Cognitive scientist Donald Hoffman is trying to answer a big question: Do we experience the world as it really is … or as we need it to be? In this ever so slightly mind-blowing talk, he ponders how our minds construct reality for us.
Tagged with “evolution” (36)
A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived | Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm, 3:08 pm on 20 September 2016 | Radio New Zealand
Each of us carries an epic poem in our cells. DNA tells the story of our murky origins, shaped by evolution, to our current obsession with tracing our ancestry.
That nucleic acid has the genetic information needed to make all living things. But it’s not the whole story, not even close according to former geneticist, now host of the BBC’s Inside Science.
Adam Rutherford says the human genome should not be read as instruction manuals, but as epic poems.
His new book A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived separates the myths about what DNA can and can’t tell us about ourselves, where we came from and where the human race is going.
He uses a metaphor to help people get their head around what DNA is – that of sheet music and an orchestra.
“More often than not people have referred to DNA as a blueprint or an instruction manual.
“Sometimes that can be quite misleading because if something’s a blueprint it implies that all the plans are laid out and it has this association with biological determinism – what your genes are is what you will be.”
And he says we now know that’s not true.
“The sheet music for a piece of music is the same whether you buy it in 1906 or 2006 but the interpretation of that is down to the conductor and the orchestra and all of the annotations, the layering and the performance.
“This feels like a better way of describing nature and nurture which results in the symphony which is us.”
As to forking out hard earned money to find out your ancestry, through DNA profiling don’t bother, he says.
“We now know about ancestry that we’re all incredibly inbred, the last common ancestor of all Europeans was only about four or five hundred years ago.
"If you pay them to tell you your ancestors were vikings, it’s true, but only because everyone is. The truth is all of us have ancestors who were vikings and Jews and Indians."
Tech enthusiast Kevin Kelly asks "What does technology want?" and discovers that its movement toward ubiquity and complexity is much like the evolution of life.
CBC’s long-form/big think radio program Ideas recently featured a lecture called "Feeding Ten Billion" from Raj Patel, an Africa development scholar formerly with the World Bank, and author of The Value of Nothing. Patel’s perspective on global agriculture and social justice is incisive and contrarian.
British zoologist Richard Dawkins turned evolutionary theory on its head when he published his book, ‘The Selfish Gene,’ in 1976. His recently released autobiography, ‘An Appetite for Wonder,’ sheds light on the first 35 years of Dawkins’ life, from his birth in Kenya, to his fascination with science at Oxford, to the origin of his gene-centered view about natural selection. He joins us in the studio.
Sure animals talk in their own way, with chirps and grunts and the like, but only humans can form words. It is this, some evolutionary psychologists contend, that is what truly separates us from the rest of the species on the planet. But why us?
Is intelligent life trying to communicate with us from space? Professor Paul Davies explores the potential and limits of research into the origin and evolution of life, and the search for life beyond Earth. Has ET maybe visited our planet ages ago and left us a message? At the Australian National University, Paul Davies discussed his latest book The Eerie Silence: Are We Alone in the Universe?
Edward O. Wilson has revolutionized science and inspired the public more often than any other living biologist. Now he is blending his pioneer work on ants with a new perspective on human development to propose a radical reframing of how evolution works.
First the social insects ruled, from 60 million years ago. Then a species of social mammals took over, from 10 thousand years ago. Both sets of “eusocial” animals mastered the supremely delicate art of encouraging altruism, so that individuals in the groups would act as if they value the goal of the group over their own goals. They would specialize for the group and die for the group. In recent decades the idea of “kin selection” seemed to explain how such an astonishing phenomenon could evolve. Wilson replaces kin selection with “multi-level selection,” which incorporates both individual selection (long well understood) and group selection (long considered taboo). Every human and every human society has to learn how to manage adroitly the perpetual ambiguity and conflict between individual needs and group needs. What I need is never the same as what we need.
E. O. Wilson’s current book is The Social Conquest of Earth. His previous works include The Superorganism; The Future of Life; Consilience; Biophilia; Sociobiology; and The Insect Societies.
Biologist Mark Pagel shares an intriguing theory about why humans evolved our complex system of language. He suggests that language is a piece of "social technology" that allowed early human tribes to access a powerful new tool: cooperation.
Award-winning zoologist, science writer and author Dr Matt Ridley (UK) delivers the keynote address at the University of Melbourne’s Festival of Ideas 2011. In it he explains how genes, culture and technology evolve to drive human innovation. Ridley has published articles and reviews in The Times, Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, Literary Review, New Scientist, Prospect, New Statesman, Time, Newsweek, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Atlantic Monthly and The Economist, and written more than 10 books.
Presented by University of Melbourne, July 2011
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