Tag Archives: religion

Some Baba Brinkman rap videos for Christmas

It’s about time to catch up with Canadian rapper, Baba Brinkman who has made an industry of rapping about science issues (mostly). Here’s a brief rundown of some of his latest ventures.

He was in Paris for the climate talks (also known as World Climate Change Conference 2015 [COP21]) and produced this ‘live’ rap on Dec. 10, 2015 for the press conference on “Moral Obligation – Scientific Imperative” for Climate Matters,

The piece is part of his forthcoming album and show “The Rap Guide to Climate Chaos.”

On Dec. 18, 2015 Baba released a new music video with his take on religion and science (from a Dec. 18, 2015 posting on his blog),

The digital animation is by Steven Fahey, who is a full time animator for the Simpsons, and I’m completely blown away by the results he achieved. The video is about the evolution of religious instincts, and how the secular among us can make sense of beliefs we don’t share.

Here’s the ‘Religion evolves’ video,

A few days after Baba released his video, new research was published contradicting some of what he has in there (i.e., religion as a binding element for societies struggling to survive in ancient times. From a Dec. 21, 2015 University of Central Florida news release on EurekAlert (Note: A link has been removed),

Humans haven’t learned much in more than 2,000 years when it comes to religion and politics.

Religion has led to social tension and conflict, not just in today’s society, but dating back to 700 B.C. according to a new study published today in Current Anthropology .

University of Colorado anthropology Professor Arthur A. Joyce and University of Central Florida Associate Professor Sarah Barber found evidence in several Mexican archeological sites that contradict the long-held belief that religion acted to unite early state societies. It often had the opposite effect, the study says.

“It doesn’t matter if we today don’t share particular religious beliefs, but when people in the past acted on their beliefs, those actions could have real, material consequences,” Barber said about the team’s findings. “It really behooves us to acknowledge religion when considering political processes.”

Sounds like sage advice in today’s world that has multiple examples of politics and religion intersecting and resulting in conflict.

The team published its findings “Ensoulment, Entrapment, and Political Centralization: A Comparative Study of Religion and Politics in Later Formative Oaxaca,” after spending several years conducting field research in the lower Río Verde valley of Oaxaca, Mexico’s Pacific coastal lowlands. They compared their results with data from the highland Valley of Oaxaca.

Their study viewed archaeological evidence from 700 B.C. to A.D. 250, a period identified as a time of the emergence of states in the region. In the lower Verde, religious rituals involving offerings and the burial of people in cemeteries at smaller communities created strong ties to the local community that impeded the creation of state institutions.

And in the Valley of Oaxaca, elites became central to mediating between their communities and the gods, which eventually triggered conflict with traditional community leaders. It culminated in the emergence of a regional state with its capital at the hilltop city of Monte Albán.

“In both the Valley of Oaxaca and the Lower Río Verde Valley, religion was important in the formation and history of early cities and states, but in vastly different ways,” said Joyce, lead author on the study. “Given the role of religion in social life and politics today, that shouldn’t be too surprising.”

The conflict in the lower Río Verde valley is evident in rapid rise and fall of its state institutions. At Río Viejo, the capital of the lower Verde state, people had built massive temples by AD 100. Yet these impressive, labor-intensive buildings, along with many towns throughout the valley, were abandoned a little over a century later.

“An innovative aspect of our research is to view the burials of ancestors and ceremonial offerings in the lower Verde as essential to these ancient communities,” said Joyce, whose research focuses on both political life and ecology in ancient Mesoamerica. “Such a perspective is also more consistent with the worldviews of the Native Americans that lived there.”

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Ensoulment, Entrapment, and Political Centralization A Comparative Study of Religion and Politics in Later Formative Oaxaca by Arthur A. Joyce and Sarah B. Barber. Current Anthropology Vol. 56, No. 6 (December 2015), pp. 819-847 DOI: 10.1086/683998

This paper is behind a paywall.

Getting back to Baba, having research, which contradicts or appears to contradict your position, suddenly appear is part of the scientific process. Making your work scientifically authentic adds pressure for a performer or artist, on the other hand, it also blesses that performer or artist with credibility. In any event, it’s well worth checking out Baba’s website and, for anyone, who’s wanted to become a patron of the arts (or of a particular rapper), there’s this Dec. 3, 2015 posting on Baba’s blog about Patreon,

Every year or so since 2010 I’ve reached out to my friends and fans asking for help with a Kickstarter or IndieGogo campaign to fund my latest album or video project. Well now I’m hoping to put an end to that regular cycle with the help of Patreon, a site that lets fans become patrons with exclusive access to the artists they support and the work they help create.

