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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Field Notes

Tibetan Monks and Nuns Study Western Science
Initial resistance from some senior monks and fears of diluting traditional studies in monasteries have gradually eased. Now the Dalai Lama hopes that, with help from Emory University and other programs, science will become part of a new curriculum, with science textbooks in Tibetan and specialist translators, leading to a generation of monastic leaders that are scientifically literate. (Amy Yee, The New York Times)

Why Teach Science to Monks—or Learn Tibetan Buddhism?
Arri Eisen: If you’re like many of my administrators and colleagues, you might be asking, “What?! Beyond the coolness factor, what in the world is the point of teaching science to a bunch of monks halfway around the world?” Can you say ‘globalization,’ ‘religion,’ ‘science and technology’? (Religion Dispatches)

Meditation Improves Self-Image of Those Who Suffer From Anxiety
In a study headed by psychology researcher Philippe Goldin, participants with social anxiety disorder underwent mindfulness-based stress reduction—a form of meditation that helped them direct their attention to the sensations of simple things like breathing, lying down, or just walking around. After the two-month meditation training, participants were less anxious and thought of themselves more positively. (Casey Lindberg, Stanford Report)

Discussing Science & Religion at the Archbishop of Canterbury's Home
What happens when there is an attempt at a very different kind of conversation which is not around the extremes of belief and nonbelief but largely amongst thoughtful believers, many of whom might be scientists? That was the proposition behind Lambeth Palace's gathering of scientists, philosophers, and theologians yesterday morning. (Madeleine Bunting, guardian.co.uk)

Caveman Logic

A professor at the University of Guelph, Hank Davis has spent the past 20 years paying attention to the use of such seemingly benign phrases: "It was a sign," "Thank God," and even "Good luck." To him, such phrases reflect a "caveman logic" that helped our ancestors survive the Pleistocene Age, but which is keeping our species from realizing its true potential. While we are well past the primitive age, he argues, we still happily shroud ourselves in superstition, magic, and blind faith rather than burn the extra mental calories it takes to think critically and reach rational conclusions. (Mary Vallis, National Post)