Question of the Week: What would you like to see from our new Executive Director, Robyn Blumner?

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We are so excited and proud to have Robyn Blumner as our new executive director and we all look forward to working with her. However, we have not forgotten that she also works for you!

So as Robyn steps into this new role at RDFRS, we want to ask you: What changes, actions, campaigns would you like to see Robyn take up as the new executive director?

 

Deadline for the contest is February 11, 2014
Winners receive a copy of An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins.


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37 COMMENTS

  1. The RDFRS is, for reasons that I don’t understand, very male focused. I worry that the RDFRS is missing out on half the population, half the voters.

    The Prof. has always been quite clear that he, personally, doesn’t need much in the way of social gathering. Atheism and agnosticism are, also, famously not organised. Yet somehow we need to turn that around. The religious gain political clout simply by being organised groups. We need to counter that.

    One of the things that religions manage very we’ll is that they turn congregations into volunteers.

    We need to counter the Nerd image.

    From a purely Net perspective sites like The Friendly Atheist and Freethought Blogs are clearly making more waves. The News section here was great for getting people to see that there were reasons to be angry, to be motivated. But the rest of the Freethought movement seems to have moved on to engagement. More original content will help. De-emphasising news will tend to reduce the angry atheist first encounter for new visitors.

    I have always been keen to see RDFRS make better use of one of the Net’s main features – links. I’m a very persistent sort, so I’ve been able to ride out a long period of new visitors asking the same questions over, and over, and over again. Partnerships with people like RationalWiki could help to reduce boredom among regular visitors.

    Perhaps what RDFRS most needs is a new trick? There is no longer a shortage of people decrying religion. While RDFRS has been very supportive of defenders of science education – could it do more – could it, in fact, create a new initiative?

    There has been a more visible effort to recruit volunteers, but it is not at all clear what they do, and how effective they are.

    RDFRS has done some great background things such as help the Clergy Project get up and running. As a former Marketing Exec I yearn for projects with greater PR value.

    My own personal wants start with more on education, more on critical thinking and above all more politics.

    I hope that helps.

    Peace.

    • In reply to #2 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

      The RDFRS is, for reasons that I don’t understand, very male focused. I worry that the RDFRS is missing out on half the population, half the voters.

      My own personal wants start with more on education, more on critical thinking and above all more politics.

      Ticks all over on this piece. (As a nerd though, I panic a little at the thought I might get to feel less at home. There is a reason nerds find their way here.)

      I am particularly interested in seeing more politics in here, or rather, more actual political activity. I see many discussions conclude reasonably about what is right but that often give us no real clue as to how to fix the problem. Often the intellectual purity of the vision that people have of truly healthy societies disinclines them from considering how the journey towards it may actually be achieved. Practical politics is ugly and unseemly and often feels at every point like a compromise……because it is one.

      Further, political discussion (particularly between left and right) gets hung up on dogma. This can’t be right (correct) on a site committed to reason. Can we not have articles on politics beyond dogmatic solutions? We should have articles that tackle the perniciousness of all dogma and shun idealism on the reasonable assumption that we don’t know what we might know and feel in a little while, that we do know what will make things immediately better now.

      Adogmatism is Atheism writ large (or even larger) and may broaden the basis and appeal of the political action we should be engaging in.

      Maybe Robyn could look into Quine’s idea of Betterism as the better solution to facilitating change than Idealisms?

      • In reply to #3 by phil rimmer:

        Ticks all over on this piece. (As a nerd though, I panic a little at the thought I might get to feel less at home. There is a reason nerds find their way here.)

        Wait, now. That is kind of part of the problem, I think.

        I don’t want to go off topic, so I’ll keep it short: it’s not like, nerd places are a neutral environment and male people just happen to be there more than female people; it’s much much more like, male nerds create female unfriendly environments and then wonder why they are joined by so few women.

