The Dangers of Hyperselectionism

Harvey Blume takes E.O. Wilson, Stephen Pinker, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Robert Wright to task in comparison to Stephen Jay Gould. The Origin of Specious : And why reductionists are winning the Darwin wars. Gould’s science and literary style owed more to art and artists than to algorithms. His opponents’ approach to art, on the other hand, is, as a rule, so doggedly reductionist as to sow doubts about their whole enterprise.

Steven Pinker's Theories of the Mind

Steven Pinker has a new book out called The Blank Slate: The modern denial of human nature. Here’s a review from New Scientist and an interview at

Unintended Street Effect

The Street Finds its Own Use for the Law of Unintended Consequences is a brilliant essay by Cory Doctorow on technology and innovative, but unpredicted uses for technology.

Bullying via Technology

Another example of how technology always has unexpected results comes from increased bullying via cell phone text messaging systems in England.

Zen and Psychdelics

An interesting review of the new book Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychdelics is online at alternet. A good quote: Barlow writes that he knows full well that as a user and an observer of Grateful Dead culture that the public’s fear of LSD is misplaced. Yet, like many others, he has kept quiet. He writes that by concealing the truth, “I participate in a growing threat to the minds of America’s young greater than anything which acid presents.

Genomes and Machines

More from the Scout report: this time on bioinformatics. The purpose of these pages is to provide an overview of the rapidly evolving field of bioinformatics. We define bioinformatics as a discipline that generate computational tools, databases and methods to support genomic, molecular and medical research. This research basically comprises the study of DNA structure and function, gene and protein expression, protein production, structure and function, genetic regulatory systems, etc.

Playful Invention and Exploration Network

The wonder of the web is the links you start to follow. From my last adventure at the Lemelson Center I found this: the Playful Invention and Exploration Network, sponsored by MIT and a hosted by SMM.

There’s even a listserv for announcements from the Lemelson center.

Invention Playhouse

A couple of different thought threads have been going through my mind the last month about the importance of play in my own life. A religious friend gave me a book called The Fabric of Faithfulness about the role of a college education in shaping our life stories and faiths. Although I’m not persuaded by the theistic arguments I did start thinking about how I would describe my personal, atheistic beliefs.

Robert Wright Makes some Good Points about Terrorism is running an interesting series by Robert Wright, author of Non-Zero and The Moral Animal, on the response to terrorism. He makes a number of points that need to be remembered: Proposition No. 2: For the foreseeable future, smaller and smaller groups of intensely motivated people will have the ability to kill larger and larger numbers of people. They won’t have to claim that they speak on behalf of a whole religion.

Millenial Fictions

Here’s one of the best articles I’ve seen on evangelical millenial fiction, exemplified by the Left Behind books. When I went to college (early 1990s) one of my relatives gave me a copy of This Present Darkness by Frank Peretti. I started reading it but stopped after 50 pages - I knew what was going to happen already. In general I try to avoid wasting my time reading books where I know what the final answer will be.