Click here to visit Patreon.com/BabaBrinkman

Good luck Baba. (BTW, Currently living in New York with his scientist wife and child, he’s originally from the Canadian province of British Columbia.)

Universal design: Aug. 21, 2012 online workshop; nano, ethics, and religion; and more from NISE Net

My August 2012 issue of The NanoBite from the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Net) features news of a free, online workshop about designing public programmes with a nanotechnology focus. From the event webpage,

You (or someone from your institution) is invited to attend a free, one-hour online workshop on Universal Design for Public Programs.

The workshop will be Tuesday, August 21st, 1 – 2 pm EDT.

What is the workshop about?
The workshop will focus specifically on the NISE Net’s Universal Design Guide for Public Programs. Workshop facilitators will give a brief introduction to the guide, look at some examples of universal design in programs from the NISE Net catalog, and will have an expert advisor on hand to answer questions. If you are interested in learning more about developing or implementing public programs (such as interpretation carts, stage demonstrations, and science theater) that are inclusive of the wide range of museum visitors, including those with disabilities then please join us. See the attached brief agenda for more detail.

We’re also testing out using the Adobe Connect online platform for short web-based trainings and conversations. This is a bit of an experiment, and we’ll be interested in hearing your take on the system!

What is Universal Design?
Universal Design (UD) is the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

You can find and download the guide online at:
http://www.nisenet.org/catalog/tools_guides/universal_design_guidelines_…

How do I sign up?
Please RSVP using this survey gizmo link if you’re able to attend:
http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/987616/Universal-Design-Online-Workshop-RSVP

Agenda at a Glance
1:00 – Overview of universal design and universal design for learning in a museum context
1:15 – UD Programs Concept 1 – Repeat and reinforce the main ideas and concepts
1:30 – UD Programs Concept 2 – Make multiple entry points and multiple ways of engagement available.
1:45 – UD Programs Concept 3 – Provide physical and sensory access to all aspects of the program

This universal design concept seems to be related to NISE Net’s Inclusive Audiences initiative mentioned in my Dec. 5, 2011 posting.

The magazine, Covalence, published an issue on science,ethics,  and religion that featured five articles about nano. From the August 2012 issue of NanoBite (the NISE Net newsletter),

Faith, Ethics, and Nanotechnology
A number of NISE Net partners recently contributed articles to Covalence, an online magazine of religion and science, as part of a package of five papers on “faith, ethics, and nanotechnology.” The five articles, Virtue and Vice Among the Molecules by Chris Toumey, The Landscape of Nanoethics by Ronald Sandler, Biomilitarism and Nanomedicine: Evil Metaphors for the Good of Human Health? by Brigitte Nerlich, A Place for Religion in Nanotechnology Debates by Jamey Wetmore, and Nanobots Dancing: Science Fiction and Faith by Steven Lynn can all be found in the collection here: http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Faith-Science-and-Technology/Covalence/Features.aspx. Thank you to Chris Toumey for letting us know!

NISE Net has  a new partner, which is also a new organization, Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA), from the Aug. 2012 issue of the NanoBite,

Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA)
The Informal Science Learning Associates (ISLA)  is a newly-formed nonprofit organization dedicated to improving educational opportunities for all children. A museum without walls, ISLA provides interactive programming in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to promote life-long learning in the community and surrounding communities of Laredo, Texas. One of ISLA’s first big events was hosting NanoDays at local high schools. For more on ISLA’s NanoDays activities and programs, read this Partner Highlight by Aaron Guerrero of the Children’s Museum of Houston, the regional hub leader for the South region.

And as always, I will end this with the poetry, from the Aug. 2012 issue of the NanoBite,

Nano Haiku

Fantastic voyage
Dendrimer nanospaceship
Drug delivery

After reading the article Nanoparticles Help Researchers Deliver Steroids to the Retina, Wendy Aldwyn, of the North Carolina Museum of Life & Science shared the above haiku.

Religion and nanotechnology but no spirituality?

Chris Toumey, a cultural anthropologist at the University of South Carolina NanoCenter, has written an article for Nanowerk about the impact that religious belief has on nanotechnology and other science issues. In the Nov. 16, 2011 article on Nanowerk, “Nanotechnology and religion,” Toumey opens with this,

Survey research indicates that religious belief will be a powerful influence in shaping public views about nanotechnology, while knowledge about nanotech will be less influential. And yet religious thought about nanotech has received little attention. We know that nanotechnology has evoked a large body of literature on moral and ethical issues, but almost all of this is expressed in secular voices, e.g., those of philosophers, ethicists, and scientists. Religious commentaries about nanotechnology have been much more rare. Now it is worth knowing what religious voices have said about nanotechnology, so that we might anticipate future religious reactions.

