Saturday, December 05, 2009

Shinzen Young - Spiritual Teachers' Behaviour: Feedback & Ethics

Cool video.
Shinzen talks about spiritual teachers whose behaviour has been flagrantly abusive and less than ethical. He talks about the larger context in which this happens, and suggests that regular contact with a more senior teacher is important. He goes on to say that a feedback loop regarding the teacher's behaviour be set up with students, family and all other people regarding how that teacher is carrying themselves in the world, and that this be established and maintained despite how much time and energy it consumes. Filmed in Nov. 2009 at Mt. Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls.

Dharma Quote of the Week - "Who is holding me back from awakening right now?"

by Anam Thubten,
edited by Sharon Roe


Dharma Quote of the Week

If we are still wondering how to awaken, I suggest that we meditate now and then and focus on the following question: "What is holding me back from realizing my true nature, my Buddha Nature?" This is a very powerful inquiry. I am sharing this based on my own meditation practice. This is one of my favorite meditations because it always takes me to the place where I cannot blame anybody or anything for my lack of awakening.

When we open our hearts and let go of all of our theories and speculations, when we are not distracted even by spiritual fantasies, when we simply wholeheartedly and courageously inquire into what is holding us back, that is all that we need to do. Sometimes it is good when we are by ourselves to.. shout loudly to the sky, "Who is holding me back from awakening right now?" Or we can just ask the truth, "What is holding me back from awakening right now?" Either way we can't find any answer because there is nobody there. There is nothing holding us back and that's why we never really find any answers.

If anybody tells us that they have the answer, they are obviously lying because there isn't any answer. Next we might ask, "If there are no obstacles holding me back, then why am I not awakened right now?" And when we look we realize that we are attached to our thoughts. That's all that is happening. Samsara is nothing more than our identification with thoughts. That's all there is. There is nothing there except thoughts.

--from No Self, No Problem by Anam Thubten, edited by Sharon Roe, published by Snow Lion Publications

* * *

So many opportunities and benefits! Read about what's available at...

Also, find great Last-minute gift ideas at bargain prices in our

On Sale While They Last! section.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Humor - Phases of Working

Jami sent me this today, which may be indicative of how her day is going. I'm not normally a fan of the cat stuff, but this is pretty funny.

Phases of Working

Phase 1

You are listening to jazz -- Your first day at work is
Great. Your co-workers are wonderful, your office is
Cute .

Phase 2

You are listening to pop music -- After a while you are
So busy that you are not sure if you're coming or going

Phase 3

You are listening to heavy metal --
This is what happens after about SIX Months!

Phase 4

You are listening to hip hop -- You become bloated due to
Stress, you're gaining weight due to lack of exercise
Because you are so tired and have so much work to do and
When you get home you have more work to do.
You feel sluggish and suffer from constipation.
Your fellow co-workers are too cheerful for your liking and the walls of
Your cubicle are closing in.

Phase 5

You are listening to GANGSTA RAP --
After more time passes, your eyes start to twitch,
You forget what a 'good hair day' feels like as you
Just fall out of bed and load up on caffeine.

Phase 6

You are listening to the voices in your head --
You have locked the office door to keep people out,
You wonder WHY you are even here in the first
Place and WHY did I come to work today!

Nate Green - The Squat: Good Exercise Gone Bad?

The Squat: Good Exercise Gone Bad?

I love squats and will always do some form of squats (back, front, split, etc). The day I no longer do squats will be the day after they roll my corpse into the furnace. However, not all of my clients do squats, and this article touches on why.

Each of the four perspectives offered here are useful.

The Squat: Good Exercise Gone Bad?

A few weeks ago a video of strength coach Mike Boyle presenting at a seminar hit the Internet, and boy did it piss some people off. Why? Just take a look at this quote from Boyle:

"This is going to be the hardest thing for people to accept. The muscle-head crowd, the T-Muscle crowd...they're gonna be like, 'Mike you're saying don't do squats any more.' Yes, I'm saying don't do conventional squats any more."

I watched the clip again. No more squatting? But isn't it the king of lower body exercises? Just what the hell was going on?

The forums were already exploding with people agreeing and vehemently disagreeing with Boyle. I had to get to the bottom of it.

So I called Boyle to get his thoughts. Then, because I wanted to hear other points of view, I called Dave Tate, Christian Thibaudeau, and Eric Cressey.

I learned a ton about squats over the next few hours (more than I cared to know, honestly). But more importantly, I had the information to decide for myself if I'd continue to squat or not.

After reading this article, I hope you'll be comfortable making your own decision, too.

But don't take anything here as gospel; it's just four dudes who really know their stuff.

The Functional Strength Coach: Mike Boyle

I've watched over two million squats and have come to this conclusion: the squat is not a leg exercise; it's a low-back exercise.

The whole purpose of the conventional squat is to put a barbell on your shoulders and transfer power from there, through your body, and into your legs. But the weak link isn't your legs—it's your back. Watch someone squat and you'll see they rarely have trouble getting out of the hole. But nearly all of them will bend forward when they fail.

My business isn't getting someone to squat a lot of weight or getting someone's legs big. It's developing the best performer and exposing that person to the lowest injury-rate possible. I have to look at everything from a risk to benefit ratio.

We realized we could load the spine with fifty percent less weight, do a single-leg exercise, and quadruple the benefits. If one of our athletes could squat 400 pounds for one rep, we'd put 200 pounds on his back, and have him do a rear-leg elevated split squat (Bulgarian split squat). The average reps, we found, were 10 to 14 on each leg.

What that tells me is that if we split the load in half and do ten reps with what was half of our regular bilateral 1RM load, it makes it a superior exercise.

Why wouldn't you do this? It's like if I offered you the exact same car but sold it to you at half-price. "But, Mike, I've always paid full price."

What these guys are saying to me is, "Mike, I've always risked my spine and I'm going to keep doing that."

I say fine. Do what you want.

That's why they'd use the leg press or the leg extension machine. Because it "took their back" out of the exercise. Well, why not take less pressure off the back from the start, get more load on each leg, and fully reap the benefits? And why do bodybuilders really care about the squat? They just want big legs, right? There are other ways to get 'em.

Oh, Mike Boyle's a pussy and doesn't want to lay it on the line. He doesn't even look like he lifts. Whatever. It doesn't bother me.

I'm not sure about the front squat; I may find we're not getting strong enough and put it back in, but I doubt it. When I've taken this much time to make a decision I've rarely gone back.

We do rear-elevated split squats, unsupported single-leg squats, trap bar deadlifts and single-leg straight-leg deadlifts. We hit it hard, so don't think we're slacking.

Look, we haven't done a back squat in over 10 years and we stopped doing front squats this summer. I didn't just want to create controversy on the Internet. My "negative" point of view on squats is the product of over 25 years of thinking about the best ways to get strong and stay injury free.

The Powerlifter: Dave Tate

There's just bad application or bad programming. Is there something wrong with the squat? Yes and no. If the program is a disaster or the person isn't built for it, then yes, there is something wrong. If it's programmed well then I don't see any problem at all.

