Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

Denyse O'Leary


Why Humans Can’t “Share the Spotlight” With Tool-Using Animals

As the Ivy League war on human exceptionalism motors on, researchers’ thinking sometimes shorts out — and they don’t even notice

At Sapiens, Oxford archaeologist Michael Haslam and Harvard archaeologist Abigail Desmond offer a fascinating look at the way animals use tools. It’s marred by a mental “short circuit” (I am not sure of a better way to describe it) about human beings. They are not happy with human exceptionalism at all. For example, they write, “Archaeologists have long considered tool use to be an evolutionary milestone that distinguished our lineage from other animals. Humans were considered the technological species.” Indeed, their purpose in writing is to show us that it’s not so. Before we turn to their argument, let’s look at their claim about archaeologists’ views. If archaeologists indeed think that humans are “distinguished” from other animals, they have made Read More ›

Businessman keeping the growth in economy

Is There a Solution to Low Quality Research in Science?

Molecular biologist Henry Miller and statistician Stanley Young explain why statistical techniques like meta-analysis won’t solve the basic problem
It doesn’t sound as though any solution that doesn’t tackle the basic honesty problem is likely to work. Meanwhile, the public should not be blamed for doubt. Read More ›
journalist, reporter, dedicated storytellers of world, news and information, era of rapid media evolution, well-informed, microphone TV television press communication role online.

Why Mainstream Media Can No Longer Really Fight Censorship

Whether they realize it or not, by accepting funds in order to survive, the MSM will gradually become agencies of government

TV personalities — ones you might not have expected — have begun to notice the way mainstream media now drop the ball on news coverage. The usually apolitical TV psychologist Dr. Phil, for example, was recently holding forth to podcaster Joe Rogan on their inability to report honestly on many sensitive political subjects. Medical doctor Drew Pinsky, who has offered relationship advice in a number of media venues, is saying similar things. News about every cultural flashpoint now seems to be managed in the way that facts about COVID-19 were at the height of the pandemic scare. Why fight censorship if you can just censor yourself? An inevitable outcome of the strategic lack of curiosity among journalists is a marked Read More ›

A man puts wooden blocks with the words Fact and fake. Concept of news and false information. Yellow press.

So Who Are Today’s Disinformation Police?

Social scientists are striving to develop ways to blunt the force of information that governments would rather the public did not know or heed
The disinformation experts claim to be defending democracy — and yet their principal weapon is indoctrination. Read More ›
The archaeologist is digging

Prehistoric Children with Down Syndrome Were Valued, Burials Show

The six found so far from one culture, identified by DNA evidence, did not live long but they were buried with grave goods
Today, when children with Down syndrome can grow up, they can display remarkable abilities, as the story of the Edmonton Oilers’ Joey Moss shows. Read More ›
Consciousness, metaphysics or artificial intelligence concept. Waves go through human head. 3D rendered illustration.

Philosopher: Non-Materialism Is Fashionable Orthodoxy Now

Non-reductionism, which means that the mind is not simply reducible to the brain, is now well accepted, she argues
Giuseppina D’oro’s essay introduces two 20th-century idealist philosophers — Oakeshott and Collingwood — and their critique of psychology as a science. Read More ›
Money making machine printing fake counterfeit dollar bills. Generative AI.

If Information Is Wealth, Are Deepfakes a Form of Counterfeiting?

The current tech media overdose on panic over deepfakes. They could be drowning out practical ways of fighting back
To whatever extent digital information is a form of wealth, its digital producers must always fight counterfeiters — just as currency issuers must do. Read More ›
Locked padlock on network cables connected to white Wi-Fi wireless router on a desk. Prohibit and restrict access to the internet, limit internet connection and internet censorship concepts.

When Censorship Parades Itself as a Science…

A House Subcommittee discovered that the National Science Foundation — which is supposed to support science and engineering — is readying censorship tools
The bee in the bonnets of the researchers who received the funding for the internet censorship program is that Americans can’t tell fact from fiction. Read More ›
A young woman holding the hand of an old woman in a hospital bed, black and white

Palliative Care Doctor: What Dying Feels Like

Although a dying person tends to spend more and more time asleep or unconscious, there may be a surge of brain activity just before death
Fifty years ago slick commentators expected to explode myths about the soul or the hereafter but today, NDEs and terminal lucidity are serious research topics. Read More ›
Endless reflections of mirrors in labyrinth house

Hall of Mirrors: The Many Ways Consciousness Baffles Researchers

Does consciousness have a seat at the table? Wait a minute. Isn’t consciousness the table? Or is it?
The human brain was bound to disappoint a pop culture quest for easy answers; brain imaging has not turned out to be a road map of the mind. Read More ›
Anonymous call

