Madison Chaos and Complex Systems Seminar

2021 Discussions

At the seminar on May 5, 2015, we decided to make our long-standing summer discussions slightly more formal by having a topic, a facilitator, and a web-accessible reading or video. The reading or video should take no more than 20 minutes, and the facilitator should be prepared to give at most a 5-minute introduction to the topic and lead the ensuing discussion. All discussions are Tuesday noon on the Memorial Union Terrace (under the  big tree, or in the Lakeview Lounge in the event of cold/bad weather). Anyone interested in facilitating a topic should contact Peter Sobol.

Short List

The next meeting will be March 15, 2022.


July 6, 2021

Topic: The future of the seminars and vaccine hesitancy

Facilitator: Myrna Casebolt

Reading: None

July 13, 2021

Topic: Bitcoin: pros and cons

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: None

July 20, 2021

Topic: Moral foundations theory

Facilitator: Myrna Casebolt

Reading: Critical Thinking Concepts

July 27, 2021

Topic: Crypto currency Q and A conversation

Facilitator: Karen Holden

Reading: 'Once in a century’ bid to remake the U.S. dollar

August 3, 2021

Topic: Experiments that failed

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: Failed experiments and N-rays

August 10, 2021

Topic: More experiments that failed

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: N-rays and The Piltdown Man

August 17, 2021

Topic: Pros and cons of working from home

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Working from Home Doesn't Work

August 24, 2021

Topic: Artificial Intelligence

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Why its Hard to Give Computers Common Sense

August 30, 2021

Topic: Gatekeeping in the absence of hard science

Facilitator: Blaise Thompson

Reading: Navigating Uncertainty: Gatekeeping in the Absence of Hard Science

September 7, 2021

Topic: The placebo effect

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: A Comprehensible Review of the Placebo Effect

September 14, 2021

Topic: Hypnosis

Facilitator: Russ Gardner

Reading: Anecdotal Impressions of Hypnosis

September 21, 2021

Topic: What is it about trains?

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Come with your stories about trains

September 28, 2021

Topic: STEM education in the age of search engines

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: File not Found

October 5, 2021

Topic: Spacetime

Facilitator: Clint Sprott

Reading: What is Spacetime?

October 12, 2021

Topic: Propaganda

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: The Story of Propaganda

October 19, 2021

Topic: Normalization of deviance

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Lessons from the Space Shuttle Challenger Tragedy

October 26, 2021

Topic: Confirmation bias, power politics and innovation in science

Facilitator: Terry Allard

Reading: Confirmation Bias, Power Politics and Innovation in Science

November 2, 2021

Topic: Status of autonomous driving

Facilitator: Clint Sprott and Terry Allard

Reading: Tesla FSD Beta Brings Massive Changes (and some bugs) and Notes on Autonomous Driving

November 9, 2021

Topic: Artificial intelligence ethics

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: The Trolley Problem and Self Driving - Explained

November 16, 2021

Topic: Averting Fascism in the USA

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: Twenty Lessons on Fighting Tyranny from the Twentieth Century

November 23, 2021

Topic: Evading tyranny by being kind to our language

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: Communication, Technology and Thought (1.5 hours)

November 30, 2021

Topic: Music and the (bird)brain

Facilitator: Jim Cass

Reading: Aniruddh Patel at Nobel Conference 47 (1:23 hours)

December 7, 2021

Topic: Mars, who wants to go?

Facilitator: Jeff Mattox

Reading: Oh the Places we Won't Go: Humans will Settle Mars and Nowhere Else and Create Mars on Earth

December 14, 2021

Topic: Are biohackers rogue scientists?

Facilitator: Peter Sobol

Reading: The Rogue Experimenters and Genspace

December 21, 2021

Topic: Does the end justify the means?

Facilitator: Damien Wilson

Reading: Wernher von Braun and the Nazi Rocket Program and Tom Lehrer's take on it