We train the movements that would make the squat better. From my experience, training the squat week in and week out without having a program to make the squat better is going to be a huge problem.

That's why we may use the cambered or safety squat bar. We may do box squats, belt squats, or squats against bands.

First, it's an exercise that's part of a sport. The squat, bench press, deadlift, clean, jerk, and snatch all are part of sports and are pretty fucking important. I mean, they don't have a single-leg squat competition.

The squat was probably one of the first exercises ever done with a barbell. It's one of the few that has stood the test of time. How many other machines, products, or fads have come and gone?

If it were truly a bad exercise it would have faded out a long time ago.

I can't think of another exercise that builds more confidence. It takes persistence and straining to get better.

We're going to sit down and pick up shit all our lives. Now all of a sudden these main lifts aren't functional? What's more functional than sitting down?

It just doesn't make you any money. Give me twenty bucks and I'll tell you the greatest exercise ever. You ready? The squat. No, you can't have your fucking money back.

Anything can be over-trained. But if you've got a program that's producing a bunch of people who are squatting 275 pounds, your program sucks. We've got high school kids doing that after training for a month.

They just don't transfer over for powerlifters. If one leg is already stronger than the other, doing single-leg work doesn't balance anything out. It just makes it worse. We need our guys to be able to push evenly with both legs.

If it's to get bigger legs, break out a tape measure and calipers. If your legs are getting bigger, you're not getting fatter, and you're not squatting, then keep doing what you're doing.

The worst thing you can do is switch because someone told you to. If you're making progress with what you're doing, then stick to it.

The Bodybuilder: Christian Thibaudeau

Guys who have long legs compared to their torsos, like hockey players, would turn the back squat into a low-back exercise since their leverage is different. And if you worked primarily with those kinds of athletes, then I could definitely see why you may not think the squat is an optimal exercise. Still, it's great for the guys who have shorter legs and longer torsos.

Stand in front of a wall with your hands behind your head in a squatting stance. Your toes should be about six inches away from the wall. Do a regular squat. If your knees or face touch the wall you're not built for squatting. If they don't, you're fine. If you fall over backward then you need to lay off the booze.

Just replace them with trap bar and snatch-grip deadlifts. You'll get some great quad development from those two exercises.

In this case the squat is showing you what you need to work on: your low-back and abs.

My training partner Nick has strong legs but always fell forward when he went above 365 pounds. His back was his weak link, so we dropped the squat for six weeks and worked on his low-back. When he came back to the squat it increased by 50 pounds.

If I'm doing a bench press and I always fail at the mid-point, it doesn't mean the bench press is a bad exercise or will hurt my shoulders. It just means my shoulders are weak compared to my other pressing muscles. I'd be smart to take some time off of pressing and fix my shoulder weakness.

If I do reps with both legs on the leg extension I may be able to do 200 pounds. But if I do each leg separately I may be able to do 120 pounds with each leg or 240 pounds total. How does that work?

Well, when you do a unilateral movement, the whole nervous impulse is sent to one side and allows you to focus more of your attention and muscle fibers on that single working limb.

That's one of the reasons people with long limbs will do better with single leg movements: they're able to recruit more muscle fibers.

But as that athlete becomes more and more efficient at recruiting muscle fibers, you'll see the deficit vanish and they'll be at the same strength. Then it's time to go back to bilateral movements.

It's called delayed transmutation of gains. You're basically getting a new body. Let's say you're used to driving a Honda Civic but now you have a Lamborghini. Even though the Lamborghini is more powerful, it takes some time to learn how to handle it. It's the same thing with your body.

The Athlete-Creator: Eric Cressey

People may be skewed because they deal with different populations. Mike deals with mostly hockey players. For those guys, it's understood that you're going to play most of your career with a groin strain. It's a population where their hips are an absolute disaster. They have poor hip internal rotation and bad adductor tissue quality and length. And when those are your issues it makes it harder to squat deep safely.

I tend to be more cautious with upper body stuff since I deal with more baseball players. It's understandable. But a lot of our guys still squat. We do mainly front squats but we also do back squats with the cambered and safety squat bars. It all depends on if their flexibility is up to par.

I don't know if anything is truly functional. The guys who walk through our door, their problems can be fixed with a little more strength and a better attitude.

But I think you're missing out if you drop squats altogether. Bilateral movements are still our bread and butter. I mean, you squat every time you take a shit.

Some guys can't front squat because they have shoulder problems. Does that mean the front squat is a bad exercise? Nope, it just means guys with messed up shoulders shouldn't be doing them.

Optimize your hip, thoracic-spine, and ankle mobility. Work on core stability and see what happens. If you fix all of that I don't know why you wouldn't squat. Athletes have been doing it forever; it's just a damn good exercise.

The T-MUSCLE Reader: You

100 Killer iTunes Feeds for Serious Science Geeks

One of the authors/editors at Online Colleges sent me a link to this cool post - or at least it's cool if you are science geek or just someone who enjoys learning new things.

November 30th, 2009

Science majors and amateur scientists may want to take a break from their text books and head to iTunes when they get tired of traditional studying. You can find lectures, videos and interviews on all types of scientific subjects, from computer science to engineering to life sciences to physics. Here are 100 killer iTunes feeds for serious science geeks.

General Feeds

These science feeds cover all types of topics, so you’ll get a range of discussions each time you tune in.

  1. Yale Science: Subscribe to this feed if you want a diverse stream of science topics. [Yale]
  2. Science Talks: Award-winning scientists, including Nobel Laureates, talk about science in this feed. [92nd Street Y]
  3. Science and Nature: These talks address topics in physics, biology, environmental science and more. [KQED QUEST]
  4. Natural Science: From the Big Bang Theory to Newton’s theories to physics topics, you’ll find a range of natural science topics here. [Stanford]
  5. Lectures: Science lectures in this feed cover medical geology, ecology, quantum mechanics and more. [Wellesley College]
  6. Mellon College of Science: Lectures here cover sustainable technology, biomedicine and green chemistry. [Carnegie Mellon]
  7. Highlighted lectures and interviews: You’ll get to listen to lectures on evolution, gender ethnicity, astronomy, political science and HIV. [Cambridge]
  8. Physical Sciences: Earth sciences, astrophysics, astronomy and chemistry topics are all discussed in these lectures. [Australian National University]
  9. Speaking of Science: Recent lectures here discussed sustainability, agriculture, wildfire preparation, biodiversity, biofuels and corn breeding. [University of Minnesota]
  10. Science C100: This group of interdisciplinary science lectures cover astronomy, climate change, evolution and more. [Columbia]

Biology and Health

Study biological issues like reproduction, aging, microbiology, cell division, genetics and biodiversity from these feeds.

