Skip to main content.


This is the archive for May 2007

Thursday, May 31, 2007

My left temporal lobe is seeing ghosts.
In a study investigating how the brain generates paranormal experiences and psychotic states, researchers used strong electromagnets to alter brain function and found they could reduce the number of times healthy volunteers saw spontaneously experienced false perceptions.
I wonder if they stop seeing some patterns that are there.
Mind Hacks: Dispelling ghostly images with electromagnets
Mixing Memory looks at a study that seems to show a small negative correlation between conservativism and creativity.
Dollinger found that conservatism (as measured by the C-scale) was negatively correlated (ranging from -.22 to -.31, all moderate correlations) with each of the measures -- the CBI, verbal ability, openness to experience (as measured by the BFI), and rated creativity in both the drawing and photo essay tasks. Since conservatism was correlated with each variable, and each variable might be related to the others (openness to experience and verbal ability are almost surely correlated with creativity), Dollinger calculated the partial correlations (correlations that control for the other variables) between conservatism and the three measures of creativity. He found that conservatism was still negatively correlated with creativity (correlations ranging from -.15 to -.21). The partial correlations (as well as regression coefficients, which he also computed) are relatively small, but given the sample size, highly statistically significant.
The post also mentions a few limitations of the study worth considering.

Mixing Memory : Are Conservatives Less Creative?
Yes, 'talk' belongs inside scare quotation marks. Breaking news from ABC:
The Great Ape Trust in Des Moines, Iowa, is home to seven bonobos -- a close relative of the chimpanzee -- and three orangutans. But if you think Iowa might be a strange place for them to live, don't say it out loud -- these apes understand English.
Watch the video and you'll see John Berman say 'ice' in the presence of Kanzi (the famous bonobo) and Kanzi points to 'ice' on his screen of symbols. Given that threshhold of understanding, my laptop understands English. There are surely more impressive examples of communication than this. This illustration only serves to ridicule what apes/chimps can do with language and communication. Must be a slow news day in science.

ABC News: Amazing Science: Apes 'Talk' to Humans

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

There was a time when Pete Townsend hoped to die before he got old. I'm sure he's changed his mind by now.

YouTube - The Zimmers "My Generation" Released: 28/05/07

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Recent abortion legislation isn't fooling anyone, especially not the Onion.

New Abortion Bill To Require Fetal Consent

New Abortion Bill To Require Fetal Consent | The Onion - America's Finest News Source

Friday, May 25, 2007

As opening day approaches, the Creationism Museum and its half-baked Ham are getting more national attention. The NYT has, at least, presented a somewhat circumspect advertisement.
Start accepting evolution or an ancient Earth, and the result is like the giant wrecking ball, labeled ?Millions of Years,? that is shown smashing the ground at the foundation of a church, the cracks reaching across the gallery to a model of a home in which videos demonstrate the imminence of moral dissolution. A teenager is shown sitting at a computer; he is, we are told, looking at pornography.

But given the museum?s unwavering insistence on belief in the literal truth of biblical accounts, it is strange that so much energy is put into demonstrating their scientific coherence with discussions of erosion or interstellar space. Are such justifications required to convince the skeptical or reassure the believer?

In the museum?s portrayal, creationists and secularists view the same facts, but come up with differing interpretations, perhaps the way Ptolemaic astronomers in the 16th century saw the Earth at the center of the universe, where Copernicans began to place the sun. But one problem is that scientific activity presumes that the material world is organized according to unchanging laws, while biblical fundamentalism presumes that those laws are themselves subject to disruption and miracle. Is not that a slippery slope as well, even affecting these analyses?

But for debates, a visitor goes elsewhere. The Creation Museum offers an alternate world that has its fascinations, even for a skeptic wary of the effect of so many unanswered assertions. He leaves feeling a bit like Adam emerging from Eden, all the world before him, freshly amazed at its strangeness and extravagant peculiarities.
So, if I shouldn't go there for debate or edification, why would I go there? Amusement? If only Jesus wore the same floppy shoes and wide smile as Mickey Mouse. But the god who extinguishes dinosaurs, allows children to watch internet porn all day, and promotes fiction over well-established fact, is just not very amusing and goes well beyond peculiar.

