Mary Catherine Bateson is a cultural anthropologist now 71, the daughter of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.
Her famed 1989 book “Composing a Life” showed how women were learning to treat their necessarily fragmented careers as a coherent improvisational art form. Her new book is titled “Composing a Further Life: The Age of Active Wisdom“.
We’re not just living longer, we’re thriving longer, Bateson says, but so far we seem to be thinking shorter. Aging societies the world over can benefit from increased longevity because human lives have added a new stage, what Bateson calls “Adulthood II: the age of active wisdom”. People of grandparent age, finding themselves with more energy and health than obsolete stereotypes had led them to expect, are seeing their lives whole and the world whole and taking on radically new activities in light of that perspective. These older adults have the potential to bring a longer perspective to decision-making that affects the future.
Mary Catherine Bateson is a writer and cultural anthropologist who divides her time between New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She has written and co-authored many books and articles, and lectures across the US and abroad and has taught at Harvard, Northeastern University, Amherst College, Spelman College and abroad in the Philippines and in Iran. In 2004, she retired from her position as Clarence J. Robinson Professor in Anthropology and English at George Mason University, and is now Professor Emerita. Her books in print include “Composing a Life”, “Our Own Metaphor” and “Peripheral Visions”, as well as a memoir, “With a Daughter’s Eye: A Memoir of Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson”.
Stewart Brand is an American writer, best known as editor of the Whole Earth Catalogue. He founded a number of organizations including The WELL, the Global Business Network, and the Long Now Foundation. He is the author of several books, most recently “Whole Earth Discipline: An Eco-Pragmatist Manifesto”.
Length: 88 minutes 31 seconds
Richard H. Thaler, Director of the Center for Decision Research at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, is the father of Behavioral Economics. In preparation for a new book he asked EDGE contributors to answer this question:
The flat earth and geocentric world are examples of wrong scientific beliefs that were held for long periods. Can you name your favorite example and for extra credit why it was believed to be true?
As of today, there are 61 responses which make for fascinating reading on how science has corrected itself and our views of nature.
The contributors include Neil Shubin, Garrett Lisi, Peter Schwartz, David Deutsch, Haim Harari, Alun Anderson, Irene Pepperberg, John Holland, Derek Lowe, Charles Simonyi, Nathan Myhrvold, Lawrence Krauss, Steven Strogatz, Cesar Hidalgo, Eric Topol, Christian Keysers, Simona Morini, Ross Anderson, James Croak, Rob Kurzban, Lewis Wolpert, Howard Gardner, Ed Regis, Robert Trivers, Frank Tipler, Joan Chaio, Jeremy Bernstein, Matthew Ritchie, Clay Shirky, Roger Schank, Gary Klein, Gregory Cochran, Eric Weinstein , Geoffrey Carr, James O’Donnell, Lane Greene, Jonathan Haidt, Juan Enriquez, Scott Atran, Rupert Sheldrake, Emanuel Derman, Charles Seife, Milford H. Wolpoff, Robert Shapiro, Judith Harris, Jordan Pollack, Sue Blackmore, Nicholas G. Carr, Lee Smolin, Marti Hearst, Gino Segre, Carl Zimmer, Gregory Paul, Alison Gopnik, George Dyson, Mark Pagel, Timothy Taylor, David Berreby, Zenon Pylyshyn, Michael Shermer, and George Lakoff.
Topics (with comments on both bad and correct science or beliefs) include: plate tectonics, cosmic inflation, prions, quantum entanglement, the force of gravity, the great chain of being, bird intelligence, the four humours of human physiology, luminiferous aether, bad air disease theory, Peripatetic Mechanics of Aristotle, stress theory of ulcers, intelligent design/creationism, the age of the Earth, cell regeneration, spontaneous generation of life, vitalism, unifunctional components of the brain, security by obscurity, whales as fishes, group selection, unilinear cultural evolution, static universe, Lamarckism, nature/nurture, the existence of a vacuum, the human brain vs. the heart, and more…
Bonus: Thaler on his field Behavioural Economics:
Via ABC News (Australia):
Scientists say an Aboriginal rock art depiction of an extinct giant bird could be Australia’s oldest painting.
It was rediscovered at the centre of the Arnhem Land plateau about two years ago, but archaeologists first visited the site a fortnight ago.
