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FUTURE FOSSILS

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Provocative, profound discussions at the intersection of science, art, and philosophy with paleontologist-futurist Michael Garfield and new amazing guests each week. For anyone who digs the geeky, unconventional, free-ro... More
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2019-5-22

113 - Sean Esbjörn-Hargens on Exostudies: Philosophical Explorations of the UFO Phenomenon

Ep. 113

My graduate advisor Sean Esbjörn-Hargens is one of the most consistently inspiring and refreshingly different thinkers I’ve ever met. In our first Future Fossils conversation, we discussed his work to apply a profoundly “meta” and pluralistic philosophy to the everyday work of organizational development and social impact. In this discussion, we turn over the rock and examine his decades of inquiry into some of the world’s most puzzling and confounding phenomena – namely, those surrounding the UFO and its aura of science-challenging incursions into mundane reality. 


Might “Exostudies” be the locus of a transformation in how we understand reality? This is not your normal New Age conversation about aliens, but a rigorous look into the persistent weirdness and problematic implications of one of humankind’s greatest mysteries. As Phil Dick famously said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” If UFOs are here to stay – with all of their attendant provocations to our oversimple categories (self and other, artificial and natural, hallucination and perception, physical and immaterial) – then we are overdue for a new definition of “reality.” In preparation for his Exostudies online course this fall, we look at how to make sense of the stubbornly ineffable – an evolutionary call to take up higher-dimensional logic and more nuanced understandings of What Is…


http://www.exostudies.org/


“When you go into the UFO field, at least with an open heart and mind, you come across some really crazy shit. It is a freakshow. There are so many bizarre claims being made by standup citizens who are quite believable in what they are saying, even though what they’re saying just does not map onto our general view of reality.”


“The truth is stranger than science fiction. Not just fiction, but science fiction.”


“The phenomenon is subjective and objective; it’s subjective and objective simultaneously; and it’s neither. So I think what it’s asking us is to re-examine the relationship between mind and matter, and how do we relate to subject and object, and how has our current scientific methodology failed us horribly in having a more sophisticated answer or framing or understanding of how these two aspects are related.”


“There are really good, legitimate photographs, and trace evidence, and all kinds of physical evidence for UFO craft and other otherworldly realities…and yet, there are so many fakes. And how do you sift through all that? You almost can’t.”


“We’re entering into an augmented and virtual space that’s going to be ontologically fragmented, and highly pluralistic, and solipsistic. So how do we navigate that culturally? I don’t know, but I think we’re largely unprepared.”


“We’re not that far from discovering some form of mini-life elsewhere. And as soon as that happens, then the floodgates are going to open in considering the implications of that.”


“So many UFO or ET enthusiasts often want to put everything in one box, like ‘they’re all bad,’ ‘they’re all good,’ ‘they’re all future versions of ourselves.’ I think it’s much messier than that.”


“I think one of the core strategies is hermeneutic generosity. A sense of critical thinking, but from a place of generosity, where we stay open. Postmodernism has been so jaded – the hermeneutics of suspicion – I think when we approach these phenomena, we need a different orientation.”


“To really bring any kind of justice to this inquiry, we need to draw on the best thinking from as many kinds of disciplines as we can – because the phenomenon is that big, and that mysterious, and that paradoxical. So anything short of a meta, integrative approach – and even that – is going to fail.”


Mentioned:

Diana Slattery, John Mack, Avi Loeb, Ken Wilber, Jeff Kripal, Whitley Strieber, Arthur Brock, George Knapp, John C. Wright, Olaf Stapledon, Stuart Davis, Jeff Salzman, Richard Doyle, Carl Jung, Terence McKenna, William Irwin Thompson, DW Pasulka, Eric Wargo, Jacques Vallee


Sean’s appearance on the Daily Evolver Podcast:

https://www.dailyevolver.com/2019/02/taking-aliens-seriously/


If you liked this episode, check out Episodes 60 & Episode 91:

https://shows.pippa.io/futurefossils/episodes/60

https://shows.pippa.io/futurefossils/episodes/91

2019-5-22

113 - Sean Esbjörn-Hargens on Exostudies: Philosophical Explorations of the UFO Phenomenon

Ep. 113

My graduate advisor Sean Esbjörn-Hargens is one of the most consistently inspiring and refreshingly different thinkers I’ve ever met. In our first Future Fossils conversation, we discussed his work to apply a profoundly “meta” and pluralistic philosophy to the everyday work of organizational development and social impact. In this discussion, we turn over the rock and examine his decades of inquiry into some of the world’s most puzzling and confounding phenomena – namely, those surrounding the UFO and its aura of science-challenging incursions into mundane reality. 


