, scientists have dreamed of building computer systems that could replicate the human brain’s talent for learning new tasks. MIT researchers have now taken a major step toward that goal by designing a computer chip that mimics how the brain’s neurons adapt in response to [Read More...]

Is Oxytocin The "Morality Molecule"

That is Paul Zak’s theory. The video is fascinating: Now I just need to find 8 people to hug me everyday. (via Philosopher’s Haze, who you can read for a summary if you cannot watch the video for some reason). Patricia Churchland’s book Braintrust: What Neuroscience Tells Us about Morality explores the role of Oxycotin in morality [Read More...]

You Are Not So Smart

The website You Are Not So Smart does an outstanding job of explaining all sorts of cognitive errors for a lay audience in an engaging way. Last week Dave McRaney, the site’s author, released a book version called You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly [Read More...]

Judging Yourself Truthfully

One of the most important mental disciplines is to assess yourself honestly. We are so naturally susceptible to judging ourselves according to both the flattery of our admirers and of our own ego, on the one hand, and the disdain of our detractors and our own irrational fears, on the other. It takes a lot [Read More...]

Don't Demonize Religious People's Motives, Focus On Their Objective Harms (Tip 6 of 10 For Reaching Out To Religious Believers)

1. Don’t Call Religious Believers Stupid. 2. Make Believers Stay on Topic During Debates. 3. Don’t Tell Religious Believers What They “Really Believe”. 4. Clarify What Kinds of Evidence Warrant What Kinds of Beliefs. 5. Help Break The Spell Of Religious Reverence.  6. Don’t Demonize Religious People’s Motives, Focus On Their Objective Harms Sometimes religion [Read More...]

How Evangelicals Can Be Very Hurtful Without Being Very Hateful

The weekend after George W. Bush’s reelection, I attended a MoveOn.org get together at my friends’ house. The idea of the event was that people would volunteer their homes to host nationally coordinated local strategy discussions. So, it was me, my two friends, and a whole bunch of hard-left Upper West Side Manhattanites all of [Read More...]

Memorializing Suicides Without Heroizing Suicide

Gay blogger Jim Burroway believes that Lady Gaga’s advocacy for the LGBT community is genuine and passionate but worries about a backfire effect of her decision to prominently dedicate a song to one of her young fans who took his life recently: as I watch this video of her performing “Hair” and dedicating it to Jamey Rodemeyer at [Read More...]


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