  1. DNA, RNA and Protein Formation: This intro class covers human proteins. [The Open University]
  2. Human Biology: This feed includes lectures on genetics, cell division, basic chemistry, the digestive system and more. [Harrisburg Area Community College]
  3. Microbiology: Get lectures relating to microbiology topics here. [HACC]
  4. Introductory Biology: From biochemistry to molecular biology, you’ll get an introduction to various sub-fields of biology. [MIT]
  5. Contemporary Biology: From pandemics to birth control to mad cow disease to death and aging, you’ll find important health and biology issues studied today.
  6. Science and Medicine: This feed includes talks about the future of medicine. [Brown University]
  7. Biology: Uniformity and Diversity: From microbes to fungi, to spiders’ webs, you’ll learn about biology uniformity and the diversity of life here. [The Open University]
  8. Darwin’s Legacy: Study genes, evolution, science and religion, and other topics related to Darwin’s impact on science. [Stanford]
  9. Microbiology: These microbiology recaps are hosted by the Chair of the Health Sciences Department. [East Tennessee State University]
  10. Biology: Review DNA, anatomy, neurons, carbohydrates, lipids and other bio topics here. [Cassiopeia Project]
  11. Complexity: Try to understand the inner workings of the human brain here. [Cassiopeia Project]
  12. Introd Acids/Bases: Hemoglobins, protein structure, enzymes and carbohydrates are just some of the topics covered here. [Oregon State University]
  13. Biology: Biology lectures here include "Who Owns Life?" and "The Biology of Autism." [Stanford]
  14. Medicine and Life Sciences: From sex chromosomes to DNA to biosecurity, you’ll find a range of biology and health sciences topics here. [Australian National University]
  15. Microbial Genetics: So far, there are over 35 lectures about microbial genetics in this feed. [University of Arizona]


You can learn about galaxies, physics principles, and black holes when you subscribe to these feeds.

  1. Astronomy: Learn about the sun, the shape and scale of the galaxy, and other topics. [The Open University]
  2. Exploring Black Holes: General Relativity: This physics and astronomy feed covers X-Ray Binaries, Einstein and more. [MIT]
  3. Survey of Astronomy: Get lectures from an astronomy survey course here. [Missouri State University]
  4. Stargazing for Everyone: If you’re just getting into astronomy, subscribe to this feed to learn about lunar eclipses, the planets and more. [Arizona's IDEAL eLearning Platform]
  5. Astronomy and Astrophysics Lecture Series: Talks here cover relativistic jets, acoustic astronomy and colliding galaxies. [Florida Institute of Technology]
  6. Astrobiology and Space Exploration: Consider life in space when you follow this feed. [Stanford]
  7. Spaced Out: Study stars, galaxies, energy waves and more. [Ohio]


These lectures will introduce you to organic chemistry, the periodic table, atomic theory and more.

  1. Principles of Chemical Science: Professors at MIT discuss periodic trends, atomic theory, hybridization, bond energies and other chemical science principles. [MIT]
  2. Chemistry: Study density, heat transfer, bonding, the periodic table and more. [Miami Dade College]
  3. Chemistry: Learn about properties of matter, molarity and mole problems, and more. [Michigan's MI Learning]
  4. Organic Chemistry Lecture II: Get chapter study guides and recaps for organic chem here. [University of New Orleans]
  5. General Chemistry: Lectures here cover stoichiometry, electrolytes, acids, Lewis structures and more. [Seattle Pacific University]
  6. Fundamentals of Chemistry: Study chemical fundamentals and applications from lectures here. [Missouri State University]
  7. Elementary Biochemistry: Study protein purification, membranes, nucleic acids, DNA and RNA synthesis and more. [Oregon State University]
  8. CHEM 111: These lectures come from a Chemistry 111 class that discussed gas laws, kinetic theory, acid-base properties and more. [Case Western Reserve University]
  9. Chem 105: Get lectures on atomic structure, molecular structure, bonding and more. [Case Western Reserve University]
  10. Chemistry: Learn about entropy and heat engines, chemical equilibrium, buffer solutions and more. [University of Utah]


From kinetic energy to Einstein’s theories and relaxed discussions with top scientists, you’ll explore all kinds of fascinating physics principles here.

  1. Physics I: Classical Mechanics: Study vectors, friction, Hooke’s Law, kinetic energy and more. [MIT]
  2. Einstein and the Mind of God: Listen to interviews about Einstein’s impact on science, ethics, string theory and more. [American Public Media]
  3. Physics III: Vibrations and Waves: This advanced physics feed covers forced oscillation and more. [MIT]
  4. The physical world: quantum: Study Einstein’s and Bohr’s principles in this feed. [The Open University]
  5. Principles of Physics: These short physics recaps tackle gravity, fluids, Newton’s laws of motion and more. [Denison University]
  6. Modern Physics: The Theoretical Minimum: These physics lectures address classical and quantum mechanics, theories of relativity, cosmology and more. [Stanford]
  7. The physical world: waves and relativity: Learn about the nature of sound waves and get tips on making your own radio here. [The Open University]
  8. Saturday Morning Physics: These interviews with physicists are relaxed and easy to understand.

Environmental Science

Study issues like renewable energy, biodiversity, sustainability and global warming in these feeds.

  1. Earth’s physical resources: renewable energy: Learn all about biofuels, hydroelectricity and what European countries are doing to promote renewable energy. [The Open University]
  2. Smart Energy: Margo Gerritsen’s lectures are on nuclear energy and naturally powered energy solutions. [Stanford]
  3. TERRA: The Nature of Our World: This feed tackles various subjects in environmental science, sustainability and biodiversity. [TERRA]
  4. Environment: Biodiversity, oil, and climate change are all addressed here. [Cambridge]
  5. Yale Environment: From global warming to sustainability to ethical eating, this feed covers many different aspects of environmental science. [Yale]
  6. Environment: Learn about the effects of coal, lead and oxyfuels on the environment. [Public Radio International]
  7. 4 Degrees Celsius and Beyond: Discover the effects of global warming on food systems and agriculture. [University of Oxford]
  8. Environmental Science: Lessons here are entitled "Nature’s Economy," "The Earth in the Balance" and "Global Warming." [Stanford]
  9. Energy Seminar: This lecture series is partly sponsored by the Woods and Precourt Institutes. [Stanford]
  10. Nicholas Talks: From global warming to the future of the forests, listen to lectures from various professors and scientists here. [Duke]
  11. Environmental Studies: This interdisciplinary feed considers conservation and other environmental studies topics. [Bowdoin College]


Computer science students and those who are interested in how technology systems are collaborating with other scientific fields will appreciate these feeds.

