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There are usually spots available south of Berkeley campus; along the streets that go North/South. Ellsworth, Dana, and Fulton street are my go-to; and it's good to check the streets that intersect them. Here's an example address of what I mean: 2339 Ellsworth St, Berkeley, CA 94704. From there its a 10 min walk to the Life Sciences building.

The microbiome is one of the newest branch of science in human health. There are some phenomenal preliminary reports that much of our health is influenced by our microbiome, but it hasn't yet reached wide social recognition in the US. You're not missing anything; you're on the bleeding edge of medical science. 

It seems Kohlberg is primarily concerned with moral/cultural behaviour, what an individual may think is the right thing to do. Undeniably the desire to follow the group is strong. What is the relevance in the context of teaching rationality and scientific skepticism? No doubt, if your local environment teaches that science and rationality are weird and strange, and you're a nerd for attempting it learn it, there exists social pressure against learning science. But I still can't escape the fact that the great majority of people are attempting science and rationality in their daily lives, though with much less precision. The status quo can increase the barrier of entry for certain sects of knowledge, but people are still learning in their daily lives through their failures and experiences. I don't see the relevance of a study on group based(tribe/political) thinking in the endeavour of trying to teach science and rationality; in effect trying to teach science and rationality is just trying to change the status quo of the group. 

I think part of the difficulty I have in understanding your post is the distinction between active and passive systems, and it's why I linked the article on emergence. No matter which way I think about it, I can't disentangle a living (organic) system from its surrounding environment. It's why I posed the question of what distinguishes living systems and non-living systems; when I look deep enough I still see the same fundamental rules of physics applied in each instance. 

Under this view that all matter, living and non-living is indistinguishable and each running under the same laws of physics, purposefulness and purposelessness do not appear anywhere in these systems. Living objects can be regarded as atomic components moving and interacting in very interesting ways. So I cannot distinguish between purposefulness and purposelessness. Colloquially, of course, I know what you mean. You are talking about the behaviour of living organisms; but on a deeper inspection I can't find purposefulness.

Is the argument you're making that there are localized areas of space that possess lower levels of entropy, and that living systems can be generalized as simply lowering the entropy in an area of space?

What data? Where is the evidence? Where is your evidence that your model actually coincides and explains reality? At least Sagan was on the front line of his work; he actually worked with children, he spoke to people, he had direct and personal experience with trying to teach science and rationality. That's very strong evidence. Is your evidence stronger than Sagans, Feynmans, Dawkins, and Hawkins?

But your original post implied a sort of scientific nihilism. 

>That is, no matter what I believe about the world, it will always be just the way it is regardless of how I feel about it or how I want it to be.

Your beliefs affect your actions, even if it's so small that it's hard to register. Being a skeptic in anything may make your face contort in such a way that it resembles incredulity; changing how others view the topic and how the talker responds to you. I think what you really mean is that you have better understood the order of magnitude that your beliefs have on the world. Where previously, you may have believed that thinking something will have great affect on the world, you now realize that thinking something will have a small, but still existent, effect on the world. 

Again, what is the difference between living things and non-living things from a first principles physics perspective. At which point do atoms and molecules become "living"? At which point do atoms and molecules acquire purpose? 

I understand that we use words like living and purpose to denote large movements of atoms moving in complex and interesting ways. But at no point along the way does something acquire "livingness" or "purposeness" or "spirit" or "elan vital" or "emergence" (see Eliezer Yudkowsky on emergence). If we're going to try to understand the behaviour of organisms it's necessary to see that the behaviour of organisms is just trillions of atoms and molecules behaving in very interesting ways. 

A meta-productivity system would be using a productivity system to find and explore productivity systems. I don't think that works by the nature of what a productivity system is. Fundamentally, you're always trying to be more productive. That is your ultimate goal. Trying out new methods and ways of thinking is beneficial to your future productivity, because you may find something that works better for you, and so you implement it. But you never really lose the "trying out new methods and ways of thinking" part; that's just necessary for progress. 

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