"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
[Pinker] conflates scientific knowledge with knowledge as such. In his view, anybody who has studied any phenomena that are studied by science has been a scientist...If they were interested in the mind, then they were early versions of brain scientists. If they investigated human nature, then they were social psychologists or behavioral economists avant la lettre
. Leon Wieseltier pens a response
to Steven Pinker's essay
on scientism, both in the pages of the New Republic. Others
some prominent atheists
, have taken issue with Pinker as well.
posted by shivohum
on Sep 5, 2013 -
Heaven is Real: A Doctor's Experience of the Afterlife. As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences...In the fall of 2008, however, after seven days in a coma during which the human part of my brain, the neocortex, was inactivated, I experienced something so profound that it gave me a scientific reason to believe in consciousness after death.
posted by shivohum
on Oct 12, 2012 -
Stanley Fish takes on the similarities and differences
between scientific and religious evidence and gets a barrage of responses, to which he replies
. Michael K. declares that “the equivalence between the methodological premises of scientific inquiry and those of religious doctrine is simply false.” I agree, but I do not assert it. Neither do I assert that because there are no “impersonal standards and impartial procedures … all standards and procedures are equivalent” (E.). What I do assert is that with respect to a single demand — the demand that the methodological procedures of an enterprise be tethered to the world of fact in a manner unmediated by assumptions — science and religion are in the same condition of not being able to meet it (as are history, anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology and all the rest).
posted by shivohum
on Apr 10, 2012 -
This weekend , Washington, D.C. will be invaded by the voice of reason
. A free rally featuring Tim Minchin
, Paul Provenza
, Richard Dawkins
, Eddie Izzard
, Adam Savage
, James Randi
, Bad Religion
, and many others, in what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of non-believers in America.
"If we don't organize, we will be the only ones not organized. Religion will be organized. We won't be organized. That means we lose... and they win."
posted by markkraft
on Mar 23, 2012 -
is a veteran American cartoonist best known for his delightful comic-book guides to science and history, many of which have previews online. Chief among them is his long-running Cartoon History of the Universe
(later The Cartoon History of the Modern World
), a sprawling multi-volume opus documenting everything from the Big Bang to the Bush administration. Published over the course of three decades, it takes a truly global view -- its time-traveling Professor thoroughly explores not only familiar topics like Rome and World War II but the oft-neglected stories of Asia and Africa, blending caricature and myth with careful scholarship (cited by fun illustrated bibliographies
) and tackling even the most obscure events with intelligence and wit
. This savvy satire carried over to Gonick's Zinn
chronicle The Cartoon History of the United States
, along with a bevy of Cartoon Guides
to other topics, including Genetics, Computer Science, Chemistry, Physics, Statistics, The Environment
, and (yes!) Sex
. Gonick has also maintained a few sideprojects, such as a webcomic look at Chinese invention
, assorted math comics
), the Muse magazine
mainstay Kokopelli & Co.
(featuring the shenanigans of his "New Muses"
), and more
. See also these lengthy interview snippets
, linked previously
. Want more? Amazon links to the complete oeuvre inside! [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Jun 6, 2011 -
The Burns Archive
is a collection of over 700,000 historical photographs that document disturbing
subject matter: obsolete medical practices and experiments, death, disease, disasters, crime, revolutions, riots and war. Newsweek posted a select gallery
this past October, as well as a video interview and walk-through
with curator and collector Dr. Stanley B. Burns, a New York opthalmologist. (Via) (Content at links may be disturbing to some.) [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Apr 26, 2011 -
- written by Alan Moore in December 2002 to appear in KAOS #15, which never appeared. Published here for the first time.
posted by MetaMonkey
on Oct 24, 2010 -
Smoke and Mirrors: The Subversion of the EPA.
"This four-part series details how the Bush administration weakened the EPA
. It installed a pliant agency chief, Stephen L. Johnson. Under him, the EPA created pro-industry regulations later thrown out by the courts. It promoted a flawed voluntary program to fight climate change. It bypassed air pollution recommendations from its own scientists to satisfy the White House." [Via Reality Base]
posted by homunculus
on Dec 11, 2008 -
Flow of Time is a BBC documentary that "tries to explain time and covers the different ways we have used to understand Time, religion, mathematics, relativity, and quantum mechanics." Part 1
posted by nola
on Oct 21, 2008 -
"Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still.
" The comments are included on a Church of England website promoting the views of Charles Darwin to be launched on Monday.
posted by finite
on Sep 14, 2008 -
16% of US science teachers believe human beings have been created by God within the last 10,000 years
. 25% of science teachers spend some time teaching about creationism or intelligent design. 12.5% teach it as a "valid, scientific alternative to Darwinian explanations for the origin of species". 2% say they do not cover evolution at all. Teachers who have taken more science courses themselves devote more time to evolution - "This may be because better-prepared teachers are more confident in dealing with students' questions about a sensitive subject."
posted by Artw
on May 19, 2008 -
Traveling a lot this weekend? Long drive, plane or train ride? You can use that transit time to listen to the Dalai Lama talk for more than four hours with neuroscientists and Buddhist scholars on the topic of craving, suffering and choice. Part one
. Part two
. [iTunes links]
If you're stuck at home, you can watch the video
. The video link has the full list of participants.
posted by Kattullus
on Nov 21, 2007 -
Sex Ratio Theory, Ancient and Modern - An 18th Century Debate about Intelligent Design and the Development of Models in Evolutionary Biology
[pdf file]. The design argument for the existence of God took a probabilistic turn in the 17th and 18th centuries. Earlier versions, such as Thomas Aquinas’ 5th way, usually embraced the premise that goal-directed systems (things that “act for an end” or have a function) must have been created by an intelligent designer. This idea – which we might express by the slogan “no design without a designer” – survived into the 17th and 18th centuries, and it is with us still in the writings of many creationists. The new version of the argument, inspired by the emerging mathematical theory of probability, removed the premise of necessity. It begins with the thought that goal-directed systems might have arisen by intelligent design or by chance; the problem is to discern which hypothesis is more plausible.
From Professor Elliott Sober
posted by amyms
on Nov 8, 2007 -