“The terror of death has guided the development of art, religion, language, economics, and science. It raised the pyramids in Egypt and razed the Twin Towers in Manhattan. It contributes to conflicts around the globe. At a more personal level, recognition of our mortality leads us to love fancy cars, tan ourselves to an unhealthy crisp, max out our credit cards, drive like lunatics, itch for a fight with a perceived enemy, and crave fame, however ephemeral, even if we have to drink yak urine on Survivor to get it.”
Immanuel Kant defined the Enlightenment as the “progress of mankind toward improvement” through the “freedom to make public use of one’s reason on every point,” and Vincenzo Ferrone claims it is this critical process that has driven public opinion and politics, giving us the language of human rights, tolerance, and individual liberty.
“Refining earlier research, a newly published study finds innovative people are indeed more likely than most to cross ethical boundaries—but only after they have been engaged in creative work. According to a research team led by Ke Michael Mai, a creative frame of mind enables one to come up with compelling justifications for bad behavior.”
Those skeptical of basic income might ask: If you give people enough to live on, won’t they stop working? Won’t they get lazy? Evidence from pilot studies by Guy Standing, a professor of development studies at the University of London and a co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network, points the other way.“When people stop working out of fear, they become more productive,” Standing says.
“The Allen Cell Types Database, on its surface, doesn’t look like much. The first release includes information on just 240 neurons out of hundreds of thousands in the mouse visual cortex, with a focus on the electrophysiology of those individual cells: the electrical pulses that tell a neuron to fire, initiating a pattern of neural activation that results in perception and action. But understanding those single cells well enough to put them into larger categories will be crucial to understanding the brain as a whole—much like the periodic table was necessary to establish basic chemical principles.”
“Procrastination is, in essence, stealing from yourself. The reason goals are so hard to reach, many psychologists think, is because each person believes they are really two people: Present Me and Future Me. And to most people, Future Me is much less important than Present Me. Present Me is the CEO of Me Corp, while Future Me is a lowly clerk.”
“Despite a heady term that calls to mind algebraic equations requiring chalkboard walls that lift up to reveal entire second sets of chalkboard walls, game theory’s a relatively easy concept: It’s using math, rather than your intuition, to make decisions. It’s Moneyball, not just peering from a distance and saying, ‘Looks like an athlete to me.'”
Way back in 1992, a writer for the Toronto Star described online trolls as people who “fish for flames” the way fishermen troll for fish. These days, Laura Miller observes, “‘troll’ is a word pinned on whoever happens to be upsetting us online.” Miller looks at the motivations of trolls and the rise of reverse trolling.
“Does God have to be part of our understanding of the universe? No. But if scientists tell the public that they have to choose between God and science, most people will choose God … Meanwhile, many of those who choose science find themselves without any way of thinking that can give them access to their own spiritual potential. … What if we thought this way about God? What if we took the evidence of a new cosmic reality [i.e., dark matter and dark energy] seriously and became willing to rule out the impossible? What would be left?”
“Almost everything we humans do collectively spawns an emergent phenomenon. … Economies, governments and the media are all emergent phenomena – like an ant colony. They follow new and complicated rules that often cannot be derived from the behavior of the parts that make them up. They are real and have immense power over us, but they are not human or humanlike, even though they arise from human activities.”