How We Make Moral Decisions

Imagine you are hiding from enemy soldiers in a basement, with several other people — friends, family, neighbours. You can hear the soldiers walking overhead, and any sound will alert them to your presence, leading to everyone’s death. In your arms is your infant child, who is about to cry. Do you hold your hand over his mouth, smothering him but saving everyone you are with, or do you let him cry, knowing that doing so will result in the death of not only the baby, but everyone in the basement?

Dilemmas like this, beloved of philosophers and psychologists who work on moral decision-making, may be far-fetched, but they illustrate important discrepancies between our immediate reactions and logical reasoning that we often find difficult, if not impossible, to resolve. While ethics has a long history in philosophy, recent research in psychology has brought a new perspective to issues of moral behaviour and decision-making.

One of the most intriguing models of moral judgments, the Social Intuitionist Model (SIM) proposed by Jonathan Haidt, has its roots in the philosophy of Hume. Hume observed that moral judgments were not derived from reason, but from moral sentiments. In a similar line, SIM proposes that —> Read More Here

Mass Grave With 200 Skeletons Found Under Supermarket In Central Paris

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Archaeologists have made a strange and rather gruesome discovery under a supermarket in central Paris: an ancient mass grave containing the skeletal remains of more than 200 people.

The grave came to light after theMonoprix supermarket company called on the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research to inspect the ground underneath its Boulevard Sebastopol store before moving forward with an expansion of its basement.

The store has long been known to rest on the site of a hospital that operated from the 12th through the 17th century, The Telegraph reported. So remains weren’t unexpected, though no one guessed there would be this many.

“We had expected to find a few human remains as we knew it was a former hospital cemetery, but nothing like as many as we have found,” institute spokesman Solène Bonleu told The Guardian. “We’ve come across hospital cemeteries before, notably in Marseilles and Troyes, but it’s the first discovery of its kind in Paris.”

The institute said the grave encompassed at least eight separate sections, seven of which contain between five and 20 bodies each. The eighth section has more than 150 skeletons, laid to rest in an organized manner —> Read More Here

World Wildlife Day: How 9 National Geographic Explorers Are Making a Difference

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Established as a way to celebrate and raise awareness for the conservation of wild flora and fauna, World Wildlife Day also serves as a reminder of the impacts of various wildlife crime. To mark the occasion, we took a look at the ways our explorers are working to conserve, protect, and explore the wildlife around them.

1. Lisa Dabek is a conservationist and NG grantee who works to protect one of the cutest animals in Papua New Guinea—the endangered Matschie’s tree kangaroo.

“The opportunity to work collaboratively with the local communities to make sure the tree kangaroos are protected and do not go extinct, while making sure there is support for these remote communities, is incredibly gratifying,” she says.

2. Shivani Bhalla, a conservation biologist and 2014 NG Emerging Explorer, is working to safeguard the rapidly declining lion population in Kenya. Ewaso Lions, the organization she founded, uses scientific research and community outreach to promote coexistence between people and lions who share habitats. Thanks to her efforts, the lion population in Kenya has grown to its highest number in 12 years.

“My passion for wildlife developed at a very young age during school —> Read More Here

You Can Manufacture What You Desire

Peter Diamandis recently spoke with The WorldPost about his new book, “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World.” He is also founder of the XPRIZE Foundation and co-founder of Singularity University, Planetary Resources and Human Longevity Inc.

WorldPost: What differentiates this digital era of what you call “exponential transformation” from the earlier industrial era of “linear” change? Why is change so much more accelerated and expansive?

Diamandis: Industrial production was basically a one-for-one proposition. If you wanted to double your output, you doubled the number of factory workers or the amount of machines.

In the digital age, the marginal cost of replicating data is near zero and the marginal cost of distribution is near zero. You can produce and distribute an app, a document, or a service a million-fold or a billion-fold at almost no new incremental cost.

So today, any single individual can impact the lives of millions or billions of people without the huge costs of capital, as used to be the case.

The curve of change — which I boil down to 6 “d’s” — is exponential because culture makes progress cumulative. Innovation occurs as humans share ideas. You build on my idea; I build on yours.

We’ve —> Read More Here

March 1, 2015: Photographing a Revolution, Collecting Subway Bacteria and More

An Egyptian protester reacts as others prepare to throw stones at government forces during clashes that erupted after a pro-democracy sit-in was forcefully broken up by government troops in Cairo December 16, 2011. by Matt Moyer
An Egyptian protester reacts as others prepare to throw stones at government forces during clashes that erupted after a pro-democracy sit-in was forcefully broken up by government troops in Cairo December 16, 2011. by Matt Moyer

HOUR 1

– The United States has been mapped, graphed and generally analyzed in every way imaginable. But on deep in Alaska’s interior, the exact height of several peaks in the Brooks Range remain a mystery. Glaciologist Matt Nolan hopes to estimate rates of glacier change in the range, so to establish a baselline measurement, ski mountaineers Kit Deslauriers and Andy Bardon carried a GPS sensor to the summit of two peaks in the range. Nolan hasn’t revealed the findings just yet, but Deslauriers and Bardon were less secretive about their ski adventure through the “No Fall Zone.”

– New York City subways: smelly, crowded but integral to the city’s ability to move over 4 million people everyday. They’re also covered in microbes. Cornell University biophysicist Chris Mason enlisted an army of willing students to swab the city’s subway stations and gained some interesting perspective on the city’s microbiome: 48% of the DNA isn’t associated with any known bacteria; only —> Read More Here

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