How academic freedom strengthens the bonds of accumulated knowledge

As humans, we teach each other. But do we take for granted our freedom to do so?

  • Humans are unique in that we learn socially and actively teach each other lessons of survival.
  • Freedom of expression allows accumulated knowledge, that which is passed down through generations and across cultures, to flourish within and benefit society.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Could Earth have a 'shadow' biosphere?

Some scientists think there may be a hidden, second form of life living right under our noses.

Shutterstock
  • All life on Earth shares some basic characteristics, such as being carbon-based; using DNA, RNA, and proteins to function; and so on.
  • Many of these characteristics are simply the only ones that could work in Earth's environment, but there are also a surprising number of seemingly arbitrary features of life.
  • Under the shadow biosphere theory, some scientists argue that alternative forms of life exist right here on Earth, undetected simply because we don't know to look for them.
Keep reading Show less

Truth vs Reality: How we evolved to survive, not to see what’s really there

Take the circumstances in your life seriously, but not literally. Here's why.

  • Galileo was quite controversial, in part, because he argued that Earth moved around the sun, despite people's senses deluding them that the world was static.
  • Evolution may have primed us to see the world in terms of payoffs rather than absolute reality — this has actually helped us survive. Those who win payoffs are more likely to pass on their genes, which encode these strategies to get to the "next level" of life.
  • It's important to listen to people's objections because they may bring something to your attention outside your ken. Learn from them to make your ideas sharper.
Keep reading Show less

Is self-actualization a biological need?

We think of self-actualization as a lofty goal, but research suggests it may just be another way of obeying our biological programming.

Shutterstock
  • Maslow's hierarchy of needs sets self-actualization apart from many of the "baser" needs, like needing food or belonging.
  • However, research in evolutionary psychology suggests that self-actualization may not be so different after all.
  • Instead, it may simply be another way of attaining status, ensuring that the self-actualized individual can acquire a mate and care for offspring.
Keep reading Show less

Did we evolve to see reality as it exists? No, says cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman.

Cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman hypothesizes we evolved to experience a collective delusion — not objective reality.

Image: Rendering of "St. John the Baptist" by Leonardo Da Vinci, 1516.
  • Donald Hoffman theorizes experiencing reality is disadvantageous to evolutionary fitness.
  • His hypothesis calls for ditching the objectivity of matter and space-time and replacing them with a mathematical theory of consciousness.
  • If correct, it could help us progress such intractable questions as the mind-body problem and the conflict between general relativity and quantum mechanics.
Keep reading Show less