"Most people, he realizes, tend to identify their selves with their conscious minds. That’s reasonable enough; after all, that is the self they know about. But there is so much more to cognition than that: the vast, silent cavern of underground mental machinery, with its tubes and synapses and electric impulses, so many unconscious systems and connections and tricks and deeply grooved pathways that form the pulsing substrate of the self. It is those primal mechanisms, the wiring and plumbing of cognition, that he has spent most of his career investigating. When you think about all that fundamental stuff—some ancient and shared with other mammals and distant ancestors, some idiosyncratic and new—consciousness can seem like a merely surface phenomenon, a user interface that obscures the real works below."
'Secular humanists won’t be spared a sobering intellectual reckoning with first contact. Copernicus removed Earth from the center of the universe, and Darwin yanked humans down into the muck with the rest of the animal kingdom. But even within this framework, human beings have continued to regard ourselves as nature’s pinnacle. We have continued treating “lower” creatures with great cruelty. We have marveled that existence itself was authored in such a way as to generate, from the simplest materials and axioms, beings like us. We have flattered ourselves that we are, in the words of Carl Sagan, “the universe’s way of knowing itself.” These are secular ways of saying we are made in the image of God.'
“Have you heard of the Shirky Principle? It’s that institutions exist to preserve the problem to which they have a solution,” he says. “Sending food to starving countries is this knee-jerk reaction. How much have we sent to Somalia and Ethiopia, and what dent has it really made? If some of that humanitarian aid could instead be directed towards encouraging self-sufficiency, everyone would win.”
A great summary article of the problems, both with using plastic and not using it, and available evidence; that remains balanced in opinion. Being it the ACT a lot recently, where there has been no plastic bags at supermarket checkout since 2011, has been refreshing... If only because when I walk in to the shops without a bag I put am forced to only buy what I can carry!