Tuesday Roundup 19-02-2008

A strange assortment to get you through the week...


Ketamine Classic Available

Buried at the bottom of the latest MAPS update is a wonderful little easter egg:

Dr. Karl Jansen’s Book 'Ketamine: Dreams and Realities' is now available in electronic format, for anyone to download, as part of MAPS’ policy to try to disseminate valuable information for free. This book is a gold mine of fascinating and vital information about the dissociative anesthetic ketamine, which is known to produce short-lived psychedelic experiences in sub-anesthetic doses, and may have important therapeutic value. This is by far the most comprehensive book on the subject. We anticipate that making the text available on the internet will provide access to this information to a larger number of people without reducing sales of the paper book edition

Probably the three most important recent books on research into the mysteries of psychedelics would be Rick Strassman's DMT: The Spirit Molecule (Amazon US and UK), Benny Shanon's ayahuasca classic The Antipodes of the Mind (Amazon US and UK), and Karl Jansen's Ketamine: Dreams and Realities (Amazon US). Jansen looks at some of the subjective experiences of 'Special K' - including many similarities with the Near Death Experience - and also the dangers of the drug. If this subject area is of interest to you, make sure you take a look at it (and if you like it, support the author by buying a hard copy!).

News Briefs 18-02-2008

Humanity's greatest challenge? Being all too wont to wander the primrose-strewn paths of the mind, perhaps?

  • Leading thinkers ponder the greatest challenges of the next 50 years.
  • Fragments of world's oldest Christian manuscript found in Egyptian monastery.
  • Opportunity watches the clouds drift by -- on Mars. Cool videos.
  • It's Bubble O seven: James Bond's underwater car becomes a reality.
  • Magnetic Reconnection: Thunderblogger Donald E Scott says astrophysicists have no excuse for trying to reinvent the wheel.
  • Gecko 'begs' insect for honeydew.
  • Earth's oceans are vast, but not big enough to escape humans.
  • Phytomining and the Biomass Backlash.
  • Cannabis casualties, hybrid cars, and gamma rays in your brain.
  • If you're wondering whether the media is actually this confused about science (to put it charitably), or trying to confuse us, read this ('cause such rare and pricey candor deserves a bigger audience).
  • Nonsense, dressed up as neuroscience, is being peddled to school children by their 'credulous and apparently moronic teachers'. (Right up there with video game doping.) A better explanation of the research the first article talks about can be found here...
  • How extended explanations in refutations affect their acceptance, or, what negative political campaigning has to do with Pride and Prejudice.
  • Evolution in the classroom: Willful ignorance is the product of more than just 'a change over time'.
  • Dumb and Dumber: Are Americans Hostile to Knowledge? The Age of American Unreason is available at Amazon US & UK.
  • What have we become?: Thoughts on Some Lessons From The Underground History of American Education.
  • New research shows that humans flock like sheep and birds, subconsciously following a minority of individuals.
  • When and why did languages become untranslatable? A proposed answer.
  • Study finds some thoughts really do require language.
  • Cognitive Dissonance: A recent example brings the original case study to mind.
  • How the 'engineering mentality' produces terrorists.
  • Wired's Lore Sjöberg recently discovered that 'the mind is a cruel, lying, unreliable bastard that can't be trusted with even an ounce of responsibility.'
  • Dopamine and Orgasm.
  • Australian scientists are developing a remote-controlled contraceptive implant for men. Guys and their gadgets...
  • Jonah Lehrer on the psychology and neuroscience of back pain.
  • How to get smarter, and (incidentally) save the world.
  • The Peace Drug: Post-traumatic stress disorder had destroyed Donna Kilgore's life. Then experimental therapy with MDMA, a psychedelic drug better known as ecstasy, showed her a way out. Was it a fluke -- or the future? Editor's Note. Ironic, don't you think, considering this next article...
  • One thousand lives a month: A renowned researcher estimates that 22,000 patients could have been saved if the Food and Drug Administration had removed the heart surgery drug Trasylol two years ago, when his study revealed widespread death associated with it. (Video segment from '60 Minutes'.)
  • Spiritual healing: More hokum, or the 'missing link' in medicine?
  • Paranormal investigator called in after sewage workers are stalked by 'zombie' in underground tunnels.
  • Officials mystified by three bodyless right feet, each in a sneaker, that have washed up on the shores of British Columbia over the past six months.
  • Man says he's found long-lost civil war gold, but the state won't let him dig.
  • Newly-found documents related to JFK assassination expected to be grist for conspiracy theorists.
  • China: From basket case to superpower in 30 years.
  • How Attila the Hun, aka 'The Scourge of God', ground the whole of Europe to dust. If you're into historical fiction, try William Napier's Attila trilogy (books one, two & three) at Amazon UK.
  • We were stardust, we were golden: Memories of Australian rock festivals past.
  • The Wiki History of the Universe in 200 Words or Less. Why am I suddenly humming the melody to We Didn't Start the Fire?
  • How imperfect symmetry shaped the universe we know.