Creation Museum - Religion - New York Times

Friday, May 18, 2007

An interview with Marc Hauser appears in the recent Discover Magazine. In Hauser's new book Moral Minds he pretends contends that humans evolved to have an innate moral sense, an innate moral grammar analogous to Chomsky's idea of an innate universal grammar underlying our linguistic competence. The book surveys most of important and interesting data available on the subject, but in the end, we are left with this:
Discover: What is the evidence that infants already have a moral code ingrained in their brains?

Hauser: I don't think we're ready to say.
Is Morality Innate and Universal? | Mind & Brain | DISCOVER Magazine
Cory Tomsons at Thought Capital writes about Jonathan Haidt's new article The "New Synthesis in Moral Psychology" in the recent edition of Science (May 2007). I also found a video of Haidt's interesting talk and interview at the 2012 New Yorker conference. A good discussion of how liberals and conservatives think differently about morality.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

I found his previous use of the third arm impressive. Apparently Stelarc is moving on to other appendages.
"Picking up where the Vacanti mouse left off, Australian performance artist Stelarc went through with his plans to implant a cell-cultivated ear beneath the skin of his forearm earlier this year, and he's now showing off the results for the world to squirm at. Stelarc apparently isn't satisfied with his newfound appendage just yet, however, and is reportedly planning another surgery to give the ear "more definition." What's more, he's also hoping to implant a microphone inside the ear that'll use a Bluetooth transmitter to, you guessed it, broadcast what it hears over the Internet."
Does the ear hear or does Stelarc?

Performance artist Stelarc implants "third ear" in forearm - Engadget

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

"The left has a stranglehold on our universities. Professors are forcing our kids to submit to their pro-glacier agenda." -Colbert Report
Colbert reports the amazing story in which a college student is forced to think about something other than what he believes in.

Comedy Central : Motherload
As part of my work with the NKU faculty development center (POD: Professional and Organizational Development) I created and manage a site I'm calling Technologies for Teaching and Learning.
Welcome to Technologies for Teaching and Learning. The links below will take you to further discussions of new software, tutorials, strategies and issues of interest to those who want to use technology to enhance teaching effectiveness and facilitate learning.
I'm updating the site almost daily, so check in regularly---or better yet, add the feed to your newsreader.

Technologies for Teaching and Learning
The top 10 finalists in Best Visual Illusion Contest are here
An interesting article in the WSJ last week about recent neuroscientific research on moral intuitions and judgments.
Most of us feel a rush of righteous certainty in the face of a moral challenge, an intuitive sense of right or wrong hard to ignore yet difficult to articulate.

A provocative medical experiment conducted recently by neuroscientists at Harvard, Caltech and the University of Southern California strongly suggests these impulsive convictions come not from conscious principles but from the brain trying to make its emotional judgment felt.
Science Journal -
3QuarksDaily alerted me to this interesting film blog Daily Film Dose. He reviews a different film each day and generates some discussion. The post on long tracking takes is what initially caught my eye.
The difficulty arises when the camera is forced to move which complicates the logistics ie. Focus changes, lighting changes and hiding production equipment. And so perhaps the first true, universally-accepted ?long tracking shot? is Orson Welles? opening shot in ?Touch of Evil? (1958). This shot was a large step up from Hitchcock?s experiment because of the extensive movement of the camera.
Check this out from "Touch of Evil."

DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog
If Andy Clark is right we are all natural-born cyborgs.
Pistorius wants to be the first amputee runner to compete in the Olympics. But despite his ascendance, he is facing resistance from track and field's world governing body, which is seeking to bar him on the grounds that the technology of his prosthetics may give him an unfair advantage over sprinters using their natural legs.
When is an advantage unfair?

An Amputee Sprinter: Is He Disabled or Too-Abled? - New York Times