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God and Einstein part 1


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I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings. (Albert Einstein)

Science gets the last laugh on ethnic jokes


“Heaven is where the police are English, the cooks are French, the mechanics are German, the lovers are Italian and everything is organized by the Swiss. Hell is where the police are German, the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, the lovers are Swiss, and everything is organized by the Italians.”

Obviously the national stereotypes in this old joke are generalizations, but such stereotypes are often said to “exist for a reason.” Is there actually a sliver of truth in them? Not likely, an international research team now says.

The study, which compares “typical” personalities in many cultures with the personalities of real individuals from those cultures, appears in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

Generalizations about cultures or nationalities can be a source of identity, pride … and bad jokes. But they can also cause a great deal of harm. Both history and current events are full of examples in which unfavorable stereotypes contribute to prejudice, discrimination, persecution or even genocide.

“National and cultural stereotypes do play an important role in how people perceive themselves and others, and being aware that these are not trustworthy is a useful thing,” said study author Robert McCrae of the National Institute on Aging.

The new findings also call into question other stereotypes, such as age stereotypes, according to McCrae.

The researchers tested the possibility that cultural stereotypes might be based, at least partly, on real experiences that people have interacting with each other. If this were true, then such stereotypes would reflect the average personality of real members of that culture.

But, McCrae and his colleagues studied real and perceived personalities in roughly 50 countries and found that this wasn’t the case.

“These are in fact unfounded stereotypes. They don’t come from looking around you and doing your own averaging of people’s personality traits,” McCrae said.

How stereotypes are born

If national stereotypes aren’t rooted in real experiences, then where do they come from?

One possibility is that they reflect national values, which may emerge from historical events. For example, many historians have argued that the spirit of American individualism has its origins in the experiences of the pioneers in the Old West.

Social scientists such as psychologist Richard Robins have proposed several other possible explanations for stereotypes and why they may be inaccurate. In a commentary that accompanies the Science study, Robins notes that some stereotypes may have been accurate at one point in history and then persisted while the culture changed. Or they may have grown out of historical conflicts between cultural groups.

Yet another possibility is that some very specific components of a stereotype may be accurate — for example, Italians may gesture with their hands a lot — but that they don’t necessarily tell us anything more generally about personality.

We may be “hard-wired,” to some extent, to maintain inaccurate stereotypes, since we are less likely to notice and remember information that violates our stereotypes. Generally, according to Robins, when we encounter people who contradict prevailing generalizations, we perceive them as unique individuals rather than representatives of their national or cultural groups.

Measuring personality

Researchers generally agree that the main components of anyone’s personality can be boiled down to five different aspects: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. How a person rates in these five categories can predict many important life “outcomes,” such as health and mortality, academic success, job performance and the ability to have successful, lasting romantic relationships.

McCrae and his colleagues have developed a questionnaire that can be used to evaluate someone’s personality according to these five basic traits. It’s called the “Revised NEO Personality Inventory,” or “NEO-PI-R.” The survey results can be used to generate a profile of a person based on 30 specific characteristics that fall under these five larger categories.

The NEO-PI-R is widely accepted as an objective way to describe someone’s personality. People taking the survey can either rate themselves or someone they know well.

The survey says…

In the Science study, McCrae’s team began with two groups of NEO-PI-R surveys they had previously collected in a wide variety of countries. They averaged the profiles in each of the two sets, producing one profile that reflected how volunteers rated their own personalities and another profile that reflected how they rated the personalities of other individuals they knew.

The researchers also conducted a third survey in about 50 countries, using questions about the same 30 characteristics — but in this survey, they asked the volunteers to describe a typical person from their culture. They averaged these results, so that they had a third personality profile for each country, reflecting the national stereotype.

The authors found that in most of the countries, the two personality profiles that were based on information from real people matched each other reasonably well. But they were significantly different from the stereotype profile.

“There was essentially no agreement between people’s perceptions of the typical personality [in their culture] and what we actually measured,” McCrae said.

The one exception was Poland, where the ratings from volunteers provided a better-than-usual match between typical and real personalities, suggesting the volunteers were better at seeing past stereotypes to perceive people as they really are.

Perhaps in heaven, the therapists are Polish

via Science gets the last laugh on ethnic jokes – Technology & science – Science – Mysteries of the Universe | NBC News.

via Science gets the last laugh on ethnic jokes – Technology & science – Science – Mysteries of the Universe | NBC News.

Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’


Does Death Exist Image

Many of us fear death. We believe in death because we have been told we will die. We associate ourselves with the body, and we know that bodies die. But a new scientific theory suggests that death is not the terminal event we think.

One well-known aspect of quantum physics is that certain observations cannot be predicted absolutely. Instead, there is a range of possible observations each with a different probability. One mainstream explanation, the “many-worlds” interpretation, states that each of these possible observations corresponds to a different universe (the ‘multiverse’). A new scientific theory – called biocentrism – refines these ideas. There are an infinite number of universes, and everything that could possibly happen occurs in some universe. Death does not exist in any real sense in these scenarios. All possible universes exist simultaneously, regardless of what happens in any of them. Although individual bodies are destined to self-destruct, the alive feeling – the ‘Who am I?’- is just a 20-watt fountain of energy operating in the brain. But this energy doesn’t go away at death. One of the surest axioms of science is that energy never dies; it can neither be created nor destroyed. But does this energy transcend from one world to the other?

Consider an experiment that was recently published in the journal Science showing that scientists could retroactively change something that had happened in the past. Particles had to decide how to behave when they hit a beam splitter. Later on, the experimenter could turn a second switch on or off. It turns out that what the observer decided at that point, determined what the particle did in the past. Regardless of the choice you, the observer, make, it is you who will experience the outcomes that will result. The linkages between these various histories and universes transcend our ordinary classical ideas of space and time. Think of the 20-watts of energy as simply holo-projecting either this or that result onto a screen. Whether you turn the second beam splitter on or off, it’s still the same battery or agent responsible for the projection.

According to Biocentrism, space and time are not the hard objects we think. Wave your hand through the air – if you take everything away, what’s left? Nothing. The same thing applies for time. You can’t see anything through the bone that surrounds your brain. Everything you see and experience right now is a whirl of information occurring in your mind. Space and time are simply the tools for putting everything together.

Death does not exist in a timeless, spaceless world. In the end, even Einstein admitted, “Now Besso” (an old friend) “has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us…know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” Immortality doesn’t mean a perpetual existence in time without end, but rather resides outside of time altogether.

This was clear with the death of my sister Christine. After viewing her body at the hospital, I went out to speak with family members. Christine’s husband – Ed – started to sob uncontrollably. For a few moments I felt like I was transcending the provincialism of time. I thought about the 20-watts of energy, and about experiments that show a single particle can pass through two holes at the same time. I could not dismiss the conclusion: Christine was both alive and dead, outside of time.

Christine had had a hard life. She had finally found a man that she loved very much. My younger sister couldn’t make it to her wedding because she had a card game that had been scheduled for several weeks. My mother also couldn’t make the wedding due to an important engagement she had at the Elks Club. The wedding was one of the most important days in Christine’s life. Since no one else from our side of the family showed, Christine asked me to walk her down the aisle to give her away.

Soon after the wedding, Christine and Ed were driving to the dream house they had just bought when their car hit a patch of black ice. She was thrown from the car and landed in a banking of snow.

“Ed,” she said “I can’t feel my leg.”

She never knew that her liver had been ripped in half and blood was rushing into her peritoneum.

After the death of his son, Emerson wrote “Our life is not so much threatened as our perception. I grieve that grief can teach me nothing, nor carry me one step into real nature.”

Whether it’s flipping the switch for the Science experiment, or turning the driving wheel ever so slightly this way or that way on black-ice, it’s the 20-watts of energy that will experience the result. In some cases the car will swerve off the road, but in other cases the car will continue on its way to my sister’s dream house.

Christine had recently lost 100 pounds, and Ed had bought her a surprise pair of diamond earrings. It’s going to be hard to wait, but I know Christine is going to look fabulous in them the next time I see her.

via Robert Lanza » Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’.

via Robert Lanza » Does Death Exist? New Theory Says ‘No’.

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