Whence Our Humanity?

Whence our humanity, dear Wonderfest friend?
Whence?!” Yes: from where does/did our humanity arise? This is Wonderfest’s double-edged question for August 2014, … and for the ages.
On Wednesday, August 13, Wonderfest will join the Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley for a neuroscientific examination of what makes us human. Called Mind Puzzles, the event will draw on key insights of speaker Robert A. Burton’s A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot Tell Us About Ourselves.
Dr. Burton argues — and provides evidence revealing — that “involuntary mechanisms … make unbiased thought impossible … [AND] create the illusion that we are rational creatures.” The illusion! This fundamental look at key aspects of our humanity will celebrate the remarkable success of modern neuroscience, while examining the numerous popular myths that have arisen from it.
On the very next Wednesday, August 20, back in San Francisco, Wonderfest will join Ask a Scientist in taking a look backward in search of our humanity. Whatever Happened to Homo erectus? will guide us through key transitions in human evolutionary history. Once we walked upright — freeing our hands — what fun was afoot. Oh, the humanity!
Our speaker, Dr. Henry Gilbert of CSU East Bay and UC Berkeley, discovered the 1-million-year-old Daka skull in Ethiopia’s Awash River valley. His insights into Homo erectus — and all early humans — will help us to put the sapiens into Homo sapiens.
As you consider attending these two fascinating events, please bear in mind the costs of keeping Wonderfest afloat. Most of our events are FREE. (Mind Puzzles is not, but a special Wonderfest promo code will grant the same low ticket price that Commonwealth Club members enjoy.) Whatever Happened to Homo erectus? is FREE. Still, we ask everyone to register and to make at least a $5 donation. This is a small price to pay for the excitement and illumination of understanding our origins.
Wondrous regards,
Tucker Hiatt
Founding Executive Director
* Ahem. I meant “tax-deductibly donate,” of course!