Dispute On The Templeton Foundation (incl. Michael Shermer) - Sir Harold Kroto @ The Science Network
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Uploaded on Apr 9, 2009
http://www.facebook.com/ScienceReason ...Dispute On The John Templeton Foundation [including Michael Shermer (Skeptic Magazine), Jonathan Haidt (University of Virginia), Sean Carroll (California Institute of Technology)] - Sir Harold Kroto @ The Science Network - Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0
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Sir Harold KROTO, Chairman of the Board of the Vega Science Trust, a UK educational charity that produces science programs for television, in 1996 shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley for the discovery of a new form of carbon, the C60 Buckminsterfullerene. He has received the Royal Society's prestigious Michael Faraday Award, given annually to a scientist who has done the most to further public communication of science, engineering or technology in the United Kingdom.
The John TEMPLETON Foundation was established in 1987 by the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton; the current president is his son John M. Templeton, Jr. It is usually referred to simply as the Templeton Foundation.
The mission of the Templeton Foundation is to serve as a philanthropic catalyst for discovery in areas engaging life's biggest questions. These questions range from explorations into the laws of nature and the universe to questions on the nature of love, gratitude, forgiveness, and creativity. Our vision is derived from Sir John Templeton's commitment to rigorous scientific research and related scholarship. The Foundation's motto "How little we know, how eager to learn" exemplifies our support for open-minded inquiry and our hope for advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries.
It funds work in the natural and human sciences, in philosophy and theology, in research into free-market solutions to poverty, and in support of gifted education.
According to the Foundation, it gives away about $60 million a year in research grants and programs.
Grants are made in core funding areas that align with the Foundation's mission statement and charter. Typically, grants are approved in a process that incorporates scientific peer review. The Foundation funds numerous high-level scientific research projects, usually by means of international competitions to which research teams from large universities apply. Grants are subject to standard peer review and approved by an international jury. For example, with the cooperation of the University of Cambridge, 18 grants were awarded for research on the origin and evolution of life and anthropology. Other projects included 30 grants for research in the area of physics and 14 grants in the area of cosmology.
In 2008, the Foundation received the National Humanities Medal from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As you watch the conversation in Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0, it might help to know about one of the sources that was helpful to me in formulating the agenda, assembling the cast of characters, and setting the tone for the meeting. I quoted this passage from Humanity: A Moral History of the Twentieth Century by Jonathan Glover (who directs the Centre of Medical Law and Ethics at King's College, London):
"Now we tend to see the Enlightenment view of human psychology as thin and mechanical, and Enlightenment hopes of social progress through the spread of humanitarianism and the scientific outlook as naïve...One of this book's aims is to replace the thin, mechanical psychology of the Enlightenment with something more complex, something closer to reality...another aim of the book is to defend the Enlightenment hope of a world that is more peaceful and humane, the hope that by understanding more about ourselves we can do something to create a world with less misery. I have qualified optimism that this hope is well founded..."
I say Amen to that. If Enlightenment 1.0 took a thin and mechanical view of human nature and psychology, I think Enlightenment 2.0 can offer a much 'thicker' and cognitively richer account - less naïve and also, perhaps, less hubristic. If there's one thing we've learned - particularly from cognitive neuroscience - it is that we need to have some strategic humility about the hobby horses we are inclined to ride.
Director, The Science Network
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