Read on for a recap of the meeting and video discussion.
Around 10 members met. Discussed ongoing affiliation efforts, organizational goals, and future events. Tossed around ways to communicate what secular people do around the holidays for the December intercultural reception. A history of the winter holidays was a favored idea.
The group elected to watch episode 11, “The Persistence of Memory” of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. Discussion ensued.
- Though the series is old, only a little of the biological science is out of date, and the major themes remain extremely relevant today.
- Sagan takes a unique approach to exploring memory by starting with DNA/heredity, moving into neuroscience, then to language (which he says was evolved for survival, to store what we couldn’t keep as a species in our brains/DNA) and books and computers (the internet being in its infancy at the time)
- aka — genes >> brains >> books >> computers
- and at each level he compares how many “bits” or “volumes” of information are stored (seems sort of exponential)
- He also makes an interesting comparison to brain structure and city infrastructure — how we build on top of the old pathways (what I’ve heard called elsewhere “paving the cow-paths”) … as well as forging new ones in parallel (what he compares to having cars, trains, trolleys, horses, etc. all running side-by-side…the obsolete just sticks around unless it’s molded into something new)
- “It takes a great deal of information to make, or even categorize, a living organism.”
- “[Organisms] are packed with information. Every one of them has a rich, behavioral repertoire to ensure its survival.”
- [after making whale sounds] “We’re interested in communication with extraterrestrial intelligence — wouldn’t it be better to improve communication with terrestrial intelligence?”
- “The DNA knows.”
- “The brain has evolved from the inside out.”
- “Civilization is a product of the cerebral cortex.”
- “We never see the machinery of logical analysis, only the conclusions.”
- “No longer at the mercy of the reptile brains, we can change ourselves. Think of the possibilities.”
- “The units of biological communication are genes; the units of cultural communication are ideas.”