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Alva Noë

Alva Noë appears in the following:

Can Neuroscience Help Us Understand Art?

Friday, February 19, 2016

What is art? Why does it matter to us? What does it tell us about ourselves?

It's something of the rage these days to turn to neuroscience for answers.

Neuroscience, after all, it is widely believed, holds the key to our very nature as conscious beings. I've been skeptical of ...

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Can You Tell Your Ethnic Identity From Your DNA?

Friday, February 12, 2016

The answer as to whether a DNA test can tell you your ethnic identity? Yes — and no.

We know that, when it comes to DNA, geography matters. Although in principle anyone can mate with anyone else, in practice we tend to mate with people nearby. If we could assemble ...

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Putting The Body Back In Biology

Sunday, February 07, 2016

It is one of the great ironies of biology that sometimes breakthroughs seem to come when it is supposed that its problems have less to do with the body, which is pulsing, hot, and wet, and more to do with information processing, which is dry and computational.

To give an ...

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DNA, Genealogy And The Search For Who We Are

Friday, January 29, 2016

Consider these facts, culled from writings here:

  • You share no DNA with the vast majority of your ancestors.
  • You have more ancestors — hundreds a few generations back, thousands in just a millennium — than you have sections of DNA.
  • You have 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents — but if you ...

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Soaking Up Wisdom From Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Friday, January 22, 2016

For the holidays, I bought my science-loving 11-year-old tickets to "An evening with Neil deGrasse Tyson" at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. The big night was last Friday.

Some intellectuals bring out the immense complexity behind simple phenomena and others, like the estimable Dr. Tyson, excel at bringing complicated ...

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We May Never Shed Light On Ancient Artists' Motives

Friday, January 08, 2016

We don't know why our ancestors made paintings deep inside caves in France and Spain as long ago as 30,000 years ago.

Was it to celebrate or tabulate or hallucinate or worship? We can only speculate. This much is pretty sure, though. The caves, inaccessible now, were — or ...

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So Far, There's No Magic Bullet For The Mind

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Lumosity, a "brain games" company, has agreed to pay $2 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission deceptive advertising suit.

According to Jessica Rich, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, the brain-fitness company, "preyed on consumers' fears about age-related cognitive decline, suggesting their games could stave off memory ...

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Is 'The Nutcracker' Part Of The Fabric Of Christmas?

Friday, January 01, 2016

With Christmas time, as one writer said in The New York Times, comes "Nutcracker" time.

There are probably more than a dozen professional productions of The Nutcracker here in California alone. And who's to say how many local school and amateur productions there are, such as the truly delightful ...

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Since When Is An Emoji A 'Word'?

Friday, December 18, 2015

I love my battered old copy of The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English. I've rarely needed to look up a word that I can't find in there.

Take, for example, the word "word." Its primary definition, according to the Concise Oxford, is:

"Any sound or combination of sounds ...

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Is It Bad If Art Is Boring?

Friday, December 11, 2015

Do you remember being bored as a kid? I do.

I remember long stretches of unstructured time with nothing to do. Time reduced to a kind of metronome, second after second, or sensation after sensation. I remember being confronted by the irritating sense that I was trapped, caught, in unending ...

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Is Art Essential to Human Nature?

Thursday, December 10, 2015

In "Strange Tools: Art and Human Nature," philosophy professor Alva Noë examines our persistent, and conflicted, relationship to art.

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Physical Disability And Engineering Of Environments

Sunday, December 06, 2015

On PBS's Newshour last week, Jon Schull, a research scientist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, made some points about disability.

He said that in a world with lots of small print, the inability to see fine detail is a disability (though some might consider it minor in the ...

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Is Immediate Access To Information Always Good?

Friday, November 20, 2015

My plane touched down in Chicago some time after 5 p.m. local time last Friday. I had almost two hours to spare before making my connection. But the plane was late and others on board were anxious.

The couple behind me had less than an hour to catch a flight ...

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You Are Not Just Your Brain

Friday, November 13, 2015

For some time now, I've been skeptical about the neuroscience of consciousness. Not so much because I doubt that consciousness is affected by neural states and processes, but because of the persistent tendency on the part of some neuroscientists to think of consciousness itself as a neural phenomenon.

Nothing epitomizes ...

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In Impossible Times Come Impossible Decisions

Friday, November 06, 2015

The Struma was sunk by a Soviet torpedo in February 1942 as it sought to carry its cargo of Romanian Jews to safe harbor in what was then called Palestine by way of the Black Sea.

This terrible event isn't very well remembered today, but it marked the lives ...

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There's A Unity Among Baseball Fans

Sunday, November 01, 2015

If you watch the World Series tonight, you'll notice that if Matt Harvey, the Mets pitcher, reaches a two strike count against one of the Royals batters, the whole stadium — as if with a single mind — will rise to its feet and roar with excitement and encouragement.

Their ...

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Soup Is An Anagram Of Opus: Thoughts On Warhol's Campbell's Paintings

Friday, October 23, 2015

I had a chance to see the Andy Warhol exhibition that just closed at New York's MOMA this past weekend. The high point of the show, indeed — one of art's high points — is Warhol's series of Campbell's soup cans. They were painted and first shown in Los Angeles ...

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Research Methods And Bias In Science

Friday, October 16, 2015

I've always been a little skeptical about the scientific method.

Science isn't one thing, after all. Just as sports isn't one thing. There isn't one way to win, or one way to get the gold. And, so, there isn't one way to conduct research in fields as different as chemistry, ...

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Why The Matt Harvey Uncertainty Broke Some Baseball Fans' Hearts

Saturday, October 10, 2015

When baseball fans think back on memorable events from the season that just ended, there's no doubt that the Matt Harvey Affair is one of the things they'll remember.

Matt Harvey is a star pitcher for the New York Mets. He's in his first season back from Tommy John ...

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Clean Diesel: Too Good To Be True?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Diesels are more expensive than gasoline powered cars. But they drive better; they've got better torque. And they're way more fuel efficient.

The downside is that they're dirty. They spew deadly particulate matter and nitrogen oxides (NOx) that make it hard to breathe.

In Europe, diesels have been an economical ...

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