Showing posts from October, 2012

Magic and Truth: A myth

In my latest Story Time episode (see video below), I tell a little fantasy about the nature of magic and its relationship to the more subtle notions of truth that have been lost to our modern Western culture. As in other Story Time videos of mine, the attempt here is to give a new, more modern language to rather old ideas, so we can hear and appreciate the underlying notions without the knee-jerk reaction of dismissing them outright as superstition. For emphasis, I do not put this myth forward as literal truth, but as a kind of intellectual artwork aimed at stimulating the imagination; that most crucial part of what it means to be a human being. Now, while the myth, as told in the video, keeps things rather simple, I felt the need to go a little further with the audience of this blog; an audience that certainly 'can take it.'

Let me start with a summary of the key ideas behind the myth:

Fractals are efficient and economic ways to create variety of form out of very simple princi…

Sam Harris' critique of Eben Alexander

Newsweek Magazine's cover article this week is Eben Alexander's report and analysis of his own Near-Death Experience. Alexander is a neurosurgeon and Professor at Harvard School of Medicine who underwent an unfathomable NDE while suffering from acute bacterial meningites, which reportedly shut down his neocortex. His description of his NDE is rich and nuanced, with many Christian undertones. One might wonder how seriously one can take an experience that seems to be so much coloured by cultural idiosyncrasies but, as I agued here, I do not see this as contradictory to the reality of NDEs. As a matter of fact, my intuition is that Alexander's story is authentic; it certainly matches well with my own metaphysical model of consciousness and of what should happen upon cessation of brain activity, as I elaborate on in my books and many of my articles. But well-known atheist activist Sam Harris seems to disagree, and it is his critique of Alexander's case that I want to comme…