The feedback loop as a symbol for life in the 21st Century

self-organisation is a high-level property that emerges from the underlying network, not a feature of any of the individual components. This has interesting consequences. Where any part of the mechanism is sensitive to the environment, the whole self-organising loop can be too. http://aeon.co/magazine/science/why-the-symbol-of-life-is-a-loop-not-a-helix/ Here's an example from the Resilience Alliance - the adaptive cycle - that … Continue reading The feedback loop as a symbol for life in the 21st Century

How cultural commitments damage your ability to reason

When people don't accept the scientific evidence, it may be useless to present them with yet more evidence. They are not stupid. They are simply protecting their cultural identity. Here's the journalism: Science confirms: politics wrecks your ability to do math And here's the original study, Motivated Numeracy and Enlightened Self-Government Kahan, Dan M., Peters, … Continue reading How cultural commitments damage your ability to reason

Apparently, “Science Confirms The Obvious: Strict Parents Raise Conservative Kids”

"Science Confirms The Obvious: Strict Parents Raise Conservative Kids" - http://pulse.me/s/eC9fb If so, would it be possible to conduct similar experiments to test whether parents with a particularly strong cultural bias raise their children to have a similar bias? So, for example, do Fatalist parents raise Fatalist kids? My guess here is that the social … Continue reading Apparently, “Science Confirms The Obvious: Strict Parents Raise Conservative Kids”

magic and technology

   Prof Alan Jacobs wants to know whether magic and technology can learn to get along with each other. He laments the dominant tone of fantasy literature that sees natural magic opposed to cultural machinery. http://theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/magic-and-technology-can-the-two-coexist/260412/  Jacobs hopes for: "A fictional world where magic rules but is not the only game in town". This sounds … Continue reading magic and technology

A two-bit theory of social reality

Image via Wikipedia It is not obvious whether the world is analogue or binary, continuous or discrete. It’s a live question and the subject of a recent essay contest set up by the Foundational Questions Institute. That said it seems clear that much or our social lives revolves around the assumption that the world is … Continue reading A two-bit theory of social reality

Evidence-based riots

It's been hard to move recently for people leaping to conclusions. Everyone with an Internet connection  has already posted an opinion about the supposedly obvious causes of the London riots. Medhi Hassan's heartfelt plea for pundits to to stop generalising certainly makes sense. The introduction reads: The debate about the riots is being hijacked by … Continue reading Evidence-based riots

Biosemiotics and slime mould

New Scientist has an interesting article on the ways in which it may make sense to talk about non-conscious entities creating meaning. Biosemiotics. http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727741.200-biosemiotics-searching-for-meanings-in-a-meadow.html?full=true Hat tip to Meika. I had been thinking abut this when I came across a report on the slime mould's 'irrational' decision-making process.It seems that like humans, Physarum polycephalum makes quick … Continue reading Biosemiotics and slime mould