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Mystery, as such, is no bad thing. Pointing out mysteries can be a valuable exercise—firing up our curiosity and getting us to engage our intellects. Nor is there anything wrong with acknowledging that some things may forever remain a mystery, and might even be in principle unknowable.
Sometimes it’s also reasonable, when faced with a problem case for an otherwise well-established theory, to put it down as a mysterious anomaly. If on countless occasions an experiment has confirmed water boils at 100 degrees C, the fact that on one occasion it appeared not to may quite reasonably be put down to some unknown factor. If we can’t discover what went wrong, it can be reasonable to just shrug and move on—putting the freak result down to some mysterious problem with the set up (a faulty thermometer, perhaps).
It’s also often reasonable, when we have a theory that works but we don’t fully understand why it works, to say, “Why this happens remains, for the moment, a mystery. But we know it does.” We might have strong evidence that smoking causes cancer, say, long before we understand why it does so.
So the appeal to mystery has its proper place, even in science. What I object to is the way in which the appeal to mystery is increasingly relied on to deal with what would otherwise appear to be powerful evidence or arguments against certain beliefs, particularly beliefs in the supernatural. Whenever mystery is erected as a barrier to rational inquiry, a barrier that says, “You scientists and philosophers may come this far armed with the power of reason, but no further—turn back now!” we should be concerned, particularly if no good reason is given for supposing science and reason cannot, in fact, take us further. The more we appeal to mystery to get ourselves out of intellectual trouble—the more we use it as a carpet under which to sweep inconvenient facts or discoveries—the more vulnerable we become to deceit: deceit by both others and by ourselves.

Stephen Law - Believing Bullshit (via scipsy)

or if “suffieciently advanced” is not your bagganiini, onecan obey all laws and never make leaps in science altogether

inothernews:

Czech artist David Cerny has designed a double-decker bus that, yes, does pushups.  It will be installed at Czech Olympic headquarters in London during the Summer Games and will participate in the country’s swimming and handball teams.

(Photos: Petr Josek / Reuters via The Telegraph)

A necessaary upheaval/

wildcat2030:

Somatosphere has a fantastic account of the debates rocking the world of global mental health – the still nascent field that aims to make mental health a world priority. The idea itself is sound in the general sense, but there is still a lot of argument about what it means to promote mental health and much discussion about whether ‘global mental health’ is just a means of exporting Western ideas and diagnoses in a sort of 21st century globalisation of the mind. I am always a little struck by the fact that the ‘global mental health’ movement seems mainly to focus on Asia and Africa. For example, the lack of participation of Latin American mental health professionals and advocates is striking in both the headline-making publications and the key conferences. This is a pity as Latin America has developed a unique perspective on mental health that, by reading the debates covered by Somatosphere, would be very relevant. If you want to get your head into the space of this particular Latin American approach, have a think about this analogy. How would you react if instead of supporting the American civil rights movement in the 1960s, you were told the major problem was that people were being affected by a mental illness called ‘post-discrimination stress disorder’?

unexpectedtech:

image

Last week, a California biotech company announced that its human stem cells restored memory in rodents bred to have an Alzheimer’s-like condition—the first evidence that human neural stem cells can improve memory.

The company, called StemCells, is betting that its proprietary preparation of stem cells from fetal brain tissue will take on many different roles in the central nervous system. The company and its collaborators have already shown that its stem-cell product has potential in protecting vision in diseased eyes, acting as brain support cells, or improving walking ability in rodents with spinal cord injury.

This metamorphic ability is not so surprising—they are stem cells, after all. But experts say the quality of scientists involved in StemCells and the interesting properties of its cells sets the company apart. “They’ve really been steadfast in their work to get these cells into clinical trials. That is a tough road and they’ve done it,” says Larry Goldstein, a neuronal stem-cell researcher and director of UC San Diego’s stem-cell program. 

The company discovered the technique to isolate these cells from brain tissue in 1999 and has since spent some $200 million improving the technology. “Now we are really in the exciting phase, because now we are looking at human clinical data, as opposed to just small animals,” says StemCells CEO Martin McGlynn.