  1. Science and Technology: You’ll explore various technology topics by subscribing to this feed, from brain development and music, to drug treatments to technology management. [UCTV]
  2. The next big thing: Nanotechnology: Learn the basics of nanotechnology and why it’s "the next big thing." [The Open University]
  3. Computer Science: Listen to lectures on computer science topics like mechanism design and more. [Duke]
  4. Science and Technology: Lectures here address technology’s role in research in biology, chemistry and other fields. [McGill University]
  5. The Naked Scientists Podcast: This weekly podcast covers topics in medicine, science and technology. [Cambridge]
  6. School of Computer Science: Lectures in this feed discuss green computing, robots and more. [Carnegie Mellon]
  7. Computer Science 61A: Study user interface, generic operations and programming here. [UC Berkeley]
  8. Higher Computing: Learn about coding and computing history, among other CS topics from this feed. [UNSW]
  9. Microcomputer Applications: Lectures here cover networks and the Internet, peripherals and digital media. [Bacone College]
  10. Computer Science: Design and Analysis of Algorithms: This is a graduate-level computer science class covering network flow applications, graph algorithms and more. [UC Davis]

Geology and Earth Science

From oceanography to geographic formations, you’ll get to listen to exciting lectures on geology here.

  1. Earth and Life: Study volcanoes, the geological history of Tibet and various geological phenomena in this feed. [The Open University]
  2. Diving Deeper: Listen to discussion with the scientists from the National Ocean Service here. [Virginia Department of Education]
  3. Rocks in the Field: Study rocks and rock formations on the Antrim Coast and elsewhere. [The Open University]
  4. Geological Time: Get an introduction to how geological time is measured. [The Open University]
  5. Fossil Detectives: Study fossil excavation and the dinosaurs here.
  6. Geology and Earth Sciences: Lessons here cover turbidities, boundary layers, petroleum, virtual geology and other topics. [UC Davis]
  7. Geological structures exposed: Consider rock deformation and special geological structures here. [The Open University]
  8. The Forest Files: Study water cycle, soil cycle, and human impact on forests. [Virginia Department of Education]
  9. Perspectives in Ocean Science: Oceanography students will like these video lectures. [UCTV]

Math and Engineering

From green design to sketching and differential equations, these feeds can provide a good foundation for other science courses too.

  1. Green Buildings, Design and Practices: Green engineering students can subscribe to this feed for discussion about sustainable design. [UC Davis]
  2. Engineering: Recent lectures in this feed discussed renewable energy, jet engines and Einstein’s theories.
  3. Going Green: Explore green building and sustainable engineering topics here. [SUNY - ESF]
  4. Mathematics and Science Conference: Learn about the various math and science research studies going on today. [Abilene Christian University]
  5. Discrete Mathematics: Study algebraic structures, discrete probability and more. [UC Berkeley]
  6. Differential Equations: This feed can help you build a solid foundation for your science and engineering studies too. [MIT]
  7. Mathematical Methods for Engineers: Study matrices, network flows, optimization and more. [MIT]
  8. Introduction to Lean Six Sigma Methods: Engineers who need to work with Six Sigma will benefit from the lectures here. [MIT]
  9. Design and Designing: Get tips on creating cubic designs and sketching. [The Open University]
  10. Single Variable Calculus: These lectures cover differentials, Newton’s laws, and more. [MIT]

Social Sciences

Study psychology, archaeology, geography and brain capacity when you listen to these feeds.

  1. World Archaeology: From Pompeii to the origins of the field, you’ll learn a lot about archaeology here. [The Open University]
  2. Roots of Humanity and Civilization: Recent lectures here are titled "How did the universe begin?" and "When did culture begin?"
  3. Geography of Europe: Study cultural and economic geography of European societies. [Arizona State University]
  4. Cannabis, Consciousness and the Imagination: You’ll explore the nature of consciousness and substances that impede brain capacity. [The Open University]
  5. Great Ideas in Psychology: Consider the scientific method in psychology. [Missouri State University]
  6. Understanding Social Change: You’ll learn how globalization, welfare and the notion of work affect society. [The Open University]
  7. Child Developmental Psychology: If you’re studying psychology, you’ll want to tune into this feed that explores gender identity, emotions, attachment and child abuse. [UMBC]
  8. Brain Facts: Study the effects of sleep, stress and aging on the brain. [Denison University]
  9. Understanding Human Behavior: This multidisciplinary feed considers evolution, genetics and more. [Santa Fe Institute]
  10. Ethnic Relations in the U.S.: Study ethnic

SciAm - Political Science: The Psychological Differences in the U.S.'s Red-Blue Divide

The fact that this approach has been replicated across cultures makes it more reliable, but it still feels like a generalization to me, and not a hard reality.

Political Science: The Psychological Differences in the U.S.'s Red-Blue Divide

Psychological research reveals how and why liberals and conservatives differ

Michael Shermer

Humans are, by nature, tribal and never more so than in politics. In the culture wars we all know the tribal stereotypes of what liberals think of con­servatives: Conservatives are a bunch of Hum­mer-driving, meat-eating, gun-toting, hard-drinking, Bible-thumping, black-and-white-thinking, fist-pounding, shoe-stomping, morally hypocritical blowhards. And what conservatives think of liberals: Liberals are a bunch of hybrid-driving, tofu-eating, tree-hugging, whale-saving, sandal-wearing, bottled-water-drinking, ACLU-supporting, flip-flopping, wishy-washy, namby-pamby bed wetters.

Like many other stereotypes, each of these contains an element of truth that reflects an emphasis on different moral values. Jonathan Haidt, who is a psychologist at the University of Virginia, explains such stereotypes in terms of his Moral Foundations Theory (see, which he developed “to understand why morality varies so much across cultures yet still shows so many similarities and recurrent themes.” Haidt proposes that the foundations of our sense of right and wrong rest within “five innate and universally available psychological systems” that might be summarized as follows:

  1. Harm/care: Evolved mammalian attachment systems mean we can feel the pain of others, giving rise to the virtues of kindness, gentleness and nurturance.
  2. Fairness/reciprocity: Evolved reciprocal altruism generates a sense of justice.
  3. Ingroup/loyalty: Evolved in-group tribalism leads to patriotism.
  4. Authority/respect: Evolved hierarchical social structures translate to respect for authority and tradition.
  5. Purity/sanctity: Evolved emotion of disgust related to disease and contamination underlies our sense of bodily purity.

Over the years Haidt and his University of Virginia colleague Jesse Graham have surveyed the moral opinions of more than 110,000 people from dozens of countries and have found this consistent difference: self-reported liberals are high on 1 and 2 (harm/care and fairness/reciprocity) but are low on 3, 4 and 5 (ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect and purity/sanctity), whereas self-reported conservatives are roughly equal on all five dimensions, although they place slightly less emphasis on 1 and 2 than liberals do. (Take the survey yourself at

Instead of viewing the left and the right as either inherently correct or wrong, a more scientific approach is to recognize that liberals and conservatives emphasize different moral values. My favorite example of these differences is dramatized in the 1992 film A Few Good Men. In the court­room ending, Jack Nicholson’s conservative marine Colonel Nathan R. Jessup is being cross-examined by Tom Cruise’s liberal navy Lieutenant Daniel Kaffee, who is defending two marines accused of accidentally killing a fellow soldier. Kaffee thinks that Jessup ordered a “code red,” an off-the-books command to rough up a disloyal marine trainee in need of discipline and that matters got tragically out of hand. Kaffee wants individual justice for his clients. Jessup wants freedom and security for the nation even at the cost of individual liberty, as he explains:

“Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns.... You don’t want the truth because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone to a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it.”

