The Context Of Meaning

Nick Chater— In an ever more mechanized world, and with science revealing the hidden processes of nature with ever more precision, the desire to reassert the value of the non-mechanical, the spiritual and the emotional can seem increasingly urgent. We humans struggle to find meaning in a world apparently governed

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What Got Antivaxxers to Vax in New York City

Richard Robb— In fall 2018, measles returned to New York City. It was hardly surprising, given the alarmingly widespread resistance to vaccination. According to a recent survey, 2% of Americans believe vaccines are unsafe and ineffective and another 6% believe the side effects of vaccination outweigh the benefits. Many antivaxxers maintain

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There Are No Non-Believers

Agustín Fuentes— We all believe. But we are not all religious. Belief is an evolved capacity that incorporates our neurobiology, our behavior, our cultures, our histories, our individual development and experiences. This enables humans to live in the here and now, in the moment, in the material world, and to

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Can Human Beings Understand the Economy?

Pascal Boyer— It is in the nature of human beings that they create societies. Philosophers have known and said that much for millennia. These days, scientists can paint a detailed picture of how evolution by natural selection made us social animals, providing us with those capacities and preferences that makes

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Why Multilingualism Matters – A Q&A With Marek Kohn

In a world that has global English and translation technology, it’s easy to assume that the need to use more than one language is diminishing— but it is more important than ever, argues science writer Marek Kohn. His new book exploring bilingualism and plural language use is Four Words For Friend: Why

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Understanding Empathy

Susan Lanzoni— “Where does the mind stop and the rest of the world begin?” asked the philosophers Andy Clark and David Chalmers in 1998, considering the case of Otto, a patient suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Otto always carried with him a simple spiral notebook as a memory aid, in which

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The Prosperous Brain

Kelly Lambert, Ph.D.— Although scholars have debated the exact meaning of Thomas Jefferson’s reference to the pursuit of happiness in the Declaration of Independence, the phrase can be traced to seventeenth-century philosopher John Locke’s “life, liberty, and property” philosophical trinity and his declaration that the pursuit of happiness was our

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The Origin of Empathy

Susan Lanzoni— Is it possible to empathize with lines in an abstract design, with the expansive reach of a tree, the sweep of a bird’s flight, or the imposing rise of a range of mountains? Can we “feel into” forms and shapes? If today we know empathy as a way

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Ep. 59 – The Psychology of Human Societies

We’re all part of groups, large or small, but how and why do humans form groups and societies? We look at how cognition influences society and what it means for our understanding of the world.   Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Soundcloud | Spotify

(Self-)Righteous Anger

Judson Brewer— In 2010, I went on a monthlong silent retreat with the aim of working on and possibly stabilizing a special c concentration type of meditation practice (jhana) that can be held for hours if practiced correctly. I had been reading about and trying to develop this practice for

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