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The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking

The Baloney Detection Kit: Carl Sagan’s Rules for Bullshit-Busting and Critical Thinking
By Maria Popova Carl Sagan was many things — a cosmic sage, voracious reader, hopeless romantic, and brilliant philosopher. But above all, he endures as our era’s greatest patron saint of reason and common sense, a master of the vital balance between skepticism and openness. In The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark (public library) — the same indispensable volume that gave us Sagan’s timeless meditation on science and spirituality, published mere months before his death in 1996 — Sagan shares his secret to upholding the rites of reason, even in the face of society’s most shameless untruths and outrageous propaganda. Through their training, scientists are equipped with what Sagan calls a “baloney detection kit” — a set of cognitive tools and techniques that fortify the mind against penetration by falsehoods: The kit is brought out as a matter of course whenever new ideas are offered for consideration. Sagan ends the chapter with a necessary disclaimer: Related:  Science and TechnologyCreativity ThinkingPhysics

curator's ǝpoɔ Facebook 'in talks to buy drone satellite firm' | Technology Facebook is reportedly in discussions to acquire Titan Aerospace, a manufacturer of drones, for around $60m. Titan Aerospace specialises in solar-powered, very high flying drones capable of staying airborne for five years at a time, positioned as a more cost-effective alternative to orbital satellites dubbed as “atmospheric satellites”. The talks, confirmed by technology site TechCrunch, indicate that Facebook is likely interested in these satellite alternative drones that fly as high as 20km in altitude as part of its initiative. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress in February to elaborate on the coalition’s plans to connect the next five billion people to the internet in developing nations. The drones could be used to blanket large areas of Africa and other countries with internet access.

December 18, 1988: Joseph Brodsky Gives the Greatest Commencement Address of All Time by Maria Popova “Of all the parts of your body, be most vigilant over your index finger, for it is blame-thirsty. A pointed finger is a victim’s logo.” The exquisite commencement address is a special kind of art, necessitating in equal parts the vulnerability of sharing personal experience and the challenge of extracting from it wisdom of universal resonance. Among history’s most memorable are Neil Gaiman on making good art, Debbie Millman on courage and the creative life, Judith Butler on the value of reading and the humanities, Oprah on failure and finding your purpose, Greil Marcus on the essence of art, Joss Whedon on embracing our inner contradictions, and more fantastic speeches by Ann Patchett, Jacqueline Novogratz, David Foster Wallace, Ellen DeGeneres, Aaron Sorkin, Barack Obama, Ray Bradbury, J. Brodsky begins: Life is a game with many rules but no referee. After reminiscing about his own college days, Brodsky offers: He goes on to offer six such existential tips: Share on Tumblr

How Mind-Wandering and “Positive Constructive Daydreaming” Enhance Creativity and Improve Our Social Skills by Maria Popova The science of why fantasy and imaginative escapism are essential elements of a satisfying mental life. Freud asserted that daydreaming is essential to creative writing — something a number of famous creators and theorists intuited in asserting that unconscious processing is essential to how creativity works, from T. In a recent paper titled “Ode to Positive Constructive Daydreaming” (PDF), published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, writer Rebecca McMillan and NYU cognitive psychologist Scott Kaufman, author of Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, revisit Singer’s work to deliver new insights into how the first style of Singer’s mind-wandering, rather than robbing us of happiness, plays an essential, empowering role in daily life and creativity. My highlights from Anaïs Nin's diary, illustrated by Lisa Congdon. While the costs of mind wandering are apparent and easily quantifiable, the benefits seem less obvious and tangible. Thanks, Scott Myers Donating = Loving

The 13 Best Science and Technology Books of 2013 by Maria Popova The wonders of the gut, why our brains are wired to be social, what poetry and math have in common, swarm intelligence vs. “God,” and more. On the heels of the year’s best reads in psychology and philosophy, art and design, history and biography, and children’s books, the season’s subjective selection of best-of reading lists continues with the finest science and technology books of 2013. (For more timeless stimulation, revisit the selections for 2012 and 2011.) Every year since 1998, intellectual impresario and Edge editor John Brockman has been posing a single grand question to some of our time’s greatest thinkers across a wide spectrum of disciplines, then collecting the answers in an annual anthology. In 2012, the question Brockman posed, proposed by none other than Steven Pinker, was “What is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” Puffer fish with Akule by photographer Wayne Levin. In art, the title of a work can often be its first explanation.

