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“In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our ‘divided brain’ has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA’s free public events programme.”

“CCEPA promotes the public good through the cultivation and dissemination of knowledge of ethical issues, which helps generate new insights, provide greater awareness, and heal misunderstandings.” (about)

I first came across this organization through Situating Science‘s series called Trust in Science. This five-part series presents some really great speakers on fascinating science policy topics. It is seriously on par with the How to Think about Science series that CBC produced a few years back (which is unfortunately no longer available online). You can then imagine my excitement to discover a whole collection of video series with talks by top scholars in ethics, science and policy studies, management, philosophy, etc… These hosted events (which are only available through the website’s flash player) can be found here.

Dan Meyer: Math needs a makeover

Arthur Benjamin’s formula for changing math education

 

Michael Pollan’s best-selling book, Botany of Desire, is now a film, and you can watch it online, courtesy of PBS. (Click to watch complete film.) The film takes you inside our relationship with the plant world, and shows “how four familiar species — the apple, the tulip, cannabis and the potato — evolved to satisfy our yearnings for sweetness, beauty, intoxication and control.” According to a piece in The San Francisco Chronicle, it took eight years to pull together the funding for the film, and that’s simply because marijuana was in the mix. The film runs close to two hours. The preview is below, the full film is here.

 

Carl Sagan gave his last interview with Charlie rose on May 27th 1996. He discussed pseudo-science, religion, unfounded claims, his personal love affair with science and his struggle with myelodysplasia.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Women have contributed to science from its earliest days, but as contributors they have generally not been acknowledged. Historians with an interest in gender and science have illuminated the contributions women have made, the barriers they have faced, and the strategies implemented to have their work accepted. <wiki>

Some statistics and an interesting perspective. Maybe it’s time to reframe the question?

  • “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering” <wiki> Slideshow <.pdf>

Colony Collapse Disorder (or CCD) is a phenomenon in which worker bees from a beehive or Western honey bee colony abruptly disappear. While such disappearances have occurred throughout the history of apiculture, the term Colony Collapse Disorder was first applied to a drastic rise in the number of disappearances of Western honey bee colonies in North America in late 2006. European beekeepers observed similar phenomena, albeit to a lesser degree.

The cause or causes of the syndrome are not yet fully understood, although many authorities attribute the problem to biotic factors such as Varroa mites and insect diseases (i.e., pathogens including Nosema apis and Israel acute paralysis virus). Other proposed causes include environmental change-related stresses, malnutrition and pesticides (e.g. neonicotinoids such as imidacloprid), and migratory beekeeping.” <wiki>

Note: In the most recent episode of The Simpsons (Season 20, Ep.08), Lisa’s subplot refers to the current world wide disappearance of bees. <DailyGreen>

Wikipedia describes anti-intellectualism as “a sentiment of hostility towards, or mistrust of, intellectuals and intellectual pursuits. This may be expressed in various ways, such as attacks on the merits of science, education, art, or literature.” And goes on to say that anti-intellectuals, “often perceive themselves as champions of the ordinary people and populism against elitism, especially academic elitism. These critics argue that highly educated people form an isolated social group tend to dominate political discourse and higher education.” <wiki>

This idea strikes me as particularly interesting because anti-intellectualism seems to be, for the most part, the basis for the anti-scientific perspective. Of course there are real concerns and criticism that exist in regards to intellectual institutions (such as certain approaches to education and science), but to be fundamentally opposed to the pursuit of intellectual development itself? This belief is fascinating because of its self-limiting character.

Where do these sentiment stem from? What are their origins?

And perhaps more importantly, what can be done to curb their spread and growth?

Surrounding the recent US presidential election, and even before, this topic gained a lot of attention. Here is a selection of articles that highlight this important issue and shed light on why we should care about the role of anti-intellectualism in political and international affairs.

With the last word, its zefrank.

Jonathan Drori on “Why we don’t understand as much as we think?”:

Science is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.

– J.B.S. Haldane

Richard Dawkins on “The Strangeness of Science”:

Note: I saw Prof. Dawkins deliver this lecture in Montreal in 2006. It has much influenced the way that I have approached and reflected upon my own scientific understandings. I have since become very interested in explanation, the various levels and their associated contextual value; I have seriously thought about teaching and becoming a professor myself because of the enjoyment I get from transmitting accessible knowledge. I have always believed, you do not understand something, unless you can teach it to a child.

smile

“How many times have you thought: I just want to be happy?

Since the time of Aristotle humans have been trying to find the key to happiness, and how we can be happier. More than 35,000 books have been published on the topic, and it’s been the subject of numerous TV shows, movies and motivational seminars.

Now the pursuit of happiness has become the subject of serious scientific study, and the results show there are some simple things we can all do to make ourselves even happier.” <about>

Positive psychology is a recent branch of psychology that “studies the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive.” Positive psychologists seek “to find and nurture genius and talent,” and “to make normal life more fulfilling,”not to cure mental illness. Martin Seligman is considered to be “the father of positive psychology.”

Several humanistic psychologists—such as Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, and Erich Fromm—developed successful theories and practices that involved human happiness, despite a lack of solid empirical evidence at the time behind their work, and especially that of their successors, who chose to emphasize phenomenology and individual case histories. Recently the theories of human flourishing developed by these humanistic psychologists have found empirical support from studies by humanistic and positive psychologists, especially in the area of self-determination theory.” <wiki>

how to be happy title

Watch Video: How to be Happy

Related Post: On Happiness

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“Harvard’s crowded course to happiness: ‘Positive psychology’ draws students in droves” (Boston Globe) link

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