Popular Culture

Pushing Back Against Tech Tyranny

By Susan B. Martinez, Ph.D.

Technology always has consequences, remarked Kirkpatrick Sale in Rebels Against the Future (1995, pp. 200, 273) where he takes on the everywhereness of technology; it’s the “the water we swim in.” Tracking the trends since Sale’s 1995 “Luddite” manifesto, we find pushbackers of all stripes coming out of the woodwork: e-burnouts, recovering e-addicts, contrarians, retros, as well as stern critics of the digital divide. Do human beings really want to be “upgraded” by the masters of innovation? When the journalist Edward Bellamy novelized his fantasy…

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The Numbers of LOST


Not since Star Trek has a television show attracted such a devoted following as Lost. There are scores of websites based on the show itself and even websites centered on aspects of the show. There are books and magazines devoted to Lost and magazine articles on books that have appeared in Lost. The attraction of the show is a strange setting, attractive yet deep and complex characters, and dangerous situa­tions. But from the first episode, the allure is the mystery intertwined with the plot. It…

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The Lost Mind

By Philip Coppens

With an initial print run of five million copies, The Lost Symbol instantly became the biggest-selling adult hardback of all time. Most attention at the release of the book went to the Masonic themes woven into the story line, seeing this is what was likely to create the potential controversy. But there is a far more interesting and bigger story line that forms the veritable spine of the story: the fact that advances in modern science have been made that reveal deep insights into the…

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Daunting Dawkins’ Darwinism

By Bruce L. Gordon & Jonathan Wells

Notorious British biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins has made more than a little news of late in challenging any suggestion that life on earth implies the involvement of a creative designer. About him, Wikipedia, the on-line ency­clopedia has the following to say: “Dawkins came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularized the gene-centered view of evolution and introduced the term ‘meme.’ In 1982 he made a widely cited contribution to evolutionary biology with the theory, presented in his book The Extended…

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By Philip Coppens

Pick any number between 1 and 10, and you’re likely to choose 7. Seven is often seen as a very holy or esoteric num­ber, linked with the number of (traditional) planets, the number of archangels, etc. But dig a bit deeper, and one will find that all numbers, from 1 to 9 have all been well-mapped and are part of numerical religious sequences that are deemed to be “important.” In fact, counting from 1 to 9 has often been a mnemonic device to illustrate the…

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The Immortal Laws of Music

By Martin Ruggles

According to a new study, the music of Mozart and Strauss can lower blood lipid concentrations and the heart rate. A 2016 paper on the effect of different musical genres on the cardiovascular system, published in Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (German Medical Society), showed that Mozart and Strauss music amazingly lowered blood pressure and heart rate, whereas there was no discernible effect for the songs of the pop band ABBA used as the control group (https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016 /06/160620112512.htm). When the seventeenth century playwright William Congreve wrote, “Music…

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Music on a Mission


It was big news when the New York Philharmonic Orchestra recently played a four-hour concert in Pyongang, North Korea: The unusual exchange struck an emotional chord, resulting in a five-minute standing ovation that left both participants and audience members moved to tears. “We may have been instrumental in opening a door,” said Con­ductor Lorin Maazel of the cultural accord. The power of music to break down barriers isn’t news to Dean and Dudley Evenson, founders of the Billboard-charting independent music label, Soundings of the Planet,…

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The Superhero Factor


It’s a very persistent myth—this idea that somehow humans can develop super-powers. It seems to be part of the mass subconscious, and various versions of the concept pop up repeatedly in science fiction comic books, television programs, and movies. One has to be careful to differentiate this concept of the super-human, or more familiarly, the “superman” from the man-machine version, more commonly known as a cyborg, which myth has an equal resiliency, especially lately (i.e., Iron Man). Typically, when such a mythology refuses to go…

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The Many Faces of ‘Skepticism’

By Michael E. Tymn

Many words have been subject to changes in meaning, embellishment, twisting, or distortion for political, promotional, or propaganda reasons. One such word is skeptic (sceptic for the British). Webster and other dictionaries focus on the “uncertainty” of knowing aspect of the word, which comes from the Latin scepticus and the Greek skeptikos, meaning “thoughtful” or “inquiring.” One can easily infer from the similar definitions of the word that anyone who is not absolutely certain about the truth or falsity, existence or nonexistence, of something is…

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The Lunar Illusions of Stanley Kubrick

By Steven Sora

It was supposed to be “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as astronaut Neil Armstrong reached the surface of the moon. Instead, as some would have us believe, it may have been a massive fraud on the American public and the world as two men actually, it is alleged, were hopping around in a Nevada desert pretending to be on the moon. And the “small step,” some conspiracy theorists will tell you, was actually an amateurish Stanley Kubrick production—in contrast to…

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