November 26, 2012

Three Happenings in the Atheist Community

HappeningsI only have time to share a couple of quick tidbits here because I have to return to work today after the nice time off for Thanksgiving. These are just a few notable happenings I wanted to mention.

First, Hemant Mehta (Friendly Atheist) has a new book out: The Young Atheist's Survival Guide: Helping Secular Students Thrive. Congratulations to Hemant! This sounds like exactly the sort of book I could have used as I began to question the religious beliefs in which I had been indoctrinated all those years ago. In his description of the book, Hemant notes that the price will be increasing soon. Considering that it is currently only $2.99, this could be a good gift idea for any young atheists you know.

Second, congratulations to Dr. Harriet Hall (yes, that Harriet Hall) and Dr. Steven Novella for their election to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's Executive Council. It will be interesting to see whether Dr. Hall will now face petitions demanding her ouster. I hope not, as she appears to be more than qualified to serve in this role.

Third, Dr. Ron Lindsay, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, wrote a post explaining why his organization will not bow to demands to exclude certain speakers from future conferences (e.g., PZ Myers, Rebecca Watson, Ophelia Benson). I appreciated his post and understand his reasoning. That does not, however, mean that I agree with everything he said. While I liked his explanation of who would be considered "unacceptable" to speak at events, I am not convinced by his claim that "…none of these individuals falls into the 'unacceptable' category." In fact, I read the following description as applying quite well to some of the people he named:
Of course, there are persons who combine controversial opinions with outrageous, intolerable behavior or express their opinions in such a fashion that they do not allow for a meaningful exchange of views (e.g., their “views” consist largely of a string of racist epithets). Similarly, there are persons who repeatedly make demonstrably false claims, whose every word out of their mouths, including “and” and “the” (to paraphrase Mary McCarthy), are lies. Such persons would not be invited to speak at CFI events.
I noticed that at least one of the public figures about whom Dr. Lindsay reported receiving complaints does not appear to take the matter at all seriously.

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