Gods and Gamma.

Here’s something interesting: “God Has Sent Me To You” by Arzy and Schurr, in Epilepsy & Behavior (not to mention the usual pop-sci sites that ran with it a couple weeks back). Middle-aged Jewish male, practicing but not religious, goes off his meds as part of an ongoing treatment for grand mal seizures (although evidently […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters, neuro by Peter Watts 30 Comments

Probably Just Another in a List Going Back to Constantine…

  An Enemy Within: The Bicameral Threat to Institutional Religion in the Twenty-First Century   An Internal Report to the Holy See by The Pontifical Academy of Sciences in conjunction with the John Templeton Foundation, based upon investigations inaugurated July 23—Sep 16 2093   EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Background The past century has witnessed what Sujeit describes […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters, fiblet by Peter Watts 24 Comments

In Defense of Religious Belief.

So this paper sprouts online a couple of weeks back: “My Brother’s Keeper? Compassion Predicts Generosity More Among Less Religious Individuals”. It appears in the July issue of Social Psychology and Personality Science (which yes, is in the future but don’t worry you can get a preprint here); the list of authors is about as […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters by Peter Watts 43 Comments

The Doomed, Glorious Rearguard Battle of Christopher Hitchens

I am by no means a compulsive student of Christopher Hitchens.  I’ve yet to read God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, although I certainly agree with the sentiment.  (I haven’t read Dawkins’ The God Delusion either; not that I wouldn’t get off on the inevitable preaching-to-the-choir reinforcement, but one tends to learn more […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters, misc by Peter Watts 47 Comments

The Coming of the Lord.

There are a couple of different ways we could be living inside a computer. The Matrix model looms largest on the pop-culture landscape for obvious reasons, notwithstanding that the Matrix movies presented at best a half-assed iteration of the concept: that live human brains were being fed a digital simulation of reality while being hosed […]

Gods, Jackboots: Coda

I’m holding off — for the moment — on commenting about last week’s inaugural SFContario, which had much to commend it but which also contained one big gnarly injustice that might just overshadow all those good elements.  Not entirely comfortable with the fact that the concomm is stonestalling1 on even addressing that issue, for reasons which I […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters by Peter Watts 20 Comments

“… And an Almost Fanatical Devotion to the Pope”: or, Truthiness Goes Technical

Okay, let’s do this. The author is Satoshi Kanazawa. The Journal is the Social Psychology Quarterly. And the paper is “Why Liberals and Atheists are More Intelligent“. Ignore for the moment that first stirring of doubt (more intelligent than what? Isn’t that kind of a glaring omission in a title?) because after all, it comes […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters, evolution, scilitics by Peter Watts 91 Comments

The Neurology of Transcendence

So just a day or so after we revisit “A Word for Heathens”  — a story exploring the social ramifications of neurotechnology that induces Rapture On Demand — here comes a paper by Cosimo Urgesi and his buddies showing a relationship between the posterior parietal cortex and something called “Self-Transcendence” — an index, if we […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters, neuro, sentience/cognition by Peter Watts 26 Comments

“And God and the Economy
 Have Blessed Me with Equality”

A couple of papers on the nature of religious belief came down the pike last week. One was high-tech, analytically complex, and neurological. The other was low-tech, analytically naïve, and all evo-psych handwavey. It also claimed to rebut the whole school of thought embodied in the first paper, although I don’t think it did— yet […]

Zounds! It’s Christfucking Blasphemy Day!

And, decompressing after my bounce dive to Germany, I almost slept through it. Thanks to Keippernicus and a half-dozen science blogs for bringing me up to speed. Blasphemy Day (“…because your god is a joke”) exists as part of “…a movement to dismantle the wall which exists between religion and criticism.”, to “open up all […]

Posted in: ass-hamsters by Peter Watts 9 Comments