## 7/14/18

### Julian Barbour: Killing Time

 Time's Arrow and Entropy
What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know. St. Augustine (354—430)

Theologists could help support their theologies if they did more thinking about the problematic nature of time. Me at Mind Shadows ($\infty$$\infty$)

According to the math of quantum physics, Time's Arrow can flow either direction, into the future, or into the past. Time is symmetrical. Why then do we experience time as asymmetrical? Our deaths lie ahead, not our births.

Physicist Julian Barbour: Time and motion are illusions. They are put into the external world by our brains, but don't exist there.

## 7/8/18

### Belief in No God Is Also Irrational

In Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, Daniel Dennett hopes to break the spell--not of religious belief, but of the conviction that it is not a fit subject for scientific inquiry. Never the twain shall meet--this is a bad idea according to Dennett. Stephen Jay Gould wrote of "non-overlapping magisteria," of both science and religion as worthy of respect in their own rights, but unbridgeable, the one to the other.

## 7/3/18

### Seeing Through Self: David Bohm & Krishnamurti's Ego

Quantum physicist David Bohm (1917-1992) was a protégé of J. Robert Oppenheimer and liked by Einstein. So impressed was Einstein, that he referred to Bohm as his successor. As for Bohm, he had deep interests outside science. This led to the day when Bohm met J. Krishnamurti and began studying under him until the two men had a falling-out.

Labels: , , ,

## 7/2/18

### He Wanted His Father's Body Back

The Date: September 1897

Who: American Explorer Robert Peary, African-American Matthew Henson, the crew of the ship Hope and six Inuits, known then as Eskimos, including the 7-year-old boy Minik, and his father, Qisuk. During his several voyages to the Arctic, Peary's quest was to reach the North Pole.

Years later Minik told a reporter from The World about the day he first spotted Peary's ship looming in the distance around Cape York: ''I had never seen anything bigger than my father's kayak. The big ship brought to our little village more white men than we had ever seen. I lived in a little igloo with my father. My mother was dead, and I had no brothers or sisters. And so I loved my dear father very much.''

A 100 ton meteorite was on deck, brought back from the Arctic. During the  voyage, the Hope was tossed by fierce, wild seas, and the Inuit thought they had been cursed for allowing the meteorite to be removed from its native soil.  After anchoring in New York City they, dressed in sealskin coats trimmed with polar bear fur, suffered sweltering heat.

## 6/12/18

### Ferdinand Waldo Demara, the Great Imposter

He was the Great Imposter, and his exploits became a bestselling biography, followed by a 1961 movie. Bold, downright audacious, Ferdinand Waldo Demara pretended his way into challenges that would leave others drenched in sweat.

He didn't choose small deceptions. He was often drawn to situations in which discovery was quite dangerous to him. The danger itself seemed to whet his appetite for life on the edge. Consider these:

## 6/10/18

### Richard Halliburton's Storm and Stress and The 1920s

Excerpt from an unpublished version of Don't Die in Bed: The Brief, Intense Life of Richard Halliburton

Although it had gone to war, America returned to isolationism. By 1920, the Bolshevik Revolution had struck fear in American minds.

## 5/26/18

### The Radium Girls and One Who Survived

An ad of the time showed a wrist watch glowing in the dark. Beneath the picture were the words "Made possible by the magic of radium."

## 5/19/18

### Her Stroke Caused A Mystical Experience

At 7:00 am on December 10, 1996 Jill Bolte Taylor, a brain scientist, awoke to a sharp pain behind her left eye. She didn't know a blood vessel had broken in her brain.  Squinting into the early morning light, she was irritated as her eye throbbed. Thinking of how to relieve the pain, she decided to exercise on an exercise machine which she rowed. That would take care of things, she thought.  Some aerobics were needed to get the heart pumping and the pain would disappear.  But it didn't work.  She saw her arms and hands moving forward and backward but they no longer seemed a part of her.  Of her experience on the machine, she wrote, "Feeling detached from normal reality, I felt as though I was observing myself in motion, as in the playback of a memory, as if my conscious mind was suspended somewhere between my normal reality and some esoteric space. I was sure I was awake, yet, I felt as if I was trapped inside the perception of a meditation that I could neither stop nor escape. Dazed, I felt the frequency of shooting pangs escalate inside my brain, and I realized that this exercise regime was probably not a good idea."

She got off the machine and in the bathroom climbed into the shower. Things got worse. She had no idea her brain was bleeding as her thoughts shut down and peace enveloped her.  Later, she would speak about her  experience, how, as she put it, her "consciousness soared into an all-knowingness, a 'being at one' with the universe."  She moved into a different way of seeing, one without three-dimensions, in which she melted into space.

She wrote a best-selling book about her experience titled My Stroke of Insight.

## 5/13/18

Suppose that because of epilepsy you have had the connection severed between your two brain hemispheres so that one side does not communicate with the other. In an experiment, somebody shows you a card that says "Walk." So you walk. When asked why you did it, you say, "To get a drink of water." In fact you only did it because you saw the card. You made up the explanation after the fact. This couldn't happen to you, right? Wrong.

## 5/6/18

### V.S. Ramachandran: Brain Temporal Lobes and Mystical Experience

Neuroscientist Vilayanur Subramanian Ramachandran works in behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics and is professor in the Department of Psychology and the Graduate Program in Neurosciences at the University of California, San Diego. He has published books with popular appeal, including Phantoms in the Brain (1998), A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness (2004) and The Tell-Tale Brain (2010). In these videos he presents a young man who experiences recurrent mystical experiences and feels intense beauty in these moments. Ramachandran hypothesizes a reason for the experiences, although tracing them to the physical does not prove the cause as physical and the experience as deluded. One can also observe that people without the young man's condition have had similar experiences and that a door opened into a greater reality that few ever glimpse.

Part One
Part Two

## 4/29/18

### Walter Freeman's Ice Pick Lobotomy on Howard Dully

This is a sad story, but one of self-redemption, so if you read the book you will find that Howard Dully was able to salvage something of the tragedy others made of his life. It is titled My Lobotomy. The title is simple, not pretentious, and the narrative is straightforward. Dully began life as a normal boy, bright, at a young age able to beat his father in chess. Then something happened to him. What happened to him was Walter Freeman.

## 4/22/18

### The Trump Era, Fake News, and The Epistemic Stroop Effect

The Stroop Effect occurs in a mismatch of word with color.  You are told to say the color of a word but its letters spell a different color. Repeatedly subjects react slower to a mismatch than they do to a match of color with word. For your own experience of the Stroop Effect take the "test" below.
Now notice how much more easily and quickly you can match and pronounce the colors below.

These colors do not require scrutiny.  The words and colors fit what your brain expects. This provides an example of the default mode for how we process the world.  Our brains do not like anything not fitting our preconceptions. Natural selection evolved brains to survive, not reason with the world. They fitted things into ready categories so our ancestors could avoid a tiger they saw lurking behind a boulder, even though the tiger was there only once and they had detoured around the rock scores of times since. The simple equation was rock=danger and brain neurons became wired for that. It made life easier.  So brains do the same today.

This effect is noteworthy in a post-modern era when fake news and alternative facts have become widely acceptable.  It helps explain why people believe what they want to believe.