Personally, I tend more toward the liberal emphasis on individual fairness, justice and liberty, and I worry that overemphasis on group loyalty will trigger our inner xenophobias. But evolutionary psychology reveals just how deep our tribal instincts are and why good fences make good neighbors. And I know that ever since 9/11, I am especially grateful to all the brave soldiers on those walls who have allowed us to sleep under a blanket of freedom.

Note: This article was originally printed with the title, "Political Science."

Resveratrol preserves cerebrovascular density and cognitive function in aging mice

From Frontiers in Neuroscience, an excellent new study on the benefits of resveratrol in reducing age-related cognitive decline. I have been taking resveratrol for several years now. I have no idea how my brain is doing, but my cholesterol is lower and some other studies have shown that resveratrol can also reduce estrogen levels and boost natural testosterone production - but all of this is in mice, so who knows how much of it translates into humans.
Resveratrol preserves cerebrovascular density and cognitive function in aging mice

Resveratrol, a natural polyphenol abundant in grapes and red wine, has been reported to exert numerous beneficial health effects. Among others, acute neuroprotective effects of resveratrol have been reported in several models of neurodegeneration, both in vitro and in vivo. In the present study we examined the neuroprotective effects of long term dietary supplementation with resveratrol in mice on behavioral, neurochemical and cerebrovascular level. We report a preserved cognitive function in resveratrol treated aging mice, as shown by an enhanced acquisition of a spatial Y-maze task. This was paralleled by a higher microvascular density and a lower number of microvascular abnormalities in comparison to aging non-treated control animals. We found no effects of resveratrol supplementation on cholinergic cell number or fiber density. The present findings support the hypothesis that resveratrol exerts beneficial effects on the brain by maintaining cerebrovascular health. Via this mechanism resveratrol can contribute to the preservation of cognitive function during aging.

Keywords: resveratrol, antioxidant, french paradox, aging, maze learning, cholinergic system, cerebrovascular system, microvessels

Citation: Oomen CA, Farkas E, Roman V, van der Beek EM, Luiten PG and Meerlo P (2009) Resveratrol preserves cerebrovascular density and cognitive function in aging mice. Front. Ag. Neurosci. 1:4. doi:10.3389/neuro.24.004.2009

Received: 31 July 2009; Paper pending published: 10 October 2009; Accepted: 23 November 2009;
Read the provisional PDF of the article.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Robert Wright - The Evolution of God (My Review)

Many months ago now, I had posted some reviews of Wright's new opus, The Evolution of God, here on IOC, most of them from major newspapers. Robert Wright emailed me and asked if I would like a review copy of the book and, of course, I said yes.

It's taken a very long time for me to get through the book (what with school, work, and all the other reading I do), but finally, at long last, here is my review of the book.

In a nutshell, the main point Wright is making is this: We create God in our own image.

Now that isn't exactly what he says, but that is the gist I get from the book, especially as a reader well grounded in Jean Gebser, Clare Graves, Robert Kegan, and Ken Wilber, among others. He is most clear on this in the Appendix: How Human Nature Gave Birth to Religion. In fact, this is how he puts it:

And yet, you might say, religion does have the hallmarks of design. It is a complex, integrated system that seems to serve specific functions. For example, religions almost always handle some key “rites of passage”—getting married, getting buried, and so on—whose ritualized handling is probably good for the society. How do you explain the coherence and functionality of religion without appealing to a designer—or, at least, a “designer”?

You don’t. But biological evolution isn’t the only great “designer” at work on this planet. There is also cultural evolution: the selective transmission of “memes”—beliefs, habits, rituals, songs, technologies, theories, and so forth—from person to person. And one criterion that shapes cultural evolution is social utility; memes that are conducive to smooth functioning at the group level often have an advantage over memes that aren’t. Cultural evolution is what gave us modern corporations, modern government, and modern religion.

For that matter, it gave us nonmodern religion. Whenever we look at a “primitive” religion, we are looking at a religion that has been evolving culturally for a long time. Though observed hunter-gatherer religions give clues about what the average religion was like 12,000 years ago, before the invention of agriculture, none of them much resembles religion in its literally primitive phase, the time (whenever that was) when religious beliefs and practices emerged. Rather, what are called “primitive” religions are bodies of belief and practice that have been evolving—culturally—over tens or even hundreds of millennia. Generation after generation, human minds have been accepting some beliefs, rejecting others, shaping and reshaping religion along the way.

He is actually making a more complex point in this Appendix, having to do with evolutionary psychology, but this passage captures the overall sense I had in reading this book.

Considering this passage, and the overall flow of the book, I am somewhat surprised that people like Gebser, Graves, and perhaps even Jared Diamond, do not get a mention in the book or in the bibliography -- each of them has made some of the same points Wright is making, and Gebser did so more than 65 years ago.

In his LA Times review, Jack Miles, who wrote God: A Biography, which read the Bible's Old Testament as a narrative biography of God, is not very charitable to Wright's project, rejecting outright Wright's notion that God has been evolving along with the people and cultures who worship and believe in him:
Wright's title notwithstanding, his God does not evolve. He is rather a constant, the C-factor without which human evolution does not compute. His book, despite many protestations to the contrary along the way, is finally an argument from design for the existence of God, and as such it does not convince.
I hate to dismiss a scholar of Miles standing, especially since he is much more educated than I am in this area, but he is wrong.

Ignoring the first section of the book, which takes a somewhat cursory look at primal religions, such as shamanism, Wright seems to convincingly demonstrate that as human cultures have evolved from tribal structures to power and conquest, from mythic-authoritarian to rational cooperative, and now into egalitarian communal views, so has God evolved.

If we were to look at these same five stages through the lens that Gebser suggested, we would see this structure:
  1. The archaic structure
  2. The magic structure
  3. The mythical structure
  4. The mental structure
  5. The integral stage
Or perhaps more accurately, we could also use the Graves/Beck model, known as Spiral Dynamics (I left out the color codes, for those familiar with this model):

Animistic-tribalistic magical-animistic Tribal order

  • From 50,000 BC on
  • "Sacrifice to the ways of the elders and customs as one subsumed in group."
  • This is the level of shamans, spirit animals, and medicine men

Egocentric-exploitive power gods/dominionist

  • From 7000 BC on
  • "Express self (impulsively) for what self desires without guilt and to avoid shame."
  • Expressed by the mentality of gangs, the vikings, etc

Absolutistic-obedience mythic order—purposeful/authoritarian

  • From 3000 BC on
  • "Sacrifice self for reward to come through obedience to rightful authority in purposeful Way."
  • Embodied by fundamentalist religions.

