Metro Madness: Getting Rational During Ramadan

Metro Madness: Getting Rational During RamadanThis year’s Ramadan has been a surprisingly trouble-free affair, given the increasingly high profile of religious paramilitary urban guerrilla types in the country. I’ve been expecting to have my Prohibition era teacup dashed from my lips as I enjoy a little holy water in some of the city’s less salubrious establishments, but thankfully nothing has transpired.

Mystery and Evidence

Mystery and EvidenceThere is a story about Bertrand Russell giving a public lecture somewhere or other, defending his atheism. A furious woman stood up at the end of the lecture and asked: “And Lord Russell, what will you say when you stand in front of the throne of God on judgment day?” Russell replied: “I will say: ‘I’m terribly sorry, but you didn’t give us enough evidence.’ ”

This is a very natural way for atheists to react to religious claims: to ask for evidence, and reject these claims in the absence of it. Many of the several hundred comments that followed two earlier Stone posts “Philosophy and Faith” and “On Dawkins’s Atheism: A Response,” both by Gary Gutting, took this stance.

Psychedelic Drugs Show Promise as Antidepressants

Psychedelic Drugs Show Promise as AntidepressantsKetamine—a powerful anesthetic for humans and animals that lists hallucinations among its side effects and therefore is often abused under the name Special K—delivers rapid relief to chronically depressed patients, and researchers may now have discovered why. In fact, the latest evidence reinforces the idea that the psychedelic drug could be the first new drug in decades to lift the fog of depression.

Mass Extinction Threat: Earth on Verge of Huge Reset Button?

Mass Extinction Threat: Earth on Verge of Huge Reset Button?Mass extinctions have served as huge reset buttons that dramatically changed the diversity of species found in oceans all over the world, according to a comprehensive study of fossil records. The findings suggest humans will live in a very different future if they drive animals to extinction, because the loss of each species can alter entire ecosystems.

Some scientists have speculated that effects of humans - from hunting to climate change - are fueling another great mass extinction. A few go so far as to say we are entering a new geologic epoch, leaving the 10,000-year-old Holocene Epoch behind and entering the Anthropocene Epoch, marked by major changes to global temperatures and ocean chemistry, increased sediment erosion, and changes in biology that range from altered flowering times to shifts in migration patterns of birds and mammals and potential die-offs of tiny organisms that support the entire marine food chain.

World's First Feast: Beef, Turtles and a Dead Shaman

WorldAnthropologists have unearthed the leftovers of the world's first known organized feast, which took place around 12,000 years ago at a burial site in Israel, according to a new study.

Based on the findings, approximately 35 guests ate meat from 71 tortoises and at least three wild cattle while attending this first known human-orchestrated event involving food.

The discovery additionally provides the earliest known compelling evidence for a shaman burial, the apparent reason for the feasting. A shaman is an individual who performs rituals and engages in other practices for healing or divination.