Science And Reason Resources

Latest Update 11/06/2003


Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to think about one's thinking in such a way as to recognize its strengths and weaknesses and, as a result, to recast the thinking in improved form.

A Field Guide to Critical Thinking

The Critical Thinking Consortium


Skepticism

The forces of pseudoscience and mysticism would have us believe all sorts of ludicrous (but exciting) claims. Maintaining a skeptical attitude toward claims of the paranormal is our only defense.

Robert T. Carroll's Skeptic's Dictionary is a great source for definitions of terms in both skeptical and pseudoscientific thinking.

The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims Of the Paranormal is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind paranormal claims. It's a thankless job. Write them email and thank them.


Atheism


Evolution

"In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution ... is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions."

- Douglas J. Futuyma in Evolutionary Biology, Sinauer Associates 1986

The Talk.Origins Archive.

The ongoing Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

The National Center for Science Education


Memetics

Human knowledge evolves by mechanisms similar to biological evolution: over the long run, by blind variation, accurate replication, and selective elimination. The term which encapsulates this metaphor with genes is "meme".

The World of Richard Dawkins, originator of the concept of memes.

Arukat's Meme Workshop.


Complexity And Chaos

There are many different complex phenomena in each field of science. Until now it has been difficult to compare phenomena between fields of science, such as physics, chemistry, biology, anthropology, and economics, in a systematic manner because it has appeared that the properties and processes of these phenomena are radically different. However, there does seem to be some similarity between the evolution of radically different complex phenomena such as stars, planets, and life. The science of complexity is beginning to shed some light on this similarity, and it appears there is some important commonalty between the sciences.

The Santa Fe Institute is the world's leading center for Complexity studies.


Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is the term used to describe the precision manufacture of materials and structures of molecular dimensions. Many of the goals of nanotechnology were expressed nearly 40 years ago by the physicist Richard P. Feynman. Molecular-scale robots currently exist only in the imaginations of nanotechnologists and the artists who depict their ideas. But some technological visionaries, led by K. Eric Drexler, think that the dream will soon become a reality that will transform everything from health care to food production. (Drexler's ideas are outlined in his book Engines of Creation).

The Foresight Institute's goal is to guide emerging technologies to improve the human condition. Foresight focuses its efforts upon nanotechnology, the coming ability to build materials and products with atomic precision, and upon systems that will enhance knowledge exchange and critical discussion, thus improving public and private policy decisions.

Dr Ralph Merkle on nanotechnology.


Artificial Life

Artificial Life ("AL" or "Alife") is the name given to a new discipline that studies "natural" life by attempting to recreate biological phenomena from scratch within computers and other "artificial" media. Alife complements the traditional analytic approach of traditional biology with a synthetic approach in which, rather than studying biological phenomena by taking apart living organisms to see how they work, one attempts to put together systems that behave like living organisms.

Artificial Life Online


Cryonics

Cryonic suspension is an experimental procedure whereby patients who no longer can be kept alive using today's medical technology are preserved at low temperature for treatment in the future.

The Alcor Foundation, a provider of cryonics services.

The CryoNet Home Page.

A Cryonics FAQ.


Life Extension

The Life Extension Society.

Longevity-Science.Org - a scientific and educational website on human longevity from the Center on Aging, NORC/University of Chicago.


Transhumanism & Extropianism

Transhumanism is a philosophy that humanity can, and should, strive to higher levels, both physically, mentally and socially. It encourages research into such areas as life extension, cryonics, nanotechnology, physical and mental enhancements, uploading human consciousness into computers and megascale engineering.

Extropy is a measure of intelligence, information, energy, vitality, experience, diversity, opportunity, and growth (the metaphorical opposite of 'entropy'). Extropianism is a transhumanist philosophy concerned with maximizing extropy.

Much of the Extropian movement is politically Libertarian. I'm not, though I sympathize with their motivations. Many Extropians favor some degree of decriminalization for recreational or mind-altering drugs. I am skeptical about the notion that these drugs have any practical value.

Foundations of Transhumanism

The World Transhumanist Association

A page of Transhuman Resources

The Extropy Institute

The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how third-millennium nanotechnology, genetic engineering and psychopharmacology will eradicate the biological substrates of aversive experience in sentient life. I've been thinking about this, and it seems to me that the total elimination of all suffering, from severe pain to nagging annoyances, would be about the same as non-existence. No worries, no motivations, right? Still, I *am* in favor of a more limited and cautious assault on suffering, so I'm leaving this link in.


Philosophy

Principia Cybernetica. The Project's aim is the computer-supported collaborative development of an evolutionary-systemic philosophy. Put more simply, PCP tries to tackle age-old philosophical questions with the help of the most recent cybernetic theories and technologies.

The Church Of Virus, a memetically engineered atheistic religion.


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Jeff Dee / unigames@prismnet.com