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
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
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