Date: Wednesday April 11, 2012
Time: 8pm
Location: High Noon Saloon (map)

Multiple Choice Memory: The Joker and John Locke’s Account of Personal Identity over Time

Summary: The Joker is Batman’s greatest enemy and arguably the greatest comic book villain of all time. The character has appeared in dozens of classic stories such as Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke as a foil and antagonist for Batman…or has he? According to some accounts of personal identity over time, it seems that The Joker’s characteristic insanity might prevent him from being the same person over time. In my talk, I’ll discuss Locke’s account of personhood and personal identity and evaluate The Joker in light of Locke’s account. Also, there will be a surprising amount of dick jokes.

Presenter bio: Derrick Murphy is a philosophy graduate student at The University of Wisconsin, Madison. Derrick’s main interests are in metaphysics and philosophy of mind, with an emphasis on issues such as personal identity over time. Among other things, he reads and collects comics in his spare time, and boasts a collection that has all the first printings of the entire Crisis on the Infinite Earths series and Grant Morrison’s entire run on JLA. If you know what those are and why they might be important, it is unclear whether you should be congratulated or pitied.


Building the Tower of Babel: Why are there so many languages and why are some so damn complicated?

Summary: There are over 6,000 languages in the world. Why are there so many and why are some of them so weird and so complicated? Seriously, English is child’s play in comparison! For example, in English we say “this” and “that”, In Inuktitut, there are 88 (!) ways of specifying where “this” is. What’s up with that? This presentation will reveal how the heck someone (Gary!!!) can answer this question. Hint: there are children and immigrants involved. Curious yet!??!!!

Presenter bio: Gary Lupyan is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at UW-Madison. His mind has been so warped by science that everywhere he looks he sees experiments in the making. He also flies planes (and occasionally gives rides — ask him!).


Anything you can do, ants can do better: why ants rule and humans drool

Summary: Us… humans…we like to pat ourselves on the back, citing several accomplishments that make us superior and unique (e.g. modern medicine/antibiotic use, agriculture/domestication of crops, and complex social society). In addition, humans are “uniquely” capable of extraordinary, and sometimes shameful, tendencies (e.g. global colonization, slavery, and military defense). What you might not know is that these things are not unique to humans. In fact, they evolved in ant species millions of years before humans evolved. This presentation will reveal many of the extraordinary behaviors that ants exhibit, showing how these tiny creatures can be just as complex and interesting as us humans.

Presenter bio: Eric Caldera is a native Texan who is either well rounded or confused – he is a biologist, musician, and aspiring poet. As a doctoral candidate studying evolution, ecology and genetics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he has received the National Science Foundation predoctoral fellowship and doctoral dissertation improvement grant, and a National Institute of Health fellowship. For his research, Eric studies coevolution between ants and a complex of microbial symbionts, which combines fieldwork in neo-tropical rainforests with population genetics. Eric is also the guitarist in the Madison-based instrumental band El Valiente and plays guitar and sings in the singer/songwriter project Oedipus TX.