Might “Exostudies” be the locus of a transformation in how we understand reality? This is not your normal New Age conversation about aliens, but a rigorous look into the persistent weirdness and problematic implications of one of humankind’s greatest mysteries. As Phil Dick famously said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” If UFOs are here to stay – with all of their attendant provocations to our oversimple categories (self and other, artificial and natural, hallucination and perception, physical and immaterial) – then we are overdue for a new definition of “reality.” In preparation for his Exostudies online course this fall, we look at how to make sense of the stubbornly ineffable – an evolutionary call to take up higher-dimensional logic and more nuanced understandings of What Is…


http://www.exostudies.org/


“When you go into the UFO field, at least with an open heart and mind, you come across some really crazy shit. It is a freakshow. There are so many bizarre claims being made by standup citizens who are quite believable in what they are saying, even though what they’re saying just does not map onto our general view of reality.”


“The truth is stranger than science fiction. Not just fiction, but science fiction.”


“The phenomenon is subjective and objective; it’s subjective and objective simultaneously; and it’s neither. So I think what it’s asking us is to re-examine the relationship between mind and matter, and how do we relate to subject and object, and how has our current scientific methodology failed us horribly in having a more sophisticated answer or framing or understanding of how these two aspects are related.”


“There are really good, legitimate photographs, and trace evidence, and all kinds of physical evidence for UFO craft and other otherworldly realities…and yet, there are so many fakes. And how do you sift through all that? You almost can’t.”


“We’re entering into an augmented and virtual space that’s going to be ontologically fragmented, and highly pluralistic, and solipsistic. So how do we navigate that culturally? I don’t know, but I think we’re largely unprepared.”


“We’re not that far from discovering some form of mini-life elsewhere. And as soon as that happens, then the floodgates are going to open in considering the implications of that.”


“So many UFO or ET enthusiasts often want to put everything in one box, like ‘they’re all bad,’ ‘they’re all good,’ ‘they’re all future versions of ourselves.’ I think it’s much messier than that.”


“I think one of the core strategies is hermeneutic generosity. A sense of critical thinking, but from a place of generosity, where we stay open. Postmodernism has been so jaded – the hermeneutics of suspicion – I think when we approach these phenomena, we need a different orientation.”


“To really bring any kind of justice to this inquiry, we need to draw on the best thinking from as many kinds of disciplines as we can – because the phenomenon is that big, and that mysterious, and that paradoxical. So anything short of a meta, integrative approach – and even that – is going to fail.”


Mentioned:

Diana Slattery, John Mack, Avi Loeb, Ken Wilber, Jeff Kripal, Whitley Strieber, Arthur Brock, George Knapp, John C. Wright, Olaf Stapledon, Stuart Davis, Jeff Salzman, Richard Doyle, Carl Jung, Terence McKenna, William Irwin Thompson, DW Pasulka, Eric Wargo, Jacques Vallee


Sean’s appearance on the Daily Evolver Podcast:

https://www.dailyevolver.com/2019/02/taking-aliens-seriously/


If you liked this episode, check out Episodes 60 & Episode 91:

https://shows.pippa.io/futurefossils/episodes/60

https://shows.pippa.io/futurefossils/episodes/91

2019-5-7

112 - Mitsuaki Chi on Serving the Mushroom

Ep. 112

This week’s guest is professional psilocybin retreat host, long-time practicing Buddhist, and general good guy Mitsuaki Chi of Amsterdam. In this episode we get into the practices and benefits of psychedelic community, his unusual path from hardcore meditator to mushroom trip facilitator, and how he understands his life and purpose in light of a mysterious intelligence none of us can fully comprehend…


trufflestherapy.com

tripsitters.org


“Even after so much time in meditation, I was still falling back into my patterns…”


Coming to our senses.


Going Buddhism-to-Psychedelics (instead of the usual other way around). How does meditation prepare you for tripping?


Control? Renunciation? Acceptance? Grief?


How does psychedelic healing as spiritual practice interface (if at all) with science and medical institutions?


“More circles, less stages. Which is more important, direct experiences from a hundred people or one scientist who has been studying this stuff in a laboratory?”


What are the longitudinal benefits of practice in a psychedelic community?


