How Cats Domesticated Us….

July 7, 2009

This post doesn’t conform to the blog’s normal fare but, as a felin-o-phile (if that’s a word), I couldn’t resist.

New York Times science writer Nicholas Wade writes (in TierneyLab) of a study on the origin of domestic cats in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

All the other species, in the authors’ view, were bred by people for their desired qualities. Cats, being without utility, were not. Instead, they domesticated themselves and chose their own mates without human interference.

It all came about, the researchers concede, because of wild cats’ powers of observation. They had the wits to notice that the first human settlements were full of uncleared garbage strewn about by their slovenly inhabitants and so were overrun with rats, mice and sparrows.

I knew my cats were in control of my life but it’s nice to have a scientific study to back that claim up

As to the “no utility” claim, my cats keep me amused, help relieve stress, keep away rodents and redecorate the sides of my sofa.

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A Step in the Right Direction

July 3, 2009

I usually find Tibetan Buddhism to be filled with mystic woo-woo (like the idea of directed reincarnation — i.e. some kid ends up being proclaimed a new lama)

However, it’s encouraging to read reports like this one in the New York Times about a college physics class for Tibetan Buddhist monks.

And while I’m not sure he practices what he’s preaching, the Dalai Lama said, of the program:

Yet the Tibetan spiritual leader views science and Buddhism as complementary “investigative approaches with the same greater goal, of seeking the truth,” he wrote in “The Universe in a Single Atom,” his book on “how science and spirituality can serve our world.” He stresses that science is especially important for monastics who study the nature of the mind and the relationship between mind and brain.

While it’s encouraging to see a major world religious leader promote a scientific worldview, I can’t help but wonder how he can scientifically explain his belief that the soul or energy of a previous lama inhabited him as an infant. How does one test such a thing?  However, I agree the study of meditations potential benefits to  brain functions is a valuable mixture of science and Buddhism.