If you’ve watched “limitless” you may have been inspired (as I was) to research into the “smart pill” debate that has been brewing for the past several years. Is there really a drug that can make you smarter? ADHD medication like Adderall and Ritalin are classified as nootropics and commonly referred to as “Mental Enhancers”. It should come as no surprise that such drugs, although regulated by prescription, will be taken off label. Gingko Biloba, which has never been proven to improve cognitive function, still sells several billion dollars worth of products claiming to do just that. We are a caffeine-fueled, ultra-competitive society of adventurers addicted to time management and productivity.
So as rumors grew that taking ADHD medication like Adderall and Ritalin can speed you up, make you think clearer, focus on manual tasks without distraction, be more efficient, and more focused, naturally “smart drugs” became a whole new kind of drug use. (I was tempted to use the term ‘recreational drug’ or ‘drug abuse’, but neither seemed fitting.
These are not drugs people take to get high or party – they are used by college and grad students, financial investors, professors and other people who need to be able to … Read More »
If you found out that your employee was a child-molester, would you fire them? According to a new Supreme Court ruling, you may not be able to.
Here’s the story: a woman is working for a church, but she develops narcolepsy (she can’t help falling asleep). The church fires her and gets a new employee – but she threatens to sue because she should be protected under the Disabilities Act. But the Supreme Court refused her right to sue, on the basis that it could not interfere with a church’s right to chose its own representatives (freedom of religion, etc.)
The ethics of this conflict are murky: The Western practice of diagnosing everything as a disability means that soon everybody will be protected against firing, and employers can no longer count on hiring able and competent people to work for them. This does not mean I am anti-disability; people with disabilities who are just as capable of doing a good job, should have that opportunity. But having a job should not be a right guaranteed to disabled people – unless perhaps, the government is paying for it. But should the government force a private company to keep an employee who isn’t doing her job?
On … Read More »
Seventh-Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, are in a fight against fast food chain McDonalds. The reason: 50% of the town practices a form of Christianity that endorses a clean, healthy and vegetarian diet. In their defense, the town has statistically higher health than many places in the world. The conflict: should they be allowed to prohibit the other 50% of the people from eating garbage?
The “opposition” chosen to represent the heathens is a fat, batman-hat wearing guy who says “If you don’t want to be healthy, don’t be, if you want to be healthy, be healthy.” People should be allowed to choose unhealthy, health-harming (and by extension, ecosystem/economy destroying) practices.
But why? Spiritual traditions around the world, including Christianity, more or less agree that vegetarianism is better for ourselves and the world; it also seems to make people more relaxed, aware, and peaceful. I’m not vegetarian – but mostly because I eat whatever is cheap and convenient.
What would the world look like if the government took steps to ensure that what was available was also what was healthiest? What if they prevented huge corporations from using their resources to dominate the food growth, preparation and consumption market?
I’m pretty sure I … Read More »
Tim Ferriss and Sam Harris are two people I like. And their names are even pretty similar. But I was still surprised to see – on Sam Harris’ website page promoting his new essay “Lying” – a review by Tim Ferriss. Sam is a clever guy popular with atheists who criticizes organized religion. Tim uses his gargantuan ego, along with very smart and innovative marketing strategies, to self-promote his brand and sell a shit load of books – focusing on self-improvement and lifestyle design. I can see how there would be some fan crossover, and how some people (like myself) appreciate them both.
But I don’t think there is enough overlap between them that Tim’s review is at all meaningful. How is Tim qualified to judge an article by a neuroscientist? (Ok ok, I know Tim is into science, medicine, testing and results – I can see how Tim might be interested in Sam’s writing). But what about credibility? How does Tim earn a place next to an Astrophysicist?
But maybe book reviews are not about credibility anymore; they are meant, after all, to sell books – what Tim brings to the table is an enormous herd of followers; followers that aren’t already … Read More »
Here’s an interesting mental exercise for you:
1. Let’s define Satan as the worst thought you can think. So anything bad, evil, disagreeable, wrong… all that stuff is “Satan” or “Satanic”. He’s the absolute most vile, ugly, scary creature you can imagine, with fangs, horns, and lots of eyeballs.
2. Ok, are you picturing it? Can you conceive of this idea? Now in your mind, take this concept a bit further by imagining that it exists in reality. This Satan that exists in reality is definitely worse then the Satan that exists in your mind only, right?
3. Since the Satan that really exists is worse, only it is the real Satan. The other Satan you were thinking of, the one that only exists in your mind, isn’t the real Satan (because he’s not as bad as the one that exists in reality.)
4. Therefore, Satan exists in reality.
***There seems to be some gap in logic between steps 3 and 4; I can’t quite tell right now whether it is my fault or St. Anselm’s. He moves a little slower than me, but I think the logical process is the same. What do you think?***
I first encountered St. Anselm’s Proof of God during my undergraduate studies in philosophy and theology. I was at the time a struggling Christian, and there is a power and simplicity in Anselm’s logical proof of God’s existence that – once you get it – seems mystical. It dances around in your brain, both inviting you to look closer but refusing to be nailed down. As a logical proof it is inescapable and undeniable, but at the same time maddeningly irritating. It seems somehow obvious that this simple proof is more of a word game that has no correspondence with reality, like Zeno’s Paradox of ”Achilles and the Tortoise.”
Today I had the opportunity to come back to Anselm with fresh eyes in a post-graduate philosophy course. What follows is an explanation of what St. Anselm’s Ontological Argument is, how it works, and why it is inescapable – followed by why it doesn’t matter at all; in fact if St. Anselm’s proof of God is true, then the logical consequences for organized religion is disastrous.
How it works: Definition of God
(1) God is that than which no greater can be conceived.
Anselm starts with the definition of God – that there is nothing we can … Read More »
Rick Perry’s political agenda summed up in 30 seconds: no gays in the military, open celebration of Christmas and prayer in schools, end Obama’s “War on Religion” and restore America’s “Religious Heritage”. Shucks, that sounds pretty awesome for Christians.
But wait! Good Christians believe we are in the end of times, and should be watching out for a potential Antichrist. Many people mistakenly believe the Antichrist will seem evil or be anti-religious or atheistic. Not True! Actually the Antichrist will seem religious. This is his great deception.
So this is all you have to understand: whether or not you’re religious, whether or not you believe in Jesus’ imminent 2nd coming, a vote for Rick Perry is a vote for the end of the world.