“I think the two things people want more than anything are purpose and community [and] I think people are realizing how poisonous social media can be.”


SUPPORT FUTURE FOSSILS on PATREON:

patreon.com/michaelgarfield

2019-4-21

111 - Android Jones on Analog + Digital, Painting the Sutras, & Being an Artist Dad

Ep. 111

Android Jones is one of the world’s hottest digital artists – even if it’s kind of a mistake to label him this way and limit his creative action to the digital. A master portraitist, designer, and explorer of new tools, Android made concept art for video games in his early years before becoming the creative consultant for the best-in-class Corel Painter software, touring the world while doing live visuals for huge musical acts, collaborating on epic dome projection shows, and ultimately pioneering the possibilities of VR with his latest project, Microdose. But arguably his most vital and illuminating evolutionary edge as an artist has been with his two children, learning to raise the next generation of curious and creative minds. This week on Future Fossils, I sit down for a three-year-overdue discussion with one of the most objectively inspiring people I can call a friend – to talk about our hopes and our concerns for Those Who Come Next, and what being a creative parent means in our Age of Transition.


https://androidjones.com

https://microdosevr.com


Join my community of patrons and receive exclusive perks (like book club membership):

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield


Join the daily discussions erupting like psychedelic flowers in our Facebook Group:

https://facebook.com/groups/futurefossils


We Discuss:


  • Electromineralism & medium as material agent lending its qualities to your identity
  • Tools as extensions of the body, and the most modern tools we have are still so ancient
  • Reimagining truths that have real legs on them, not praising absolute truths
  • Finite & Infinite Games by James P. Carse
  • Being a part of the six thousand year plus art history conversation that we have
  • Drilling down to making deeper and more universally relevant art to “provide a greater reflective surface” for viewers
  • Visionary Art, (a different take on)
  • What psychology teaches about making (real) art *for* people
  • How fatherhood changed his art and life and everything
  • Making art with kids – both digital and analog media – and how the forms differ as learning experiences
  • What VR has that other media do not, and Android’s first breakthrough moment in Microdose VR
  • When Android met Robert Venosa at Art Hardware in Boulder at age 16
  • There are too many things to learn
  • The future of visual performance is WHAT? (!!!)
  • THE ART SCHOOL
  • Going Icarus to Daedalus
  • Apprenticeship
  • The transformative potentials of VR as biofeedback
  • What scares Android Jones?
  • What comes next?
2019-4-11

110 - Erick Godsey on (Why It's Too Soon To Give Up) The Myths That Make Us

Ep. 110

Erick Godsey was almost my roommate in Austin, and even though I trust our destinies I still consider it a bummer that we didn’t. He is a nobler beast than I. He’s also the host of The Myths That Make Us, which is an excellent program for reasons that have nothing to do with my recent appearance on his show, but that’s nice too…


What Erick IS is devoted to helping people live the absolute best stories that they can, which means first figuring out why we’re living the stories we already ARE.


Notes are slim for this episode but that’s because just go listen to it right now.


Erick’s website:

https://erickgodsey.com


“A great idea reconstructs your map. It’s one of the most painful things you can go through, but it’s beautiful.”


“I was an atheist but I prayed. At night, I would pray to a thing I didn’t understand and say, thank you, because all the people who were asking for things were stupid, and I was self-righteous.”


Don’t read Gödel, Escher, Bach and then take 5 grams of mushrooms. (Psychedelic Conservatives.)


“If you tell a twenty-eight year old, ‘Your story is an illusion,’ it f-cks more people up than it helps…especially in Western culture, it’s not the right medicine at the right time.”


Our stories are not useful for as long as they used to be. Are they no longer serving us in the “infoquake” of life online? How long will our evolutionary drives and archetypes persist amidst this metamorphosis?


Spiritual Bypass. It’s all perfect. There’s a season for bullshitting yourself. Or no, you shouldn’t ever do it. Don’t resist your own psychodynamic forces.


Most adaptive story: you are not a noun; you are a verb. Least adaptive story: you are a noun; you have to endure; the world is happening to you.


What to do about being disempowered in a global landscape of tragic news, in our own personal lives, to do anything about anything?


Is it better to be good or great?


How to be good ancestors.


Can we bring our full selves to work at our “day jobs”? What does it look like when we do? (AKA, What’s it like working at Onnit?)


What are your coping mechanisms and how can you channel them to make the world a better place?

