Ever heard of Elon Musk? TED branded him a serial entrepreneur, but that’s an understatement. He is a practical visionary:
1 – the co-founder of Paypal
2 – the CEO and product architect of Tesla Motors. Their new all-electric model S has just been named by Consumer Reports as the highest rated car ever! It’s still a luxury car but it’s phase 2. Phase 3 is a mass production model. And the company has posted it’s first profit. That will keep it going.
3 – he’s involved with solar power company SolarCity
4 – and he’s the chief designer at SpaceX, a reusable rocket company. They’re already doing work for NASA and the space shuttle.
His TED talk from February this year:
Recently, I was sent links to a couple of short on-line general science and religion knowledge quizzes by Pew Research. What is particularly interesting is the detailed stats from the original study showing how well people did on specific questions, overall and so forth. You’ll see that with your results.
The Science Quiz (13 questions)
The World’s Religions Quiz (15 questions)
This article at Slate talks about it. For example, that 42% don’t know the most basic fact about global warming….
An interesting debate has arisen around the way TED determines what talks they consider acceptable. While they will happily host a talk on life purpose or on a writer’s muse, they have characterized some neuroscience research as “a bunch of goofballs.” Given that this was in response to pulling 2 talks, it suggests their attitude about same. Also on their no-no list, the medicinal value of food.
Notably, Rupert Sheldrake’s pulled talk was on the Delusions of Science. As one contributor (3rd letter below) observed, “The materialist worldview is a belief system based on ten core beliefs. Many people call this worldview science. The method of science and the worldview of materialism are actually two different things.” This is where it becomes troublesome – when a scientist fails to differentiate between their beliefs and science, they introduce non-objective bias.
It was also noted by several that paradigm-busting is how science progresses. New research must meet with skepticism and be tested but some have made skepticism a trademark, another fundamentalism. Richard Dawkins has famously called himself a “militant atheist”.
The sequence to date:
After a few complaints, Sheldrake and Hancock’s TEDx talks are pulled from the main channel. Vocal objections caused them to repost the clips on the TED blog as a discussion point. However, the talks were misrepresented and TED was obliged to retract some statements.
They then pulled the TEDx branding from a West Hollywood event, who decided to go ahead anyway.
I’m also aware of another event in IA that similarly lost it’s TEDx designation for being subtitled “Consciousness and Transformation.” They also went ahead. Some of the talks sounded excellent and only one mentioned consciousness, by a Kilby award-winning physicist.
1 – On April 18, Deepak Chopra and 5 other scientists responded in an open letter. Not real well written but it made some valid points.
2 – The next day, TED responded. They fairly indicate they have to draw a line somewhere. And it’s not always clear. But their attitude and name-calling is not serving anyone.
3 – Later that day a letter from Chopra and some 15 other scientists, each contributing a segment. Some of these comments are excellent. “Censorship almost always arises from some political agenda.” “A robust science of consciousness threatens no one but dogmatists.” And so forth.
Personally, I don’t have a high regard for using drugs to induce altered states of reality. This may bring brief but typically distorted expanded perception. But it doesn’t help real development and won’t give reliable insight. And it can cause serious after-effects. From people I’ve talked to that have done it, it pollutes the finer nervous system. As such I’m not a fan of Hancock. But does the talk deserve “semi-censorship?” Debate certainly.
On the other hand, I’ve read some of Sheldrake’s work and heard a talk he gave on how laws of nature evolve. As the contributors comment, some of his work is excellent research. Some of his books are used as university textbooks. But his talk did directly but gently confront science vs worldview.
Another question I’ve not noticed raised. TED suggested they can’t vet all the videos from TEDx events but I have to wonder how they determine what they do post. Their YouTube channel currently has 1,375 videos. Given there has been thousands of TEDx events, that is but a fraction. Chopra notes that Dawkins talk is posted but his rebuttal is not.
When I was getting my grad degree, we spent a little time exploring the difference between science, pseudo-science, and proto-science. The last uses the scientific method to explore new paradigms but is not yet established as a science. Pseudo, on the other hand, talks science but does not use proper methodology. Thus calling another scientists work pseudo-science is high insult. I would suggest proto-science is where Sheldrake and other contributors are working, especially around subjects like consciousness. Some people seem to be forgetting that.
Awhile back, I wrote about a TED talk that framed “Earth” as a dark ages term. That we lived on an ocean planet and there’s far more life in the water than on land. How land is a 2D flatland while the ocean is 3D.