        As a male software developer and nerd, I used to believe the contrary, and only recently stumbled upon some writings showing a number of facts that ashamed me. First, economical barriers make it far harder for women and non-white people to have free time to participate in communities. Then, an increasing scientific literature shows in how many ways women are often reduced to silence by threat, harassment and various forms of mobbing, mostly by men that will always deny they are acting so, and maybe honestly believe they are simply voicing their opinions. There are statistics on how many women are forced into adopting a male or neuter sounding nickname just to be able to simply stay online without having to be constantly harassed.

        All this to say that, yes, of course, there are tons of non-nerd atheists and it is very useful to make them know that it’s not necessary to be a nerd to be welcomed here, but it’s far from enough, for it is not necessary to be a male to fancy nerd stuff!

        The rule of thumb should be: if women are underrepresented in an environment, it’s not just a matter of them not being properly invited in, the case more likely being that they are somehow actively rejected.

        • In reply to #6 by NoneOfTheAbove:

          In reply to #3 by phil rimmer:

          Ticks all over on this piece. (As a nerd though, I panic a little at the thought I might get to feel less at home. There is a reason nerds find their way here.)

          Wait, now. That is kind of part of the problem, I think.

          This is nothing about inherent sexism. My invocation of nerd-dom is purely about the steady loss of intellectual clout on the site. Gone are the Mega Fauna that used to grace its vast plains, Zara, Kirby, Carto and Corylus. We have a few left having to work overtime to put the all important details into the debates. “Girl nerds” have always been with us and they are on the (rapid!) increase now. What we need is exactly what we are getting with a strong and fearless woman leading from the front.

        • In reply to #6 by NoneOfTheAbove:

          In reply to #3 by phil rimmer:

          The rule of thumb should be: if women are underrepresented in an environment, it’s not just a matter of them not being properly invited in, the case more likely being that they are somehow actively rejected.

          No. There are many possible reasons including what you suggest. This is no way to build policy, on gut-feels. It may be that women on average are simply more sensible and more often have proper lives to lead. It could be a lot of reasons. Policy based on simple-minded quotas is surely beneath us?

          What we need to do is research to find out which sectors of society have their views of Atheism underrepresented by the site and look at ways of improving that. Pump priming with commissioned articles based on that research might be the approach?

    • In reply to #2 by Stephen of Wimbledon:

      While RDFRS has been very supportive of defenders of science education – could it do more – could it, in fact, create a new initiative?

      There has been a more visible effort to recruit volunteers, but it is not at all clear what they do, and how effective they are.

      RDFRS has done some great background things such as help the Clergy Project get up and running. As a former Marketing Exec I yearn for projects with >greater PR value.

      My own personal wants start with more on education, more on critical thinking and above all more politics.

      I agree entirely Stephen. A couple of years ago I suggested that the UK branch of the foundation could initiate a campaign against faith schools in the state education system. User Viveca began a discussion thread (on the old site) titled “How, realistically, do we get rid of faith schools?”. She and I and some others traded comments back and forth that developed and built on the frustration we felt about the existing very muted and disjointed response from secularists to the problem that faith schools have become in the UK state education system, especially since the late 90s. The discussion progressed towards some fairly detailed ideas about the preparatory steps that might be required to initiate a campaign with wide public appeal to remove faith schools from the state system, and the need to bring together people with enthusiasm and drive, people with the range of necessary professional skills, and people with money. If you have time, I lay out some ideas around this in posts 15, 25, 49, and 58. A barrier I identified was having the resources to hire the consultancy needed to develop plans to the point where they could be presented to sympathetic potential backers with the degree of professionalism required to stand a credible chance of success, and I wondered if this is the sort of “seedcorn” support that the RDFRS might be interested in and willing to provide. User mmurray also suggested complementing this with crowd-sourced funding such as supported Ariane Sherine’s bus campaign, where Richard offered matching funding.

      I submitted this idea to the Foundation, and got no response, and then (through a mutual friend) by email to Richard personally, and again got no response. If you have time, have a skim of the discussion and see if you think it’s worth trying again.

