This week something incredible happened. A space was created that I have never experienced before. A place where over the course of one day the conversation and practice spanned the worlds of physics, meditation, neuroscience, identity-based violence, structural racism and collective liberation.
The Mind & Life Institute is doing something truly groundbreaking and pushing all the boundaries and having all the hard conversations. With the help of amazingly heartfelt and courageous facilitators, mentors and a community that was willing to go-in, the portal opened and we went in. I think for many of us we experienced a dis-orientation, even those of us familiar with this kind of emotional unpacking. The layers and complexity hit new levels even for me. But something kept us rooted, kept us swimming, helped us emerge with a new sense of self, community and commitment.
Often, we return home from these sorts of spaces with a heavy heart of drudgery but instead I return with a new practice, a new opportunity to put myself to work in more resilient and mindful ways. I'm still finding where I fit in this community. How to share, amplify and be nourished and seen. But there is a new place of clarity within me. Not a clarity of all knowing, or insight necessarily. But a steady place from which to start again. Every day is a starting again, sometimes every moment. Now I have a place to go when I ask, where do i even begin.
Thank you Mind and Life! Next year lets do it again and more art, more joy, more ancestral wisdomkeepers and more people from non-traditional science spaces. Looking forward to what we will all build together in the coming years.
Shape or Be Shaped
2018 for me is all about reclaiming narratives. “Shape or be shaped” says Octavia Butler in her afro-futurism novel, Parable of the Sower. As it is with our narratives of cultural difference, diversity, identity, society, science and the intersections between; either we choose to shape them or they will shape us.
I recently gave a talk on using science as a tool for liberation and was asked to further define liberation. In that moment I realized, simply, liberation is the power to choose. To choose our stories and be witnessed for doing so. However, in order to realize this power we need tools. In my work and training I’ve come to find mindfulness and contemplative practices to be paramount to finding the power to choose, bear witness and shape narratives.
My on going research is on how to develop technologies that facilitate these feelings of liberation. When I was a graduate student studying electrical engineering I began to wonder about the purpose of technology. How not just the end product was helping society but also how the process of developing it helped our personal growth as scientists. These questions lead me to the world of mindfulness and I began to study at the Boulder Shambhala Center and collaborate with folks at Naropa University. As I began to crack myself open and investigate the universe from within I realized the similarities between mindfulness and the scientific method. Both are tools of exploration used for understanding and navigating. One deals with the external world and the other the internal. However, by using both we have the capability of transforming the way we engage with ourselves, others and the environment.
My journey of understanding myself in relationship to the external world has drawn me further into social justice and community organizing. Permaculture, a regenerative design paradigm, was my portal into using systems thinking with collective organizing around food justice. Now I’m ready to bring my work full circle; combining science, equity, sustainability and mindfulness.
Resources for open-source and alternative science ventures
Open access to 1,329,580 e-prints in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Quantitative Biology, Quantitative Finance, Statistics, Electrical Engineering and Systems Science, and Economics
A pirating service for academic journal articles could bring down the whole establishment
But regardless of where Harvard researchers have published their work since then, it’s likely that all of it is currently available for free on Sci-Hub, a rogue pirating service for academic research. According to a new study, Sci-Hub contains 68.9% of all academic research. More to the point: 85.2% of all papers originally published behind paywalls are available on the website for free. And even if a given article isn’t already available in Sci-Hub’s repository, the site can quickly fetch it using donated credentials for services like JSTOR, Elsevier, and Sage.
Ourmedian is building a collective space for individuals, libraries and organisations to share public content to be discovered by others.
Zapatistas Reimagine Science as Tool of Resistance
by Sophie Duncan
“With all of the damage that the capitalists have done to the people through their misuse of science, scientifically can you create a science that is truly human in order to avoid falling into a science that is inhuman, and if it is possible create a truly human science, who can create it?....Science that ignores these questions is not apolitical; it is oppressive"
Oppression in Science
Examples of why science is not immune to systems of oppression
Dear Academics: A Lot (All) of This Is TerribleChanda Prescod-WeinsteinFollow
Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein: fighting scientists with science
my thoughts: Science folk worried about the new impending doom on academia and scientific inquiry -- Welcome👏🏾To👏🏾the👏🏾show.
People of color been dealing with this and been surviving so why not listen up and support us folks who tryin to shake it up. I ain't see non of y'all ever sharing my posts. Follow my 4Love+Science page to why don't ya! It's about to get next level.
HOW RACISM WARPS SCIENTIFIC TRUTHS by Abaki Beck
"When we talk of science today, we often discuss peer-reviewed research conducted by university professors or scientists at huge national agencies. There is an assumption that scientific truths are not only strongly supported by evidence, but also largely unbiased, nonpartisan, and universal. As with all aspects of Western society, however, science is deeply tainted with the legacies of colonialism and racism. Despite its contributions, Western science has viciously exploited marginalized communities through forced experimentation and worked to discredit non-Western scientific thought. Its truth comes with an asterisk."
