Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Milt Rosenberg interviews Mario Beauregard and Francis Collins

Thursday,, my lead author Mario Beauregard will be on
9:05pm Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg: Does science reveal the existence of God? Are science and God mutually exclusive? Tonight, we will attempt to answer these questions, as we welcome to the studio Mario Beauregard, author of the book The Spiritual Brain: How Neuroscience is Revealing the Existence of God, and Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project and author of the book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. Both guests are leading scientists and have written rivetting new books discussing how science may actually prove the existence of God.

A friend writes to say,
Milt Rosenberg is one of the best and most objective interviewers in the U.S., and his program is not only on a 50,000-watt clear channel AM station, but also regularly has listeners in Australia via the Internet.

Mario wrote me earlier today to say,
I am ready for this radio interview (it's a very good thing that Mr. Rosenberg is an objective interviewer).

Well, so we'll see. I will link to a podcast if available. Francis Collins is, of course, the famous genome mapper, and author of The Language of God.

Here's the link to the podcast.

P.S.: To the person who wrote to ask me if Mario is married. Yes, he IS married. And his wife Johanne is an enchanting person. I only had the happiness to meet her once, in Ottawa. Yes it was cold. Yes she was warm. Yes, she agrees with Mario on the thesis of The Spiritual Brain. Update: I should have mentioned, come to think of it, that Johanne isa neuroscientist in her own right, in clinical work rather than research.

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How memory works: Not like we thought?

Were we wrong all along about how memory works?
Apparently so, according to a recent New Scientist article:
It was originally assumed that the number of memories was proportional to the number of neurons in a network. Given that even 1 cubic centimetre of the brain's cortex contains about 50 million neurons, it seemed that the brain could indeed store masses of information. However, this model relied on the notion that each neuron is connected to every other neuron, whereas a neuron is actually connected to between 5000 and 10,000 others.

But that's not true, it's not even close, according to new research by Yasser Roudi and Peter Latham at University College, London .

Even with 10 000 connections per neuron, the neurons could only store 100 memories, irrespective of how many neurons constitute the network. But that means the brain must use multiple networks to store memories. The problem is, it would then need to store words in many different places. Latham concludes that we don't know how the brain does it. Hmmmm.


Canada: A spiritual history wanted?

A fellow Canadian blogger, Jane Harris, is quite taken with The Spiritual Brain, and kindly writes that the book,
is making all sorts of new connections in my brain.

I found her blog most interesting, particularly where she says,
Over the past forty years, most analysis of history and public policy discussions have taken a materialist approach. History books talk about acts, events, and results, not dreams, grand visions and the emotions of historical figures. Their religion is either scoffed at or ignored.

Yes, she's right. I was a history textbook editor, off and on, and I found that to be true. As a result, the history of a country that is a very large portion of the geography of our planet (hint: it's spelled CANADA) is virtually unknown, including to most of the people who would be better off if they knew it. Many of these people are not Canadians, but people who interact regularly with Canada. Not knowing the spiritual dimension can be painful.

Hey, here are a few people to know about, NOT average, but they give you some idea: Thanadelthur, Kateri Tekakwitha, Jean de Brebeuf, Athol Murray, and Terry Fox. Why? Because their names occurred to me just now. I have read about them. Written about them. Lived with their legacy. Ut incepit fidelis sic permanet. (= I'll write about them if I live long enough.)

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Altruism files: Entrepreneur doctor honours promise despite dotcom disaster

As the Stanford press release explains,
Neurosurgeon and entrepreneur James Doty, MD, was feeling generous when he agreed in 2000 to give a multimillion-dollar gift of stock to Stanford University School of Medicine, but he didn’t realize at the time that he would end up giving away his entire personal fortune.

But when he lost it all in the dotcom meltdown, he insisted on honouring his promise of, like, real money, even though it hurt.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that he endowed both a neurosurgery chair in spinal-cord repair and a project sponsored by the Dalai Lama on the neurological basis behind compassion and altruism. The Chronicle also reports him saying "I'm happy to give it. I'm thankful. It's actually been a wonderful experience and has made me a better person."

Who would doubt it? Trying to help others is never a "paper" loss or profit.

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Podcast: Is the mind just an illusion?

Well, as the Jewish Zen says, if there is no self, whose arthritis is this? A clever writer friend has recently riposted - the arthritis belongs to the one hand clapping.

Anyway, here's me on why the mind is not an illusion. For more, read The Spiritual Brain.

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