  2. I hope Robyn can lead RDFRS to turn words into action that keeps religious agendas (or, more often, right-wing economic ideology agendas hiding behind the mask of conservative religion) out of legislation that affects all of us, robs us blind, and denies our civil rights.
    Strong words.
    Organized actions.
    Legislative lobbying.
    Local news-worthy actions to amp up regional awareness among voters who will then go to the polls better informed.

    Those kinds of action. There are many secular/atheist/freethinker/humanist organizations (http://globalsecular.org/secularityusa, http://www.centerforinquiry.net/, and all the other usual suspects) with local chapters full of people who just get together monthly and preach to their own choir. How about we give them something to DO — something to sing out loud about in public?! Something worth coming out of the closet for, and saying, “We atheists are fighting for EVERYBODY’s civil rights.” But to do that, we need cameras on us.

    So I hope Robyn can coordinate local actions with like-minded organizations so we can effectively market those strange concepts — FREEDOM and CIVIL RIGHTS. Make a measurable difference!

  3. I am not alone in believing that defending freedom of speech, in particular freedom to criticize religion, is a prerequisite for all other
    campaigns and movements. If Political Correctness and fear of offense are allowed to dictate public dialogue, we will not only never get our message out but our own freedoms will be curtailed and ultimately ended. Today authoritarianism is not limited to Islamism and
    the Muslim countries but emanates from many on the left in the form of ideologies intended to promote a priori political doctrines that are as dangerous as religious ones. Ideology, both secular and religious, must be confronted with truth, reason and scientific inquiry.
    As long as there are forces seeking to constrain our freedom of expression and dissent, we must fight fire with fire.

  4. Enlarging on Stephen of Wimbledon ‘s
    “I have always been keen to see RDFRS make better use of one of the Net’s main features – links. ..I.’ve been able to ride out a long period of new visitors asking the same questions over, and over, and over again. Partnerships with people like RationalWiki could help to reduce boredom among regular visitors. Perhaps what RDFRS most needs is a new trick? There is no longer a shortage of people decrying religion
    I would go further and suggest some sort of merger with sister organizations. RDFRS is in danger of being a case a of preaching to the converted. Worse, the recent oversell of RD’s book ,Appetite for Wonder, on this site is not helpful. For instance, the snob attitude of this memoir (ancestry, colonial life, Oundle, Balliol -harking back to Jowett and Belloc) is repulsive to many, and its contents of limited substantive relevance.

    My positive suggestion is to develop partnerships /cooperative or joint efforts with sister organizations . A model ( in another area) is the cooperation among the Foundations of Bill and Melinda Gates, with Warren Buffet’s and B. Clinton’s towards common goals.

  5. Okay, since you asked, I have a very specific request that ought to be fairly straightforward: for years I’ve been looking for an evolutionary biology themed 12 month wall calendar. It could have pictures of significant fossils, transitional forms, ring species, etc; it could highlight significant dates relating to Darwin, publication of landmark books on the subject, etc.

    Believe it or not, there’s no such thing available anywhere! This organization would seem to be the perfect source for this product. Would it be possible to get this produced and make it available in the store? Putting one of these up in your office would be a great way to promote knowledge of science and evolution. I’d certainly buy one and I’ll bet many others would too.

    Thanks!

    • In reply to #8 by StrangerTides:

      Okay, since you asked, I have a very specific request that ought to be fairly straightforward: for years I’ve been looking for an evolutionary biology themed 12 month wall calendar. It could have pictures of significant fossils, transitional forms, ring species, etc; it could highlight significan…

      That is a good idea. They could have evolution calendars on specific species so instead of the horse calendars with a cute horse on every month we would start January with the most distant known relative of the horse and work forward to modern horse in December. Likewise for dogs, cats and of course Homo Sapiens.

  6. In reply to #3 by phil rimmer:

    Hi Phil,

    Thank you for the vote of confidence.

    I am particularly interested in seeing more … actual political activity. I see many discussions conclude reasonably about what is right but that often give us no real clue as to how to fix the problem.

