Reform Among the (People who Study) Pagans

For some time now, a debate has been rolling about the status of “pagan studies” as a field of academic research. It’s not that there’s been any doubt about the importance of studying contemporary paganisms; on the contrary, academic as well as mainstream interest in reconstructionist pagan groups as well as magical groups along the lines of Wicca and Thelema, still appears (anecdotally) on the increase. The problem has rather been with the aims and goals of pagan studies as a prospective

Cognitive Enhancement Without Drugs

Everyone would like to increase their mental performance. A new study shows a simple way to boost cognitive performance markedly without resorting to cognitive enhancing or sweating over difficult mental exercises to strengthen your grey matter. Simply
Demi Powell

What Neopagans Believe

Thou Art God/dessNeopagans believe that divinity is both immanent (internal) and transcendent (external), with immanence being far more important for people to pay attention to right now. This principle of immanence is frequently phrased as, “Thou art God” or “Thou art Goddess.” (The former phrase was taken originally from Robert Heinlein’s classic novel, Stranger in a Strange Land, and the Neopagan organization it inspired, the Church of All Worlds.) Deities can manifest at any point in space
Demi Powell

We Have Virtual Reality. What’s Next is Straight Out of ‘The Matrix’

In 1999, The Matrix introduced your neighbor, your dad, and pretty much every hacky-sacking college kid in the country to the idea that the real world around us … might not be so real.In the film, our trenchcoated protagonist Neo discovers that the world as he knows it is only an illusion, piped into his brain while his body sits submerged in a gooey chemical broth. Trippy. The idea that we are not really here at all — that life is just an illusion – is as old as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave
Demi Powell

Humanity MKII: Why The Future of Humanity will be as Purposeless as the Past

The next great stage of our evolution has begun. But what will our successes look like – and will they be that different to us?“In the 21st century,” Yuval Noah Harari writes, “the next big project of humankind will be to acquire for us the divine powers of creation and destruction, and upgrade Homo sapiens into Homo deus.” According to the bestselling Israeli historian, humankind will turn itself into God by using three new types of engineering. Bio-engineers will “take the old sapiens body
Demi Powell

Why Are So Many Scientists So Wrong About Philosophy?

There’s no doubt that Bill Nye “the Science Guy” is extremely intelligent. But it seems that, when it comes to philosophy, he’s completely in the dark. The beloved American science educator and TV personality posted a video last week where he responded to a question from a philosophy undergrad about whether philosophy is a “meaningless topic.” The video, which made the entire US philosophy community collectively choke on its morning espresso, is hard to watch, because most of Nye’s statements
Demi Powell

Reclaiming Spirituality for Lovers of Life

Does spirituality pertain exclusively to the realm of religion? Many people think so. But this is an error—and a spiritually destructive one at that.A spirit is the nonphysical part of a person, the part that subsumes his consciousness, his rational faculty, his choices, character, and emotions. Spirituality, then, is properly concerned with the corresponding aspects of human life, such as the nature of human consciousness and reason, how one uses one’s mind, the choices one makes, the
Demi Powell

The Myth of Sustainable Meat

The industrial production of animal products is nasty business. From mad cow, E. coli and salmonella to soil erosion, manure runoff and pink slime, factory farming is the epitome of a broken food system.There have been various responses to these horrors, including some recent attempts to improve the industrial system, like the announcement this week that farmers will have to seek prescriptions for sick animals instead of regularly feeding antibiotics to all stock. My personal reaction has been
Demi Powell

‘Day of the Dead’ — Tradition, Nuance, and Cultural Appropriation

Over the past couple of years, the subject of cultural appropriation has sparked a plethora of discussions in the media and online. While there are clearly instances of cultural appropriation that are incredibly damaging to marginalized peoples and cultures, the term itself has been increasingly misused.Pretty much anything can be labeled as cultural appropriation, due to the lack of historical understanding and attention paid to detail or nuance. Recently, a dizzying number of personal posts
Demi Powell

The Dawn of New Consciousness: AI, Robots and Religion

It would be hard to confuse Daniel Dennett for anyone other than a philosopher. With his voluminous white beard, imposing frame, and jolly demeanour, he cuts a distinctive figure in the sleek restaurant atop London’s National Portrait Gallery. It is a hazy, sunny day as we gaze out across the rooftops. The Union Flag hangs limply over the Houses of Parliament.As a thought experiment (so beloved of philosophers), I try to picture Dennett in a tunic and sandals orating in the Athenian agora a
Demi Powell