Book Banning Today: Silently … Not Like in the Old Days

Traditional anti-book banning groups are simply not where the action is and maybe don’t want to be

Last week we looked at the way censorship in the age of the internet is typically invisible. It’s not the police raiding bookstores; it’s — for example — sudden downranking of posts so that information that might have reached millions of people reaches only dozens. Constantly suppressed, it can’t go viral. We can see the change more clearly if we look at the difference between how books (and other information) used to get banned and how they get banned today. Book banning before the internet When the word “book bans” is used today, it usually means something different from what it meant even a few decades ago. Ulysses, a groundbreaking work by Irish novelist James Joyce (1882–1941) was indeed banned Read More ›

Refreshing summer cocktails with a slice of lime. Alcoholic drink. Garnished with a sprig of mint, citrus and ice cubes. In the bar.

Are the New Atheists Losing Their “Cool” Quotient?

And taking Darwinism with them? A look at what’s happened in the last two decades would seem to suggest that
The Four Horsemen of the atheist apocalypse no longer ride at full gallop and a close observer has noted that their cause has devolved to social justice issues. Read More ›
Tropical green leaves on dark background, nature summer forest plant concept

Yes, Plants Do Communicate — But Is It a One-Way Street?

Are we straining the meaning of the term “communication” by overinterpreting what we observe?
The study of plant communication may have useful applications but perhaps comparisons with animal communication should be made cautiously. Read More ›
Censorship on freedom of speech. Restriction of public opinion, right to protest and activism. Undemocratic practices and governments.

How Censorship Has Changed and Why That Matters So Much

The way censorship works now, you don’t even know about it. So it is much more difficult to protest.
Today’s censorship depends in part on the fact that failing mainstream media don’t want to know. Stories are increasingly broken by independent writers. Read More ›
Hemispheres of the brain front view

Could Human Consciousness Be a Recent Historical Development?

Julian Jaynes’s bicameral mind theory, popular in the 1970s, stated that until about 3000 years ago, humans were not really conscious
Julian Jaynes, a researcher at Princeton, developed his theory after he was not able to demonstrate the evolution of consciousness via animal studies. Read More ›
petroglyphs. cave drawings

Thinking Back to the Very Beginnings of Art

It just appears, from great antiquity, and we really don’t know why. All we know is that animals don’t do it
The problem is, so much is lost that it is risky to draw conclusions. But what’s remarkable is how humans have expressed themselves with whatever was available. Read More ›
A DNA testing kit. Generative AI

Why Is 23andMe — the Hot Gene Testing Startup — Now Worthless?

Birthed in Silicon Valley among high-tech go-getters, it should still be steaming along, right? But traditional bedrock business realities cursed it at its birth

Embattled genetic testing outfit 23andMe had a customer base of 14 million for its home DNA testing kits. Thus, many of us know at least someone who has discovered a partial Mongolian, West African, or even Neanderthal ancestry via the famous “spit kit.” The 2006 startup, birthed in Silicon Valley and riffing off the Human Genome Project (2000), had a dazzling “the future is now!” launch. The founder, Anne Wojcicki (pronounced as if “Wojisky”), was the daughter of “Godmother of Silicon Valley” Esther Wojcicki and sister of YouTube’s former CEO, Susan Wojcicki. For a time, she was married to Google co-founder Sergei Brin and had plenty of billionaire backers. Thus 23andMe raised $1.4 billion in funding. So why has the Read More ›

Flame of Evolution: Unveiling the Neanderthal's Discovery of Fire - A Surprising and Transformative Moment for Homo Sapiens, Marking an Astonishing Breakthrough in Ancient Culture.

Asked at Psychology Today: Were Neanderthals Religious?

We can’t poll long-dead Neanderthals on life, death, and the hereafter but the evidence we’ve dug up suggests they were thinking about that kind of thing
We must mentally step outside nature to consider things like how the world was created or what lies beyond death. Immaterial minds can do that. Read More ›
Profile portrait of a child looking up at a robot with curiosity on a dark background - not based on a real person, Generative AI

When a Brilliant Man Has a Very Confused Perspective …

Astrophysicist Avi Loeb simply doesn’t seem to see that human beings are more valuable than advanced machines
Those who think that Harvard’s best and brightest should rule over us might want to invest some time to discover how some of them really think. Read More ›
goats on the roof

Researchers: Goats Can Read Basic Human Emotions

The research team hopes to improve care of livestock by establishing what they do and don’t feel about the way they are treated
It’s no surprise if a wide range of animals understand human contentedness vs. anger. Those are precisely the elements of the mind that we and goats share. Read More ›