Science As A Candle In The Dark

"The fact-free and superstitiously minded party of humans to take over as leaders of the United States in 2017, mirrors a striking resemblance to the worries of Cosmologist Carl Sagan in his 1996 work, The Demon-Haunted WorldScience as a Candle in the Dark."

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ON HUMAN SOCIAL DISEASES

 

CARL SAGAN AND BROCA'S BRAIN

"I would rather be a transformed ape than a degenerate son of Adam."

 

 
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EXCERPT:

"Broca was a humanist of the nineteenth century, but unable to shake the consuming prejudices, the human social diseases, of his time. He thought men superior to women, and whites superior to blacks. Even his conclusion that German brains were not significantly different from French ones was in rebuttal to a Teutonic claim of Gallic inferiority. But he concluded that there was a deep connection in brain physiology between gorillas and men. Broca, the founder of a society of freethinkers in his youth, believed in the importance of untrammeled inquiry and had lived his life in pursuit of that aim. His falling short of these ideals shows that someone as unstinting in the free pursuit of knowledge as Broca could still be deflected but he endemic and respectable bigotry. Society corrupts the best of us. It is a little unfair, I think, to criticize a person for not sharing the enlightenment of a later epoch, but it is also profoundly saddening that such prejudices were so extremely pervasive. The question raises nagging uncertainties about which of the conventional truths of our own age will be considered unforgivable bigotry by the next. One way to repay Paul Broca for this lesson which he has inadvertently provided us is to challenge, deeply and seriously, our own most strongly held beliefs."

The Species Six Billion Years From Now

SHORT EXCERPT FROM CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS LECTURE AT THE FESTIVAL OF DANGEROUS IDEAS | Full lecture linked below. 


Objective truth that sends a stirring of wonder throughout the entirety of the human experience. Described in emotion as a deep feeling in the bones; a ghost in the breath. An involuntary surrender to awe.

 

"Most educated people are aware that we are the outcome of nearly four billion years of darwinian selection, but many tend to think that humans are still somehow the culmination of that. Our sun, however, is less than half way through its lifespan. it will not be humans who watch that sun’s demise six billion years from now. Any creatures that then do exist will be as different from us as we are from bacteria or ameba."

Christopher Hitchens Starts at 4:00 the 'Festival of Dangerous Ideas' at the Sydney Opera House in October 2009. The topic was 'Religion Poisons Everything'. Photograph: Stephan Vos, Redux

An Evening With Richard Dawkins

IN CONVERSATION WITH SAM HARRIS

In collaboration with Hemant Mehta from Friendly Atheist, The Reason Record captured the discussion between Biologist/Writer Richard Dawkins and Neuroscientist/Writer Sam Harris in LA on November 1st, 2016.   

Hallucinations

Currently reading Oliver Sacks', Hallucinations and entirely fascinated and excited to learn more about this INCREDIBLY common characteristic of the brain. Hallucination has been, at times, a regular experience for me, likely relating to poor eyesight. As an adolescent my imagination entertained the idea that I was experiencing something "mystical" or of the "supernatural realm." It's fun to learn about the tricks my brain has been up to while debunking my previous ideas.

"Hallucinations have always had an important place in our mental lives and our culture. Indeed, one must wonder to what extent hallucinatory experiences have given rise to our art, folklore, and even religion. Do the geometric patterns seen in migraine and other conditions prefigure the Motifs of aboriginal art? Did Lilliputian hallucinations (which are not uncommon) give rise to the elves, imps, leprechauns, and fairies in our folklore? Do the terrifying hallucinations of the nightmare, being ridden and suffocated by a malign presence, play a part in generating our concepts of demons and witches or malignant aliens? Do "ecstatic" seizures, such as Dostoevsky had, play a part in generating our sense of the Divine? Do out-of-body experiences allow the feeling that one can be disembodied? Does the substancelessness of hallucinations encourage a belief in ghosts and spirits? Why has every culture known to us sought and found hallucinogenic drugs and used them, first and foremost, for sacramental purposes?"

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I KNOW

AUTHOR | AshlieRené

Always, since delving into the nature of reality and what science has taught us as a species, there is a major sense of urgency. It is an impossibility that I might, in my lifetime, explore every corner of our planetary home, and I must see as much of it as I can. Time cannot be wasted on trivial fantasies. There is too much to learn; Too many wonderfully brilliant scientific writers to read from. The most extraordinary things I will ever do with my life, will be in the presence of creatures not of my own hominid species. I dream of bringing myself face to face with every one of them. The most beautiful thing I know yet, about myself, is my biochemical connection to all of them. I am grateful to not waste another moment rummaging around in the dark. And I wish most to be in a similarly wonderful mind state as Oliver Sacks at the end my life.

• Current book recommendation is a big one, an important one, one of my most recommended ever. Stunning perspective from a truly brilliant scientist on life and death.

"I am grateful that I have experienced many things- some wonderful, some horrible- and that I have been able to write a dozen books, to receive innumerable letters from friends, colleagues, and readers, and to enjoy what Nathaniel Hawthorne called 'an intercourse with the world.' I am sorry I have wasted (and still waste) so much time; I am sorry to be as agonizingly shy at eighty as I was at twenty; I am sorry that I speak no languages but my mother tongue and that I have not traveled or experienced other cultures as widely as I should have done."

- Oliver Sacks (neurologist) | "Gratitude"

Profound Carl Sagan Excerpt From 1973 Will Inspire Young People To Take Back Their Planet. The Information Generation of humans.

“Our instincts and emotions are those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors of a million years ago. But our society is astonishingly different from that of a million years ago. In times of slow change, the insights and skills learned by one generation are useful, tried, and adaptive, and are gladly received when passed down to the next generation. But in times like today, when the society changes significantly in less than a human lifetime, the parental insights no longer have unquestioned validity for the young. The so-called generation gap is a consequence of the rate of social and technological change. . .Old economic assumptions, old methods of determining political leaders, old methods of distributing resources, old methods of communicating information from the government to the people – and vice versa – all of these may once have been valid or useful or at least somewhat adaptive, but today may no longer have survival value at all. Old oppressive and chauvinistic attitudes among the races, between the sexes, and between economic groups are being justifiably challenged. The fabric of society throughout the world is ripping."

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