Multiplistic-achievist scientific/strategic

  • From 1000 AD on (as early as 600 AD according to Graves and Calhoun)
  • "Express self (calculatedly) to reach goals and objectives without rousing the ire of important others."
  • Expressed in the scientific revolution and the industrial revolution.


  • From 1850 AD on (surged in early 20th century)
  • "Sacrifice self interest now in order to gain acceptance and group harmony."
  • Expressed in 60s pluralism, and systems theory
Graves referred to his model as a biopsychosocial evolutionary system of central values, or collective intelligences, which applies to both individual human beings and to whole cultures. At each of the five stages above, how God is defined and experienced is filtered through the current lens of the developmental stage. Wright's argument follows this same series of stages.

If there is a failing in Wright's book, as far as I can see, it is that it relies to heavily on evolutionary psychology and does not offer adequate attention to the socio-cultural element in the evolution of God. But he does make these same points I am highlighting from other authors (I'm just not a fan of evolutionary psychology, so I'd rather see much less of it in any book). Paul Bloom offers this clear summary of my main point (we create God in our image) in his New York Times review:
Cultural sensibilities shift according to changes in human dynamics, and these shape the God that people worship. For Wright, it is not God who evolves. It is us — God just comes along for the ride.
And this is the immense value of the book in a time when the New Atheists are condemning ALL religion through their books and articles, and when evangelical Christians and fundamentalist Muslims are becoming ever more dogmatic and archaic in their interpretations of their faith, Wright is showing us how our conception of God is a mirror of our own cultural values.

At its most basic level, religion is a culturally agreed upon value system based on our subjective internal experience and definition of the sacred, which in turn is a facet of our own developmental stages as individuals and cultures. We can only conceptualize God through the filters of our biopsychosocial developmental level (as Graves, and earlier Gebser to a lesser extent, have stated).

That is what Wright is saying, as well.

With this book, Wright has earned a place in the integral pantheon alongside Gebser, Graves, James Fowler (Stages of Faith), and Wilber.

This book is highly recommended, both for its ideas that support the integral model, and for the ways it may challenge some of our beliefs about monotheism.

Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD - Failure to Integrate Brain and Mind

This is an interesting editorial from Psychiatry Weekly.

This is the kind of nonsense that we need to be working to counter in the psychology world. When flatlanders like this guy get to determine what is and is not a disorder, and when they rely on a medical model that does not see mind as unique, but as a by-product of brain function, our field is doomed to be owned by the pharmaceutical companies (as it nearly is already). Pay special attention to his drug company affiliations at the end of the op-ed.

And by the way, his reasoning his flawed. Seeing the mind and brain as the same thing is NOT the only option to Cartesian Dualism, it's just the only one his little mind can fathom.

Failure to Integrate Brain and Mind

November 30, 2009

Andrew A. Nierenberg, MD

Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Co-director, Bipolar Clinic and Research Program; Associate Director, Depression Clinical and Research Program, Massachusetts General Hospital

First published in
Psychiatry Weekly, Volume 4, Issue 27, on November 30, 2009.

René Descartes had difficulties with reason because of conflicts between it and his religion. How could transubstantiation exist, not as a metaphor, but as a real change in bread and wine during the Eucharist if the scientific method were also true? To solve his problem, Descartes protected faith by separating the physical (brain) and the mind and soul into different, but related realms. This separation (Cartesian Dualism) helped him maintain his belief in transubstantiation (which occurred in the nonmaterial realm) and his pursuit of Reason.

As many psychotherapists know, coping strategies at an earlier stage of life, if continued long after the original problem fades, can cause problems later in life. So, too, with Cartesian Dualism—RenĂ© Descartes’ 17th century strategy to allow his belief in nonmaterial transubstantiation to exist alongside reason is causing problems for 21st century psychiatry.

If much of the population (including insurance companies and legislators) ascribe implicitly to Cartesian Dualism, then psychiatric disorders are not brain based, but are instead mind- or mentally-based, hence “mental illness.” If they are mentally-based, then the best explanation for those disorders is that people are responsible for their mental problems. If they are responsible for their problems, then why should we spend a lot of money treating and researching those problems? Medications will not heal sick souls.

Cartesian Dualism leads to unhelpful explanations of the causes of psychiatric disorders. Blame poor parenting (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder results from bad parenting); blame drug companies (children cannot have psychiatric disorders such as bipolar disorder because their minds are not yet developed, thus, if they are being treated with medications, it must be a conspiracy between doctors and drug companies); blame weakness (depression results if you cannot pull yourself up by your bootstraps); blame poor self-control (drug addicts could stop if they wanted to, how can this be brain based?). And so on.

Consider this hypothesis: Cartesian Dualism as the philosophical basis for explaining psychiatric diseases leads to inadequate funding for clinical care and research. Psychiatric departments frequently lose money for every patient that they treat, and NIMH funding is among the lowest of the institutes relative to the disorders’ costs. Why such problems?

One possible answer is that it is just too frightening for people to realize that all of our senses, knowledge, memories, emotions, thoughts, desires, actions, ability to reason and think and function, all depend on our physical brains, not on our souls or disembodied minds. We exist here and psychiatric disorders impact (and threaten) our very essence. Cartesian Dualism is false. Instead, our minds impact our brains and our brains impact our minds. The more knowledge about integrated mind/brains and brain/minds is disseminated, the less ignorance there is and the more treatment and research resources should follow.

Disclosure: Dr. Nierenberg consulted to or served on the advisory boards of Abbott, Appliance Computing, Inc., Brain Cells, Inc., Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, EpiQ, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Jazz, Merck, Novartis, Pamlab, Pfizer, PGx Health, Pharmaceutica, Schering-Plough, Sepracor, Shire, Somerset, Takeda, and Targacept; he has received research support from Cederroth, Cyberonics, Forest, Medtronics, NARSAD, the NIMH, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, Pamlab, Pfizer, Shire, and the Stanley Foundation through the Broad Institute; he has received past support from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cederroth, Eli Lilly, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen, Pfizer, Lictwer Pharma, and Wyeth; he has received honoraria from the MGH Psychiatry Academy (MGHPA activities are supported through Independent Medical Education grants from AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, and Janssen; he earns fees for editorial functions for CNS Spectrums through MBL Communications, Inc., and Psychiatric Annals through Slack, Inc.; he receives honoraria as a CME Executive Director for the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry through Physicians Postgraduate Press; he has been on the speaker’s bureaus of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cyberonics, Eli Lilly, Forest, GlaxoSmithKline, and Wyeth; he has received royalties from Cambridge University Press and Belvoir Publishing; he owns stock options in Appliance Computing, Inc.; and owns the copyrights to the Clinical Positive Affect Scale and the MGH Structured Clinical Interview for the Montgomery Asberg Depression Scale, exclusively licensed to the MGH Clinical Trials Network and Institute.

100 Incredible Lectures from the World’s Top Scientists

I found this at Integral Praxis (a fine blog, by the way) - great list of lectures for science geeks.

