Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies



Technoprogressive? BioConservative? Huh?
Quick overview of biopolitical points of view



UPCOMING EVENTS: FreeThought

Transhumanism and the Church
September 24-26
Samford University, Birmingham, AL USA




MULTIMEDIA: FreeThought Topics

Did the Evolution of the Brain… Evolve Our Morality?

The Need for Cognitive Privacy

Open Education, Open Educational Resources and MOOCs

1950s “Housewife” Tries LSD

Should We Have Control Over Our Consciousness?

The Brain is our last frontier and consciousness is expanding

Psychedelic Spirituality

The 19-Year-Old Luminary Building A Cheaper, Better Prosthetic Limb

Humanities and the Science of Learning: Revealing the essence of human thought (1hr)

Review the Future: What is Technoprogressivism?

The small and surprisingly dangerous detail the police track about you

Is Ferguson like Mockingjay?

Genetic Enineering and Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis

The Most Controversial Decision in History

Review The Future: What is the Future of Education?




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FreeThought Topics




Media and Critical Reporting of Traditional Medicine Claims in Africa

by Leo Igwe

African traditional medicine is widely perceived as a form of voodoo medicine, as a survival of some stone age pre-modern illiterate formation that still functions and fulfills medical purposes for Africans. This is, at least, how many anthropologists have viewed the subject. They have argued that African traditional medicine is unlike ‘western medicine’, and then go on to establish how witchcraft and magic is embedded in this ‘unique’ medical practice. African medicine men and women are portrayed as witch doctors - as if the traditional-medical profession is about treating and curing witchcraft.

Full Story...



Atheism in Zambia - skeptical, rational thought in a very superstitious country

by Leo Igwe

Like other countries in Africa, Zambia is a very religious nation and has the dubious of distinction of being officially declared a Christian nation by President Federick Chiluba in 1996. One need not look far to see where Chiluba got the political will to establish this Christian nation. Eighty seven percent of the population is Christian and only twelve percent profess other faiths. The number of non-believers is too low to measure. Apparently, Zambia is 100 percent religious and theistic.

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African Development: Is Kicking Out Christianity and Islam the Answer?

by Leo Igwe

I state right away that I do not think “Kicking Christianity and Islam out of Africa” is the Answer. Why do I believe this will not lead to development in Africa?

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Ritual Killing and Skepticism in Zambia

by Leo Igwe

Zambia has just recorded its ‘first case’ of albino killing. Suspected ritualists butchered a 37 year old albino woman in the eastern district of Lundazi. They cut off her right hand and extracted the teeth from her mouth. In Zambia, ritual murder is on the rise.

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The Case for Circumcision

by Tsvi Bisk

Over the past several years the Jewish custom of male circumcision, in which the foreskin of the penis is removed, has been increasingly compared to female circumcision, in which the clitoris and sometimes the labia are removed, and condemned as genital mutilation. This comparison demonstrates an abysmal ignorance of anatomy. The clitoris is analogous to the penis and the labia to the scrotum which are certainly not removed in male circumcision. The foreskin is comparable to the clitoral hood which is sometimes removed surgically in women in order to enhance sexual pleasure.

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Albino Killings, Witchcraft, And Political Elections In Tanzania

by Leo Igwe

If you are one of those who think there is no connection between politics and the savage practice of albino killing in Tanzania, then you need to read the recent statement from the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Pereira Silima. Silima made it clear to politicians in the country that if they stopped patronizing the ‘witch doctors’ then this East African country might see an end to the shameful and horrific murders of albinos.

The people in Tanzania need to discard the belief that drives them to attack kidnap and kill people living with albinism.

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Can Transhumanism Overcome a Widespread Deathist Culture?

by Zoltan Istvan

The rapidly growing field of transhumanism—an international social movement whose highest immediate priority is overcoming human death via science and technology—is facing a colossal challenge. About 85 percent of the world’s population believes in life after death, and much of that population is perfectly okay with dying because it gives them an afterlife with their perceived deity or deities—something transhumanists often refer to as “deathist” culture.

In fact, four billion people on Earth—mostly Muslims and Christians—see the overcoming of death through science as potentially blasphemous, a sin involving humans striving to be godlike. Some holy texts say blasphemy is unforgivable and will end in eternal punishment.

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Hindu Fundamentalism - is it going down the way of Islam?

by piero scaruffi

One of the most important books ever published on Hinduism, Wendy Doniger’s 683-page “The Hindus - An Alternative History” (2010), still cannot be found in India.

The ultra-nationalist political agitator Dinanath Batra sued its publisher and the publisher withdrew the book from the Indian market. The lawsuit was based on a law (Hate Law Speech Section #295A, enacted in 1927 by the British under pressure from the Muslim community) that de facto allows courts to punish religious blasphemy.