Thanks, Rick.

Quote of the Day:

...We shall not try to make these people [the lower and middle classes] or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets, or men of letters. We shall not search for the embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple... we will organize children... and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

Rockefeller's General Education Board, Occasional Letter Number One, 1906, regarding public education in the US.

Weekend Roundup 17-02-2008

A few things to keep you busy over the weekend...


More Teleporting Discussion

In our news briefs recently you no doubt saw the story about movie makers and scientists coming together to discuss teleportation. Now Scientific American has joined in the fun, with their own Q&A about what's possible and what's not involving quantum physicist H. Jeff Kimble of the California Institute of Technology. Perhaps the best summary though is given by the ever-dependable Alan Boyle on his Cosmic Log, in a recent post titled "When Science Meets Fiction". Alan goes further than just the recent MIT meet-up, pointing out this historical episode:

The real-world physics behind the possibility of wormholes has been entangled with science fiction for decades. The concept was fleshed out by Caltech physicist Kip Thorne when Carl Sagan asked him to come up with a plausible way to get his heroine back and forth through space-time in the novel "Contact." To Thorne's surprise, he found that there was nothing in physics that absolutely ruled out the existence of wormholes, as long as you could get your hands on a huge amount of negative energy.

Good fun reads - and nice and speculative, just the way we like it here at TDG. Just as long as we don't overdo the need to consult science on everything...because sometimes it's just plain stupid.

News Briefs 15-02-2008

Following on from Rick's effort earlier this week, I managed to delete 4 hours worth of TDG updates this morning. Kind of deflates you for the rest of the day...

Quote of the Day:

Experience is the name every one gives to their mistakes.

Oscar Wilde

Fortean Times #233

The new issue of Fortean Times (#233) is now available. In the latest release:

  • Lost in Space: What really happened to Russia's missing cosmonauts?
  • The Word Made Flesh: Exploring the dark side of bookbinding - books bound in human skin.
  • Sex and the Séance Room: An interview with Kittie Klaw, burlesque performer and one-time parapsychology student, about the connection between séances and striptease, and the pitfalls of paranormal research.
  • Rock's greatest lightshow: Could Neolithic petroglyphs have been depictions of an unprecedented super-auroral event?
  • Ghost hunting at Bodelwyddan Castle: Searching for spectres in the spooky surroundings of a neo-Gothic Welsh manor

As always, bound to be a good read, and check the FT website for some of their free content from the archives.

New Dawn: Prophecies and Predictions

The friendly folks at New Dawn sent me a complimentary issue of New Dawn Special Issue #4: Prophecies and Predictions this week. I haven't had time to take a good look at it yet (currently finishing off four separate books, to be released by Daily Grail Publishing soon, as well as two separate articles on the modern skeptical movement!), but thought those interested in the 2012 meme - and prophecies in general - would like to hear about it.

You can find out more details about the special issue (including a list of articles, and purchasing details) at its official website: contributors include John Major Jenkins, Filip Coppens and Jose Arguelles. Those with an eye for detail will also notice the wonderful graphic design of our good friend Mark James Foster, whose work also graces our publications Sub Rosa and Darklore.

News Briefs 14-02-2008

It’s Valentine’s, so here’s a nice box full of delicious candies for your mind. At least this way you won’t be complaining about your waist line next spring!

Gracias Rick & Greg

Quote of the day:

“The intensity of a Passion is measured by the Solitude that precedes it.”

Xavier Velasco,

from his novel ‘Guardian Devil’

Dawkins to Target Creationism

The Bookseller is reporting that publisher Free Press has bought the U.S. rights to Richard Dawkins’ next book, "for a reported $3.5m" and UK rights have gone to Transworld for a "substantial sum" (I think I'm converting to atheism before writing my next book...). The new book from Dawkins is said to explore creationism and the evidence for evolution:

The as-yet-untitled volume will be published in 2009, a year that will feature a double anniversary for Charles Darwin—the 200th anniversary of his birth in February, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species in November.

Gaminara said: "He is arguably the science writer most closely associated with Darwin and in my view it would be strange not to have a book by Richard Dawkins in this anniversary year.

"He feels that never in his lifetime has there been such a belief in creationism, in the US and also creeping into the school curriculum in this country, and as the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, he feels it is his duty to write a book that sets the record straight on the evidence for evolution."

Should be another good read from Mr Dawkins, who certainly isn't shy of expressing his opinion...