Jamie Hale

Jamie Hale

Monday, August 3, 2009

Knowledge Roundup 2

Brain Facts
A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System

Brain Facts is a 74-page primer on the brain and nervous system, published by SfN. Designed for a lay audience as an introduction to neuroscience, Brain Facts is a valuable educational resource
Free Ebook http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=brainFacts§ion=publications

Mirror Neurons
You see a stranger stub her toe and you immediately flinch in sympathy. You watch a baseball outfielder run to catch a long fly ball and feel your heart racing and your leg muscles pumping along with him. You notice a friend wrinkle up his face in disgust while tasting some food and suddenly your own stomach recoils at the thought of eating. This ability to instinctively and immediately understand what other people are experiencing has long baffled neuroscientists, psychologists, and philosophers alike. Recent research now suggests a fascinating explanation: brain cells called mirror neurons. Read More http://www.sfn.org/index.aspx?pagename=brainBriefings_MirrorNeurons

The Science of Gossip: Why We Can’t Stop Ourselves

In the past few years I have heard more people than ever before puzzling over the 24/7 coverage of people such as Paris Hilton who are “celebrities” for no apparent reason other than we know who they are. And yet we can’t look away. The press about these individuals’ lives continues because people are obviously tuning in. Although many social critics have bemoaned this explosion of popular culture as if it reflects some kind of collective character flaw, it is in fact nothing more than the inevitable outcome of the collision between 21st-century media and Stone Age minds.

When you cut away its many layers, our fixation on popular culture reflects an intense interest in the doings of other people; this preoccupation with the lives of others is a by-product of the psychology that evolved in prehistoric times to make our ancestors socially successful. Thus, it appears that we are hardwired to be fascinated by gossip. Read more http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-science-of-gossip

I want to Believe

In a 1997 episode of The Simpsons entitled “The Springfield Files” — a parody of X-Files in which Homer has an alien encounter in the woods (after imbibing 10 bottles of Red Tick Beer) — Leonard Nimoy voices the intro as he once did for his post-Spock run on the television mystery series In Search of…: “The following tale of alien encounters is true. And by true, I mean false. It’s all lies. But they’re entertaining lies, and in the end isn’t that the real truth? The answer is no.”
Read more http://www.michaelshermer.com/2009/07/i-want-to-believe/

Darwin Myths

Darwin coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” (Herbert Spencer actually coined the phrase)

Darwin was an atheist (no he was agnostic)

Darwin was always an evolutionist which was passed down to him from his grandfather (Darwin was a creationist before and during the voyage of the Beagle and didn’t become an evolutionist until approximately a year after his return. Darwin did not devise his theory while in Galpagos)

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