Archive | June 4, 2013

Leading Neuroscientist: Religious Fundamentalism May Be a ‘Mental Illness’ That Can Be ‘Cured’

326px-St_Dymphna

Dymphna

via David Edwards The Raw Story

A leading neurologist at the University of Oxford said this week that recent developments meant that science may one day be able to identify religious fundamentalism as a “mental illness” and a cure it.

During a talk at the Hay Literary Festival in Wales on Wednesday, Kathleen Taylor was asked what positive developments she anticipated in neuroscience in the next 60 years.

“One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated,” she explained, according to The Times of London. “Somebody who has for example become radicalised to a cult ideology – we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance.”

Read the rest

Continue Reading

A Cyborgologist On What Facebook and Google Glass Really Mean

jurgensonThis week the Mindful Cyborgs podcast interviewed Nathan Jurgenson, the co-founder of the site Cyborgology, co-founder of the Theorizing the Web conference, a contributing editor at The New Inquiry and a sociology graduate student at the University of Maryland.

There’s a full transcript on Technoccult, or you can listen to or download the audio from Soundcloud or iTunes.

Here are some excerpts:

If you’ve taken a lot of photos, if you’re a photographer and you spend a lot of time with the camera in your hand or up your eye. You develop the thing that is called the “camera eye,” that is even when the camera is not at your eye you start to see the world through the logic of the camera mechanism. You see the world as a potential photo with a framing, lighting, the depth of field and so forth. And that’s called the camera eye and I think social media, especially Facebook, has given us the sort of documentary vision or the Facebook eye where you see the world as a potential Facebook post or tweet or Instagram photo.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

FBI’s Proposed CALEA Law Would Require Websites And Devices To Be Wiretap-Ready

calea law

Providers of email, chat, and messaging services used by a significant number of people would be required to enable easy wiretapping, if the FBI has its way, CNET News reports:

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities.

The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly. “If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding,” an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation told CNET.

Read the rest
Continue Reading

How Environmentalists Got One Firm to Quit Deforestation

tftMargaret Debore writes at TreeHugger:

A firm that once accused Greenpeace of making “false accusations” has finally had a change of heart. This morning, NPR’s Morning Edition has a great story on how Greenpeace and the Tropical Forest Trust pushed Asia Pulp and Paper to end their devastating practice of deforestation.

Scott Poynton of the Tropical Forest Trust, dealt with the company’s misplaced priorities:

Poynton told them bluntly that if they kept cutting down virgin forests, no amount of “greenwashing” was going to help them.

Head over to NPR to hear or read the full story.

Read the rest

Continue Reading

The Emerging Speculative Genre Of “Cli Fi”

climate fiction

Is environmental change poised to thrust us into new worlds? NPR writes:

Nathaniel Rich’s Odds Against Tomorrow is the latest in what seems to be an emerging literary genre. Over the past decade, more and more writers have begun to set their novels and short stories in worlds, not unlike our own, where the Earth’s systems are noticeably off-kilter. The genre has come to be called climate fiction — “cli-fi,” for short.

“I think we need a new type of novel to address a new type of reality,” says Rich, “which is that we’re headed toward something terrifying and large and transformative. And it’s the novelist’s job to try to understand, what is that doing to us?” As far as Rich is concerned, climate change itself is a foregone conclusion. The story — the suspense, the romance — is in how we deal with it.

Of course, science fiction with an environmental bent has been around since the 1960s (think J.G.

Read the rest
Continue Reading