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Humanist Roadshows Visit Major Cities

by Tom Flynn


The following article is from the Secular Humanist Bulletin, Volume 15, Number 1.


Council for Secular Humanism (CSH) staff hit the road throughout the fall of 1998, bringing regional miniconferences to Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, and the national capital area.

On September 12 and 13, Paul Kurtz, outgoing Free Inquiry Editor Tim Madigan, and Center for Inquiry Development Director Anthony Battaglia presented a weekend workshop titled "Crisis! The End of Secularism?" at the Ramada Plaza Hotel O'Hare Airport with local guest Andrew Skolnick. Skolnick is an Associate Editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and a noted critic of paranormal and religious health claims. On September 26 and 27, Kurtz, Madigan, Battaglia, and Center for Inquiry Director Tom Flynn explored the same topic at the Club Hotel by Doubletree Philadelphia Northland. Local guests included Theodore Schick, Professor of Philosophy at Muhlenberg College, and Edmund D. Cohen, author of The Mind of the Bible Believer. Both seminars focused on growing public distaste toward irreligion, predictions of "the end of the secular century," and the implications of monopoly media ownership for access to the marketplace of ideas.

On October 18, CSH presented "Embracing Science in an Irrational World" at the Doubletree Hotel in Bellevue, Washington, just outside of Seattle. Presenters included Paul Kurtz, Tom Flynn, CSH Executive Director Matt Cherry, and evolutionary zoologist Scott Freeman. This event was presented as half of a weekend seminar for humanists and skeptics; the CSICOP-sponsored session the previous day featured TV personality Bill Nye the Science Guy, recovered memory skeptic Elizabeth Loftus, and CSICOP Executive Council member Barry Beyerstein.

On November 7 and 8, CSH and the Washington Area Secular Humanists (WASH) cosponsored a seminar called "Defending Science: Countering the Rise of Postmodernism and Anti-Science" at the Greenbelt Marriott, between Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington, D.C. Presenters included the authors of Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and Its Quarrels with Science, Paul R. Gross of the University of Virginia, and Norman Levitt of Rutgers. Also presenting were astrophysicist and WASH board member Stuart Jordan, Free Inquiry Executive Editor Lewis Vaughn, Matt Cherry, and WASH board members Simin Royanian and Bahram Azad.

Students from the Campus Freethought Alliance participated in most of the seminars, with Yale undergraduates Chris Mooney and Daniel Farkas playing an especially prominent role at the Philadelphia event.


The Chicago-area venue, the Ramada Plaza Hotel O'Hare Airport, will also be the site for CSH's annual conference, "Why Does Religion Persist?," scheduled for May 13-16, 1999. 


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