Stoicism and Buddhism, a dialogue

How to Be a Stoic

Since the beginning of my interest in Stoicism one of the things that attracted me to it was the fact that it is compatible with a number of different metaphysical and religious positions, as well as that it has several similarities with other religions-philosophical traditions. One such tradition is Buddhism.

Which is why I was happy when Bob Wright invited me to have a video conversation with him about the similarities and differences between Stoicism and Buddhism. We started out briefly talking about our respective new books, How to Be a Stoic and Why Buddhism is True, briefly chatted about some of the more obvious similarities between the two philosophies, and then explored a little bit of the metaphysics of Stoicism.

Bob and I inquiried about whether there is a Stoic equivalent of the Buddhist discipline of “not-self” (I don’t think so, I think that’s actually one of…

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How to properly study adaptation

Footnotes to Plato

One of the recurring discussions in evolutionary biology is the question of how to test adaptive hypotheses. Creationists often claim (wrongly) that the theory of natural selection is tautological, and so did, at some point, prominent philosopher of science Karl Popper (he later acknowledged that his comment was based on a misunderstanding of the theory, something that creationists strangely neglect to mention whenever they quote him in their favor — see this short essay I wrote about it for Skeptical Inquirer). And then, of course, there is the never ending issue of the quasi-scientific status of evolutionary psychology, precisely because adaptive hypotheses are particularly hard (though not impossible) to test in the case of Homo sapiens (more on this below).

It was therefore with delight that I recently happen to stumble on a paper by Mark Olson and Alfonso Arroyo-Santos entitled “How to study adaptation and why to do…

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Nature Unbound III – Holocene climate variability (Part B)

Climate Etc.

by Javier

The Neoglacial has been a period of progressive cooling, increasing aridity, and advancing glaciers, culminating in the Little Ice Age. The main Holocene climatic cycle of ~ 2400 years delimits periods of more stable climatic conditions which were identified over a century ago. The stable periods are punctuated by abrupt changes.

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Paleo Expert: Earth is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction

A voice of reason in a sea of insanity.

Watts Up With That?

Chelyabinsk Meteor

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t JoNova – According to renowned Smithsonian Paleontologist Doug Erwin, people who claim we are in the midst of an anthropogenic mass extinction don’t have a clue what a mass extinction actually is.

Earth Is Not in the Midst of a Sixth Mass Extinction

“As scientists we have a responsibility to be accurate about such comparisons.”

NASA / Reuters

At the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America, Smithsonian paleontologist Doug Erwin took the podium to address a ballroom full of geologists on the dynamics of mass extinctions and power grid failures—which, he claimed, unfold in the same way.

Erwin is one of the world’s experts on the End-Permian mass extinction, an unthinkable volcanic nightmare that nearly ended life on earth 252 million years ago. He proposed that earth’s great mass extinctions might unfold like…

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The Laws of Averages: Part 1, Fruit Salad

Watts Up With That?

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen


This essay is long-ish — and is best saved for a time when you have time to read it in its entirety.  It will be worth the wait and the eventual effort.  It comes in three sections:  a Primer on Averages, a general discussion of Fruit Salad metrics, and a more in-depth discussion of an example using a published study.

NB:  While this essay is using as an example a fairly recent study by Catherine M. O’Reilly, Sapna Sharma, Derek K. Gray, and Stephanie E. Hampton, titled “Rapid and highly variable warming of lake surface waters around the globe”  [ .pdf here; poster here, AGU Meeting video presentation here ], it is not meant to be a critique of the paper itself — I will leave that to others with a more direct interest.  My interest is in the logical and scientific…

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