DR.DAVID CHRISTIAN,  SCIENTIFIC MODESTY & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

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DR.DAVID CHRISTIAN,  SCIENTIFIC MODESTY & SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

Can we bring the study of evolution to schools? Can children be taught that we are one big evolutionary entity? Can we instill the spirit of enquiry and keep young minds away from mischief?

A meeting in the midst of books was in order as I had the privilege to get some of Dr.David Christians’ time and views.

In this blog, I’ve been on ajourney, exploring how human beings got the gift of language. Consciousness has played a major role in human beings acquiring the gift of language. But by and large, we do not understand consciousness, yet.

Somewhere, since the beginning of time, 13.7 billion years ago, to the cognitive revolution roughly 70000 years ago, we got both consciousness and language- we don’t know the order.This is nothing short of a miracle- and our ability to communicate with each other has saved our species- and may save humanity itself in future.

The clue to ending the violence and unrest in the world, may just lie in a greater appreciation of where we have come from. Young minds in schools all over the world, can be instilled with the spirit of enquiry. A mind once opened by possibilities, is more likely to see all of humanity as one great evolutionary entity. There is nothing so dangerous as uninspired young minds- they set out to mischief & violence.

Dr. David Christian shared that most of our understanding of the world today is owed to scientific modesty- our scientists admit what they do not know- and keep looking for answers. Reproducing here a part of our discussions.

Would there be big history if there was no consciousness?

Neuroscientists around the world have been looking at consciousness, and have been advancing evidence-based theories about it- there’s a lot of good work being done. Consciousness is one of the three big questions we are grappling with today.

Consciousness is a complex arrangement within the brain- and it’s only fair that from time to time, we talk about collective consciousness, as opposed to individual consciousness.

Is consciousness fundamental?

Referencing the now famous discussion between Nagasena and Milinda, a lot of our answers may lie in the theory of emergence. The property of a system is said to be emergent if it is in some sense more than the “sum” of the properties of the systems’ parts. An emergent property is said to be dependent on some more basic properties (and their relationships and configuration), so that it can have no separate existence.

The Homo sapiens drove the most resilient species to extinction, the Homo erectus. What role did our consciousness play in that?

We certainly know that language played a role. But unless we have hardcore scientific evidence, any discussion on consciousness would only make for interesting theory. What science needs is evidence- not theory. For eg; there is scientific evidence that energy congeals to form matter- the very basis of big history; but none yet to show that energy could congeal to form consciousness.

Would you rather the earth was hit by another asteroid and wiped out Homo sapiens? Or will it be violence?

65 mn years ago, that’s how the dinosaurs bid adieu; thanks to an asteroid. Our history, at least over the last 200 years has seen a lot of violence. It is encouraging that; there is evidence that violence is declining around the world. However, to keep violence at bay, we need to inspire our young minds with the spirit of inquiry- there is nothing so dangerous as unemployed youth.

Finally, Dr Christian had a question for me-  if you never talked to one other human being in your whole life, would you be the same person?

No. Even though our experience of the world is uniquely ours, it is influenced by the collective; because consciousness is a social phenomenon and there is such a thing as a shared experiences and collective consciousness. In any group situation, revolutions around the world and

Two recent interviews of Dr. David Christian attached.

May 22, The Edge.org: “We Need a Modern Origin Story: A Big History”, electronic publication & video interview, The Edge.Org, http://edge.org/conversation/david_christian-we-need-a-modern-origin-story-a-big-history

May 23, the Australian Financial Review: “Lunch with the AFR: David Christian, Bill Gates and their Big Adventure”, http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/food-and-wine/lunch-with-the-afr-david-christian-bill-gates-and-their-big-history-adventure-20150522-13c9da.

About Dr.David Christian.

Dr. Christian is credited with coining the term Big History and he serves as president of the International Big History Association. His course entitled Big History caught the attention of philanthropist Bill Gates who is personally funding Christian’s efforts to develop a program to bring the course to high school students worldwide.

5 arguments: The X factor in entrepreneurship is courage

Reproducing here my column from your story.com

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Entrepreneurs rarely bear grudges. Not for them, the expensive pursuits of the ego. Often, investors are dismissive of very raw ideas, and they don’t mince words. Entrepreneurs’ ideas get rejected  all the time — but it goes down only so far. The same investor is more than welcome to see logic in the business in 12 months’ time, and offer series A funding. The entrepreneur is only too happy to let bygones be bygones, forgive wholeheartedly and absorb the funding.

The ability to forgive anyone and everyone is the first argument that the X-factor in entrepreneurship is courage. Only the truly courageous can forgive and move on!

We all know we make our world more significant by the courage of our questions. Courage is the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.

Let’s look at four more arguments.  (Please note that some of it is deliberately exaggerated for a hearty laugh.)

Argument 2: Perseverance

Entrepreneurs often forget which pocket they placed their visiting card in! (There are normally two suits, the college convocation suit and the wedding suit). Rummaging and fumbling, they mutter breathlessly about a project that has currently immersed them in its vice-like grip. It is a moment’s work for them to have rattled off 100 words in 30 seconds that make sense to them and them alone. Scan a networking dinner, and you will spot startups a mile away — because they don’t care how much food they spill, on themselves, or on the floor, as long as they get to meet ‘that VC guy’ whose wallet shines with possibility. And this goes on, dinner after dinner, rejection after rejection. There is no diminishing the enthusiasm of the startup that has a business idea to sell!  From an unrefined amoeba of an idea, to a full-blown revenue model, the startup stumbles in and out of half-meetings and networking dinners till he secures his first angel investment.

Argument 3: Danger is real, but fear is a choice.

The home rent is not paid. The better half is hopping mad and does not understand your passion. You have no idea where you will be in three months’ time. Better still, unless asked, these questions don’t even arise in your mind.

Somewhere inside, you know that, sooner or later, your work will do the talking. This belief is all-consuming and everything else can wait. The degree of self-belief, by itself, is often the defining factor in the varying levels of success between any two entrepreneurs.

Argument 4: Adaptability

Customer interfaces bring out the best in entrepreneurs. If a situation calls for it, they can instantly profess to have an interest in classical music – give them 24 hours, and before the next meeting, they have read up about Pdt. Bhimsen Joshi and Lalgudi Jayaraman, both! Interest areas can be newts, astrophilia or even Karl Marx! So long as the discussion can be put off till the next Google search (answer nature’s call if need be), love for unknown things can be professed to advance a conversation.

Argument 5: Venturing

All an entrepreneur needs to be told is: “Why don’t you go and meet this guy? He can really help you.” The dinner plate is down, and quicker than Edward Cullen in ‘Twilight’ saga, the entrepreneur will be out of the room,  looking up the  six degrees of separation between him and “the man who can help” on LinkedIn.

The best part is the awkwardness of wanting people’s time and attention without really knowing them or needing an introduction, does not cross the mind at all. Venturing wherever needed, taking charge and not worrying about upsetting people comes with the startup welcome kit. All in a day’s work.

Summing up

On a serious note, courage evolved through time when our ancestors wanted to overcome the climatic challenges to live. Courage evolved when there was something they wanted to call their own, and had the gumption to fight to claim it and preserve it. Courage evolved when human consciousness allowed for slightly more complex thought.

Forgiveness, perseverance, belief, adaptability and venturing are five manifestations of courage itself. Interestingly, courage is what we look for, even in leaders, in our spouses, our partners and our friends. Courage, by virtue of what it means, is closely related to “massive determined action.” This is the X-factor of all entrepreneurship.

Heres the link.
http://yourstory.com/2015/05/x-factor-in-entrepreneurship/