    Unfortunately there is no free lunch.

    We can, however, break it down into manageable steps. The story of how Kennedy got the Moon Project going is a case in point. After being told by several people that landing on the Moon was impossible, Kennedy asked that the top experts in the related issues be invited to a Workshop.

    On the day Kennedy set the agenda not by asking “How do we land on the Moon?” but by asking “What would it take to do something completely new (in space)?”

    He was told that given 10 years and $20B it should be possible to put a man on the Moon.

    To his great credit, Kennedy would later say that the US would choose to do this ” … not because it is easy, but because it is hard.” A stirring speech that still brings a lump to my throat – and I’m not even an American!

    All the factors of success are in that story. Don’t ask yourself: Can we do X?

    Rather, ask aloud: What can be done?

    Often the intellectual purity of the vision that people have of truly healthy societies disinclines them from considering how the journey towards it may actually be achieved.

    With the benefit of hindsight we see that all the ambitious projects have a grand vision, but they are not a one-step programme. People are encouraged to achieve the small goals that, collectively, build on one another to make the big project happen.

    Practical politics is ugly and unseemly and often feels at every point like a compromise……because it is one.

    Celebrate the small wins. They’re still wins.

    Compromise is good. At least it cuts both ways. There’s always tomorrow.

    Further, political discussion (particularly between left and right) gets hung up on dogma. This can’t be right (correct) on a site committed to reason.

    I agree. In my lifetime the labels left and right (a hangover from the French Revolution) have become meaningless. In addition, my generation – for all it’s faults – has disposed of the idea that socialism was the only surviving dogma from the turn of the 20thC that worked.

    While we can agree the above in our own little on-line bubble, reality bites. Religions have been claimed by both Left and Right. No-one appears to want to cosy up to us … even when the election wind is chilly …

    This needs to change but, like Kennedy, I want to ask a different question. What do we need to do to equate Freethought with a winnable vote? What is our bait, and how do we hang it on the hook?

    Can we not have articles on politics beyond dogmatic solutions?

    Yes, but we will have toner-write them. Old Media simply cannot do it.

    Peace.

  7. A plea, or two:

    1) Can you please have RD do a book tour in Asia, Africa and the Middle East? Perhaps choose two or three major cities in each of those regions where he can speak and sign some books! If anything, the veil of superstition hangs lowest and heaviest in these parts of the world and RD’s reasoned argument will go a long way in lifting it.

    2) Please, please, and please do a new series of video vignettes like this! They’re a low cost and fun way for him to explain science concepts while on the move. I loved the last series!

    3) I’d like to see an annual report, like a page or two (heck, a pictogram will do), of the highlights and achievements and goals of RDFRS. It’s nice to see what the organization did, what it achieved, and where it will go next in an easy-to-digest format. Otherwise it’s hard to know if we’re not simply pissing in the wind, to coin a phrase.

  8. Less leftist and progressive propaganda, and more recognition that atheism is not a political platform or part of a larger leftist agenda. If you’re going to continue on your current course, you should change the name of your movement and stop pretending to speak for all atheists. Maybe it’s time for another atheist organization that hasn’t been captured by what some bright young atheists like to call “the Cathedral”….

    “Liberal institutions cease to be liberal as soon as they are attained: later on, there are no worse and no more thorough injurers of freedom than liberal institutions. One knows, indeed, what their ways bring: they undermine the will to power; they level mountain and valley, and call that morality; they make men small, cowardly, and hedonistic — every time it is the herd animal that triumphs with them. Liberalism: in other words, herd-animalization…” —Friedrich Nietzsche

    • In reply to #17 by Imperius:

      Less leftist and progressive propaganda, and more recognition that atheism is not a political platform or part of a larger leftist agenda. If you’re going to continue on your current course, you should change the name of your movement and stop pretending to speak for all atheists. Maybe it’s time for another atheist organization that hasn’t been captured by what some bright young atheists like to call “the Cathedral”….

