July 12, 2010
Are humans the Bi-Polar Ape, caught between love and war forever? Featured on The Guardian, Steven Pinker, Richard Wrangham and Frans de Waal discuss the evolutionary evidence and debate whether human nature is essentially violent like our chimpanzee cousins or essentially peaceful like our equally related bonobo ancestors.
This was a lecture given during a 2007 CFI conference "Secular Society and its Enemies." Singer runs through various topics relating to Ethics and the talk wraps up with a few minutes of Q&A.
For more information: www.centerforinquiry.net/nyc
At TEDGlobal 2010, author Matt Ridley shows how, throughout history, the engine of human progress has been the meeting and mating of ideas to make new ideas. It's not important how clever individuals are, he says; what really matters is how smart the collective brain is.
Why you should listen to him:
British author Matt Ridley knows one thing: Through history, the engine of human progress and prosperity has been, and is, the mating of ideas. The sophistication of the modern world, says Ridley, lies not in individual intelligence or imagination; it is a collective enterprise. In his recent book The Rational Optimist, Ridley (whose previous works include Genome and Nature via Nurture) sweeps the entire arc of human history to powerfully argue that "prosperity comes from everybody working for everybody else."
It is our habit of trade, idea-sharing and specialization that has created the collective brain which set human living standards on a rising trend. This, he says, "holds out hope that the human race will prosper mightily in the years ahead -- because ideas are having sex with each other as never before."
"Ridley systematically builds a case through copious data and countless studies that “the vast majority of people are much better fed, much better sheltered, much better entertained, much better protected against disease and much more likely to live to old age than their ancestors have ever been.""
Three films exploring the very thing that makes us human. Each episode features an extraordinary character who can do extraordinary things with their brain.
Marc Yu is only 7 years old, but he already has a repertoire of over 15 classical piano pieces – some of them over 20 minutes long.
Chess grand master Susan Polgar tells the story of how her father turned her and her sisters into chess prodigies.
Autistic Savant George Widener stuns us with his superhuman calculating and memory skills. And prepare to be moved by Tommy McHugh – the Liverpool hardman who turned into an obsessive artist after surviving a stroke. We find out how they do it.
Laurie Santos looks for the roots of human irrationality by watching the way our primate relatives make decisions. A clever series of experiments in "monkeynomics" shows that some of the silly choices we make, monkeys make too.
Why you should listen to her:
Laurie Santos runs the Comparative Cognition Laboratory (CapLab) at Yale, where she and collaborators across departments (from psychology to primatology to neurobiology) explore the evolutionary origins of the human mind by studying lemurs, capuchin monkeys and other primates. The twist: Santos looks not only for positive humanlike traits, like tool-using and altruism, but irrational ones, like biased decisionmaking.
In elegant, carefully constructed experiments, Santos and CapLab have studied how primates understand and categorize objects in the physical world -- for instance, that monkeys understand an object is still whole even when part of it is obscured. Going deeper, their experiments also search for clues that primates possess a theory of mind -- an ability to think about what other people think.
Most recently, the lab has been looking at behaviors that were once the province mainly of novelists: jealousy, frustration, judgment of others' intentions, poor economic choices. In one experiment, Santos and her team taught monkeys to use a form of money, tradeable for food. When certain foods became cheaper, monkeys would, like humans, overbuy. As we humans search for clues to our own irrational behaviors, Santos' research suggests that the source of our genius for bad decisions might be our monkey brains.
"Through a series of groundbreaking experiments, Santos has seen in her primates a humanlike propensity for hoarding, larceny, and competitiveness. By exploring the inner lives of primates, she has offered persuasive evidence that monkeys are capable of sophisticated insight, complex reasoning, and calculated action."
~Linda Marsa, Discover
This episode is about the evolution of the brain, and its complexity.
In this series, Robert Winston exposes the different stages of our growth and development, from birth to death, from a biological and personal point of view.
From fertilized egg to six trillion cells working in concert, this is an incredible journey through the most complex biological mechanism on earth. While the latest imaging techniques guide the viewer through veins, down fallopian tubes and around the brain, this groundbreaking series also explores the human drama born of this microscopic world.
May 06, 2010 - Bestselling author, political adviser and social and ethical prophet Jeremy Rifkin investigates the evolution of empathy and the profound ways that it has shaped our development and our society.