WHAT IS MORALITY AND WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? Neurophilosopher Patricia Churchland argues that morality originates in the biology of the brain: Moral values are rooted in family values displayed by all mammals — the caring for offspring. The evolved structure, processes, and chemistry of the brain incline humans to strive not only for self-preservation but for the well-being of allied selves — first offspring, then mates, kin, and so on, in wider and wider “caring” circles.
This debate between Deepak Chopra and Michael Shermer came about after the widely read and referenced debate the two had last year on the virtues and value of skepticism. Deepak and Michael thought it would be stimulating to have a debate on the topic. Michael read Deepak’s book and goes first in the debate, offering his assessment of the “proofs” presented in Deepak’s book, then Deepak responds.
Culled from the expansive work of Carl Sagan, we present some of his own words on the cosmos, ETs, childhood, genes, brains, pseudoscience, science literacy, nonsense, uncertainty, biology, history and God.
Our 2008 conference at Caltech, on the question of origins, featured lectures by Leonard Susskind, Paul Davies, Sean Carroll, Donald Prothero, Christof Koch, Stuart Kauffman, Kenneth Miller, Nancey Murphy, Michael Shermer, Hugh Ross, Victor Stenger, and a performance by Mr. Deity.
One of the most influential thinkers of our time, Dr. Steven Pinker marries two of the subjects he knows best — language and human nature — into his new book on how words can help explain our nature (for example, what swearing reveals about our emotions or what innuendo discloses about relationships). The author of the bestselling books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works and Blank Slate, Pinker reveals how our use of prepositions and tenses taps into peculiarly human concepts of space and time, and how our nouns and verbs speak to our notions of matter…
In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer proposes a market solution to the problem of tenure in this invited open peer commentary on an article entitled “Is Tenure Justified? An Experimental Study of Faculty Beliefs About Tenure, Promotion, and Academic Freedom” by Stephen J. Ceci, Wendy M. Williams, and Katrin Mueller-Johnson, published in a 2006 issue of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, volume 29, pages 553–569.
The Brain, Mind & Consciousness conference, on what Nobel Laureate Francis Crick called “the greatest unsolved problem in biology,” was held over the weekend of May 13–15, 2005 at Caltech. Watch the entire conference for free in three sessions (approximately 7.5 hours over 3 videos).
Carbon Comic, which appears in Skeptic magazine, is created by Kyle Sanders: a pilot and founder of Little Rock, Arkansas’ Skeptics in The Pub. He is also a cartoonist who authors Carbon Dating: a skeptical comic strip about science, pseudoscience, and relationships. It can be found at carboncomic.com.
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Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?
What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?
Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…