You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?
Dr. Peter Watts
is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials
, heartbreaking eulogies
, and agonizing run-ins with fascists
) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting
science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed
2006 novel Blindsight [full text]
-- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room
, the Philosophical Zombie
, Chernoff faces
, and the myriad quirks and blind spots
that haunt the human mind.
's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew
, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism
), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section
, tomorrow will see the release of
Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website]
, the long-delayed
"sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Aug 25, 2014 -
Is Psychometric g a Myth?
- "As an online discussion about IQ or general intelligence grows longer, the probability of someone linking to statistician Cosma Shalizi's essay g, a Statistical Myth
approaches 1. Usually the link is accompanied by an assertion to the effect that Shalizi offers a definitive refutation of the concept of general mental ability, or psychometric g
." [more inside]
posted by kliuless
on Apr 11, 2013 -
"...Pam agreed to die in order to save her life—and in the process had what is perhaps the most famous case of independent corroboration of out of body experience (OBE) perceptions on record...Pam later said, she felt herself “pop” out of her body and hover above it, watching as doctors worked on her body. Although she no longer had use of her eyes and ears, she described her observations in terms of her senses and perceptions...with considerable accuracy.
Near Death, explained. [more inside]
posted by anazgnos
on Apr 23, 2012 -
NDE studies [such as these] suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness."
More evidence of brain plasticity:
Some blind people are able to use echolocation to perceive space and objects around them in surprising detail, even though the time differences in echoes necessary to do this are two small to be consciously perceived. An fMRI study by Lore Thaler, Stephen Arnott and Melvyn Goodale revealed that people who are especially adept at this use their calcarine cortex (a.k.a. V1 or primary visual cortex) to process spatial information from the echoes.
The original paper. A shorter discussion.
posted by nangar
on Jun 20, 2011 -
We've discussed trepanation
, the boring of holes in the head as practiced in antiquity and by a fringe do it yourself-ers, before. There now seems to be research indicating that the procedure may have medical merit
, and even help stave off age related cognitive decline. This curious research brought to you by the Beckly Foundation
which "promotes the investigation of consciousness and its modulation
from a multidisciplinary perspective" and has a sweet logo.
posted by phrontist
on Jun 18, 2009 -
Rock n Roll!
We know that Sex and Drugs ain't good for us, but researchers at McGill University are using very fancy devices to learn how our brains react to music. (Probably not much to discuss, but it's an interesting article)
posted by adamms222
on Nov 27, 2002 -
- the BBC reports on an american man who, at the age of 40, developed completely uncontrollable and ammoral sexual impulses after developing a tumor in the right lobe of the orbifrontal cortex. After the tumor was removed, he returned to normal. More inside...
posted by Irontom
on Oct 21, 2002 -
The discovery of mirror neurons
in the frontal lobes of monkeys, and their potential relevance to human brain evolution — which I speculate on in this essay — is the single most important "unreported" (or at least, unpublicized) story of the decade. I predict that mirror neurons will do for psychology what DNA did for biology: they will provide a unifying framework and help explain a host of mental abilities that have hitherto remained mysterious and inaccessible to experiments.
(after you read the essay, you might be interested in the responses
posted by grumblebee
on Jun 8, 2000 -