Mr. Eccles Presents | Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and the Future of the Internet


Blog post with show notes:

https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/…

Support on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll

For something of such obvious importance, money is kind of mysterious. It can, as Homer Simpson once memorably noted, be exchanged for goods and services. But who decides exactly how many goods/services a given unit of money can buy? And what maintains the social contract that we all agree to go along with it?

Technology is changing what money is and how we use it, and Neha Narula is a leader in thinking about where money is going. One much-hyped aspect is the advent of blockchain technology, which has led to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. We talk about what the blockchain really is, how it enables new kinds of currency, and from a wider perspective whether it can help restore a more individualistic, decentralized Web.

NehaNarula is the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT. She obtained her Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, and worked at Google and Digg before joining the faculty there. She is an expert on scalable databases, secure software, cryptocurrencies, and online privacy.

[Review] Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future, by Donald R. Prothero


As a skeptic, I’ve an interest in pseudoscientific claims in general, and in those of it’s evil clone from an alternate universe of anti-reality, science denialism. Why the concern? Because denial of scientific facts that gets expressed as public policy is dangerous, especially in the case of modern medicine rejection, or denial of and inaction on environmental hazards.

Reality Check goes in-depth into antiscience in general, as well as specific varieties of science-rejection.

Prothero’s book begins a discussion of antiscience, its strategies and its tactics, moving to a description of science and it’s fundamental importance in our modern world, insights into its process and thinking, and then an expose of scientists who’ve betrayed professional integrity as paid shills of those with a vested interest in attacking science on financial and political grounds.

Next are the antiscience movements involved in discrediting concern for and action on environmental hazards, anthropogenic climate change, followed by the problems, rampant here in the United States of creationism, intelligent design, and evolution denial in general, and their well-funded connection with fundamentalist religion and business interests.

Also dealt with in some detail is denial of modern medical science, as with the dangers of AIDS denial, anti-vaccination hysteria, and the rejection of evidence-based medicine through unproven and disproven ‘alternative’ treatments, themselves often quite invasive and dangerous.

It then moves to astrology, peak oil denialism and it’s promotion by scientifically naive economists, and lastly to the threat of overpopulation on a world with finite resources and rapidly increasing human demands.

Finally, there is a warning of how science denial in a world depending utterly on science and technology poses a threat to our very survival as a species — Oh, sure, the planet and its life may survive in some form, but likely without us if we favor denial over skepticism, and ideology or emotion over facts.

The Author Online: Donald Prothero

“Donald R. Prothero is a Professor of Geology at Occidental College and Lecturer in Geobiology at the California Institute of Technology. He teaches Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology. His specialties are mammalian paleontology and magnetic stratigraphy of the Cenozoic. His current research focuses on the dating of the climatic changes that occurred between 30 and 40 million years ago, using the technique of magnetic stratigraphy….” see full text at http://www.donaldprothero.com/

Donald Prothero on Wikipedia

Donald Prothero on Skepticblog

Donald Prothero’s Amazon.com page

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R. Elisabeth Cornwell – Social Networks: Civilizing the Future – TAM 2012


Dr. Cornwell puts an evolutionary perspective on social networks, with surprising insight…and equally surprising implications for instantaneous communication.

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“You are the Future of Skepticism on the Internet” – Tim Farley – TAM 2012


Here are the online tools which active skeptics can use for best effect in activism.

Follow Tim Farley, @krelnik on Twitter.