When you think you’ve died, you haven’t actually died. Death is a two-stage process, and where you wake up after your last breath is something of a Purgatory: you don’t feel dead, you don’t look dead, and in fact you are not dead. Yet.
Perhaps you thought the afterlife would be something like a soft white light, or a glistening ocean, or floating in music. But the afterlife more closely resembles the feeling of standing up too quickly: for a confused moment, you forget who you are, where you are, all the personal details of your life. And it only gets stranger from here.
First, everything becomes dark in a blindingly bright way, and you feel a smooth stripping away of your inhibitions and a washing away of your power to do anything about it. You start to lose your ego, which is intricately related to the spiriting away of your pride. And then you lose your self-referential memories.
You’re loosing you, but you don’t seem to care.
There’s only a little bit of you remaining now, the core of you: naked consciousness, bare as a baby.
To understand the meaning of this afterlife, you must remember that everyone is multifaceted. And since you always lived inside your own head, you were much better at seeing the truth about others than you ever were at seeing yourself. So you navigated your life with the help of others who held up mirrors for you. People praised your good qualities and criticized your bad habits, and these perspectives—often surprising to you—helped you to guide your life. So poorly did you know yourself that you were always surprised at how you looked in photographs or how you sounded on voice mail.
In this way, much of your existence took place in the eyes, ears, and fingertips of others. And now that you’ve left the Earth, you are stored in scattered heads around the globe.
Here in this Purgatory, all the people with whom you’ve ever come in contact are gathered. The scattered bits of you are collected, pooled, and unified. The mirrors are held up in front of you. Without the benefit of filtration, you see yourself clearly for the first time.
And that is what finally kills you.
-Sum, by David Eagleman. My lab director is pretty good at fiction.
“Our legal system is built on a dualist view of the mind-body relationship that has served it well for centuries. Science has done little to disrupt that until now. But neuroscience is different. By directly addressing the mechanisms of the human mind, it has the potential to adjudicate on issues of capacity and intent. With a greater understanding of impairments to consciousness, we might be able to take greater control over our actions, bootstrapping ourselves up from the irrational, haphazard behaviour traditionally associated with automata. Far from eroding a sense of free will, neuroscience may allow us to inject more responsibility than ever before into our waking lives.”—
“If I had a large amount of money I should found a hospital for those whose grip upon the world is so tenuous that they can be severely offended by words and phrases yet remain all unoffended by the injustice, violence and oppression that howls daily.”—Stephen Fry (via nedhepburn)
“Government policy should be evidence-driven. If crime is going down, you shouldn’t be increasing resources for crime prevention. Or you should be taking note of what has worked and concentrate the crime-prevention methods on policies that have a track record of success.”—Steven Pinker
For any given research area, one cannot tell how many studies have been conducted but never reported. The extreme view of the “file drawer problem” is that journals are filled with the 5% of the studies that show Type I errors, while the file drawers are filled with the 95% of the studies that show nonsignificant results. via
…it should prompt more areas to publish their own file drawers, for free….and catcall *other publishers and funding organizations (replication studie$?).
Availability of unpublished findings could also address other shortcomings of the current scientific process, including the regular failure of scientists to report experiments, conditions or observations that are inconsistent with hypotheses; the addition or removal of participants and variables to generate statistical significance; and the probable existence of numerous published findings whose non-replicability is shrouded because it is difficult to report null results. via
“While studies in behavioural genetics show certain gene and environment combinations correlate with antisocial conduct, many of the studies have not been replicated, which raises questions about their reliability.”—Blame the brain ….and how about those grant offering institutions, which set requirements for studies they will fund. Rarely do you see replication involved or allowed. Confirming previous findings may not as sexy as publishing novel ones, but it’s as important -if not more so.
I had a drink with him once a year or 2 ago, in a dark, divey bar in the West Village. It was Sunday night, late. He sat next to me, chatted and had one drink. The bartender knew right away what he wanted without asking. He had such fantastic eyes… the crazy, but gentle kind. A few friendly exchanges, he emptied his glass, nodded with a half smile and left a twenty. I remember thinking, that was too brief, who has just one bourbon?
The other night, I went for drinks with a new friend, the chemical engineer and science writer Boonsri Dickinson. Boonsri and I both know what a PhD program looks like on the inside, and it didn’t take much for me to get her to echo a thought I have all the time: science is about feeling stupid.
“True, much more is known about the criminal, his habits and his history, than ever before; but we are still confronted by the problem of an ever-increasing criminal population -if statistics on incarcerated men are to be believed. Much time has been spent in trying to understand the man, and rightly so; but comparatively little has been done about his rehabilitation. You may study the man, diagnose him, type him, catalogue him, and punish him; yet, you still have the man before you”—Criminal-Liability Index for Predicting Possibility for Rehabilitation, published in 1935.
To my mind,” he said, “it’s not clear whether the evidence of these brain abnormalities should be considered mitigating or exacerbating.”
In other words, let’s say you’re in charge of sentencing a criminal. Looking at the evidence, you’re convinced that this man is unable to control his impulses—that’s just the way he’s wired. Unfortunately, those impulses lead him to do violent, unspeakable things. And since we don’t have the tools (so far) to fix his faulty wiring, he’s likely to act the same way next time an impulse strikes.
Does that mean he should get a lighter sentence because his wiring isn’t his fault? Or does it mean he should get a harsher one, to prevent the future crimes he seems bound to commit?
According to the EEOC, barring candidates based on arrest records can almost never be justified except in the rare case when the employer “evaluate[s] whether the arrest record reflects the applicant’s conduct”.
"Even where there is no direct evidence that an employer used an arrest record in an employment decision,” an employer who inquires about arrest information without giving the candidate an opportunity to explain the underlying conduct violates Title VII.
That’s because, as the EEOC acknowledges, “arrests alone are not reliable evidence that a person has actually committed a crime”.
Add to this that housing/apartment applications are increasingly requiring criminal background checks and can deny you on the basis of an arrest record, and let me know where this puts over 65m+ people.