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The disconnect between religion and culture ... It is no longer possible to contrast a "secular" West with a "religious" East, ... even in Muslim countries. ... A society can consist of a majority of believers and still be secular, as in the United States. ... does not mean that people become atheists, but that they care less about religion. ... Since the 1960s, the old moral order has indeed been replaced by a new dominant culture. This culture is based on freedom, particularly sexual freedom, and materialism; ... This rise of pluralism .. is a sign of secularization. ... eviction of religion from mainstream culture. /15-08-23

It is perhaps the most famous experiment in neuroscience .. Libet ... two pervasive intuitions we have about the mind. .. our minds are a separate thing from our physical selves – a natural dualism .. the belief that we know our own minds. /15-08-23

fusion reactor ... running within 10 years ... MIT's new reactor .. the ARC reactor ... uses new commercially available superconductors /15-08-23

The physicist .. explains ... Dark matter — the unseen 80 percent of the universe’s mass ... complex dark matter ... dark sector ... dark atoms and dark photons ... dark sector and our own sector — only communicate by gravity /15-08-22

THE genome is written in an alphabet of just four letters. ... technology promises to make it possible to edit genetic information quickly and cheaply. ... correct terrible genetic defects ... parents building their children to order. ... scientists in China .. That is a Rubicon ... CRISPR’s ethics .. practical and philosophical ... side-effects ... It may take a generation to ensure that the technology is safe. Until then, couples with some genetic diseases can conceive using in-vitro fertilisation and select healthy embryos. ... humans play God. But medicine routinely intervenes ... Some might see being short or myopic as problems that need fixing. ... Deaf parents may prefer their offspring to be deaf too ... to make children smarter, should that option really be limited to the rich? /15-08-22

College is seldom about thinking or learning anymore. ... literally anonymous bureaucracy ... education in the age of neoliberalism. ... market fundamentalism, ... to produce producers. ... Of course we provide our students with a real education ... Everybody talks about the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering, and math — but no one’s really interested in science, and no one’s really interested in math ... Modernity is a condition of ever-increasing acceleration ... Students rarely get the chance to question and reflect anymore ... Youth, now, is nothing more than a preliminary form of adulthood, ... deleting the phrase: Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth. .. The university’s mission would henceforth be to meet the state’s workforce needs. ... All this explains a new kind of unhappiness I sense among professors. ... the vigorous intellectual dialogue you get to have with vibrant young minds. That kind of contact is becoming unusual. ... Students will come to your office — rushing in from one activity, rushing off to the next — to find out what they need to do to get a better grade. Very few will seek you out to talk about ideas /Deresiewicz/15-08-15

People are more likely to act less emotionally and more rationally when speaking their second language ... Moral decisions tend to be made using two thought processes—one subconscious, one conscious. ... Speaking in non-native languages can also free people from self-imposed moral limits. ... Speaking in a second language, may be one of the most moral things you can do. /15-08-15

What kind of world is our code creating? ... Until we make contact with extraterrestrial intelligence, neural nets are probably the ablest non-human thinkers we know. ... Artificial systems show us intelligence spans a vast space of possibilities ... The problem isn’t just that machines think differently from people. It is that people can’t figure out why. ... computers, even though they’re performing tasks that we perform, are performing them in ways that are very different. ... pareidolia /15-08-10

Neuroscience .. I ... you hear yourself talking: an autopilot version of yourself seems to have taken over. ... who is the 'I' that anxiously tries to regain control? ... is there still a single self, experienced from the outside? ... the 'split' dissolves quickly and you slip back into the driver's seat. ... depersonalization ... autism ... out-of-body experiences ... it questions the axiomatic certainty of the Cartesian 'I think, therefore I am'. ... paradox that the concept of self, often seen as elusive if not illusory, is so eminently suited to tightening these various narrative threads. /15-08-09

Bioethics .. more harm than good ... self-reflection among ethicists ... from fetal stem cells to human gene editing, offer huge potential for treating disease. ... Steven Pinker .. ethical oversight delays innovation and offers little benefit. ... the future of biotechnologies is so difficult to accurately predict ... The primary moral goal for today’s bioethics can be summarized in a single sentence. Get out of the way. /15-08-09

Faith and science ... Pope Francis has found a meeting place for those with extreme religious and environmentalist stances ... Pope has suggested that humans should not breed “like rabbits” ... Protestant conviction that God created natural resources for humans ... compromise between the extremes of the religious and environmentalist positions could also help to defuse other sources of tension between faith and science. ... Protestant churches: choose between science and faith. ... in the United States especially, atheism is over-represented among scientists ... respect for science is now divided along political lines too ... Pope Francis .. recognition that the economy and the environment are inextricably linked, especially for the desperately poor, builds on a foundation that is older and deeper than the recent US culture wars. /15-07-30

CLIMATE change puts humanity at risk. The Pope’s celebrated encyclical letter ... Perhaps for the first time in history, there seems to be a broad consensus among scientists. ... loss to society because of catastrophic climate change is so large that it cannot be reliably estimated. ... an illustrative figure of $336m billion as the cost of human extinction. ... the value of life of unborn generations ... the current inertia that climate negotiations suffer from. /15-07-30

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