Tag Archives: Biology

Life In Balance

This graphic shows clearly the way most modern humans see themselves in relation to other life, as well as the way we should see ourselves if we are to survive and mature into a new form.

LifeInBalance

We are not separate from or above all other life, unless you base your opinion on the ability to dominate and destroy, which is a grossly immature way to view our place in the world.

Liberal and Conservative Brains Different

I’ve seen other studies that approach this from other directions, but the result is the same. Regressives are more attuned to fear, while progressives are more creative and better at complex thinking.

http://www.good.is/posts/liberal-brains-bigger-in-areas-of-complexity-conservative-brains-bigger-in-areas-of-fear?utm_campaign=goodtweet&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

How to End the Problem of Abortion

In the United States, we expend a lot of energy and money fighting one another over access to birth control, sexual education, and abortion. Most of this is unnecessary.

There’s nothing wrong with being against abortion. I consider myself pro-life (anti-abortion) in the sense that I oppose abortion as anti-life but don’t want to make it illegal. This is a matter of conscience and a topic that goes to the heart of who we are as persons, when a ball of cells becomes a person, where the proper balance is between personal freedom and society’s needs, …

We will never resolve these issues and I think it’s wrong to legislate based on fundamental philosophical (not scientific) questions we’ll never be able to answer.

We live in an imperfect world and there may always be a need to abort a pregnancy for medical reasons. However, the following six changes would go a long way toward eliminating “elective” abortions:
1. Helping teen children embrace human nature (rather than making them ashamed of it)
2. Teaching and providing free birth control (preemptive and morning after type)
3. Ensuring that having a child doesn’t mean being stuck with an abuser or in poverty
4. Recognizing that mothering is an honorable profession worth devoting your life to
5. Providing subsidized child care for those who must work or choose to work
6. Ensuring that a child carried to term and then given away will have a loving home and a chance at a successful life.

If we made these 6 changes in the United States, the abortion problem would largely disappear and the religious zealots would have to find something else to devote themselves to.

 

RFID Implantation and Its Security Implications

I was on G+ discussing the potential implications of a new radio-frequency firearm detection device being tested by the New York City Police when a thoughtful commenter noted that he wouldn’t be surprised if the next generation of Americans had RFID chips implanted at birth. This got me thinking …

I would not be surprised if people voluntarily embed RFID chips in themselves and their children as a matter of convenience and security, not fully understanding the larger security implications of their actions. Americans love convenience and it would be fairly easy to achieve moderate penetration of human implanted RFID chips by voluntary means.

Once this moderate penetration is achieved, governments could, with good reason, start giving favorable treatment to those with implanted chips, since these people are easier to track and verify. Likewise, those who refuse to have chips implanted would become a target of suspicion or concern and would have to expend a lot more effort in common activities like making major purchases, going through airport security, voting, … It’s easy to see where this leads.

I’m a fan of transhumanism, though I don’t think the first person who can reasonably be called a transhuman or post-human will occur in my lifetime. But as we begin to augment ourselves with biological and biomechanical extensions, we will eventually reach a point where some of us are far enough along that track to no longer be considered as Homo Sapiens Sapiens. All along this path, the freedom versus security discussion must be held to ensure that we don’t go so far toward one as to make the other impractical.

A Simple Spider

This article describes a spider who eats other spiders, not such a rarity until you learn that this spider has a brain with less than a million neurons, yet is able to perform remarkably complex hunting behaviors, in this case sneaking up on and defeating another spider-eating spider. It does this by systematically processing the image of its prey and the potential paths to it, determining the optimal path to it and the most promising approach to defeat the other spider and gain a meal, taking sometimes up to an hour to process the variables step by step using its very rudimentary processing engine. As the blogger points out, this is remarkably like a Turing Machine and raises questions about the insufficiency of our common view of most insects and arachnids as simple hardwired automatons.

http://www.rifters.com/real/2009/01/iterating-towards-bethlehem.html

The Science of Objectification

I found a good article on the science of objectification. This is an article that should concern every human being, as it involves a basic facet of how we perceive others in the world. I studied Feminism in grad school briefly, but I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to inhabit the female psyche. In order to be compassionate human beings, we all need to understand how our minds work and this is one important aspect of mental function that influences much of what we do.

http://www.salon.com/2011/11/10/the_science_of_objectification/singleton/

Gratitude is Good for You

According to the article,

Cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and kinder behavior toward others, including romantic partners.

It’s an interesting read and includes some steps to take (including “gratitude lite”) to help those who aren’t naturally grateful to move in the right direction.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/science/a-serving-of-gratitude-brings-healthy-dividends.html?_r=1

Your Brain “Knows” a Lot More Than You Realize

Discover has a great layman’s level article discussing how the vast majority of brain processing occurs at a subconscious level. I’ve thought about this a lot and consider it one of the fundamental facts that allow us to make sense of the world.

I should really do a series of articles about these fundamental insights into human existence. Given my wife’s penchant for sanitizing everything all the time ( especially our children), I think the first article might be on how our body is best considered as a system composed of many “human” cells, many (perhaps more) “non-human” cells, and the environment we inhabit. When this system is in equilibrium, we are healthy. Likewise, sickness is always a loss of balance and medicine consists largely in using tools and techniques to restore that balance. Okay, I’m rambling on. Read the article below. It’s worth it.

http://discovermagazine.com/2011/sep/18-your-brain-knows-lot-more-than-you-realize