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Paul Grobstein's blog

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Education: Between Two Cultures

An interesting conversation has broken out, at several different places on Serendip and beyond, among (so far) two scientists, three humanists, and several college students of whom at least one has yet to declare an identity. Among the things that make it interesting, to me at least, is that it isn't actually about the two cultures per se (see also Two Cultures or One?), but rather about experiences teaching and learning in different contexts - with the intriguing suggestion that humanists might have something to learn in this regard from scientists and vice versa.

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Conflicts of interests and science

"Researchers Fail to Reveal Full Drug Pay" (NYTimes, 8 June 2008) touches on enough hot button issues that a deeper problem may get lost in the arguments about the specifics of the particular case at hand. Is bipolor disorder over diagnosed and over medicated in children? Perhaps. Have Harvard scientists violated federal policies and/or university policies designed to prevent confict of interest from impacting research findings? Perhaps. Does Iowa Senator Grasslie have some hidden agenda in publicizing this matter as he has? Perhaps.

What's important to keep in mind, though, as these and related issues are argued about is that this particular case is not at all a special one

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Put a Little Science in Your Life, Extended

Brian Greene in the June 1, 2008 NYTimes makes some very important points about science education. Those in turn have some important implications for thinking about science and how scientists present it to the world, some of which Greene makes explicit and others of which warrant some amplification.

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Serendip. open-ended public conversation, blogging?

Serendip as Facilitator of Open-ended Public Conversation
and its relevance for
Thinking About Blogging, Literature, and Human Well-Being

Paul Grobstein
Prepared for discussion in Emerging Genres, 24 April 2005

Aspirations, successes, challenges (1994-2005), and update

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Irreducibility without dualism: chaos or indeterminacy?

Interesting discussion in the emergence group this past week, based on a presentation/paper by Mikio Agaki to be continued next week.  Here's my my read of what Mikio is about, why it matters to all of us, where I am currently worried he may get into trouble, and what the implications are for the future.

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Unintended consequences, unconceived alternatives, and ... life (among other things)

Recent conversations in the emergence working group on "unintended consequences" have reminded me of a book on the problem of "unconceived alternatives", and those in turn relate in interesting ways to issues in philosophy of science, in neurobiology, in human social organization, and, of course, in life in general. Let me see if I can explain.

Unintended Consequences
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The mind-body problem: in theory, in life, in politics

The Murky Politics of Mind Body, in today's New York Times Magazine, intersects in interesting ways with a conversation this week in our senior seminar course in neural and behavioral sciences. The Times article poses the question

"How much of a difference should it make to health care - and health insurance - if a condition is physical or mental?"

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Exploring depression: drugs, psychotherapy, stories, conflicts, a conscious/unconscious dissociation?

For a variety of reasons, I've been thinking a lot about depression recently, not only about peoples' experiences with it (including my own) but also about how to make sense of it from a neurobiological perspective. A variety of conversations, including a recent one in a senior seminar course in neural and behavioral science, has significantly added to my thoughts, helped to crystallize some of them, and suggested some intriguing directions for further exploration.

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From complexity to emergence and beyond ...

My most current extended writing on complexity, emergence, and beyond ... into a "hybrid" world involving both chance and intention. Recently published in the interdiscipinary journal Soundings (Volume 90, Issue 1/2, pp 301-323, 2007). Available as a Word file.

And assigned as a reading in a recent course. Which in turn triggered an essay by a student in that course, Alexandra Funk, making an interesting link to Mary Catherine Bateson's 1989 book Composing a Life. An excerpt from Alexandra's essay ...

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Emergence: Biological, Literary, and ....

Evolution and Literature:
Notes on Change and Order

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