      My time on this site hasn’t given me the impression that it’s a bastion of leftist thinking. Quite the reverse in fact. Has RDFRS ever claimed to speak for all atheists, Imperius?

      As a bright young atheist, I have to say I’m intrigued by this “Cathedral” of which you speak.

  9. Hi Robyn, My thought is this; after centuries of religious fervour encouraged and sustained through beautiful hymns, classical religious music and magnificent works of art, wouldn’t it be great if secular organisations could compose or encourage composers to do likewise on our behalf?
    The name Tim Minchin springs to mind!

    • In reply to #22 by rea50n:

      hymns…music …secular organizations could compose or encourage composers

      Steve Martin & group caused a mild stir a few years back. Their ditty Atheists ain’t got no Songs, I think, personally, was meant to be taken at face value. But it did open a dialogue about atheism, and other folks music that encompasses godlessness and/or no religion as the “subject”.

      • In reply to #24 by bluebird:

        In reply to #22 by rea50n:

        hymns…music …secular organizations could compose or encourage composers

        Steve Martin & group caused a mild stir a few years back. Their ditty Atheists ain’t got no Songs, I think, personally, was meant to be taken at face value. But it did open a dialogue about ath…

        Of course the monopoly of believers among great artists of the past is also more apparent than real. Verdi and Vaughan-Williams, for example, were both avowed atheists despite the former’s famous Requiem or the latter’s hymn tunes, Five Mystical Songs etc etc.

    • In reply to #22 by rea50n:

      Hi Robyn, My thought is this; after centuries of religious fervour encouraged and sustained through beautiful hymns, classical religious music and magnificent works of art, wouldn’t it be great if secular organisations could compose or encourage composers to do likewise on our behalf?

      The problem is , that: “so that the Devil does not have the best tunes”, the religious have a long history of stealing them and substituting their own words. Numerous folk songs have been high-jacked that way.

      Anyway here’s a nice modern song to be going on with:-

      Eric Idle & Brian Cox would be making the song together, Eric Idle’s DNA Galaxy Song – http://www.facepunch.com/showthread.php?t=1234466

    • In reply to #22 by rea50n:

      Hi Robyn, My thought is this; after centuries of religious fervour encouraged and sustained through beautiful hymns, classical religious music and magnificent works of art, wouldn’t it be great if secular organisations could compose or encourage composers to do likewise on our behalf?
      The name Tim M…
      They have and do all of the time

  10. StrangerTides…. good idea .. may I run with it ..

    The whole year could represent the Time from life’s beginning to present day..
    Then it could start on Jan 1st with first replicator and … so as the year goes on the person is taken through the entire evolutionary process..

    what a wonderful thing for schools .. for everyone..
    It would give people such a great overview of not only the sequence of how life evolved but the deep time that it has taken.

  11. I haven’t been on this site very long and the frenzy of activity on it makes my head whirl. But I AM a female and my main political preoccupation so far as religion is concerned is to keep all organised religions, especially the Roman Catholic Church and Islamic theocrats out of the temporal sector so far as possible. I think a terrific campaign for Dawkins’ supporters could be to link up with Geoffrey Robertson the Australian QC based in London and author of The Case of the Pope and through him join human rights activists intent on challenging in the UN the Vatican’s privileged standing as a state. Robertson has done an enormous amount of work amassing evidence and presenting a lucid argument a) for challenging the Vatican’s absurd privilege and b) for bringing Cardinal Ratzinger before the International Criminal Court on a charge – at its most extreme – of genocide, because of the scale of the sytematic pedophilia he permitted and essentially encouraged during his 25 years as a Cardinal. Of course while he is living within the Vatican he cannot be arraigned while the Vatican retains its character as a ‘state’.I understand that this would require getting UN members to withdraw the recognition of the Vatican’s secular status that they granted after intense lobbying by the Vatican among those UN members representing ‘Catholic’ states in Europe and Latin America. Livers183

  12. There are many excellent points raised in the suggestions posted so far, however, I have a few pet projects of my own:

    1.) Focus more attention in South East Asia where there is a huge population base in the preferred age demographic of 20-40. Europe and North America are small potatoes in comparison with steady to declining populations, and where the seeds of doubt will naturally continue to flourish. These emerging nations, many in the english language sphere of influence are ripe for the picking, given access to more specifically aimed resources.

