David Eagleman

Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion.

David Eagleman (born April 1971) is an American neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law. He is most famous for his work on time perception, synesthesia, and neurolaw.


  • Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism, and yet we know too much to commit to a particular religion. A third position, agnosticism, is often an uninteresting stance in which a person simply questions whether his traditional religious story (say, a man with a beard on a cloud) is true or not true. But with Possibilianism I’m hoping to define a new position — one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story.
  • It turns out your conscious mind — the part you think of as you — is really the smallest part of what’s happening in your brain, and usually the last one in line to find out any information.
    • As quoted in "Stray Questions for: David Eagleman" by Blake Wilson in The New York Times (10 July 2009)
  • Many great civilisations have fallen, leaving nothing but cracked ruins and scattered genetics. Usually this results from: natural disasters, resource depletion, economic meltdown, disease, poor information flow and corruption. But we’re luckier than our predecessors because we command a technology that no one else possessed: a rapid communication network that finds its highest expression in the internet. I propose that there are six ways in which the net has vastly reduced the threat of societal collapse.
  • Censorship of ideas was a familiar spectre in the last century, with state-approved news outlets ruling the press, airwaves and copying machines in the USSR, Romania, Cuba, China, Iraq and elsewhere. In many cases, such as Lysenko’s agricultural despotism in the USSR, it directly contributed to the collapse of the nation. Historically, a more successful strategy has been to confront free speech with free speech — and the internet allows this in a natural way. It democratises the flow of information by offering access to the newspapers of the world, the photographers of every nation, the bloggers of every political stripe. Some posts are full of doctoring and dishonesty whereas others strive for independence and impartiality — but all are available to us to sift through. Given the attempts by some governments to build firewalls, it’s clear that this benefit of the net requires constant vigilance.
    • "Six ways the internet will save civilisation" in WIRED magazine (9 November 2010)

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Last modified on 20 March 2013, at 23:29