Behind the Curator's Code | netmag The Curator's Code was recently unveiled. The system aims to codify the "attribution of discovery in curation as a currency of the information economy", which would honour the "creative and intellectual labor of information discovery by making attribution consistent and codified, celebrating authors and creators, and also respecting those who discover and amplify their work". In pure practical terms, the scheme provides new symbols for 'via' and 'hat tip', which link back to the Curator's Code website, although the site notes these are optional and its main aim is to encourage more attribution across the web. From the start, the system proved divisive. Writer Harry Marks enthusiastically embraced the scheme, but Gizmodo's Matt Langer and Marco Arment considered it misguided. Arment argued readers "aren't going to learn what the symbols mean", complained the distinction between them was unnecessary, and also reckoned the wrong problem was being solved. The bigger picture

Consumers Will Soon Have Devices In Their Hands To Detect GMO and Toxic Foods Marco Torres, Prevent DiseaseWaking Times In the not too distant future, consumers will be able to run on-the-spot tests for environmental toxins, GMOs, pesticides, food safety and more with their smartphones and other hand-held devices. Every human being on every developed nation on Earth, whether living in a rural or isolated area, in the middle of a large city, or near an industrialized area, now contains at least 700 contaminants in their body including pesticides, pthalates, benzenes, parabens, xylenes and many other carcinogenic and endrocrine disrupting chemicals. We are being bombarded on a daily basis by an astronomical level of toxicity, all controlled by chemical terrorists on behalf of the food industry. Morever, many of these toxins affect our fertility and those of successive generations. It’s time for people to know exactly what they are putting in their bodies and technology is coming to the rescue. At the heart of the biosensor is a photonic crystal. About the Author

Debunking the Myth of the 10,000-Hours Rule: What It Actually Takes to Reach Genius-Level Excellence by Maria Popova How top-down attention, feedback loops, and daydreaming play into the science of success. The question of what it takes to excel — to reach genius-level acumen at a chosen endeavor — has occupied psychologists for decades and philosophers for centuries. The “10,000-hour rule” — that this level of practice holds the secret to great success in any field — has become sacrosanct gospel, echoed on websites and recited as litany in high-performance workshops. Illustration by Vladimir Radunsky from Mark Twain's 'Advice to Little Girls.' The secret to continued improvement, it turns out, isn’t the amount of time invested but the quality of that time. Hours and hours of practice are necessary for great performance, but not sufficient. Illustration by Maurice Sendak from Ruth Krauss's 'Open House for Butterflies.' Ideally that feedback comes from someone with an expert eye and so every world-class sports champion has a coach. Illustration from 'Little Boy Brown' by André François.

How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes: Lessons in Mindfulness and Creativity from the Great Detective by Maria Popova “A man’s brain originally is like a little empty attic, and you have to stock it with such furniture as you choose.” “The habit of mind which leads to a search for relationships between facts,” wrote James Webb Young in his famous 1939 5-step technique for creative problem-solving, “becomes of the highest importance in the production of ideas.” Bridging ample anecdotes from the adventures of Conan Doyle’s beloved detective with psychology studies both classic and cutting-edge, Konnikova builds a compelling case at the intersection of science and secular spiritualism, stressing the power of rigorous observation alongside a Buddhist-like, Cageian emphasis on mindfulness. The idea of mindfulness itself is by no means a new one. But mindfulness, and the related mental powers it bestows upon its master, is a skill acquired with grit and practice, rather than an in-born talent or an easy feat attained with a few half-hearted tries: The Holmes solution? Donating = Loving

