25 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Simon Baron-Cohen: Radical Behaviorism

The central idea of Radical Behaviorism—that all behavior can be explained as the result of learned associations between a stimulus and a response, reinforced or extinguished through reward and/or punishment—stems from the early 20th century psychologists B.F. Skinner (at Harvard) and John B. Watson (at John Hopkins). Radical Behaviorism came under public attack when Skinner's book Verbal Behavior (published in 1957) received a critical review by cognitivist-linguist Noam Chomsky in 1959 ...
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03 APR 2015 by ideonexus

 Centireading: Reading a Book 100 Times

After a hundred reads, familiarity with the text verges on memorisation – the sensation of the words passing over the eyes like cud through the fourth stomach of a cow. Centireading belongs to the extreme of reader experience, the ultramarathon of the bookish, but it’s not that uncommon. To a certain type of reader, exposure at the right moment to Anne of Green Gables or Pride and Prejudice or Sherlock Holmes or Dune can almost guarantee centireading. Christmas is devoted to reading books...
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16 FEB 2015 by ideonexus

 Religious Children Less Capable of Distinguishing Fantasy...

In two studies, 5- and 6-year-old children were questioned about the status of the protagonist embedded in three different types of stories. In realistic stories that only included ordinary events, all children, irrespective of family background and schooling, claimed that the protagonist was a real person. In religious stories that included ordinarily impossible events brought about by divine intervention, claims about the status of the protagonist varied sharply with exposure to religion. C...
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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.

30 DEC 2013 by ideonexus

 Truth is the Singular Focus of the Scientist

The Man of Science ought not to look at, or respect, any thing but the discovery and propagation of truth. Instead of respecting mischievous and erroneous establishments, he, of all men, is bound, by every honourable tie, to make an exposure of them, and to teach the people right from wrong. His knowledge and discoveries should be like the benefits of Nature dispensed alike to all without price or reward. He ought to be the patron of truth, and the enemy of error, in whatever shape it might a...
Folksonomies: science virtue truth
Folksonomies: science virtue truth
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It should be the highest virtue.

16 JUL 2013 by ideonexus

 Physiological Effects from Exposure to a Vaccum

Vacuum doesn’t have a temperature of its own, so space is not really that cold. It’s a great insulator too, meaning that your core body heat doesn’t get sucked away. Without an atmosphere to transfer heat away, the risk of exposure is somewhat mitigated. The saliva on your tongue may boil off, as it’s not pressurized like your blood is, and you may get some frost on your skin. Sunburn from direct contact with the sun’s ultraviolet rays is a more immediate danger than perishing from ...
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A good description.

12 APR 2013 by ideonexus

 The Early Days of the Printing Press was Like the Early WWW

As was the case during the early days of the World Wide Web, however, the quality of the information was highly varied. While the printing press paid almost immediate dividends in the production of higher quality maps,10 the bestseller list soon came to be dominated by heretical religious texts and pseudoscientific ones.11 Errors could now be mass-produced, like in the so-called Wicked Bible, which committed the most unfortunate typo in history to the page: thou shalt commit adultery.12 Meanw...
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The glut of books produced a situation of "too much information" similar to the one produced by the world wide web.

19 JAN 2013 by ideonexus

 Vaccines as a Positive Externality

A science-based example of a positive externality is vaccinations. Vaccinations work based on the number of people in the population who are vaccinated. Once a certain threshold is reached, the disease can't spread effectively and is essentially eliminated. As long as enough people are vaccinated, others who choose not to be still get to enjoy that positive externality at no cost. These are what economists call freeloaders. Economists like the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have the...
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People who don't get vaccines benefit from those who do because of the lower rates of disease.

21 JUN 2012 by ideonexus

 Experiment Demonstrating Plants Produce Breathable Air

When air has been freshly and strongly tainted with putrefaction, so as to smell through the water, sprigs of mint have presently died, upon being put into it, their leaves turning black; but if they do not die presently, they thrive in a most surprizing manner. In no other circumstances have I ever seen vegetation so vigorous as in this kind of air, which is immediately fatal to animal life. Though these plants have been crouded in jars filled with this air, every leaf has been full of life;...
Folksonomies: experimentation
Folksonomies: experimentation
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Using a mouse and a sprig of mint.

03 SEP 2011 by ideonexus

 The Hierarchical World of Mathematics and Theoretical Phy...

The world of mathematics and theoretical physics is hierarchical. That was my first exposure to it. There's a limit beyond which one cannot progress. The differences between the limiting abilities of those on successively higher steps of the pyramid are enormous. I have not seen described anywhere the shock a talented man experiences when he finds, late in his academic life, that there are others enormously more talented than he. I have personally seen more tears shed by grown men and women o...
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The difference in talent between individuals is enormous, and shocking to those who discover others are vastly more talented than they.