Thursday, February 10, 2005


"All your life you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into outline it is like being ambushed by a grotesque."
— Tom Stoppard

When the revolution comes
Scientists speculate on the nature of the next revolution.
"The big question is why these revolutions don't make us profoundly sad. We're reduced to bags of chemicals with no free will, living on a normal planet, but people still find that exciting," says Ramachandran. "I think it's because with greater understanding, we see ourselves as part of some grander scheme. We're part of something larger than ourselves and once we identify with that, it is not degrading, it's ennobling."

Perhaps proof of parallel universes, the existence of extraterrestrial life, the possibility of artificial intelligence.

Complete knowledge of our biological selves.

Steven Pinker:
Thinking is neural computation; wanting and trying are neural cybernetics (feedback systems, like your thermostat). All this means that humans are not special in having an essence that is separate from the material universe. It means no life after death. That, in turn, means no divine rewards or punishments in a world to come. It means that our minds, not just our bodies, were descended from those of apes and shaped by the morally indifferent forces of natural selection. It means that responsibility can't be equated with the notion of free will, if free will is conceived as autonomous choice utterly disconnected from any chain of cause and effect.

Nancy Rothwell:
We might even find that there is a biological basis for religion. Suppose we discovered that God "lived" in a particular part of the brain, and that religion was a biological function which had evolved to help us through difficult times.

(Is that part of my brain defective? Is there a cure?)

From the dictionary
Main Entry: quod·li·bet
Pronunciation: 'kw├Ąd-l&-"bet
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin quodlibetum, from Latin quodlibet, neuter of quilibet any whatever, from qui who, what + libet it pleases, from libEre to please — more at WHO, LOVE
1 : a philosophical or theological point proposed for disputation; also : a disputation on such a point
2 : a whimsical combination of familiar melodies or texts

Eat your words
A Chicago chef is using edible papers and inks to print menus.
He plans to take the idea further. "Just imagine going through a magazine and looking at an ad for pizza. You wonder what it tastes like, so you rip a page out and eat it," he told New Scientist magazine.


Ole Blue The Heretic said...

I have wondered what is our next step in the evolutionary process. I do believe that science will engineer the next step, humans will have more control over their destiny and science will allow them to select which evolutionary path to take, that of extinction or evolution.


Anonymous said...

Scientists haven't even proven the theory of evolution true, so I don't worry about these things. In fact, the theory of evolution depends on another theory, the theory of uniformism which has different names. This link deals with it in geography, but that concept is the paradigm theory behind the other paradigm theories. There are zero links to prove the theory of evolution, yet how many of us just assume it's true? I did until I took a course on vertebrate evolution. Isn't that something, I rejected it BEFORE embracing adult religious beliefs.


Anonymous said...

Absolutely right, Karin, yet highly intelligent people take for granted that science HAS proven evolution true. So much so, that it's the only theory sanctioned by most school systems. If they only knew. But then again, I guess they will find out...someday!


Janet said...

I'm glad you threw in your 2 cents on my latest posts. It's interesting to hear about it from a reading blogger's perspective.

And they wonder why so many kids grow up to be adults who loathe reading!

Isabella said...

Evolution. Right.

There are a few misconceptions about it:
A theory, in the scientific sense, is "a coherent group of general propositions used as principles of explanation for a class of phenomena" [Random House American College Dictionary]. The term does not imply tentativeness or lack of certainty. Generally speaking, scientific theories differ from scientific laws only in that laws can be expressed more tersely. Being a theory implies self-consistency, agreement with observations, and usefulness.Evolution in action: the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a real problem.

Here's a nice guide to the ins and outs of basic science.

I too worry for the children.

You'll note also — although the logic may be a bit tricky to follow — evolution may be consistent with atheism, but it does not entail atheism.

Anonymous said...

The preponderance of evidence supports evolution. To say that just because evolution cannot currently be proven it is somehow fatally flawed is fantastically foolish. Evolution is scientifically sound and science is what I feel we should be teaching in public schools.

If you want to teach that which is supernatural, mystical, or otherwise requires faith... those things do not belong in a science class.

Anonymous said...

Nice post, Isabella! Regarding laws and theories, I was talking to my Personal Physicist last night, and he says that to scientists, for all practical purposes, there is no difference between theories and laws.

The "Law" of Gravity, for example, ain't no law to a physicist. Its universality has already been disproven by Relativity, and will be again if anyone can get a good theory of quantum gravity together. That's how it is in science -- as more facts come in, science is obligated to take them into account and adjust accordingly.

I don't say I "believe in" gravity. Gravity's effects in our daily lives are pretty much unquestionable. Similarly, I don't say I "believe in" evolution. Its effects are just as evident from the facts. It's true whether I believe in it or not.