Join us for a FREE webinar with Judith Donath to discover how you can use science in your community.

In 1860 Charles Darwin wrote “The sight of a feather in a peacock’s tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!” The peacock’s beautiful but heavy tail made it vulnerable to predators – a conspicuously gorgeous challenge to Darwin’s theory of evolution as the survival of the fittest.  Over a hundred years later, Israeli biologist Amotz Zahavi proposed that such seeming wastefulness and inefficiency are actually useful costs that help maintain the reliability of communication.

Signaling theory, as it is now called, has become an important part of our understanding of evolution.  It explains how communication remains honest enough to function, even though deception – claiming to be smarter, faster, or nicer than you actually are — can be quite beneficial.  In this seminar Judith Donath will introduce the basic principles of signaling theory and show how it can be adapted to understand human communication. She will look at several examples, including signaling-based interpretations of religious ritual and her area of research: understanding how new technologies affect the equilibrium between honesty and deception.

Judith Donath synthesizes knowledge from urban design, evolutionary biology and cognitive science to design innovative interfaces for on-line communities and virtual identities. She is the author of The Social Machine: Designs for Living Online (MIT Press, 2014) and is known for her writing on identity, interface design, and social communication. Formerly the director of the MIT Media Lab’s Sociable Media Group, she is the creator of many pioneering online social applications. Currently, she is an advisor at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center and is working on a book about technology, trust and deception. She received her doctoral and master’s degrees in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT and her bachelor’s degree in History from Yale University. This presentation will focus on the importance of these topics in human flourishing.

This program is part of the project “Science Education for Jewish Professionals,” a series of webinars run by in partnership the American Association for the Advancement of Science Program of Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion, in partnership with Sinai and Synapses, hosted by Clal – The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, and funded by the John Templeton Foundation.

All webinars are from 1 pm to 2 pm Eastern time.

As this series of webinars is for Jewish professionals, please fill out the form below. Once you are registered, we will send out a link to join the webinars.