Eps 60: The Science of the Imagination and Fascination

Eps 60: The Science of the Imagination and Fascination


This week Spark My Muse has hit a milestone. 30 episodes of Soul School and 60 regular Episodes! It also marks a big shift for things moving forward. The show will be far more collaborative and listener-driven.

This week, I have posed some specific questions for listeners/supporters to help decide some new and  important directions and decisions for the show. More questions will follow in the weeks to come. To participate, co-create, collaborate, give input, make suggestions, and be a part of this new era, put some skin in the game. It only takes $1 and you can make BIG difference.

Decide on guests, events, swag, and a lot more. You make the calls.

Ready? Here’s the link.


This week, I welcome Jim Davies, an associate professor at the Institute of Cognitive Science at Carleton University. He is the Director of the Science of Imagination Laboratory, and the Author of “Riveted: The Science of Why Jokes Make Us Laugh, Movies Make Us Cry, and Religion Makes Us Feel One with the Universe.”

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MIN 1:20
Where do the pictures in our visual imagination come from?

Do blind people have a visual memory?

MIN 6:00
The literal details and the meaning and symbol parts of the brain

Can computers imagine or learn to?

MIN 9:30
3D Environments

Neuro modeling simulation of thoughts and imagination.

MIN 14
Jim’s book called “Riveted”

Rules of art form and folk wisdom are they backed by science?

Cognitive science of religion and why we find anything interesting.

MIN 19
The genetics behind the desire for connecting with something greater.

MIN 22:00
What surprised him most in his research?
60% of religiosity is determined.

MIN 23:00
Groups that have religion outcompete groups that don’t
Moral code so you don’t cheat your neighbors.

The Kibbutz secular vs religious

Prayer and meditation helps you cope with stress.

MIN 27
Why jokes make us laugh.
Social signals about danger.

MIN 28
about why offensive jokes might be funny

EPISODE 30 on the Science of humor

MIN 30
Our brain doesn’t really sense what is fiction or reality 100%

The “Finding Nemo” story

Jim’s TEDx talks

Planning bias and completion times


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Eps 59: Adam and John from The Deconstructionist Podcast

Eps 59: Adam and John from The Deconstructionist Podcast

Thank you for visiting Spark My Muse!bestcake

This week is the celebration of 1 year of podcasting!
#weekofSPARKle (To party with us, you can search #weekofSPARKle on Twitter for contests, videos, and zaniness, and on eBay for some tasty and whacky auction/collector’s items.)

Send a birthday gift?
Click to give the baby Spark a present–support the show.


Adam Narloch and John Williamson started a podcast and after just a few episodes, they had thousands of listeners–find out why. Our conversation is wide-ranging and fantastic!


MIN 1:30

The deep seated need to find a home to talk about uncomfortable issues of faith and doubt.


Talking about the Bible first and having a wide range of guests, worldviews, and topics.


A no debate policy


Asking “Is this a Christian podcast?”


Realizing audience and context


Tempted to lead double lives when you can’t ask questions.


The conservative Christian bubble and fear-based groups.


The difficulty of building our lives around mystery.

We aren’t saved through scripture.


All the ideals are mystery. Many concepts can’t be measured.


Metaphor and biblical metaphor and historical truth.

A return to mystery in science and faith that beautifully underpins reality.


Confirmation bias and protecting our identity.

CS Lewis – the Weight of Glory (and other essays) influenced Adam

A Grief Observed

Surprised by Joy  “temples building not built”

It’s about mercy

Francis Schaeffer

Catholic writers write about the spiritual dark night

God takes away our idols.


Greg Boyd

Benefit of the Doubt – making an idol out of certainty.

pleasure and threats in the brain


Why the Deconstructionist podcast is NOT part of the fringe and rather is orthodox, but won’t seem that way for too many.


Will Adam get fired?

We should not believe by proxy.


The church [has become] a box of puppies that licks each other” -Adam Narloch


How the Deconstructionist event went in a third space.

(music, art, camaraderie, coffee bar)


All are welcome but the Christian bubble is titanium.

• John’s Twitter

• Adam’s Twitter

The Deconstructionists Podcast (link)


Did somebody move your cheese?

Are you frustrated?

It’s probably because someone moved your cheese.

At the little library near my home I found a book in a pile of free books. I remembered the title probably because of the power of cheese.

Who Moved My Cheese

by Spencer Johnson

The title is the best part. It’s one of the most poorly written books I’ve read in ages. Like, poke-your-eye-out awful.

It could be a 25 page book, but no, it drags you through brambles for over 80 pages…

Nevertheless, the takeaway is a simple and helpful reminder.

Here’s a reboot and summary:

We act like rats in a maze looking for cheese. (Cheese is what we think we want: love, money, power, security…whatever). If we find the cheese we like it and get comfortable and get lazy. We don’t think about finding new cheese.

We have to be willing to change, improve, or keep searching or we will starve, eventually.

The big problem?
If things change we act all ticked off that someone “moved our cheese”.

“Hey! Who moved my cheese?”

It’s true.

Someone or something will always crop up to move your cheese. It can get upsetting.

The Lesson: Keep moving and don’t expect things to be easy or long-lasting. Especially success.

Sarcasm detecting software: The Secret Service on high alert

Sarcasm is Useless…yeah, right!


(You can read part I here.)

DIGITAL CAMERADetermining Threats: Sarcasm and the Secret Service

This post is rich in irony. Reader beware.


Sarcasm is a normal part of our human communications. It helps us blow off steam, indicate preferences, or feel superior. But, it tends to be misunderstood in written form.

This includes, letters, emails, texts, and even sky writing, theoretically.

The internet is replete with sarcasm misunderstood and the government unsatisfied surveilling our every move online, on our mobile devices, game consoles, and God-knows-how-else, wants to know if we really mean what we say.

This summer, the Washington Post reported the U.S. government’s request for software to detect sarcasm out of the vast stream of questionable internet postings. And they want it to be compatible with Internet Explorer 8. (Let that last bit sink in for a minute…that bit of software was released in 2006.)

Thwarting dangerous threats is the aim! Not dangerous like cutting off their supply of prostitutes–mind you–but something more terrorist-like or destructive.

It’s seems like a reasonable idea on paper, perhaps. (If you don’t have to worry about competence or merit to keep your job.)

“It’s difficult not to be sarcastic about the idea of the Secret Service automatically, algorithmically, examining all of your social-media posts to determine, among other things, that you’re being sarcastic,”

says Peter Eckersley who is technology projects director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation–a group that defends online civil rights.

The fact is that sarcasm used outside of voice-to-voice or face-to-face interactions proves to be indistinguishable from threats. Only another human person, with a sense of linguists, could figure that out, and even then misjudgments are apt to happen.

The study of humor and its uses gets into a lot of grey territory and even idiocy. It turns out our sense of humor is like a sense of balance. It can deteriorate or suffer from maladies.

As we use sarcasm online and in any written form, it makes sense to be aware not only of misunderstandings that are par for the course, but also that big brother is watching…and that’s no joke.




1. The primacy of humor

2. Step 1: Tickle Rats (the science and study of humor)

3. It’s not just timing, it’s specific knowledge

4. On how subversive humor works

5. On Sarcasm -part 1

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