    2.) Encourage mandatory courses from the age of 14 onwards, including a first year mandatory University course in critical and rational thinking. Have access to the associated thought processes, and encouraged to use them, will have a natural knock on effect of creating more rational students and later on citizens of the planet thereby displacing the doddering fools who rely on argument by authority to maintain the status quo.

    3.) I too would like to see less reliance on arguments based on political dogma and agendas. To this day, slowing flexibility to new ideas, be they political or scientific is (wrongly) perceived to be a weakness and to have no convictions- to be wishy-washy. Following the evidence (which is also dynamic and changes over time) and ignoring or berating contradictions to a popular notion does not mean the new position is wrong. jcw

  13. It seems to me that education of the young will eventually clear their minds of religious fog.
    I would like to see we thinkers assist in this by encouraging our young to view, read or listen to media that discredits relion.
    There are hundreds of writers that do just this. One example that comes to mind is The Golden Compass and a I would love to see a link on this site that lists the many titles we could use and recommend to friends and their children.

  14. I would like Robyn to take a critical look at the TAM interviewer JG. He lacks professionalism, and I am embarrassed for the RDFRS every time he represents the organization. He comes across as gawky in the extreme. Please find a confident, intelligent sounding replacement.

  15. Content for a start. This site’s supply of new food for thought has pretty much dried up of late.

    Secondly, back off on the “controversy for its own sake” stuff. We may not agree with everyone’s choice of faith (or the faith they never chose, but got lumbered with), but it is unnecessary to be gratuitously offensive about them. A few faiths – yes, they are damaging and harmful to others. Most are not, and it costs nothing to be mildly respectful of people’s rights to follow them if they wish.

    If we’re in the business of winning “converts”, then I am afraid we’ve become another religion. In which case, I’m out of here.

    • In reply to #32 by Stevehill:

      Content for a start. This site’s supply of new food for thought has pretty much dried up of late.

      Does anyone know what’s happening here? I really miss the steady stream of content and discussion topics.

  16. On reading the brief credentials (and connections) in Robyn’s introductory letter, one readily concludes that Robyn is well placed to commence providing solutions to the key issues we have and which, as we know, are lodged firmly in the seats of power and influence. Let us imagine a cosmic type contraction of the entire ‘belief universe’ with its countless (feasible/non-feasible) planetary solutions into two points of singularities, in two individuals, in order to distil the crux of the matter.

    The two individuals I have selected below clearly demonstrate the dilemma of hope and hopelessness of our attempts to expect enlightenment in the short term. The collective objective of RDFRS should be to ignite an explosive “big bang” of rational thinking with these two singularities at the epicentre of their respective environments.
    Our definitive objective now is twofold:
    1. To face the “Stark Truth” about the views of US Congressmen/women and Senators 2. To challenge the “Wisdom of Wise”

    The “Stark Truth” : Pete Stark, the democratic senator, who was in the House of Representatives for forty years (lost his seat in 2012) is the only one of about 549 representatives to publicly announce, some seven years ago, that he does not believe in a deity. To date, there has not been a single addition to that name. Although, it is mooted there are as many as 31 others who are like minded but unwilling to profess publicly (and who can blame them). When we reflect that Jefferson, Paine and Franklin precisely (and with staggering prescience) embedded the clause to separate Church and State in the written constitution of the US (unlike the British constitution where it is tacitly implied and acknowledged), they envisaged exactly the situation we face at present. We have to try and resist this ignorance, often feigned ignorance/acquiescence in high places (in order ‘not to rock the boat’), from infiltrating and permeating public policy.

