Mike McRae considers artificial intelligence, and critiques physicist Stephen Hawking’s opinions on the topic as “expert creep”—the phenomenon of scientists celebrated within one discipline choosing to make public statements on matters outside of their field of experience.
The majority of Americans believe that the soul lives on after the body dies. How can we know whether consciousness can survive bodily death? In this week’s eSkeptic, Stephen Cave takes a look at the belief that souls exist, and reminds us that modern brain imaging technology provides scientific evidence to strengthen the case against such fuzzy notions.
Neuroscientist Christof Koch has devoted much of his career to bridging the seemingly unbridgeable gap between the physics of the brain and phenomenal experience. Koch recounts not only the birth of the modern science of consciousness but also the subterranean motivation for his quest—his instinctual (if “romantic”) belief that life is meaningful.
In this lecture, based on his new book, Sam Harris “…demonstrates—with great intellectual ferocity and panache—that free will is an inherently flawed and incoherent concept, even in subjective terms. If he is right, the book will radically change the way we view ourselves as human beings.” (UCSD neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran)
In this week’s eSkeptic, Robert L. Martone reviews Nicholas Humphrey’s book Soul Dust: The Magic of Consciousness (University Press, 2011, ISBN: 978-0691138626). Martone is a research scientist and is the Neuroscience Therapeutic Area Lead for the Covance Biomarker Center of Excellence. He has extensive experience in neuropharmacology research, having led neuroscience drug discovery and technology teams through all phases of drug discovery from target identification through clinical trials with expertise in both small molecule and protein therapeutics. He also has several years of academic research experience in molecular neurobiology, with a focus on the molecular genetics of familial neuropathies, and CNS tumor biomarker development.
HUMAN BEINGS DO NOT STAND OUTSIDE NATURE; we are a part of it. Ultimately we are made of particles, evolving and interacting according to the laws of physics. And we know what those laws are — the progress of modern science has reached a point where the laws underlying everyday life are completely understood. This is a lecture you won’ want to miss!
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…