Opportunistic Quantum Leaps in Human Evolution | Hardshell Labs™ “What is here is elsewhere. What is not here is nowhere.” – a Hindu proverb DIY quantum applications. Figure 1: Anti-gravity Engine. 2: an Infinite Force Engine. 3: Wormhole. Where do really new and productive ideas come from? Although this is clearly a time of great upheaval in Earth’s history, in many senses we’re reorganizing civilization to include new sets of important values in human consciousness. This wasn’t the first time someone noticed this. One of the next important human perspectives on the planet, monotheism, held that spirit didn’t even exist on the planet, and was only in the sky. Now, fast forward to scientific method and complex technologies. Then in the last 170 years the world and universe became infinitesimally smaller because of global travel, modern electronic communications and space travel. Yet many outdated reductionisms of Newtonian and Darwinian science have lately been superceded by more refined science. The unseen was in the air. Max Planck’s noble photo.

Content Curation: Copyright, Ethics & Fair Use >>Click here to download the eBook. The most common and fundamental questions that come up whenever I talk about content curation (especially in the context of content marketing) is how “How can you use other people’s content? How does that work with copyright, fair use and more generally ethics?” Interests of the Three Parties Involved Before we dive into specific recommendations on best practices, let’s take a look at the interests of the three parties involved when it comes to content curation: The publisher – the individual, publication or other entity who has created original content. The curator – The curator is the person or organization who wants to curate the content of the publisher and promote to their audience. The audience – Lastly, we have the audience who wants to consume the best and most relevant content in a convenient manner. Fair Use Here’s what the law says about Fair Use and the four considerations that factor into it: 12 Best Practices Best Practice #3. Examples

High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program The most prominent instrument at the HAARP Station is the Ionospheric Research Instrument (IRI), a high-power radio frequency transmitter facility operating in the high frequency (HF) band. The IRI is used to temporarily excite a limited area of the Ionosphere. Other instruments, such as a VHF and a UHF radar, a fluxgate magnetometer, a digisonde (an ionospheric sounding device), and an induction magnetometer, are used to study the physical processes that occur in the excited region. Work on the HAARP Station began in 1993. HAARP is a target of conspiracy theorists, who claim that it is capable of modifying weather, disabling satellites and exerting mind control over people, and that it is being used as a weapon against terrorists. Overview[edit] HAARP antenna array The HAARP project directs a 3.6 MW signal, in the 2.8–10 MHz region of the HF (high-frequency) band, into the ionosphere. The HAARP program began in 1990. Research[edit] Some of the main scientific findings from HAARP include

The Science of Beauty by Maria Popova “Attitudes toward beauty are entwined with our deepest conflicts surrounding flesh and spirit.” “That is the best part of beauty, which a picture cannot express,” Francis Bacon observed in his essay on the subject. That’s precisely what Harvard’s Nancy Etcoff sets out to unearth in Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty (public library) — an inquiry into what we find beautiful and why that frames beauty as “the workings of a basic instinct” and explores such fascinating facets of the subject as our evolutionary wiring, the ubiquitous response to beauty across human cultures, and the universal qualities in people that evoke this response. Etcoff begins by confronting our intellectual apologism for the cult of beauty: Many intellectuals would have us believe that beauty is inconsequential. Etcoff admonishes against confusing beauty with all the manufactured — and industriously exploited — stand-ins for it: Appearance is the most public part of the self.

The Genius of Dogs and a Dimensional Definition of Human Intelligence by Maria Popova “Genius means that someone can be gifted with one type of cognition while being average or below average in another.” For much of modern history, dogs have inspired a wealth of art and literature, profound philosophical meditations, scientific curiosity, deeply personal letters, photographic admiration, and even some cutting-edge data visualization. But what is it that makes dogs so special in and of themselves, and so dear to us? Despite the mind-numbing title, The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs Are Smarter than You Think (public library; UK) by Brian Hare, evolutionary anthropologist and founder of the Duke Canine Cognition Center, and Vanessa Woods offers a fascinating tour of radical research on canine cognition, from how the self-domestication of dogs gave them a new kind of social intelligence to what the minds of dogs reveal about our own. In examining the definition of genius, Hare echoes British novelist Amelia E. One of the best-studied cognitive abilities is memory.