To Decolonise Maths, Stand up to Its False History and Bad Philosophy
BY CHANDRA KANT RAJU ON 26/10/2016
"A false history of science was used to initiate colonial education, in support of colonialism. This false history persists. In a recent article about decolonising mathematics, for instance, Professor Karen Brodie asserts that “Much, though certainly not all, of mathematics was created by dead white men”.This is not true."
Diversity in Science: Why It Is Essential for Excellence
Science and technology are society's main engines of prosperity. Who gets to drive them?
By Fred Guterl on October 1, 2014
"For diversity to be effective, the working environment must be right. For an individual, it takes conscious effort to be on the watch for unconscious biases and to overcome them. For an organization, it takes processes, procedures and an ethos of acceptance. Victoria Plaut points out, beginning on page 52, that groups who abandon color-blind policies and embrace the differences among their members in ways that do not stereotype or pigeonhole tend to be successful in taking advantage of what diversity has to offer.
Scientists pride themselves on their objectivity, but personal experience and point of view have a lot to do with what questions get asked in the first place and how researchers go about answering them. The people in science and engineering are driving the world's most vital engine of prosperity and new ideas. Who are they?"
From the March for Science to an Abolitionist Science
Britt Rusert is Assistant Professor in the W. E. B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at UMass Amherst. She is the author of Fugitive Science: Empiricism and Freedom in Early African American Culture (NYU Press, 2017).
"Just as prison abolitionists demand a world without prisons while valuing the forms of thought, writing, and activism produced by prisoners themselves, an abolitionist science might attend to how science, medicine and technology contribute to structures of inequality and systemic violence while using the tools of science to inspire new forms of political imagination and transformation."
Science Must Clean Up Its Act
Our community still struggles with diversity, equity and inclusion issues, including systemic bias, harassment, discrimination and more
By Heather Metcalf on May 22, 2017
"If there’s one thing the scientific community values most, it’s objectivity. Objectivity amounts to a scientist’s ability to conduct work that is not skewed by personal, political, financial, emotional, social, and/or other biases or opinions. Often, scientists try so hard to become objective that they come to believe that they have no biases.
However, all people, even scientists, have biases. Disregarding our biases or believing that we have none, only means that we are more likely to act on them. "
Women miss out on authorship opportunities early onBy Maggie Kuo
"The looming question is why there’s a publication gap that goes opposite to what one might expect based on the hours worked. Lack of confidence among female students, which is commonly cited as a factor contributing to the underrepresentation of women in science, did not appear to play a role for the female students at the 53 institutions involved in the study. The source may lie in the lab dynamics, Feldon suggests: The interactions in the labs among graduate students and between faculty members and graduate students may favor men to get better yields for their time spent."
Women ask fewer questions than men at conference talks, new studies suggest
By Maggie KuoOct. 23, 2017 , 12:15 PM
“We have this assumption that, ‘Oh, if we can just get the number of men and women in a room to be the same, then magically all behavioral differences will disappear,’” says study author Emily Glassberg, a biology graduate student at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California. “But this just speaks to the fact that there's something more complex going on.”
Scientists Think They're More Rational Than Other People
Researchers may have an overconfident view of their profession's objectivity
By Simon Makin on May 1, 2017
"Veldkamp hopes that awareness of the findings may help scientists acknowledge their biases and fallibility. Scientists' overconfidence in their profession's intellectual rigor could, for instance, make them more resistant to efforts to improve the reproducibility of research. "
The Age of the Algorithm"Computer algorithms now shape our world in profound and mostly invisible ways. They predict if we’ll be valuable customers and whether we’re likely to repay a loan. They filter what we see on social media, sort through resumes, and evaluate job performance. They inform prison sentences and monitor our health. Most of these algorithms have been created with good intentions. The goal is to replace subjective judgments with objective measurements. But it doesn’t always work out like that."
"Narratives" in science communication [revised] [revised again] [three times]
On the Science of Sex and Gender
Creating this space to accumulate resource on the science of sex and gender. Feel free to add in the comments
"Sex is supposed to be simple—at least at the molecular level. The biological explanations that appear in textbooks amount to X + X = and X + Y = . Venus or Mars, pink or blue. As science looks more closely, however, it becomes increasingly clear that a pair of chromosomes do not always suffice to distinguish girl/boy—either from the standpoint of sex (biological traits) or of gender (social identity)....
To varying extents, many of us are biological hybrids on a male-female continuum. Researchers have found XY cells in a 94-year-old woman, and surgeons discovered a womb in a 70-year-old man, a father of four. New evidence suggests that the brain consists of a “mosaic” of cell types, some more yin, others further along the yang scale."
"Decolonizing Gender: A Curriculum Published on Jan 19, 2017
a free zine created by Malcolm Shanks and khari jackson for our "decolonizing gender: a curriculum" workshop. we created this zine so that anyone who's interested can have the tools and resources they need to facilitate their own workshop on decolonizing gender whenever and wherever they wanted to! yay for accessible knowledge for all! there are also excerpts from khari's free comic book "my gender is My Gender". full free pdf as well as information on how to purchase copies and/or donate can be found at jkharij.com/mgmg"
"On April 22, 2005, Harvard University's Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative (MBB) held a defining debate on the public discussion that began on January 16th with the public comments by Lawrence Summers, president of Harvard, on sex differences between men and women and how they may relate to the careers of women in science. The debate at MBB, "The Gender of Gender and Science" was "on the research on mind, brain, and behavior that may be relevant to gender disparities in the sciences, including the studies of bias, discrimination and innate and acquired difference between the sexes"."