Full Story...



From Children of ‘Witches’ to ‘Child Witches’ in Ghana

by Leo Igwe

Children are among those who populate the witch camps in the Northern Ghana. These children are not at the sanctuary because they were accused of witchcraft. They are at these shelters because their mothers or grand mothers were accused. But from my observations, many of these children end up suffering as a result the label of witchcraft applied to their mothers or grand mothers. The belief in child witches exist among the Dagomba and other ethnic communities in the Northern region. But it takes a different dimension.

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Does the Biblical God Exist? - I Think We Can Do Better

by Valerie Tarico

On May 20 I participated in a four person debate about the existence of God at Western Washington University. On the ‘yes’ side were Mike Raschko and Mark Markuly  from the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. On the ‘no’ side were Bob Seidensticker and me. Here are my remarks:

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BiZoHa (in Uganda): the World’s First Atheist Orphanage

by Hank Pellissier

Is every orphanage in the world operated by a religious organization?

Nope. Not any more.

BiZoHa Orphanage was launched by four members of the Brighter Brains Institute - a think-and-do tank located in San Francisco’s East Bay. BiZoHa is situated in Muhokya, in Kasese province, near the Rwenzori mountains of western Uganda, close to the Congo border.

BiZoHa is the world’s first atheist orphanage.

Full Story...



Understanding Witchcraft and Witch Sanctuaries in Northern Ghana

by Leo Igwe

Witch sanctuaries, described by local NGOs as ‘witch camps’, form part of the infrastructure of witchcraft in Northern Ghana. These sanctuaries are shrines, though one of sanctuaries in Gushiegu is not attached to any shrine. Tindana are the heads of the sanctuaries. The Dagbani term, Tindana, literally means - the one who owns the land. They are responsible for consulting the Tindang, the community spirit or god whenever there is a problem like drought or epidemic, war, plague, accusations of death or illness witchcraft, etc

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The Strange Prescience of Frank Herbert’s Dune

by Rick Searle

As William Gibson always reminds us the real role of science-fiction isn’t so much to predict the future as to astound us with the future’s possible weirdness.  It almost never happens that science-fiction writers get core or essential features of this future weirdness right, and when they do, according to Gibson, it’s almost entirely by accident. Nevertheless, someone writing about the future can sometimes, and even deliberately, play the role of Old Testament prophet, seeing some danger to which the rest of us are oblivious and guess at traps and dangers into which we later fall. (Though let’s not forget about the predictions of opportunity.)

Frank Herbert’s Dune certainly wasn’t intended to predict the future, but he was certainly trying to give us a warning.

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‘Let’s Kick Islam & Christianity out of Africa’ - interview with Nigerian activist Jd Otit

by Hank Pellissier

I am interested in “secularizing” Africa because I believe this would benefit the continent intellectually, socially, and economically. To help advance this goal I support Kasese Humanist Primary School, and I co-launched BiZoHa - the world’s first atheist orphanage.

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The Making of an Anti-Theist Mom

by Valerie Tarico

What makes a Seattle mother spend her days trying to chip away at Bible belief rather than digging holes in the garden?

When my husband sent me the Pew Report  news that the percent of Americans who call themselves Christian has dropped from 78.4 to 70.6 over the last 7 years, I responded jokingly with six words: You’re welcome. Molly Moon’s after dinner?

Not that I actually claim credit for the decline. As they say, it takes a village.

Full Story...



Africa Needs NO Religion, for Peace and Development

by Masereka Solomon

Education is important to every individual on this planet. In pre-colonial Uganda, education was mainly informal. Missionaries and colonialists introduced the formal education system, but the missionaries wanted Africans to believe in the message of Jesus.

Today, Jesus and Muhammed have almost equal shares in Africa.

As religion dies in the western countries, it is busy in Africa, along with poverty and human rights abuses.

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Reflections on the skeptic and atheist movements

by Massimo Pigliucci

Groucho Marx, one of my favorite comedians of all time, famously wrote a telegram to a Hollywood club he had joined, that said: “Please accept my resignation. I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.” I have recently considered sending such a letter to the skeptic and atheist movements (henceforth, SAM), but I couldn’t find the address.

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Uploading and Autonomy

by Thomas Damberger

Transhumanism can be read as an intellectual and cultural movement. The objective of this movement is to enhance the human condition with the use of technological means. Enhancement in the transhumanistic sense goes far beyond everything that is regarded as normal and settled. “Enhancement” is presumably not the proper expression for this context and it should be replaced with the word “increase”.

Full Story...