It was a cool talk. Similar references have more actively suggested a name change for the planet. From space, we are indeed a blue planet. However, we’re still talking surface appearances. Under all that water is more earth. And there remains more earth than water. But that’s just the crust, like the skin of an apple. Even deeper is the mantle made of viscous rock. The earth’s crust is just the solidified surface of that. The mantle makes up 84% of the earth’s volume. Would it be a better representation?
And then there’s Lovelock’s Gaia theory that shows that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet. Our oxygen-rich atmosphere is one example. The name Gaia is Greek, from the goddess or personification of the earth as the mother of all.
Perhaps that’s the best idea of all. Gaia recognizes the earth as a whole interdependent system that supports life. A useful reminder for all of us.
Leo Widrich recently wrote an article for Lifehacker.com called “The Psychology of Language: Why Are Some Words More Persuasive Than Others?“
It’s an interesting exploration of language, including asking how a message makes you feel, new paradigms coming out of brain research, and the myth of body language dominance. Some interesting tips like avoiding adjectives and sticking to the Who, What, Where for questions. Surprisingly, they also suggest avoiding the “to be” verbs like ‘is’ for good reason. And he lists the 5 most persuasive words, many you see in advertising all the time. He closes by emphasizing you keep the ratio favouring positive statements.
Some of his tips apply to conversation too. I’ll let you read the article for details.
Large swaths of the earth, clearly visible from space, are turning into deserts. About 2/3′s of the worlds grasslands are desertifying, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. It’s happening not just in Africa but in Asia and the US as well. Allan Savory explores a lifetime of research into the issue and the unexpected solution. They’ve successfully converted large swaths of desert around the world back to grassland at minimal cost just by patterning after nature. What’s been missing from the grasslands? What’s available to restore that?
While the solution lacks the long-term diversity necessary, it certainly helps us understand the interdependence of natural solutions and addresses the immediate needs of some cultures.
This film speaks to a different approach where domestic grazing animals are penned and the land allowed to recover on its own. Using local plants, large desert areas have been restored that also restore water systems and support the local community. Permaculture applied en masse.
Near the end, he suggests the export of biomass from tropical areas to help restore more fragile terrains. However, that would also migrate seeds and thus disturb locally adapted plants.
Both approaches have been demonstrated to work repeatedly.
Perhaps you’d like a simple way to explore the planets and Solar system?
Check out planets, review star names and distances, and explore view Settings.
Try perspectives: Heliocentric, Geocentric, or Panoramic. In Helio, you can click and drag to change the angle, both in wider and planetary view.
They have a download version, if you have Adobe Air installed.
If you’d prefer a map of the stars from where and when you are on earth, try the
Unlock the time to explore the past or future.
British philosopher Nick Bostrom published a paper in 2003 that suggests the universe we live in might in fact be a computer simulation run by our descendants. (future offspring) Using logic, he determined that if we survive into becoming post-humans, that outcome is likely.
We’re a long way from such an ability today. Physicists at the University of Washington are proposing experiments that might test for it. If the universe is a simulation, there will be constraints created by the underlying structure that have “signatures”, such as a limitation in the energy of cosmic rays.
If you’ve studied eastern philosophy at all, you’ll be familiar with this general idea. One perspective suggests the world is Maya, commonly understood to mean illusion. Another perspective uses the term Lila, meaning the divine play. In this case, the simulation is not created by our descendants but by divine entities.
This summer, MBT Events toured physicist Tom Campbell around the west coast to speak with other cutting edge thinkers and recorded the conversations. In this chat, Dr. Campbell met with epigenetic biologist Bruce Lipton. It was the first time they’d met.
Tom talks a little about set theory and observes that many of the problems of modern science are due to thinking inside a subset. If we recognize consciousness as the superset, then we can derive all subjective experience as well as all physics as subsets of consciousness. As well as addressing many issues, it also makes things like paranormal normal.
“Part of our evolution now is beyond biology, in the evolution of community and networks and information. Does it grow love or does it grow fear? Does it increase separation or bring us together?”
Not typical observations you expect to hear from a scientist.
You’re probably familiar with surface tension in water. However, the effect is much deeper than was previously thought. In this talk by Dr. Gerald Pollack, UW professor of bioengineering, he shows that, when exposed to light (energy), a visible layer of water self-orders and becomes a liquid crystal. It gains a negative charge, becomes more stable and viscous, and it excludes solutes – things floating in the water.
This explains a number of natural phenomena he questions during the start of the talk; like photosynthesis, why water vapour gathers into clouds, and why life uses water so much. He suggests some applications, like a water purifier. He even touches on why water had become an unpopular science and the ball was dropped.