100 Incredible Lectures from the World’s Top Scientists

By Sarah Russel

Unless you’re enrolled at a top university or are an elite member of the science and engineering inner circle, you’re probably left out of most of the exciting research explored by the world’s greatest scientists. But thanks to the Internet, and our list of 100 incredible lectures, you’ve now got access to the cutting edge theories and projects that are changing the world.


Let the world’s top scientists explain exactly how they do their job when you listen to these lectures.

  1. Richard Dawkins on our "queer" universe: Listen to this talk from biologist Richard Dawkins to consider the strangeness of our universe, and how there are so many things out there we can’t comprehend.
  2. Kary Mullis on what scientists do: Biochemist Kary Mullis references the 17th century as he talks about the nature of discovery and experimentation.
  3. Explanation of objective, issue and element of strategy: Nadine Hilgert discusses research ethics and experimentation in this lecture.
  4. Lee Smolin on science and democracy: Physicist Lee Smolin discusses how democratic (or not) the scientific community it.
  5. A Passion for Discovery: Peter Freund of the University of Chicago considers the entanglement of physics experiments and their effect on the behavior of scientists.
  6. A New Age of Exploration: From Earth to Mars: This video isn’t just about space exploration: it’s about the new age of experimentation and research.
  7. Dr. Hugh Ross PhD. Lectures on "Creation as Science": Dr. Ross blames the science education crisis for all the hostility in creation vs. evolution debate.
  8. A New Kind of Science – Stephen Wolfram: Stephen Wolfram’s talk A New Kind of Science, credits simple computer experiments with challenging him to look at research in a new way.
  9. Science and the University – An Evolutionary Tale – The Endless Frontier: Donald Kennedy reflects on how modern research universities and programs were founded.

Science and Engineering

From materials science to the study of thermodynamics, learn more about the science of engineering here.

  1. WTC Lecture – collapse of WTC Buildings: Steven E. Jones discusses the collapse of the World Trade Towers from a physics perspective.
  2. Aircraft Systems Engineering: Jeffrey Hoffman of MIT lectures about the origins of the space shuttle, thermal protection systems, main engines and more.
  3. Symmetry, Structure and Tensor Properties of Materials: Learn about crystallography, 2D symmetries and other materials science principles.
  4. Machine Learning: Discover how machines "learn" due to statistical patterns, learning theory, adaptive control and more.
  5. Innovation Design: In this lecture series, you’ll learn about environmental innovation and the innovation process in general, as it’s related to engineering and science.
  6. Introduction to Biomedical Engineering: Mark Saltzman from Yale discusses then nature of biomedical engineering, including cell culture engineering.
  7. Nanophotonics: Discover the Magic of Light in Nanostructures: Evelyn Hu discusses optical materials and beyond in this lecture.
  8. The Second Law and Energy: Listen to Steven Chu’s talk about thermodynamics.

Biology and Medicine

From drug research to evolution to writing the genetic code, watch these lectures for the latest developments in biology and medical research.

  1. A Paradigmatic Complex System: The Immune System: Irun Cohen of the Weizmann Institute of Science is a physician and researcher who is trying to understand the complex immune system.
  2. Bioinformatic, Structural Biology and Structure Based Ligand Design in drug discovery: Discover how drugs are researched and developed.
  3. Molecular Biology: Macromolecular Synthesis and Cellular Function: Qiang Zhou from Berkeley discusses new findings in DNA research.
  4. Evolution of the Human Species: The discussion about evolution is still active. This lecture considers evolution from genetic and fossil records.
  5. Ventricular fibrillation in the human heart. Why is it different from the dog and pig heart?: Kirsten ten Tusscher looks at the structure of the human heart in this talk.
  6. Craig Venter on DNA and the sea: Biodiversity and genomics scientist Craig Venter talks about starting to writing the genetic code instead of just reading it.
  7. How Bacteria Cause Disease: Warren Levinson explains how bacteria are transmitted.
  8. The Origin of the Human Mind: Insights from Brain Imaging and Evolution: Find out how the human mind continues to evolve.
  9. Engineering New Approaches to Cancer Detection and Therapy: Find out what’s on the brink of cancer research.
  10. Principles of Systems Biology illustrated using the Virtua Heart: Denis Noble from the University of Oxford discusses complex organisms.
  11. Biological Principles of Swarm Intelligence: Guy Theraulaz discusses animal psychology and swarm intelligence.
  12. How the body fights infection: Discover the processes that occur when your body tries to protect you when you’re sick.
  13. Biological Large Scale Integration: Here Stephen Quake discusses his theories on tiny "plumbing tools" he uses to analyze DNA sequences.
  14. Psychology, Sex and Evolution: This lecture combines psychology and biology to find an answer to how preoccupied we are with sex.
  15. Dynamics on and of Biological Networks: Case Studies on the Machinery of Life: Stefan Bornholdt discusses molecular networks in this lecture.


These chemistry scientists discuss the atomic theory of matter and other mind-boggling principles in the following lectures.

  1. Graphite: a new twist: This University of Sussex scientist talks about carbon, diamond and graphite.
  2. Thermodynamics and Kinetics: Learn about work, heat, internal energy and more.
  3. Principles of Chemical Science, Normal Track: This course from MIT scientist Sylvia Ceyer covers atomic theory of matter, radiation and more.
  4. The simulation of structures in modern materials with the theory of density functional calculations: Karlheinz Schwarz takes on the theory of density functional calculations.
  5. Liquid Crystal Elastomers: Professor Heino Finkelmann talks about rubber elasticity and inducing the liquid crystalline state of elastomers.
  6. Janine Benyus shares nature’s designs: This lecture covers chemistry, nature and biomimicry.
  7. Penelope Boston says there might be life on Mars: Listen to Penelope Boston reveal the possibility of chemical and biological properties that may indicate life on Mars.
  8. General Chemistry: Kristie Boering introduces shape matters, chemical bonds and equilibrium in this series.
  9. Monodispersed particles in technologies and medicine: These scientists from Clarkson University discuss the chemical properties and use of monodispersed particles.
  10. Chemical Structure and Reactivity: Peter Vollhardt from Berkeley gives listeners an introduction to organic chemical structures, organometallics and more.
  11. Introduction to Solid State Chemistry: This MIT course lecture introduces you to solid state chemistry.
  12. The Families of Sugars and Chemistry of Aldoses: This lecture serves as an introduction to organic chemical structures.
  13. Properties and Chemistry of Heteroaromatic Compounds: Learn about heterocycles here.

Physics and Astronomy

Turn to this list of lectures to discover how scientists are harnessing the infinite wonders of the universe.

