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Does Science Belong Here?

Scientists continue to insert their particular methods and viewpoints into every aspect of life, but questions might be raised about the validity of their findings and the propriety of scientists acting as advisors on moral and political questions. Happiness science:  Advice found online: “the best way to increase your happiness is to stop worrying about […]

Humans As Guinea Pigs

Some scientists like to examine everything except themselves.  Human beings are natural objects, they think; why not apply the scientific method to the study of other human beings?  It’s a perfectly natural inclination; the question is whether the findings have scientific validity, or result in understanding of human nature better than the explanations offered by […]

Scientists Invade Religion

Science and religion, those uneasy combatants in turf wars, do not get equal treatment in the media.  The referees in the science news media frequently overlook invasions by science into religious territory, but fail to heed calls of foul by the invaded. World religion:  Last month in New Scientist, Kate Douglas theorized about what an […]

Who Should Teach Self-Control?

A symposium at Massey University in New Zealand has come up with a profound thought: self-control is a key to a happier life.  Academics have helped themselves to an ancient notion that teaching self-control to children leads to happier outcomes as adults.  Did the world need science to reach this conclusion?     Self-control is […]

Seeing Is Believing, or v.v.

What you see is not what is out there in the world – not exactly, at least.  Scientists have shown that your brain is tweaking the light coming in from your eyes and making predictions about what you expect to see.     The “blind spot” experiment is well known to students.  That’s where it […]

Science Discovers the Unexpected and the Obvious

Young’s Law jokes, “All great discoveries are made by mistake.”  Here are some recent examples. Arch-istan:  Think the world’s natural features are all well known?  “Researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have stumbled upon a geological colossus in a remote corner of Afghanistan: a natural stone arch spanning more than 200 feet across its base,” […]

Neurons Know What to Do

Neurons are among the most vital cells in the body: after all, your brain is largely composed of neurons.  Neurons are transmission lines of information that keep a body in touch with itself and the world.  None of the other body organs would work without neurons.  The increasingly powerful tools of microscopy are allowing neuroscientists […]

Sensing the World Requires Intelligent Design

How do our bodies make sense of the external world?  Through our senses, of course; at least they are the entry points of data into the mind.  Behind those senses are remarkable mechanisms that we use but do not actively operate.  The design in their automatic operations is slowly being revealed with better observing techniques. […]

If Pigs Have Wings, SETI Could Be Robots

The SETI program is still waiting to catch a sentient signal from deep space, but in the absence of data, people are free to speculate.  Michael Dyer, a computer science professor at UCLA, is certain that the first aliens to visit Earth will be robots.  He even attached a probability to it, according to Adam […]

Is the Mind a Computer?

After a computer named Watson beat two contestants on Jeopardy last month, people are asking if the human mind is becoming obsolete.  What are the similarities and differences between gray matter and deep blue?     PhysOrg asked, “Machines beat us at our own game: What can we do?”  For one thing, they should have […]

Philosophy Roundup

Philosophy of science is a broad discipline incorporating many sub-disciplines such as intellectual history, sociology, ethics, rhetoric, logic, demarcation of science from pseudoscience, classification, discovery, verification, explanation and more.  A dozen recent news stories discussed some of these topics. Medical ethics:  PhysOrg reproduced an AP story about medical research on humans in the US in […]

This Is Your Brain on Bytes

It’s mind-boggling time.  Some recent articles have tried to quantify the information capacity of the eye, the brain, and the world.  Ready?  Think hard. Eye boggle:  Your eyes contain about 120 million rods and 6 million cones each.  If each receptor represents a pixel, that is 2 x 126 million pixels, or 252 megapixels.  And […]

Intelligence as a Cosmic Reality

The “I” in SETI takes “Intelligence” seriously.  It requires that intelligence is a recognizable, quantifiable property of nature.  The origin of intelligence is a question that separates theists from materialists – whether it is a fundamental or emergent property.  Before engaging that question, it might be instructive to see how scientists who are not necessarily […]

Brain Synapse Machinery Is Finely Tuned

The New York Times published a brief article on brain facts that is astonishing, when you think about all that goes on in thinking.  Nicholas Wade reported on a new inventory of the proteins involved in the synapses, the key junctions between neurons.  The research team, led by Seth Grant of the Sanger Institute near […]

News on the Mind

Here are a dozen recent stories dealing with brains, the mind, perception, motivation and other aspects of psychology and neuroscience. Nature and nurture:  PhysOrg claims that scientists at SMU have resolved the nature vs nurture debate with a hybrid approach.  Whether it satisfies critics remains to be seen.  Perhaps they are still thinking inside the […]
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