Antonio Damasio is a neuroscientist and neurologist who has published a number of theories about how the brain and mind work. Unlike many theories of mind, his are thoroughly grounded in neuroanatomy. Central to Damasio's theory of consciousness is the idea of biological value, that which helps in preserving homeostasis, which of course aids in … Continue reading Damasio’s theory of consciousness
The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. As someone who isn't able to find an objective basis for morality, I've often wondered what that means for the above statement from Martin Luther King. It certainly feels like we're making moral progress, that the status of previously oppressed or marginalized people … Continue reading Is there a moral arc to history?
One of the best and most succinct explanations of the difference between real science and pseudoscience that I’ve seen.
In writing this blog, I’m trying to teach myself science. Real science. At least, enough real science to be able to write competent science fiction.
Since most news articles about science are embarrassingly unreliable (damn those shruggies!), I end up reading a lot of scientific papers. And there’s something I’ve noticed. It’s like there’s a pattern to how scientific papers are written (at least, the legitimate ones).
Science Done Right
Taken as a whole, scientific papers sort of read like this:
Hey, I (or we) just noticed this weird thing which might have implications for how we think about other things. Here’s my (or our) best guess about what’s going on here, and here’s all the details so you can check this weird thing out for yourself. Hopefully we (the scientific community) can get to the bottom of this mystery.
A recent paper on the Planet Nine hypothesis is…
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via Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal A better question might be, if a robot has conflicting programming, what will it do? That seems to be where most human moral dilemmas arise, when our instincts are in conflict.
In the last post, I pondered what distinction between the physical and non-physical, noting that I've historically resisted the label of "physicalist" or "materialist" maintaining that, if any evidence for the non-physical ever did become available, I'd accept its existence. I finished my post asking what that evidence might look like? And if even asking … Continue reading What would evidence for the non-physical look like? A possible answer.
One label that often gets applied to me is "materialist", or sometimes "physicalist." It's a label that, while it probably gives an accurate idea of my conception of reality, I've generally resisted. Why? Because if there were ever any evidence for anything non-physical, I would accept its existence. Consequently, I've often felt that a better label … Continue reading What is physicalism?