50/50 chances. what a risk. I’d take it to remember half my life.

Your brain is built of cells called neurons and glia—hundreds of billions of them. Each one of these cells is as complicated as a city. And each one contains the entire human genome and traffics billions of molecules in intricate economies. Each cell sends electrical pulses to other cells, up to hundreds of times per second. If you represented each of these trillions and trillions of pulses in your brain by a single photon of light, the combined output would be blinding.
The cells are connected to one another in a network of such staggering complexity that it bankrupts human language and necessitates new strains of mathematics. A typical neuron makes about ten thousand connections to neighboring neurons. Given the billions of neurons, this means there are as many connections in a single cubic centimeter of brain tissue as there are stars in the Milky Way galaxy.
The three-pound organ in your skull—with its pink consistency of Jell-o—is an alien kind of computational material. It is composed of miniaturized, self-configuring parts, and it vastly outstrips anything we’ve dreamt of building. So if you ever feel lazy or dull, take heart: you’re the busiest, brightest thing on the planet.

David Eagleman - Incognito. (via scipsy)

three pounds? I maybe was reading guiness or drinking it.

Mystery, as such, is no bad thing. Pointing out mysteries can be a valuable exercise—firing up our curiosity and getting us to engage our intellects. Nor is there anything wrong with acknowledging that some things may forever remain a mystery, and might even be in principle unknowable.
Sometimes it’s also reasonable, when faced with a problem case for an otherwise well-established theory, to put it down as a mysterious anomaly. If on countless occasions an experiment has confirmed water boils at 100 degrees C, the fact that on one occasion it appeared not to may quite reasonably be put down to some unknown factor. If we can’t discover what went wrong, it can be reasonable to just shrug and move on—putting the freak result down to some mysterious problem with the set up (a faulty thermometer, perhaps).
It’s also often reasonable, when we have a theory that works but we don’t fully understand why it works, to say, “Why this happens remains, for the moment, a mystery. But we know it does.” We might have strong evidence that smoking causes cancer, say, long before we understand why it does so.
So the appeal to mystery has its proper place, even in science. What I object to is the way in which the appeal to mystery is increasingly relied on to deal with what would otherwise appear to be powerful evidence or arguments against certain beliefs, particularly beliefs in the supernatural. Whenever mystery is erected as a barrier to rational inquiry, a barrier that says, “You scientists and philosophers may come this far armed with the power of reason, but no further—turn back now!” we should be concerned, particularly if no good reason is given for supposing science and reason cannot, in fact, take us further. The more we appeal to mystery to get ourselves out of intellectual trouble—the more we use it as a carpet under which to sweep inconvenient facts or discoveries—the more vulnerable we become to deceit: deceit by both others and by ourselves.
Stephen Law - Believing Bullshit (via scipsy)

vicemag:

Dana is a 28-year-old mathematician and pornographer. She makes a porn magazine for women who like dick.

I like having fun. Math is not a strong source of fun, for me. So, I understand. And, could use her help with some, uh, equations.

wildcat2030:

Neuroscientists have found strong evidence that vivid memory and directly experiencing the real moment can trigger similar brain activation patterns. The study, led by Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute (RRI), in collaboration with the University of Texas at Dallas, is one of the most ambitious and complex yet for elucidating the brain’s ability to evoke a memory by reactivating the parts of the brain that were engaged during the original perceptual experience. Researchers found that vivid memory and real perceptual experience share “striking” similarities at the neural level, although they are not “pixel-perfect” brain pattern replications. The study appears online this month in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, ahead of print publication.

The foresight of this experiment is the outcome of models of activation in past and future events. Schiztastic I do declare!

beingblog:

“If I am sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow?”
~José Saramago from Blindness 
photo by Tobias Feltus (Taken with Instagram)

beingblog:

“If I am sincere today, what does it matter if I regret it tomorrow?”

~José Saramago from Blindness

photo by Tobias Feltus (Taken with Instagram)

suvarnadvipa:

Wait. So language is in your eye bags?

suvarnadvipa:

Wait. So language is in your eye bags?