30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Pessimism in Predictions and the False Sense of Insecurity

You would think that the disappearance of the gravest threat in the history of humanity would bring a sigh of relief among commentators on world affairs. Contrary to expert predictions, there was no invasion of Western Europe by Soviet tanks, no escalation of a crisis in Cuba or Berlin or the Middle East to a nuclear holocaust.1 The cities of the world were not vaporized; the atmosphere was not poisoned by radioactive fallout or choked with debris that blacked out the sun and sent Homo sapien...
Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
Folksonomies: perspective pessimism
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02 JUL 2013 by ideonexus

 Cognitive Neoteny in Modern Humans

The boy-genius can be seen as a specific instance of psychological neoteny which is apparently adaptive in modernizing cultures, and it occurred early in science because science is one of the most ‘modern’ and advanced social systems [2]. ‘Neoteny’ refers to the biological phenomenon whereby development is delayed such that juvenile characteristics are retained into maturity. It represents a relatively fast and simple way of evolving adaptations – for instance modern humans in Weste...
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Perpetual education and change has pushed humans into a perpetual state of youthful cognition. Our brains remain childlike in order to continue to learn and adapt to our ever-changing modern environment.

25 APR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Importance of Hay

The technologies which have had the most profound effects on human life are usually simple. A good example of a simple technology with profound historical consequences is hay. Nobody knows who invented hay, the idea of cutting grass in the autumn and storing it in large enough quantities to keep horses and cows alive through the winter. All we know is that the technology of hay was unknown to the Roman Empire but was known to every village of medieval Europe. Like many other crucially importa...
Folksonomies: invention agriculture
Folksonomies: invention agriculture
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As an invention, it allowed humans to migrate into northern Europe.

22 MAR 2012 by ideonexus

 The Supernova the Western World Didn't See

Almost 1000 years ago, Chinese astronomers observed a new star visible in the daytime sky, which they called a “guest star.” This supernova created what we now observe telescopically as the Crab Nebula. It is interesting that nowhere in Western Europe was this transient object recorded. Church dogma at the time declared the heavens to be eternal and unchanging, and it was much easier not to take notice than to be burned at the stake. Almost 500 years later, European astronomers had broken...
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But was recorded in China. An explanation for why it wasn't seen in Europe is that observers would probably be burned at the stake.

25 JUL 2011 by ideonexus

 Time Fertile in Sciences is Scarce in Human History

For out of the five and twenty centuries over which the memory and learning of men extends, you can hardly pick out six that were fertile in sciences or favorable to their development. In times no less than in regions there are wastes and deserts. For only three revolutions and periods of learning can properly be reckoned: one among the Greeks, the second among the Romans, and the last among us, that is to say, the nations of Western Europe. And to each of these hardly two centuries can justl...
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For out of the five and twenty centuries over which the memory and learning of men extends, you can hardly pick out six that were fertile in sciences or favorable to their development.

29 MAR 2011 by ideonexus

 The Rationale for Doomsday Chests

After the fall of the Roman Empire in Western Europe, much of what we consider "civilization" ceased to be. Literacy, medicine, science, agriculture, engineering, astronomy, governance, all went into decline or regression for the hundreds of years which we now call "The Dark Ages". During this period monasteries were practically the only repositories of scholarship and learning. One historian notes that monks were not only the best educated members of society, by far, but were often the only...
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During the Dark Ages, the Human race came precipitously close to losing all knowledge permanently when the black plague almost wiped out the scholarly religious classes.