Archive for the ‘evolution’ Category

In terms of history, the events in Middle East, of ISIS and all of that, is just a speed bump on history’s highway. The Middle East is not very important. Silicon Valley is much more important. It’s the world of the 21st century … I’m not speaking only about technology.

In terms of ideas, in terms of religions, the most interesting place today in the world is Silicon Valley, not the Middle East. This is where people like Ray Kurzweil, are creating new religions. These are the religions that will take over the world, not the ones coming out of Syria and Iraq and Nigeria.

via Death Is Optional |

Gleiser begins by posing the question of whether there are fundamental limits to how much of the universe and our place in it science can explain, with a concrete focus on physical reality. Echoing cognitive scientist Alexandra Horowitz’s eye-opening exploration of why our minds miss the vast majority of what is going on around us, he writes:

What we see of the world is only a sliver of what’s “out there.” There is much that is invisible to the eye, even when we augment our sensorial perception with telescopes, microscopes, and other tools of exploration. Like our senses, every instrument has a range. Because much of Nature remains hidden from us, our view of the world is based only on the fraction of reality that we can measure and analyze. Science, as our narrative describing what we see and what we conjecture exists in the natural world, is thus necessarily limited, telling only part of the story… We strive toward knowledge, always more knowledge, but must understand that we are, and will remain, surrounded by mystery… It is the flirting with this mystery, the urge to go beyond the boundaries of the known, that feeds our creative impulse, that makes us want to know more.

via The Island of Knowledge: How to Live with Mystery in a Culture Obsessed with Certainty and Definitive Answers | Brain Pickings.

Letting go of ideas can be difficult, because of the well-established neural pathways we have constructed with them – they become part of the fabric. Recognizing that they are not fruitful or not supported is crucial to opening to new ideas.


The fact is we all suffer from cognitive egocentrism. We all seem to intuitively assume that we have won what I call the ‘Magical Belief Lottery.’ We cherry pick confirming evidence and utterly overlook disconfirming evidence. We automatically assume that our sources are more reliable than the sources cited by others. We think we are more intelligent than we in fact are. We rewrite memories to minimize the threat of inconsistencies. We mistake claims repeated three or more times as fact. We continually revise our beliefs to preempt in-group criticism. We regularly confabulate. We congenitally use our conclusions to determine the cogency of our premises. The list goes on and on, believe you me. Add to this the problem of Interpretative Underdetermination, the simple fact that our three pound brains are so dreadfully overmatched by the complexities of the world…

via The Semantic Apocalypse | Speculative Heresy.

lw: Recognition of the Human Condition.

In Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking (public library) — the same fantastic volume that gave us Dennett on the dignity and art-science of making mistakes — he offers what he calls “the best antidote [for the] tendency to caricature one’s opponent”: a list of rules formulated decades ago by the legendary social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport, best-known for originating the famous tit-of-tat strategy of game theory. Dennett synthesizes the steps:

How to compose a successful critical commentary:

You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way.

You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).

You should mention anything you have learned from your target.

Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

via How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently | Brain Pickings.

//A successful consilience, bringing an ideal mindset described in ancient literature into the light of contemporary humanities and cognitive sciences. //

EDWARD SLINGERLAND is Professor of Asian Studies and Canada Research Chair in Chinese Thought and Embodied Cognition at the University of British Columbia and the author of Trying Not to Try: The Art and Science of Spontaneity.

“The way we’re doing it at UBC is problem-based consilience. We bring together people who all care about the same issue, you know, “what’s the role of religion in human cooperation?” Coming from different disciplines and they want to answer more or less the same questions. They just have different tools. And if you give people a shared problem, it’s a much more productive interaction.”

The other way in which engaging with science helps on this particular issue is, I’ve been trying to pioneer these new approaches to studying texts. So instead of just picking passages that happen to support your position, we did a study where we actually pulled out every single passage. The nice thing is that the early China stuff is all online and searchable. It’s all in electronic form. We pulled out every single passage that had the word “xin” in it, which if anything means “mind,” it’s this word. It literally refers to the heart, sometimes translated as heart-mind. We pulled out every passage that had this word in it, and then we had teams of coders who were applying our hypothesis go and code how “xin” was being characterized in the passage.We developed this website where they’d click on radio buttons.”

via The Paradox of Wu-Wei |

  • Bridging the “Two Cultures”: Merleau-Ponty and the Crisis in Modern PhysicsGraduate studies at Western Steven M. RosenCosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy 9 2:1-12 2013Abstract This paper brings to light the significance of Merleau-Ponty’s thinking for contemporary physics. The point of departure is his 1956–57 Collège de France lectures on Nature, coupled with his reflections on the crisis in modern physics appearing in THE VISIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE. Developments in theoretical physics after his death are then explored and a deepening of the crisis is disclosed. The upshot is that physics’ intractable problems of uncertainty and subject-object interaction can only be addressed by shifting its philosophical base from objectivism to phenomenology, as Merleau-Ponty suggested. Merleau-Ponty’s allusion to “topological space” in THE VISIBLE AND THE INVISIBLE provides a clue for bridging the gap between “hard science” and “soft philosophy.” This lead is pursued in the present paper by employing the paradoxical topology of the Klein bottle. The hope is that, by “softening” physics and “hardening” phenomenology, the “two cultures” cf. C. P. Snow can be wed and a new kind of science be born.”

via Steven M. Rosen, Bridging the “Two Cultures”: Merleau-Ponty and the Crisis in Modern Physics – PhilPapers.

This is a fabulous tool to clarify the complexity of the world; you don’t have to go all over the Internet to understand something; this gets it all together,” said Philippe Destatte, Director of The Destree Institute (Namur, Wallonia) and a sponsor of the Brussels launch of the Global Futures Intelligence System held at Royal Academy of Belgium along with the Club of Rome European Union Chapter and Deloitte.

via Digital global intelligence on the future of the world in the palm of your hand | KurzweilAI.

Reinstalling Eden

Eric Schwitzgebel & R. Scott Bakker

Nature 503, 562 (28 November 2013) doi:10.1038/503562a

Published online 27 November 2013

via Reinstalling Eden : Nature : Nature Publishing Group.

//lw: This is an amazing short story on the virtuality of reality.

THE STONE November 10, 2013, 3:00 pm 454 Comments

Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene


via Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene –

//lw: Can something life-worthy arise from the ashes of our greed?