Philosopher Jonny Thompson has an article up on RealClearScience profiling the views of Mary Midgley: The Three Myths of Scientism. (Warning: the RealClearScience site is pretty ad intensive.) Midgley was a famous critic of views she regarded as scientism, and often sparred with atheist and antitheist Richard Dawkins. As someone who usually takes the scientific … Continue reading The relativity of scientism
Gregg Caruso and Daniel Dennett have a new book out: Just Deserts: Debating Free Will. Michael Shermer, in a recent podcast, hosted both of them in a debate, which I just finished listening to. Ed Gibney, on his blog, also links to a review he wrote on the book, as well as posting additional thoughts … Continue reading Free will and social responsibility
The director's cut of the 2017 movie Justice League was released for streaming last week, all four hours of it. I watched it over several evenings, grateful that Snyder chose to have labeled acts that made it easy to pause. I don't often bother with director cuts of movies I've already seen. Historically they usually … Continue reading Zack Snyder’s Justice League
(Warning: neuroscience weeds) This is an interesting study getting attention on social media: Does the Prefrontal Cortex Play an Essential Role in Consciousness? Insights from Intracranial Electrical Stimulation of the Human Brain. Ned Block is one of the authors. (Warning: paywalled, but you might have luck here.) The study looks at data from epileptic patients … Continue reading Stimulating the prefrontal cortex
This week my state expanded vaccine eligibility so I was able to make an appointment. Last night I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine. I didn't consciously choose Pfizer. It's just what the place I was able to get an appointment at had available. It was a mass vaccination site, so the logistics … Continue reading Getting vaccinated
The recent news reports that cuttlefish are able to pass the marshmallow test are interesting. The classic marshmallow test involved giving a young child a marshmallow but promising them a second one if they could hold off eating the first for 15 minutes. The kid was then left alone in a room with the first … Continue reading The marshmallow test and conscious feeling
(Warning: neuroscience weeds) Stanislas Dehaene recently called attention to a paper in Nature studying the brain dynamics of something becoming conscious. The study supports the global neuronal workspace theory that consciousness involves "bifurcation" dynamics, an "ignition", a phase transition between preconscious and conscious processing. Prior to the transition, the processing is feedforward and fleeting. After … Continue reading The global playground
This weekend, Sabine Hossenfelder did a video and post about the simulation hypothesis, the idea that we might be living in a computer simulation. She dismisses the notion that consciousness can't be a computational simulation, which I think is correct, but then settles on the idea that physics itself can't be simulated, because we have … Continue reading The right reason to doubt the simulation hypothesis
A couple of weeks ago I highlighted Robin Hanson's ideas about alien civilizations. A big part of Hanson's reasoning involved the Fermi paradox, the question that, if alien civilizations are common, there where is everyone? It seems like Earth should have been colonized long ago. Hanson focused on the number of difficult evolutionary filters life … Continue reading The return of heretical thought?
Kurzgesagt takes a look at the number of deaths from nuclear power in comparison with other sources. You might find the actual numbers surprising. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzfpyo-q-RM Kurzgesagt - in a Nutshell: How Many People Did Nuclear Energy Kill? Nuclear Death Toll I think the video makes an important point. But by focusing exclusively on deaths, it … Continue reading The safety of nuclear power?