The shift to digital may jumpstart a new wave of innovation in religion.

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iStock.com/Lubo Ivanko

I have seen first hand how hard it can be for religions with thousands of years of history to adopt new technologies. In the spring of 2004, I fumbled with a little paper ticket that displayed my credentials to the Swiss Guard at the entrance to the Vatican. I was pointed towards the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for a meeting with Msgr. Charles Brown, who was a senior official charged with rooting out heresies in the Church. …


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Statement by Andrew Serazin, President, Templeton World Charity Foundation

7 June, 2020 — Without question, the senseless killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Tony McDade, and Sean Reed are part of a tragic litany that dates back centuries. They have created and resurfaced anger and anguish in the United States and around the world. Confronting the debilitating threat to humanity that racism and violence represent is critical and cannot wait.

Templeton World Charity Foundation was founded on the belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity, our unlimited potential, and the need to bring about a more lasting human flourishing. …


Using breakthroughs in genetics, scientists are primed to return the long-lost American chestnut tree to the wild, starting this spring.

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A bee flies towards the catkin of an American Chestnut. Photo courtesy of Hannah Pilkey.

Not far from my parent’s house is a local thoroughfare called Chestnut Ridge, named so by early settlers to Northeast Ohio for the magnificent trees that characterized Eastern hardwoods. The chestnut tree was once a monumental presence in America: babies were born into chestnut cradles, pastures were bounded by rot-resistant chestnut fences, and funerals laid the faithful departed to rest in straight chestnut coffins. Each spring these trees spread their glory across the canopy of eastern forests. Sadly, a mature American Chestnut hasn’t been seen in these parts for almost a century. During the early part of the 20th century, an invasive fungal blight ripped through the American Chestnut population from Georgia to Southern Canada and killed billions of trees. …


New research indicates that AI may help people cooperate and make ethical decisions faster and with fewer errors.

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We are facing an unprecedented public health crisis, leaders are rationing critical supplies, and doctors are increasingly forced to choose who will live and who will die. With a limited number of ventilators, who gets one and who goes without? Should this patient be admitted or sent home?

A simple answer to this question may be whichever patient is most urgently in need. Yet a closer look reveals a thicket of conflicting ethical considerations. Some patients may need a ventilator faster because of unique traits of their conditions, while others may need to continue supporting young children. Why should the rich and famous get faster access to testing? Are younger patients more deserving of a ventilator than older patients? …


The world is consumed with anxiety over a new disease, yet there is no silver bullet prevention or cure. Humanity’s unique virtues will be key to navigating the coronavirus crisis.

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Image Source: iStock.com/Powerofflowers

These days everybody is an amateur epidemiologist. Monday morning water cooler (or should I say Slack) chat is as likely to be about coronavirus reproductive rates as it is about the big game or the most recent political debate. I am not sure this helps the average person. I have a doctorate in the biology of infectious disease and taught courses on epidemiology at University of Oxford, and even I have to acknowledge difficulty keeping up with breaking news of the very dynamic situation. The next two months will be critical in determining exactly how many persons will suffer and die from coronavirus. …


Funders and researchers should embrace open science principles in their pursuit of scientific breakthroughs.

This article was written in collaboration with Dawid Potgieter.

One of the best known social science experiments is the “Stanford marshmallow experiment.” Psychologists Walter Mischel and Ebbe Ebbesen, conducted a simple experiment to — supposedly — measure self control in children and how delayed gratification indicated later success in life. They first published their results in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 1970, and the marshmallow experiment went on to be enormously influential in the psychology community and embraced by the public. …


Loneliness, addiction and suicide form a vicious cycle, and science should be part of the solution.

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Our social lives are filled with such incredible, visceral richness — encompassing births, deaths, marriage, divorce, self-doubt and epiphany — that we crave interpersonal connections as much as we desire nutrition or shelter. We experience a social loss as an injury to our body. Evidence from many fields proclaim that the story of human civilization is more about the triumph of cooperation, self-sacrifice and altruism than it is about the threat of violence, subjugation and greed, despite our hard-wired negativity bias.

Yet all too often, our existence is atomized, and our physical, emotional and economic health are detached from each other. The reality is that individual happiness, longevity, health and wealth seem to be interwoven with the strength of our relationships. Preventing loneliness may be a key intervention to improving public health and economic outcomes at the same time. …


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Three key criteria can help leaders ensure their organizations follow-through on ambitious goals.

When Melinda Gates addressed a packed Seattle conference hall on October 17, 2007, few in the audience were expecting a radical proposal. I was a senior program officer in the Gates Foundation’s global health program and deeply familiar the foundation’s objectives, yet what she said that day took even me by surprise. Indeed, Gates’ message was shocking:

“Advances in science and medicine, promising research, and the rising concern of people around the world represent an historic opportunity not just to treat malaria or to control it — but to chart a long-term course to eradicate it.” …

About

Andrew Serazin

President, Templeton World Charity Foundation

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