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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"What Have You Changed Your Mind About?" pt. 2

I continue comments on Edge's "World Question" issue, which question is the same as my title. See here for the first part of this series.

This page contains, as its last entry, an essay on the reality of the soul, by Todd Feinberg. Feinberg believes that there is such a thing as a soul, which is not the same thing as the brain. He indicates why he now believes as he does. Feinberg does not believe this for religious reasons -- he does not believe in the persistence of the soul after death.

On this page, the first entry, by Keith Devlin, considers one of the most fundamental questions underlying mathematics, namely, whether math is invented or discovered. He now believes the former. (Not everyone agrees!)

On the same page, David Dalrymple raises some fundamental questions about how computers are designed, using an analogy with a business.

Tor Nørretranders points out that our body isn't a stable thing. "98 percent of the atoms in the body are replaced every year," he writes.

And Helen Fisher discusses what she calls "the four-year itch" -- that is, more divorces occur after four years of marriage than at any other point. (Her data is from many societies, not just North American.) She speculates about how natural selection might have brought this about.

Thanks for reading!


Rob Rumfelt said...

Hi Martin!
I should have known you'd like Edge. It's one of my guilty pleasures, given the hostility to religion often displayed there. But their articles can be very mind-expanding, at the least the ones I can understand!

I enjoyed the piece by Todd Feinberg very much. Jeffrey M. Schwartz, a neuroscientist from UCLA, has also done some research along these lines. His conclusions, if my memory serves me right, are similar to Feinberg's. Fascinating stuff!

Totally off-topic, have you ever read anything by Sara Douglass? I'm currently reading her Crucible Series, a trilogy set in late 14th century Europe. It's sort of a blend of alternate history and fantasy. Gripping reading.

Hope all is well with you!

Martin LaBar said...

Yes, the Feinberg essay was interesting, to say the least. I hadn't heard of Schwartz.

I've added Douglass to my "try someday" list.


Rob Rumfelt said...

I can imagine your "try someday" list! I know mine is ever growing. Reading is so great!

Martin LaBar said...

Indeed. I actually do read more books from that list, now that I'm retired.