  1. The Physical World: Topics in these lectures from The Open University include quantum physics, Einstein, helicopter flight and more.
  2. Astronomy Lecture 1: What is a star?: Finally learn what a star really is and how we all fit into the universe.
  3. Quantum gravity in three dimensions: Andrew Strominger discusses quantum gravity.
  4. Challenge in Astrophysics: Sarah Bridle introduces the challenge to measure and identify the shapes of distant galaxies.
  5. X-rays from comets – a surprising discovery: Watch this talk to learn how comets can be X-rayed and what the images reveal.
  6. The Black Hole at the Center of Our Galaxy: Nobel Prize-winning Charles H. Townes talks about what’s next in terms of deep galaxy exploration.
  7. An overview of the United State government’s space and science policy-making process: Find out what driving forces control the government’s policy-making decisions in regards to science and space exploration.
  8. Loop Quantum Gravity: Carlo Rovelli discusses superstring theory here.
  9. Forty years of high energy string collisions: Gabriele Veneziano reviews what’s been going on during string collisions for the past forty years.
  10. What is the simplest quantum field theory?: In this lecture, Freddy Cachazo brings forth ideas of simpler quantum field theories.
  11. Physics III: Vibrations and Waves: Learn about forced oscillations and other physics properties here.
  12. Stephen Hawking asks big questions about the universe: Stephen Hawking asks questions about the beginnings of the universe, where humans came from and more.
  13. The Lightness of Being: Mass, Ether and the Unification of Force: Anticipating a New Golden Age: Frank Wilczek introduces listeners to his new physics theory.
  14. Transitioning from the Space Shuttle to the Constellation System: In this talk, you will learn about the future of space exploration.
  15. The Second Law and Cosmology: Max Tegmark asks questions about entropy, temperature and equilibrium when studying the Second Law of Thermodynamics.

Earth and Environment

Discover deep sea ecosystems, global warming and other Earth science phenomena here.

  1. David Deutsch on our place in the cosmos: Scientist David Deutsch urges the greater scientific community to seriously consider global warming.
  2. Nature, not human activity, rules the climate: This controversial opinion gives nature all the credit in our changing climate.
  3. Stanford Experts on Climate Change and Carbon Trading: Dr. Schneider, one of the leading experts on climate change, talks about the crisis.
  4. The Invisible Forest: Microbes in the Sea: Learn about these key ocean organisms.
  5. Planet Water: Complexity and Organization in Earth Systems: Rafael Bras is credited with launching the science of hydrology and discusses water complexity here.
  6. E.O. Wilson on saving life on Earth: Biologist E.O. Wilson entreats society to become more educated on natural life on Earth.
  7. The U.S. Energy Crisis and the Role of New Nuclear Plants: Thomas A. Christopher considers the effects of nuclear plants on the energy and environmental crises.
  8. CO2 beyond tomorrow: a fundamental approach: This panel featuring Helmut List aims to predict future CO2 emissions effects.
  9. Sea Levels and Climate Change: David T. Pugh is a physicist who is concerned with sea level rise and coastal flooding.
  10. Importance of Science in Conservation: Conservation isn’t just a social or political issue: Peter Seligmann argues that science is also a strong part of the picture.
  11. In Antarctica: The Global Warming: Sebastian Copeland explains how Antarctica is a microcosm for what will happen to the rest of the world due to global warming.
  12. Climate change from the scientific point of view: Listen to a scientist’s view of what’s going on in the development in climate change.
  13. Robert Ballard on exploring the oceans: Discover the new research projects going on underwater.


For the latest in technology and computer science, see what these top lecturers have to share.

  1. Saul Griffith on everyday inventions: Listen to inventor Saul Griffith discuss the importance and elegance of designing everyday materials.
  2. Energy Efficient Transistors: Alan Seabaugh from the University of Notre Dame explains how transistors are becoming more energy efficient.
  3. Bounding nanotechnology: Deconstructing the Drexler-Smalley Debate: Sarah Kaplan dissects the Drexler-Smalley debate in this lecture.
  4. Introduction to Robotics: Stanford’s Oussama Khatib covers the history of robotics, spatial descriptions, kinematics and more.
  5. Computer System Engineering: Learn the basics of computer system engineering as explained by MIT’s Hari Balakrishnan.
  6. Ray Kurzweil on how technology will transform us: Ray Kurzweil introduces the idea of a future populated with nanobots.
  7. Technology and Social Responsibility: Larry Page and Sergey Brin hold technology projects, researchers and companies to a higher standard in this lecture.
  8. Living with Catastrophic Terrorism: Can Science and Technology Make the U.S. Safer?: Lewis M. Branscomb is actually a public policy professor and co-chair at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, but this lecture takes on a critical debate about the importance of science and technology in government.
  9. Steve Koonin- Chief Scientist BP: Steve Koonin talks about his job’s challenge to plot long-term technology strategy.
  10. The Inner History of Devices: Sherry Turkle combines a study of psychology with physical science and technology in this lecture.

Science in the Future

These scientists share a glimpse into a future with customized human babies, synthetic chromosomes, and more.

  1. Juan Enriquez shares mindboggling science: Juan Enriquez explains how forward thinking and science are going to pull us out of any crises or disasters.
  2. Craig Venter is on the verge of creating synthetic life: Discover how synthetic chromosomes may be in the future.
  3. To upgrade is human: How can technology help human evolution? Gregory Stock considers customized human babies and the future of adoption.
  4. Next Generation of Solar Cells — Lowering Costs, Improving Performance and Scale: Tonio Buonassisi talks about capturing the sun’s power.
  5. Do-It-Yourself Biology: Natalie Kuldell combines computer engineering history with genetic engineering to predict a DIY future and scientific community.

Science and Business

Learn about the relationship between science, policymaking and business when you watch these lectures.

  1. Balancing Science and Business: Understanding technology and modern business principles is ideal, argues Marc Fleury.
  2. Leading Innovation: This talk explores responsible, effective strategies for uniting technology and business.
  3. Globalization of Science: Opportunities for Competitive Advantage from Science in China, India and Beyond: Fiona Murray reveals how science, technology and engineering are valid forces in the business world, especially in competitive markets like China and India.


From studying the brain in love to monitoring the future of science education, these lecturers continue to explore every avenue of science.

  1. Helen Fisher studies the brain in love: If you’ve ever wondered about the physical changes that the brain goes through when you’re in love, watch this lecture.
  2. Fuzzy Logic: This lecture from computer and information scientist Michael Berthold reveals how fuzzy logic is used for data analysis.
  3. Science Education in the 21st Century: Using the Tools of Science to Teach Science: Dr. Carl Wierman is a Nobel Prize-winning physicist who comments on the future of science education.
  4. The Evolution of Trichomatic Color Vision: Consider genetic evolution of sight and brain processes here.
  5. Probability for Life Science: This mix of math and life science covers probability and beyond.
  6. Psychology in Human-Computer Interaction: David Kieras considers human-computer interaction in this talk.
  7. Electrons, Life and the Evolution of the Oxygen Cycle on Earth: This talk examines several different scientific properties and questions.
  8. Renaissance Physicists: Steven Weinberg isn’t too optimistic about the future of science and discusses the characteristics that define a truly ambitious scientist.
  9. Worms, Life and Death: Cel Suicide in Development and Disease: Consider cell death as a key factor in biological development after listening to this lecture.