27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 How the Internet's Consensus of Information Undermines Au...

Heretofore, the technological advance that most altered the course of modern history was the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, which allowed the search for empirical knowledge to supplant liturgical doctrine, and the Age of Reason to gradually supersede the Age of Religion. Individual insight and scientific knowledge replaced faith as the principal criterion of human consciousness. Information was stored and systematized in expanding libraries. The Age of Reason originated ...
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27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 The Progressive Effects of Education

Homo sapiens, “knowing man,” is the species that uses information to resist the rot of entropy and the burdens of evolution. Humans everywhere acquire knowledge about their landscape, its flora and fauna, the tools and weapons that can subdue them, and the networks and norms that entangle them with kin, allies, and enemies. They accumulate and share that knowledge with the use of language, gesture, and face-to-face tutelage. [...] The mind-altering effects of education extend to every s...
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27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 Gratitude for the Scientists Who Saved Lives

When I was a boy, a popular literary genre for children was the heroic biography of a medical pioneer such as Edward Jenner, Louis Pasteur, Joseph Lister, Frederick Banting, Charles Best, William Osler, or Alexander Fleming. On April 12, 1955, a team of scientists announced that Jonas Salk’s vaccine against polio—the disease that had killed thousands a year, paralyzed Franklin Roosevelt, and sent many children into iron lungs—was proven safe. According to Richard Carter’s history of t...
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27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 Entropy, Evolution, Information (Entro, Evo, Info)

How is entropy relevant to human affairs? Life and happiness depend on an infinitesimal sliver of orderly arrangements of matter amid the astronomical number of possibilities. Our bodies are improbable assemblies of molecules, and they maintain that order with the help of other improbabilities: the few substances that can nourish us, the few materials in the few shapes that can clothe us, shelter us, and move things around to our liking. Far more of the arrangements of matter found on Earth a...
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27 JUL 2018 by ideonexus

 The Enlightenment Needs Vigorous Defense

The ideals of the Enlightenment are products of human reason, but they always struggle with other strands of human nature: loyalty to tribe, deference to authority, magical thinking, the blaming of misfortune on evildoers. The second decade of the 21st century has seen the rise of political movements that depict their countries as being pulled into a hellish dystopia by malign factions that can be resisted only by a strong leader who wrenches the country backward to make it “great again.”...
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25 OCT 2017 by ideonexus

 The False Promise of WWW Enlightenment

Never before have so many people been connected together in an instantly responsive network through which memes can spread faster than natural viruses. But the notion that taking the whole world online would create a utopia of netizens, all equal in cyberspace, was always a fantasy—as much a delusion as Luther’s vision of a “priesthood of all believers.” The reality is that the global network has become a transmission mechanism for all kinds of manias and panics, just as the combinati...
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25 OCT 2017 by ideonexus

 American and French Revolutions Led to Different Results

...the structure of a network determines its virality. As recent work by the social scientists Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler has shown, the contagiousness of a disease or an idea depends as much on a social network’s structure as on the inherent properties of the virus or meme. The history of the late eighteenth century illustrates that point well. The ideas that inspired both the American Revolution and the French Revolution were essentially the same, and both were transmitted throu...
Folksonomies: enlightenment history
Folksonomies: enlightenment history
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25 OCT 2017 by ideonexus

 The Importance of Networks in the Enlightenment

Like the Reformation, the scientific revolution and the Enlightenment were network-driven phenomena, yet they spread faster and farther. This reflected the importance of acquaintances in correspondence networks such as Voltaire’s and Benjamin Franklin’s, communities that might otherwise have remained subdivided into national clusters. It also reflected the way that new social organizations—notably, Freemasonry—increased the connectedness of like-minded men, despite established divisio...
Folksonomies: networks enlightenment
Folksonomies: networks enlightenment
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30 DEC 2016 by ideonexus

 Magnus Speaks on Knowledge

Magnus turned from Mortarion and walked to the centre of the amphitheatre, lifting his hands out to his sides and slowly turning on the spot as he spoke. “Imagine the Imperium of the future, a golden Utopia of enlightenment and progress, where the scientist and the philosopher are equal partners with the warrior in crafting a bounteous future. Now imagine the people of that glorious age looking back through the mists of time to this moment. Think what they will know and what they would mak...
Folksonomies: enlightenment knowledge
Folksonomies: enlightenment knowledge
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30 MAY 2015 by ideonexus

 Reason Powers Empathy and Altruism

It is not the soft power of humanity, it is not that feeble spark of benevolence which Nature has lighted up in the human heart, that is thus capable of counteracting the strongest impulses of self-love. It is a stronger power, a more forcible motive, which exerts itself upon such occasions. It is reason, principle, conscience, the inhabitant of the breast, the man within, the great judge and arbiter of our conduct. It is he who, whenever we are about to act so as to affect the happiness of o...
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