    The “Wisdom of Wise”: Dr Kurt Wise is director of origins research at Bryan College, Dayton, Tennessee. He holds a B.A. with honours in geophysical sciences from the University of Chicago and an M.A. and Ph.D. in geology from Harvard University. He is a member of the Geological Society of America. This quote from Kurt Wise encapsulates the perverse wisdom of Wise and that of the throngs of ‘nominal’ believers whose minds are sedated and/or paralysed by their inculcation, usually from birth, into their respective faiths…..“Either the Scripture was true and evolution was wrong or evolution was true and I must toss out the Bible. . . . It was there that night that I accepted the Word of God and rejected all that would ever counter it, including evolution.”
    Even Richard D is known to have said he gets frustrated when he meets these supposedly intelligent and rational people.

    This ‘wisdom’ is fundamentally (pun intended) dishonest, destructive and a complete betrayal of intellectual integrity.
    But that’s not all – we know there are still 7% of scientists at the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) who believe in a supernatural deity. Neil D Tyson (Astrophysicist) says he is not concerned about converting the billions of believers throughout the world – - not until the 7% of educated, intelligent, perceptive individuals at the NAS have been got round – and that’s what challenging the ‘wisdom of wise’ characterises.

    So how do we tackle the two major institutions – Government and Academia? Both have inherited or are being infiltrated in recent decades (especially in the US) by unreasonable and unthinking dogmatists?

    Tackling Government: It is difficult, very difficult, but not the time to despair. As the United Kingdom has shown: we have two out of the three leaders of the major political parties who have professed that they do not believe in a supernatural deity – as for members of parliament and the house of lords the percentages are substantially high. This is progress.

    We must ensure that we have ways of resisting any religious interference in the promulgation of laws of the country purely on religious beliefs without evidence to prove that they are in the interest of the country as a whole and not just furthering their sectarian, introverted agendas – ‘Secular not Sectarian’ should be the strap line.

    Tackling Academia: This is even more challenging as these believing individuals have a remarkable facility with word-casuistry as they have all their scientific jargon at their fingertips and they twist, extrude and mangle them to sound impressive to the laymen they usually address to evangelise. I call it the Chopravisation of science after Deepak Chopra the (alleged) maestro. One of the ways of addressing this issue is to encourage them to define rigorously the meanings of the words they use and to ensure their peers do not let their mistaken views be passed on to their students and subordinates at work.** ‘Academic Rigour- First and Last’** should be the strap line.

  17. :) To all the people worrying about this space being too ‘nerd’ or too male or too male nerd. :) Trust me you ain’t. As a woman who spends a good chunk of her life working in predominantly male and especially nerd male spaces you guys are a breath of fresh air. This is one of the few places on the internet where it is actually a pleasure to read the comments. It is not too ‘heavy’ – academic or technical but I usually come away with ideas and perspectives on things I had not considered before. A lot of what people contribute here is genuinely thought provoking. I come here to read in my down time most days. I love the work everyone who contributes here does. I know these sites don’t happen by themselves. This place is a pleasure to visit, so please don’t change it too much. :)

    To the community and the moderators – Thank you!

  18. Frankly, I think it’s better to let children plunge into every religion that they care to read about and send them off to the various Sunday Schools that are in their locality. Rather than discredit religion, it’s better to focus on those values that you feel strongest about. If freedom, independence, tolerance, honesty and critical thinking are positively stressed children will eventually find themselves willy-nilly at odds with all the major religions since blind obedience and patriarchy are common to them. I don’t think it’s a good idea to malign religious faith because some people simply can’t do without it especially when there is so much inequality of opportunity and resources in so many societies. But resisting theocratic government is quite a different matter. Livers

  19. I would like to see a massive campaign explaining how ALL so-called “religious” writings are just made-up folk lore from the area where it originated and without a bit of truth to any of them.

    It’s amazing how Christian people will say “There’s NO way we came from pond scum” but will readily accept a ghost making a man from a handful of dirt and a woman from one of man’s ribs.

    Steve in Dunlap California

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