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neuroscience

eSkeptic for May 12, 2020

In Science Salon # 115, Michael Shermer speaks with scientist and historian Matthew Cobb about his book The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience which traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries.

Matthew Cobb — The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience

In Science Salon # 115, Michael Shermer speaks with scientist and historian Matthew Cobb about his book The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience which traces how our conception of the brain has evolved over the centuries.

Christof Koch — The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can’t Be Computed

In this fascinating discussion of the hard problem of consciousness — that is, explaining how the feeling or experience of something can arise from neural activity — neuroscientists Christof Koch argues that consciousness is the feeling of being alive, not a type of computation or a clever hack. Consciousness is experience. Consciousness is The Feeling of Life Itself.

eSkeptic for September 24, 2019

Science Salon # 84 Michael Shermer speaks with Christof Koch about his new book The Feeling of Life Itself: Why Consciousness is Widespread but Can’t Be Computed; PLUS, Harriet Hall, M.D. looks at the evidence for some of the extraordinary claims for coconut oil.

eSkeptic for April 3, 2019

In Science Salon # 60 — exceptionally important conversation — Dr. Shermer discusses at length the background to and research of Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and evolutionary sociologist famous for his study of social networks in humans and other animals. PLUS: The breadth of what can be meant by the word “hoax” makes the concept — and consequences — worthy of renewed study. Michelle E. Ainsworth reviews Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists, Phonies, Post-Facts, and Fake News by Kevin Young and Hoax: A History of Deception: 5000 Years of Fakes, Forgeries, and Fallacies by Ian Tattersall and Peter Nevraumont.

Dr. Nicholas A. Christakis — Blueprint: The Evolutionary Origins of a Good Society

In Science Salon # 60 — an exceptionally important conversation — Dr. Shermer discusses at length the background to and research of Dr. Nicholas Christakis, a physician and evolutionary sociologist famous for his study of social networks in humans and other animals.

Personhood & Abortion Rights: How Science Might Inform this Contentious Issue

Although it’s been 45 years since Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be a highly controversial and polarizing issue. In this essay, Gary Whittenberger articulates the philosophical and scientific foundation for a third option between the two extremes of pro-life and pro-choice — the pro-person position — after examining the evidence for the best possible answer to the question: “When does the human fetus acquire the capacity for consciousness?” This article appeared in Skeptic magazine 23.4 (2018).

eSkeptic for February 13, 2019

Although it’s been 45 years since Roe v. Wade, abortion continues to be a highly controversial and polarizing issue. In this essay, Gary Whittenberger articulates the philosophical and scientific foundation for a third option between the two extremes of pro-life and pro-choice — the pro-person position — after examining the evidence for the best possible answer to the question: “When does the human fetus acquire the capacity for consciousness?”

eSkeptic for May 16, 2018

Michael Shermer reviews It’s Better Than it Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear by Gregg Easterbrook; On MonsterTalk, Blake Smith interviews City of the Dead tour-guide Fred Fogarty about the Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Mackenzie Poltergeist.

eSkeptic for April 18, 2018

Headlines about recent scientific studies are notoriously unreliable. Harriet Hall, M.D. (aka the SkepDoc) examines a study that caused alarming headlines last year about the dangers of drinking diet soda.

Dr. Gregory Berns — What It’s Like to Be a Dog … and Other Adventures in Animal Neuroscience

Shermer speaks with Dr. Gregory Berns, Distinguished Professor of Neuroeconomics and Director of the Center for Neuropolicy and Facility for Education and Research in Neuroscience. Berns is famous for his use of fMRI to study canine cognitive function in awake, unrestrained dogs with the goal to non-invasively map the perceptual and decision systems of the dog’s brain and to predict likelihood of success in service dogs.

eSkeptic for April 11, 2018

In this week’s eSkeptic, Michael Shermer interviews Dr. Leonard Mlodinow about his new book: Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change; and Daniel Loxton reflects on the value of listening in order to first understand paranormal beliefs and then communicate effectively with those who hold them.

Dr. Leonard Mlodinow — Elastic: Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change

Out of the exploratory instincts that allowed our ancestors to prosper hundreds of thousands of years ago, humans developed a cognitive style that Leonard Mlodinow terms elastic thinking, a collection of traits and abilities that include neophilia (an affinity for novelty), schizotypy (a tendency toward unusual perception), imagination and idea generation, pattern recognition, mental fluency, divergent thinking, and integrative thinking.

eskeptic for February 8, 2017

In this week’s eSkeptic, Leonard Mlodinow and Michael Shermer review You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters, by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos, 2017. (New York: Harmony Books, 288 pages)

Cosmic Consciousness and the Ptolemaic Principle

Leonard Mlodinow and Michael Shermer review You Are the Universe: Discovering Your Cosmic Self and Why it Matters, by Deepak Chopra and Menas Kafatos, 2017. (New York: Harmony Books, 288 pages)

eSkeptic for July 6, 2016

In this week’s eSkeptic, Sebastian Dieguez, cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, reviews The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life after Death, edited by M. Martin and K. Augustine.

Heaven is Not for Real

Given the current success of neuroscience in establishing the neural basis of consciousness and thought, is it still honest to claim that we simply don’t know “what comes after”? Cognitive neuroscientist, Sebastian Dieguez, of the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, reviews The Myth of an Afterlife: The Case against Life after Death, edited by M. Martin and K. Augustine.

eSkeptic for April 27, 2016

What would happen if you stopped watching online pornography for a few months? In this week’s eSkeptic, the debate about pornography addiction and its effects concludes with this response to Marty Klein by Philip Zimbardo, Gary Wilson, and Nikita Coulombe.

More on Porn: Guard Your Manhood—A Response to Marty Klein

What would happen if you stopped watching online pornography for a few months? The debate about pornography addiction and its effects concludes with this response to Marty Klein by Philip Zimbardo, Gary Wilson, and Nikita Coulombe.

Skeptical of the Porn Skeptics

Is porn viewing really changing young brains, skewing our views of “normal” sexuality, causing sexual dysfunction, and undermining our ability to relate to real sex? In this article, certified sex therapist and one of the United States’ leading experts on pornography, Marty Klein, responds to the article we published last week by Philip Zimbardo, Gary Wilson, and Nikita Coulombe.

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