2019-3-25

109 - Bruce Damer on The Origins and Future of Life

Ep. 109

Bruce Damer is a living legend and international man of mystery – specifically, the mystery of our cosmos, to which he’s devoted his life to exploring: the origins of life, simulating artificial life in computers, deriving amazing new plans for asteroid mining, and cultivating his ability to receive scientific inspiration from “endotripping” (in which he stimulates his brain’s own release of psychoactive compounds known to increase functional connectivity between brain regions). He’s about to work with Google to adapt his origins of life research to simulated models of the increasingly exciting hot springs origin hypothesis he’s been working on with Dave Deamer of UC Santa Cruz for the last several years. And he’s been traveling around the world experimenting with thermal pools, getting extremely close to actually creating new living systems in situ as evidence of their model. Not to mention his talks with numerous national and private space agencies to take the S.H.E.P.H.E.R.D. asteroid mining scheme into space to kickstart the division and reproduction of our biosphere among/between the stars…


I find it amazing that anyone as potently psychedelic as Bruce gets the focused listening attention of audiences at NASA, Scientific American, Google, and numerous esteemed academic communities around the world. A late-career PhD who spent his early years designing software that changed the world and going on adventures with his dear friend Terence McKenna, talking to Bruce is an inspiration and reminder that the big questions really DO take the dedication of a lifetime – and that dedication DOES bear fruit.


(Appropriately to the McKenna link, there were some connectivity issues during our call that stretched out Bruce’s voice in a way very reminiscent of the Shpongle grain delay remixes of Terence’s talks. I left these in because I think they’re funny and in keeping with the good doctor’s trippy ideas, but apologies regardless.)


Bruce was the second guest of this show way back in Episode 4, but that was three years ago and his work (and my ability to discuss it with him) has developed considerably since then. Enjoy this high-level update about one of the deepest questions we have on the table, right now…the profound implications of this new model of life’s origins for everything from business and politics to the strategies for thriving through an age of worldwide turbulence and transition…


Bruce’s Website:

https://damer.com


We Discuss:


• Updates on Bruce’s efforts to recreate the conditions of the original “progenote,” a living system before the invention of cells;


• How modern life prevents a second “Genesis” from happening on the Earth;


• Why life must have started in a wet-dry cycling pond, and not in the sea or on land;


• The three properties of life: crowding/containment; networks; and information storage – or P,I,M: Probability, Interaction, Memory;


• The origin of life as a niche-construction process;


• The origin of life vs. the origin of individuality and competition – likelihood that started as integrated consortia, not free-living cells in resource conflict;


• Scaling up the progenote origin of life hypothesis to human systems and the origins of human civilization with “social protocells”;


• Does life require organic molecules, or is it primarily an informational process?


• Are memes even a real thing? (Compared to genes, we can’t point to one…)


• Working with Google to simulate the origins of life with a chemistry-modeling deep learning system;


• The increasing evolvability of (some) genomes in ever-more complex environments leading to a transition from genetic to cultural inheritance;


• How evolutionary networks can bump themselves off local fitness peaks and into novelty to prevent becoming over-adapted to tiny niches;


• Cycles of federalism and fragmentation in both nature and society;


• The possibility of a global plan to build sea walls – to make it an issue of national defense, and a better use of our time than border walls;


• What can we learn from the origins of life about the future of planetary culture and the ongoing evolution of our “progenote planet?”


SEE ALSO:


Bruce on Future Fossils Podcast Episode 4:

https://shows.pippa.io/futurefossils/episodes/5a85dca3144c44bd2557158b


Michael’s Version 1.0 Mind Map & Bibliography of research on major evolutionary transitions in self-organizing systems:

https://www.patreon.com/posts/toward-new-1-0-24798022


Evolution Evolving Conference:

https://evolutionevolving.org/

2019-3-10

108 - Nadja Oertelt on Humanizing The Stories of Science

Ep. 108

This week’s guest is Nadja Oertelt – research scientist turned film-maker and founder of Massive Science, a science communication community that cares about restoring care to the storytelling of scientific discovery. Not only is the website wonderfully both rigorous and easy on the eye, the writing takes you on a journey. Clearly she and her colleagues are doing something right by teaching scientists it’s not just okay, but vital to the meaning-making of their work, to have a story and not just solutions.


Here’s her amazing publication:

https://massivesci.com/


And an interview she did with Forbes:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/catescottcampbell/2017/04/10/the-limit-does-not-exist-nadja-oertelt-has-a-massive-take-on-science/


Super cool short film series Nadja did for HarvardX Neuroscience:

https://vimeo.com/channels/972301 


We Discuss:


How working with scientists was a revelation into the social process of knowledge production and translation.