A palaeontologist has confirmed the animals depicted are the megafauna species Genyornis.
Archaeologist Ben Gunn said the giant birds became extinct more than 40,000 years ago.
“The details on this painting indicate that it was done by someone who knew that animal very well,” he said.
He says the detail could not have been passed down through oral storytelling.
“If it is a Genyornis, and it certainly does have all the features of one, it would be the oldest dated visual painting that we’ve got in Australia,” he said.
“Either the painting is 40,000 years old, which is when science thinks Genyornis disappeared, or alternatively the Genyornis lived a lot longer than science has been able to establish.”
Mr Gunn says there are paintings of other extinct animals right across the area including the thylacine, or tasmanian tiger, the giant echidna and giant kangaroo. (…)
Via Big Think comes another series on a theme, this time of seven videos (of which four are currently available):
How do you reconcile a belief in science and a religious faith? Are modern day atheists leading a crusade of their own or will religion become more of an integral aspect of our increasingly science-based world? This special series highlights some particularly vexing issues at the intersection of religion and science. From a computer science professor who was injured by the Unabomber to an outspoken anthropologist who argues that people are religious because the act of believing in God boosts “feel good” neurochemicals in their brains, this series will challenge the ideas of believers and non-believers alike.
James Randi has shunned faith since he was a kid spending collection plate money on ice cream. “If my dad and mom are up there someplace… I ask them to forgive me.”
The Yale computer guru decries the dangerous trend of know-it-all scientists (Richard Dawkins?) telling people that “religion is trash.”
Surrounded by a puzzling and often frightening world, people from almost every culture have come to trust in the improvable and supernatural. Here Richard Dawkins remembers when he broke from this pattern.
“Reconciliation is possible” between science and faith, though it will mean defining the latter by its moral truths and not its supernatural claims.
Believing in God generates soothing “juices” in the brain that make us feel good.
The videos are mostly excerpts from larger interviews. Clicking on the speaker’s name will take you to their page where more material is available. Clicking on the titles takes you to the individual videos in this series.
Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy takes on a terrifying question: How does the Taliban convince children to become suicide bombers? Propaganda footage from a training camp is intercut with her interviews of young camp graduates. A shocking vision.
PS: The FB Like button doesn’t work for this post, since it results in an error saying it doesn’t allow a word in the title!
Via VPRO Metropolis:
In Japan there is a a temple with basket-, tennis-, soft- and of course soccerballs. Here, fans can worship the God of Soccer. In this spot, older men play a traditional form of soccer, called Kemari. There are no goals, winners or losers but it creates a colourful sight.
Check the link at the beginning of the post for other soccer-related videos presented on occasion of the upcoming World Championship, such as:
If you’ve got around twenty hours of free time, you might enjoy this YouTube playlist of 10 lectures from Stanford University on Charles Darwin’s legacy (Stanford Continuing Studies course). Each video is around two hours and features an introduction, a presentation/lecture, and concludes with a panel discussion and a Q&A. Instead of using the playlist above, you can access each individual lecture below:
- Professor William Durham provides an overview of the course; Professor Robert Siegel touches upon Darwin’s Own Evolution; Professor Durham returns for a talk on Darwin’s Data.
- Dr. Eugenie Scott explores the evolution vs. creationism debate and provides an argument for evolution.
- Dr. Janet Browne presents a biography on Charles Darwin and explores Darwin’s Origin of Species.
- Dr. Daniel Dennett presents the philosophical importance of Darwin’s theory of evolution.
- Peter and Rosemary Grant discuss how and why species multiply.
- Dr. Niles Eldredge discusses Darwin’s life and work.
- Professor Melissa Brown speaks about the history and consequences of social Darwinism, and offers insight into new ways of thinking about social evolution.
- Dr. Paul Ewald speaks about how several pathogenic viruses have evolved over time to break down the cell’s barriers to several types of cancer. He suggests that further research will aid in the discovery of additional viruses linked to the causation of cancer.
- Dr. Russell Fernald discusses how social behavior changes the brains of fish, animals, and humans to adapt to situations typically involving mating behaviors.
- Dr. George Levine discusses through analysis of Darwin’s literary works, ways of seeing and being enchanted by the world as well as the poetic eloquence of Darwin’s prose.
It’s a lot to view, but worth the effort!