The Dangers Of Spiritual Amateurism In America

Dangers of Spiritual Amateurism in America

“Much of the forbidden, obscure, and esoteric knowledge that once made Buddhism and other religions difficult to study has now become accessible – with potentially dangerous results. … This is the spiritual equivalent of giving every teen driver a Formula 1 racing car: It’ll go fast, but many young innocents will end up splattered on the road.”

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Neuroscientists Wonder: Can Our Brains Retain A Child’s Capacity To Learn?

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“The possibility of reawakening our youthful, receptive brains has piqued a lot of interest among educators, therapists, and those in search of expanded experience or thought. I might be able to immerse myself in music lessons and absorb them more effectively. Others might disable the plasticity brakes before a trip abroad, quickly learning a new language.”

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An Atheist’s Search For A Useful Morning Prayer

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Heather Havrilesky: “Unfortunately, I don’t like saying bold and glorious words out loud. So I need a prayer that’s not too prayer-like. I need a belief system that doesn’t require me to suspend my disbelief. My prayer shouldn’t conjure pews and crosses and a vengeful God, but also it shouldn’t conjure wind chimes and scented candles and middle-aged men in linen pants. I need to honour my soul, of course. Who doesn’t? But I want to do it in a way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m living in a douche commercial.”

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When The Bots Take Over

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It’s understood now that, beside what we call the “real world,” we inhabit a variety of virtual worlds. Take Twitter. Or the Twitterverse. Twittersphere. You may think it’s a stretch to call this a “world,” but in many ways it has become a toy universe, populated by millions, most of whom resemble humans and may even, in their day jobs, be humans. But increasing numbers of Twitterers don’t even pretend to be human. Or worse, do pretend, when they are actually bots.

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TED As Evangelical Performance

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“A great TED talk is reminiscent of a tent revival sermon. There’s the gathering of the curious and the hungry. Then a persistent human problem is introduced, one that, as the speaker gently explains, has deeper roots and wider implications than most listeners are prepared to admit. Once everyone has been confronted with this evidence of entropy, contemplated life’s fragility and the elusiveness of inner peace, a decision is called for.”

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A Rabbi And An Atheist Talk Good And Evil

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And they didn’t walk into a bar, they walked into the 92nd St. Y. They’re Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, and Rabbi Geoffrey Mitelman, founder of Sinai and Synapses, “an organization that aims to bridge the gap between scientifically grounded views and spiritual belief.”

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The Problem With The Enlightenment(s)

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“The greatness of the Enlightenment lies less in its ideals, than in our efforts to realize them. The tragedy of the Enlightenment lies there too. … It was a set of abstract philosophical ideals, but it was also a lived historical experience, full of ordinary disappointments and irregularities” – it was, like a centaur, an impossible combination. “We know what a centaur should look like, but we never see one in real life.”

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Nietzsche And Climate-Change Denial

nietzsche and climate change denial

Andrew O’Hehir: “The philosopher gave himself credit for being the first modern thinker to tackle ‘the problem of science itself,’ for presenting ‘science for the first time as problematic and questionable.’ Dude! If the perverse German genius could only have known how far ‘the problem of science’ would extend in our age, or to what ends his critique of Socratic reason would be twisted.”

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How Our Attention Is Being Stolen From Us

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“Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention.”

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The Truth About Psychedelic Drugs And Mental Illness

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Several recent studies are indicating that “so-called classical psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms)” may not be as dangerous as War-on-Drugs rhetoric has led us to believe – and that they can have genuine therapeutic value under certain circumstances.

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Why Writing By Robots Might Be Important

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“Wordsmith essentially does two things. First, it ingests a bunch of structured data and analyzes it to find the interesting points, such as which players didn’t do as well as expected in a particular game. Then it weaves those insights into a human readable chunk of text. You can think of it as a highly complex form of Mad Libs — one that takes an understanding of both data and writing to create.”

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These Ideas Must Die

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“Rather than asking if a new idea is a good one, we ask whether it’d be better if some of the ideas we cling to were killed off.” For instance, testing products on mice. (podcast)

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Facebook And Amazon And Even Candy Crush Could Make Us Happier And Healthier, If They Chose The Right Metrics

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“Some things that it would be great to see in 2015 are: Facebook optimizing the newsfeed to help its users grow and develop, not just click. Amazon optimizing recommendations for user satisfaction, not just purchase. Brain-training that actually works. Services that allow people to better understand themselves, make better decisions, become happier.”

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Technology Is Changing Our Lives. How We Control That Technology Is Getting To Be A Bigger Issue

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“Just as the change from hand work to mass production dramatically changed our society over 100 years ago, the digital revolution isn’t just altering specific sectors of the economy, it is changing the way we think and live. This time, though, the transformation is different. This time, it is being driven by just a few hundred people.”

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Common Experience, Different Impact: Why Are People Affected Differently By Trauma?

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“A strange fact of human nature is that two people can experience exactly the same seemingly traumatic event and respond completely differently. One might face years of struggles as a result of suffering from the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological fallout, while the other, after an initial period of being shaken up, bounces back completely.”

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Will Virtual Reality Help Heal People?

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“For years, virtual reality has made inroads in helping to treat serious phobias, post-traumatic stress, and burn victims’ pain. Now, as the price of VR tech plummets, this therapeutic tech is advancing—and could soon become available to many more people who need it.”

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Prediction: A New Industrial Revolution Will Transform Our Culture

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“White-collar service industries are currently witnessing a huge increase in automation. Artificial intelligence, analytics and voice-recognition technologies are taking over more and more tasks employees used to do. Retailing is another example: we’re moving from physical to virtual retailing. Even lawyers, accountants or radiologists are afraid of the prospect of losing their job to a machine or algorithm.”

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The Power And Importance Of Touch (It’s Huge)

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Remember the orphanages of Ceausescu-era Romania, overstuffed and understaffed institutions where infants and young children were severely touch-deprived – and grew up seriously disturbed? Maria Konnikova explains why that was no fluke.

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Why Do Japanese Seem Fond Of Insects While Westerners Abhor Them?

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“Travel agencies advertise firefly-watching tours, there are televised beetle-wrestling competitions and beetle petting zoos. Department stores and even vending machines sell live insects. … Not all Japanese, perhaps not even the majority, admire insects. But while Western culture amplifies our perhaps innately human suspicion of insects into distaste and fear, Japanese culture encourages affection, even reverence, for the six-legged. Why?”

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