Anna Wexler & DIY brain interfaces.

http://www.annawexler.com/


David Cox, Director MIT-IBM Watson AI Lab.

https://researcher.watson.ibm.com/researcher/view.php?person=ibm-David.D.Cox


The erasure of the subject in academic writing.


Integral psychology and the application of psychometric information to the addressing of truth claims.


How do psychedelics change the way we understand and practice science?


Alex & Allyson Grey’s Chapel of Sacred Mirrors.

https://cosm.org

https://evolution.bandcamp.com/album/technologists-of-attention-at-the-chapel-of-sacred-mirrors


The Fundamentalism-Zen Continuum in the thermodynamics of computation.


Creating a new neural ecology of science by including more kinds of people in the investigations.


“We’re approaching some sort of memento mori for reality.”


The “black box” of AI is not as big of a problem as the “black box” of why we feel the need to create these technologies in the first place.


The human reality and personal sacrifices of science and knowledge production.


The pain of becoming a storyteller for so many who have been trained as scientists.


How social media has changed the subjectivity of young researchers.


The importance of care in all of this.


Allison Parrish - artist & programmer.

https://tisch.nyu.edu/about/directory/itp/853082171


Irreversible Dictation: Gertrude Stein and the Correlations of Writing & Science - Steven Meyer

https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=750


This episode is backed by Mike Schwab of KnowYourMeme.com, a fascinating living document/community exploring memes and their effects.

2019-2-19

107 - Epiphany Jordan on Human Touch & Safe Intimacy in The Internet Age

Ep. 107

This week’s guest is Epiphany Jordan of Austin, Texas – a nurturing touch professional whose therapy sessions help triage the crisis of loneliness and touch-hunger facing billions of tech-immersed but intimacy-stranded people. In her new book, Somebody Hold Me: The Single Person’s Guide to Nurturing Human Touch, Epiphany explains how to get your basic touch needs met – consensually – outside of romantic relationship. In our conversation we talk about why this is such a widespread issue, how people are fumbling their attempts to connect with one another, and what to do about it.


Her Website:

nurturinghumantouch.com


Printed Book:

amazon.com/gp/product/1732879206?pf_rd_p=c2945051-950f-485c-b4df-15aac5223b10&pf_rd_r=VGPWK0WEF50A2TD8YA3T  


E-Book:

amazon.com/Somebody-Hold-Me-Persons-Nurturing-ebook/dp/B07MM6FFBD/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=somebody+hold+me&qid=1550610978&s=gateway&sr=8-2


Support Future Fossils on Patreon and get access to secret episodes, our sci fi book club, and more:

https://patreon.com/michaelgarfield


Join the (lively, interesting) Facebook Group:

https://facebook.com/groups/futurefossils


Subscribe on any platform you desire:

https://shows.pippa.io/futurefossils


We Discuss:


The internet has not replaced human intimacy; it has only convinced many of us that it can.


“Because our culture identifies sex with touch, if you’re not in a romantic relationship, you’re not getting your touch needs met.”


“Nonconsensual touch is like a starving person stealing a loaf of bread, or something.”


When hugging someone is their worst nightmare.


Is not wanting to be touched something that should or should not be seen through the lens of trauma-induced disorder?


The future of getting touch needs met by nonpersons: heavy blankets, hugging machines, womb simulators, intimacy robots…


Eliza Schlesinger’s Elder Millennial standup special and how women in their 30s start displacing mother impulses onto their pets.


Why don’t we extend the same rights we give people to other nonhuman beings? (e.g., nonconsensual touch of animals…)


Is professional cuddling a symptom of a tragic dehumanizing trend in the evolution of civilization?


“Paleo-cuddling”


Tips for effective, safe, consensual, non-sexual cuddling.


The tribal joy of the pseudo-anonymity of cuddle puddles.


The double-edged sword of oxytocin.


Teaching touch to teenagers.


Touch deprived, or touch illiterate? Multicultural societies and trouble navigating overlapping rules about intimacy.


“Part of what I’m trying to do is have people write another story about what it means to be human and how humans treat them. There’s so much distrust and fear of other humans, and humans can be nice to each other, and kind and gentle and look out for each other. I think it can help us be more of a global village…”

“I don’t want to be a part of the revolution unless it has to do with people being nice to each other.”