Toumey cites three studies, George Gaskell and colleagues’ 2005 paper, “Social Values and the Governance of Science“, Dominique Brossard et al.’s study  “Religiosity as a perceptual filter: examining processes of opinion formation about nanotechnology” (the abstract is free; the article is behind a paywall), and a third study compared the US and twelve EU nations “Religious beliefs and public attitudes toward nanotechnology in Europe and the United States” (the abstract is free; the article is behind a paywall)  as forming the basis for his own paper, “Seven Religious Reactions to Nanotechnology,” to be published in the December 2011 issue of NanoEthics. From Toumey’s Nanowerk article,

Because of those considerations, I assembled a collection of seven religious reactions to nanotechnology from a variety of faiths. Four are documents from religious organizations that deliver official institutional positions, namely: a major American Lutheran denomination; the Catholic Bishops Conferences of the European Community; a coalition of German Protestants; and, a Muslim think-tank in the United Arab Emirates. The other three are: a certain line of Jewish thought about technology; a group of Catholic and Protestant who oppose transhumanism; and, a pair of focus groups, one in England and the other in Arizona US.

Two common themes appear in those religious reactions.

According to the first, many religious persons worry that nanotechnology will contribute to re-defining human nature in ways that are amoral or dangerous. … For the second theme, religious persons worry that the control of nanotechnology by irresponsible entities will lead to adverse consequences like inequality or injustice.

At any rate, these seven case studies remind us that those who create new technologies can benefit by listening to the voices of thoughtful religious people.

I find the discussion about the impact of religious belief on one’s attitudes to nanotechnology and other emerging technologies quite interesting. After all, the Amish drew the line at allowing electricity and subsequent modern technologies into their lifestyles. Drawing on that example, I wonder what other groups may choose to reject one or more new technologies based on their religious beliefs.

I have one other thought about these studies with their focus on organized religion as opposed to spirituality. I expect it’s easier to study a religious group rather then something so nebulous as spirituality but I think it would be interesting to attempt an investigation into the impact that one’s  ‘spirituality’ has on one’s response to emerging technologies.

In the meantime, it is possible to get a copy of Chris Toumey’s paper, “Seven Religious Reactions to Nanotechnology,” by contacting him (Toumey@mailbox.sc.edu).

Plato’s musical thoughts about science

Apparently there have been rumours for centuries that Plato, (428/7 bce – 348/7 bce) classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, writer and more, had coded messages into his writings. Dr. Jay Kennedy, University of Manchester, announced recently that he has cracked the code. From the news item on physorg.com,

“Plato’s books played a major role in founding Western culture but they are mysterious and end in riddles,” Dr Kennedy, at Manchester’s Faculty of Life Sciences explains.

“In antiquity, many of his followers said the books contained hidden layers of meaning and secret codes, but this was rejected by modern scholars.

“It is a long and exciting story, but basically I cracked the code. I have shown rigorously that the books do contain codes and symbols and that unraveling them reveals the hidden philosophy of Plato.

“This is a true discovery, not simply reinterpretation.”

This will transform the early history of Western thought, and especially the histories of ancient science, mathematics, music, and philosophy.

Dr Kennedy spent five years studying Plato’s writing and found that in his best-known work the Republic he placed clusters of words related to music after each twelfth of the text – at one-twelfth, two-twelfths, etc. This regular pattern represented the twelve notes of a Greek musical scale. Some notes were harmonic, others dissonant. At the locations of the harmonic notes he described sounds associated with love or laughter, while the locations of dissonant notes were marked with screeching sounds or war or death. This musical code was key to cracking Plato’s entire symbolic system.

As for why Plato coded some of this writing, Kennedy points out that one of Plato’s teachers for teaching unpopular ideas.

Dr Kennedy, a researcher in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, says: “As we read his books, our emotions follow the ups and downs of a musical scale. Plato plays his readers like musical instruments.”

However Plato did not design his secret patterns purely for pleasure – it was for his own safety. Plato’s ideas were a dangerous threat to Greek religion. He said that mathematical laws and not the gods controlled the universe. Plato’s own teacher had been executed for heresy. Secrecy was normal in ancient times, especially for esoteric and religious knowledge, but for Plato it was a matter of life and death. Encoding his ideas in secret patterns was the only way to be safe.

There’s more both at the physorg.com site and at the University of Manchester site where you can find out that Dr. Kennedy amongst other jobs once worked on the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico!