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Monthly Archives: February 2013

Episode 26: The Evolution of the Human Mind with Dr. Gary Marcus

Continuing with part 2 of our series about evolution, we cover a special topic within evolutionary biology. We are joined by Dr. Gary Marcus to talk about the oft-overlooked evolutionary history of the human brain. Our discussion draws largely from some of the chapters of Dr. Marcus’ book Kluge: The Haphazard Evolution of the Human Mind. Read it and love it.

Dr. Marcus’ book Kluge shows that our brain, like the rest of our bodies, has evolved not to function well, but to function well enough. Evolution works with what it has, and cannot start over with a better design, regardless of how much better a new design might be. As a result, our brains work with neuro circuitry which did not evolve to help us solve complex problems or think critically–and yet they do (or, at least, our brains tell us they do). This presents interesting problems which might undercut common notions of our own rationality.

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Use your evolved brain to understand the following from our conversation:

  • Decisions about chocolate cake and sex
  • Quantified Self
  • Evolution of cognitive biases (familiarity biasstatus quo bias, etc)
  • The strength of evolutionary accounts of homosexuality
  • The halo effect and the pitchfork effect
  • How can we use our evolved brains to become better thinkers?

Dr. Marcus is a professor of Psychology at New York University, whose research covers neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and molecular biology. He is also a best selling author and contributor to The New YorkerThe Wall Street Journal, as well as other important popular media. He is a top-notch writer, so check out his other books about psychology and neuroscience.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2013 in Cognitive Bias, Guest, New Episode, Science

 

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Episode 25: Evolution 101 with Dr. Zach

In celebration of Darwin Day, we embark on a short series about the theory of biological evolution. Gabe is joined by Dr. Zach to talk about the theory of evolution and natural selection. Dr. Zach is a microbiologist and secular activist in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and as you can tell from the episode, an entirely pleasant fellow.

Content covered:

  • Charles Darwin and Russel Wallace
  • Anthropomorphism in science
  • Natural selection, sexual selection (you know, breasts and penises), and random disasters
  • Adaptation and exaptation
  • Common misconceptions about biological evolution, and addressing them
  • Genetics and information in biology

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It’s worth noting as well by the way, that Dr. Zach also hosts the Apologia podcast, which was very influential on the content of style of NonTheology. They strive to be ecumenical while still hitting at some of the tough issues between theism and atheism, and they do a pretty solid job, so definitely go check them out. Incidentally, Apologia is also the name of a biblical creationist publishing company, producing textbooks and coloring books to “help homeschooling families learn, live, and defend the Christian faith”. Nice.

Other good evolution resources:

Plus, some other notables mentioned:

 
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Posted by on February 9, 2013 in Guest, New Episode, Science

 

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Episode 24: Creation in the Book of Genesis

Erik blesses the world with his magnum opus: a 30 minute long rant about the first three chapters of Genesis, covering creation, Adam and Eve, original sin, and slightly more! There was a brief interruption in the episode creation process so we could record another guest episode coming down the line. Look forward to it!

It’s worth noting that, just as Genesis describes God speaking the universe into existence, we too spoke this episode into existence.

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Post-cast:

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in New Episode, Rants, Wait What?

 

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