Monday, October 15, 2012

Science and SF Tidbits: October 15, 2012: Thinking machines and changelings

Interesting articles elsewhere:

• From Cooling System to Thinking Machine | Being Human »
Carl Zimmer writes about the history of Western thinking on the function of the brain from ancient times to the present. Will our current thinking of how the brain functions eventually seem as outdated as the ancient notion of "animal spirits"? From the article:
"Are we brains in a vat? Strictly speaking, it’s hard to prove we’re not. But in any world—real or manufactured—we still know so little about how brains work that we wouldn’t be able to put Putnam’s thought experiment into practice."
Hilary Putnam is a philosopher who has used the "brain in a vat" analogy to discuss the human concept of the external world)

How does the child in this tale sound to you? A changeling? or would we modern folk simply say he's not neurotypical?  
"Once upon a time there was a poor man and his wife who lived in the middle of the woods.  They had a beautiful little boy with blonde hair and strikingly blue eyes.  He was the light of their lives… and then something changed.
The boy wouldn’t coo. He wouldn’t look at his parents or at the pretty toys they dangled in front of him.  He shrank away from their touch as if it physically hurt him, couldn’t gag down his food, and began to scream."
Mercedes Yardley's article provides much food for thought.

Horror artist Russell Dickerson has gotten some negative reactions from people when they learn what he does for a living. He argues that it's people who are outside the norm who make change in the world:
"It takes those strange folks out there, with odd ideas of fantastical things, to really change the world. Scientists, artists, authors, folks from all different walks of life who simply believed differently than those around them. Those odd people created the very world we live in, because they dared to put those strange ideas out there for all the world to see."


  1. Thanks so much for mentioning my "Changeling" article! That picture is absolutely perfect for it. Fascinating blog that you have here.

  2. I'm glad you find the blog interesting.

    I enjoyed your article - it made me think about the difference between the way someone with what you might call a "scientific" world view and someone with a "non-scientific" worldview could perceive the same situation.


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