17 MAY 2017 by ideonexus

 Success as Proof of Virtue

Ivanka contrasts “proactive” people, who are “passionate and productive,” with “negative people,” those who are “swayed by the external and are frequently the victim of circumstance.” Her worldview, it turns out, is not so different from her father’s. Both see society through the lens of quasi-mystical corporate self-help, the sort pioneered by Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking and a major influence on Donald Trump. In their schema, success is pr...
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21 APR 2014 by ideonexus

 God Gets Smaller as Knowledge Grows

“The progress of religion is defined,” writes the early-twentieth-century philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, “by the denunciation of gods.” Gods become fewer in number until there is only one—or a Father, Son and Holy Ghost adding up to one. And the qualities of the lonely God that is left are also denounced. He loses His home: God is no longer to be found inside a temple or even, after airplanes, enthroned atop a cloud. He loses His physical form: His beard, His voice, perhaps H...
Folksonomies: science religion
Folksonomies: science religion
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From many to one, from personification to invisible.

21 APR 2014 by ideonexus

 "Cosmos" Converts

I’ve met secular humanists who grew up in evangelical households, for whom Cosmos was their first exposure to a scientific way of viewing the world. Dad was a difference maker. He reached out to people. He took them by the awe and wonder we feel over the most important questions we can think to imagine. He pulled them away from blind faith, away from pseudoscience, toward a deeper, richer understanding of the universe. And he did it with compassion. He didn’t berate people or make them f...
Folksonomies: science scicomm
Folksonomies: science scicomm
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Nick Sagan explains how his father's compassion and energy converted people to humanism.

24 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Turing's Two Great Insights

Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer, began by thinking about the highly conscious and deliberate step-by-step calculations performed by human “computers” like the women decoding German ciphers at Bletchley Park. His first great insight was that the same processes could be instantiated in an entirely unconscious machine, with the same results. A machine could rationally decode the German ciphers using the same steps that the conscious “computers” went through. And the uncons...
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Alison Gopnik on how the father of the computer realized machines could do the work of women "computers," and how much of hte human brain was like a computer.

08 AUG 2013 by ideonexus

 The Experiment that Disproved Astrology

A story told by this friend, Firminus, shook the young Augustine from his pagan faith. Firminus’ father, an earnest experimenter in astrology, always noted the positions of the stars and even “took care with the most exact diligence to know the birth of his very puppies.” Firminus’ father learned that one of his women-servants was to be delivered of a child at about the same time that Firminus’ mother was expecting. “Both were delivered at the same instant; so that both were const...
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Two children born at the same time, one a master, the other a slave.

07 JUN 2012 by ideonexus

 Newton Was the Last Magi

Newton was not the first of the age of reason. He was the last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians ... Isaac Newton, a posthumous child born with no father on Christmas Day, 1642, was the last wonder child to whom the Magi could do sincere and appropriate homage... Why do I call him a magician? Because he looked on the whole universe and all that is in it as a riddle, as a secret which could be read by applying pure thought to certain evidence, certain mystic clues whi...
Folksonomies: history wonder
Folksonomies: history wonder
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Last of the Babylonians, who looked at the Universe as riddle to be solved.

13 APR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Lunar Society

In 1764, the Lunar Society (so named because they met for dinner on the Monday night nearest the full moon; they called themselves the "Lunatics") was formed it in Birmingham and promoted new scientific and technological ideas. The original founders included Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin's grandfather), William Small (Jefferson's mentor), and the industrialist Matthew Boulton. Soon the "Lunatics" included many of the great minds in Britain (including Benjamin Franklin when he visited). In Sc...
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Referred to themselves as "Lunatics" and included many famous Americans and scientists.

12 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 The Greatest Enemies of the Gospels are Their Believers

The truth is that the greatest enemies to the doctrines of Jesus are those calling themselves the expositors of them, who have perverted them for the structure of a system of fancy absolutely incomprehensible, and without any foundation in his genuine words. And the day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter. But we may hope that the dawn of ...
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Jefferson was very skeptical of the Gospels, which he felt were perverted with miracles that diluted the reformer's message.

02 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Davy Sees Freedom in Human Fallability

The experience of ‘paralytic strokes’ (like his father’s), which destroyed ‘perception and Memory’ as well as physical motion, proved that the physical brain was the single centre of ‘all the Mental faculties’. Children were not magically endowed with intelligence and souls at birth. On the contrary: ‘A Child is not superior in Intellectual power to a common earthworm. It can scarcely move at will. It has not even that active instinctive capacity for Self-Preservation.’ Such...
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Children are no more advanced than earthworms and strokes demonstrate how we are a product of our brains, and this shows Davy that we are capable of infinite happiness and science is indefinitely perfectible.

01 JAN 2012 by ideonexus

 Sifting Through Photographs of Our Ancestors to See Evolu...

Find a picture of yourself. Now take a picture of your father and place it on top. Then find a picture of his father, your grandfather. Then place on top of that a picture of your grandfather's father, your great-grandfather. You may not have ever met any of your great-grandfathers. I never met any of mine, but I know that one was a country schoolmaster, one a country doctor, one a forester in British India, and one a lawyer, greedy for cream, who died rock-climbing in old age. Still, even if...
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A great thought-experiment that takes us all the way back to when our ancestor was a fish, but shows us that the neighbors of any ancestor looked identical.