A Fleet of Jets: A Critical Look at the Business of African Pentecostalism

by Leo Igwe

Anybody who thinks that the wave of christianity based witch hunting and pentecostalism sweeping across Africa and migrant communities is due to some unique strand of piety and religiosity of Africans should think again. The rise of African pentecostalism has a lot to do with the 'business acumen' of the region's 'pastorpreneurs' who are exploiting the situation in the region. 



The Genetics and Neuroscience of Torture

by piero scaruffi

Every book on torture that i have browsed is mainly devoted to methods of torture and then to three topics: Ethical arguments against torture, Utilitarian arguments against torture, and History of the rejection of torture. I cannot find a neuroscientist or psychologist who thought of writing about the exact opposite: What were the ethical justifications for torture?, What were the utilitarian arguments for torture? and What is the history of the widespread adoption of torture? 



Autonomy and Anti-Vaccination Advocates

by Kyle Treman

As the measles outbreak grows, 173 cases since March 6th, most cases have been traced from the unvaccinated child in Disneyland, with additional outlier cases and it has become our latest national fascination with a bioethics issue.  



Atheism as Intellectual Snobbery?

by John G. Messerly

Just a few brief remarks about Emma Green’s recent in the Atlantic, “The False Equation of Atheism and Intellectual Sophistication.” Green says: “Theirs [atheists] is a subtle assertion: Believers aren’t educated or thoughtful enough to debunk God, and if they only knew more, rational evidence would surely offset faith.”



Marijuana for Anxiety

by John G. Messerly

A few days ago there was an interesting article in the New York Times, “The Feel-Good Gene,” by a professor of clinical psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. The author wonders why some people are predisposed to anxiety which doesn’t have obvious environmental causes, and which is thus not helped by psychotherapy.



Transpolitica Manifesto

by David Wood

Transpolitica holds that human society should embrace, wisely, thoughtfully, and compassionately, the radical transformational potential of technology. The speed and direction of technological adoption can be strongly influenced by social and psychological factors, by legislation, by subsidies, and by the provision or restriction of public funding. Political action can impact all these factors, either for better or for worse.



Hume on Suicide

by John G. Messerly

David Hume (1711-1776) was a Scottish philosopher, economist, historian and one of the most famous figures in the history of Western philosophy and the Scottish Enlightenment. Hume is often grouped with John Locke, George Berkeley, and a handful of others as a British Empiricist



Enhancing Virtues: Fairness (Pt 3)

by J. Hughes

Are there ways to directly strengthen fairness and moral cognition in the prefrontal cortex, and weaken the cognitive biases bubbling up from the amygdala? Research on the genetic correlates of moral cognition, and the effects of psychoactive drugs, and of electrical and magnetic manipulation of the brain, suggest there are ways to enhance fairness and impartiality.



Enhancing Virtues: Fairness (Pt 2)

by J. Hughes

Fairness is a liberal virtue rooted in instinctive aversion to cheating and inequality, but then filtered through prefrontal cognition.  Since the spread of Enlightenment values fairness has grown in importance as a virtue, especially for liberals with stronger prefrontal cortices and weaker amygdalas. Fairness finds less support among conservatives for whom respect for authority, ingroup loyalty and disgust/sanctity are more neurologically salient. What impact do social policy and individual practices have on the influence of fairness and cognitive biases?



Two Interpretations of the Extended Mind Hypothesis

by John Danaher

I’m trying to wrap my head around the extended mind hypothesis (EMH). I’m doing so because I’m interested in its implications for the debate about enhancement and technology. If the mind extends into the environment outside the brain/bone barrier, then we are arguably enhancing our minds all the time by developing new technologies, be they books and abacuses or smartphones and wearable tech. Consequently, we should have no serious principled objection to technologies that try to enhance directly inside the brain/bone barrier.



The Junk Science and Bad Faith Behind Colorado’s IUD Controversy

by Valerie Tarico

Opposition to IUD’s, like opposition to vaccines, is putting American families at risk—and a Colorado controversy shows that misguided faith and scientific ignorance are to blame. When a pilot program in Colorado offered teens state-of-the-art long acting contraceptives—IUD’s and implants—teen births plummeted by 40%, along with a drop in abortions. The program saved the state 42.5 million dollars in a single year, over five times what it cost. But rather than extending or expanding the program, some Colorado Republicans are trying to kill it—even if this stacks the odds against Colorado families. 



It’s Time to Destroy DRM

by Erick Vasconcelos

On January 20, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) announced the Apollo 1201 project, an effort to eradicate digital rights management (DRM) schemes from the world of Internet commerce. Led by well-known activist Cory Doctorow, the project aims to “accelerate the movement to repeal laws protecting DRM” and “kick-start a vibrant market in viable, legal alternatives to digital locks.” According to EFF, DRM technologies “threaten users’ security and privacy, distort markets, undermine innovation,” and don’t effectively protect so-called “intellectual property.”

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