Tag Archives: TED

The science of consciousness

TEDxCERN_headerHere’s a fascinating talk on the science of consciousness given at the TED talks in CERN.*

The talk on consciousness and the brain is by philosopher John Searle. He is  Slusser Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Berkeley, and the winner of the 2000 Jean Nicod Prize and the 2004 National Humanities Medal. His books include The Mystery of Consciousness and Mind, Language And Society: Philosophy In The Real World among others.

Consciousness & the Brain: John Searle at TEDxCERN

It’s a great video – he crams a lot in and it’s worth watching several times.

*Videos of the talks are up now at the TEDxCERN web site.

Thanks to and his Guardian blog Life and Physics.

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The beginning (of the universe) for beginners

This video – The beginning of the universe, for beginners  – is the premiere of a series of five, first of their kind, collaborations between CERN and TED Ed. The series covers the origins of the universe, dark matter, antimatter, big data and the Higgs boson. The other four animations will premiere at TEDxCERN, another first of its kind event, on 3 May from 2pm – 8pm CEST, and the animated lessons will be available on ed.ted.com starting on 3 May. The webcast will be available to the public on the TEDxCERN website.

The beginning of the universe, for beginners.

Credit: The beginning of the universe, for beginners

The Bain illusion

Cover via Amazon

The recent media discussion of the “I shot the prick” is rather distasteful. That’s the discussion about a “hidden message” in the recording of David Bain‘s emergency phone call on the day his family was murdered.

Whether or not this should have been submitted as evidence during the trial there is no doubt that the interpretation is highly imaginative. Trouble is with these sort of things, once you are told what the alleged “hidden message” is there is no way you are not going to hear it. We are all very suggestible this way.

Michael Shermer describes a beautiful example of this illusion using the song Stairway to Heaven played backwards. Initially you don’t make sense of it but once you are told what the message is meant to be you can’t help hear hear demonic lyrics. He describes this phenomena, and other similar illusions in his TED talk “Why people believe strange things” in the video below. He also goes into this perception problem in his book Why People Believe Weird Things.

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Compassion

Karen ArmstrongI have aways liked the description of a humanist outlook as one based on evidence, reason and compassion. The compassion is particularly important because, as humans, we need more than just to know the world. We also need a way of relating to each other and to other species. I think that compassion is an inherent quality of humanity – and probably of many other species.

Compassion is not dependent on specific political, religious or philosophical beliefs. In fact, a world view that argued otherwise would, by definition, not be compassionate. How could you be compassionate if you deny this attitude to other humans?

Yet this exclusive approach seems to underly a recent appeal for assistance in developing a charter for compassion.

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