Written Sept 2016 for teaching appointment at Naropa University:
My pedagogy is based on reconciling the analytical and intuitive aspects of the mind. In my traditional engineering education, the focus was primarily on analytical skill-building where intuitive knowing was written off as luck or laughed about. I believe, however, that intuitive skills can be just as finely tuned as the analytical and are equally as important for discernment and problem-solving. When I speak of intuitive I don’t necessarily mean metaphysical insight or power. For me the intuitive mind is more akin to the subconscious, emotional and sensory aspects of ourselves. As I believe many scholars at Naropa University will agree these spaces within ourselves are capable of processing incredible amounts of information and teaching us tremendous things about ourselves and our external world.
Another tenant of my pedagogy is based on the idea that there are no absolutes. That even ‘facts’ and ‘data’ can be fallible when certain assumptions about our agreed upon systems are challenged. I often say “The relative over the absolute…but not absolutely”. This speaks to the idea that we should learn to think in a system of relationships rather than building empires of conclusions on foundations that crumble when there is a once in a lifetime flood in the desert.
These philosophies are directly related to why I have such in interest in teaching this class. Since graduate school I have been challenging the status quo of the scientific paradigm. I quit my job as an engineer in 2014 after participating in a somatic ensemble process lead by a friend completing her MFA thesis at Naropa. After learning about how powerful the contemplative process could be I set out to determine how it could be used as a tool to reclaim the scientific method as a truly holistic method of inquiry and self-fulfillment. Through the past 2 years of development I have studied and taught on subjects relating to permaculture, earth patterns and complex systems, biomimicry, mindfulness, community building, afro-futurism and quantum physics.
A huge theme that has emerged out of my research has been the development of tools and techniques that inspire earth stewardship and community relationship building. From placemaking to story-telling; new and old social technologies are being put to work in order to heal and engage with our trauma-inflicted ecologies, communities and personal spaces. A significant portion of the class would be dedicated to exploring and experimenting with different social technologies that build enthusiasm and collective power.
Much of the wisdom I would draw for such a course would come from texts on Gaia theory, including those of James Lovelock and another that touches on a more modern connection to molecular biology. Also we would use Thomas Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions, parts of Darwin’s Origin of the Species along with other science philosophy supplements. Furthermore, being a woman of African descent I have studied a number of afro-centric and other indigenous cosmologies and futurism texts that I would excerpt from as well.
Overall the course would be a deconstruction and analysis of scientific paradigms and a co-creation of models and tools that are more appropriate for our urgent ecological and social shifts that we are experiencing today. I want to help inspire and empower dynamic critical thinkers that aren’t afraid to abandon their previously loved and cherish perspectives and embrace the radical possibility that paradoxical truths can in fact be held as valid in the same space. I’m also prepared to challenge my own assumptions and enter into this collaborative space with the new generation of solutionaries. Life and the universe is an ever evolving, shifting, growing, retreating, dismantling, exploding, emerging, amazing organism and it would be a true gift to explore these processes with eager and open minds.
Memory and Information
"When Memory is full
Put on the perfect Lid"
Memories are like portals to the past. Calling up, accessing, and conjuring thoughts, informations and sensations from the past (or maybe from the future too?#dejavu).
I'm interested in exploring technologies that assist with memory and tools for improving my own cognitive memory.
It just so happened that I came across this book at the Boulder Book Store
I'm also experimenting with herbs and memory enhancing techniques like apps. Ginkgo is the herb that I'm most familiar with.
Guest Lecture at CU Boulder
I was invited to give a guest lecture at the University of Colorado Boulder about The New Science. The class was an electrical engineering freshman seminar where they get a taste of the possibilities of what engineering careers could look like. Even as an electrical engineering alumni of CU Boulder, I have a feeling my talk may have been a little different from what other folks are doing. Regardless, there were quite a number of students that came up to me afterwards to say the talk really resonated with them. They also were concerned about how science and engineering can be reconciled with living a fulfilling and socially conscious life.
The core of my talk about was about reclaiming science as a tool for finding personal fulfilment and developing tools for a better world.
Uncertainty and magic
The uncertainty principle (Heisenberg's) tells us that we have to let of once certainty in order to find another
Perhaps we must learn to be dynamic with the dissolving of what we think we know in order to find more information in new realms
From Hyperphysics "The position and momentum of a particle cannot be simultaneously measured with arbitrarily high precision. There is a minimum for the product of the uncertainties of these two measurements. There is likewise a minimum for the product of the uncertainties of the energy and time."
Hbar is the minimum product of the uncertainties.
Kendra is the founder of 4Love+Science and works as a Science and Community Consultant