Pharyngula

Wow

We had our very first meeting of UMM Campus Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists tonight. About two dozen people had expressed interest before, so we expected, optimistically, about 20 people to show up. We got there a little early, and people were waiting for us … and then our 20 were there, and then more, and then more, and then more. I had to keep going up to the counter to tell them we were going to have to order a few more pizzas.

Final tally: 60 students showed up. We basically took over the whole restaurant.

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Skatje Myers and Collin Tierney are the co-chairs, and here they are addressing the mob.

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They did a good job. Everyone settled on a meeting time (Thursday, 7:00 every week — we’ll see if that’s sustainable) and took suggestions for events and speakers and so forth. I’m afraid there was one universal call for one particular speaker to be brought in: RICHARD DAWKINS. It might take a bit more than a bake sale to raise the speaking fees and travel expenses for that one.

If Dawkins ever gets tired of Oxford, I think he’d have standing room audiences every night as he hobo’ed around the country. There was huge demand for his point of view. We also had a contingent of philosophers there; they might have wanted him to come so they could have a good argument.

The attendees like the Out Campaign, too. Here we are posing with our snazzy t-shirts — there was a call for a bulk order of scarlet A shirts. I’ll have to see what we can do about that (hmmm…maybe they can stuff Richard Dawkins in with the order!)

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I was very impressed. Maybe Collin and Skatje are just phenomenal organizers, but I suspect there is also a lot of pent-up demand for more godlessness out here in the rural Midwest, just where you might not expect it.

Comments

  1. #1 Zeno
    August 30, 2007

    I love the CASH acronym. The PR bits write themselves:

    “You Need CASH!”

    “Thursday Night CASH!”

    “Time to CASH In!”

    I suppose the exclamation points are optional.

    Of course, it would be provocative to tease people with “CASH or Christ: Which Do You Want?”

  2. #2 August pamplona
    August 30, 2007

    We need to have something like that over here at SCSU.

  3. #3 Mena
    August 30, 2007

    Can Richard Dawkins call in and be put on speaker phone? Fewer cakes to sell that way…

  4. #4 The Science Pundit
    August 30, 2007

    Awesome turnout! I have to wonder how many atheists were walking around in the closet back when I attended University. I knew that I wasn’t alone, but I can’t (or at least couldn’t) imagine that it was anything like the size of the UMM CASH crowd.

  5. #5 Evan
    August 30, 2007

    Wow. That is a stunning turnout. I am immensely impressed. I almost wish I were back in school just so I could join in.

    Nah. Not really. I’ll just have to find (or start) a group like that around here.

  6. #6 PZ Myers
    August 30, 2007

    The other thing you have to understand is that UMM is a small university, about 1900 students. This is the kind of turnout I’d expect at one of the major Christian organizations.

  7. #7 atxcats
    August 30, 2007

    That’s fantastic! Several students here at UT Austin are hoping to revive the UT atheist group. We have scores of religious groups on campus, and it would be nice to have at least one group for secular/non-religious students.

    Anyway, it’s wonderful to see such a great turnout.

  8. #8 Epistaxis
    August 30, 2007

    Wow! The whole population of Morris turned out!

    Seriously, though. That’s great. The next challenge will be getting them to come back.

  9. #9 Jeremy
    August 30, 2007

    So PZ, how much did you lay down in pizza fees?

    Also, dunno if you’ve been in any of these campus organizations before, but the turnout does fall off quite a bit once the hat goes around for dues. I was in various clubs throughout my stint in uni, and inevitably by October when dues were needed, people would just stop showing up.

    Hope you have better luck than we did!

    On another note, perhaps you could join in with a few other campus groups and pool to get high-priced speakers. Perhaps the Campus Crusade for Christ wants somebody to heckle…

  10. #10 Aaron
    August 30, 2007

    Ausgezeichnet!

    I’m still kicking myself that I came out too late in my college career to help get something like CASH started at Dartmouth… 🙁

  11. #11 Steve LaBonne
    August 30, 2007

    Maybe things like this will start to show the “Benedict Arnold Atheists” the light…

    Nah. Never happen.

  12. #12 Hank Fox
    August 30, 2007

    Wow. Wonderful!

  13. #13 Stacy
    August 30, 2007

    Wow!! Congratulations you guys. That is really awesome.

  14. #14 RCP
    August 30, 2007

    Congratulations.

  15. #15 Ron
    August 30, 2007

    Fantastic!

  16. #16 Eva Young
    August 30, 2007

    Congratulations to the great organizing. Good luck with the continued success for that group.

  17. #17 Hank
    August 30, 2007

    Well Dawkins has been to Minnesota.

    Back in the 90s when I was in grad school at the U (Saint Paul Campus), he came and gave several talks. I even managed to wangle my way into an only-for-faculty-and-a-couple-of-Post-Docs dinner at the Crumpled Aluminum Can Art Museum.

    Thus, it isn’t completely out of the question that you could lure him back. You could offer to show him the Kensington Runestone.

  18. #18 DaveX
    August 30, 2007

    Word to Collin: Unless you’re auditioning for the second coming of the Culture Club; olive green, turquoise, and scarlet DO NOT go together.

    Otherwise, congrats! Getting 60 college kids together without the promise of beer is frakkin’ incredible!

  19. #19 Simon G.
    August 30, 2007

    I love the CASH acronym. The PR bits write themselves:

    I prefer CASH to tithing!

  20. #20 Callandor
    August 30, 2007

    An event like this at a pretty small university makes me really itch to form a similar group at UW-Milwaukee. No clue if I could do it by myself (very likely not), but I am quite interested in seeing if a few more people would like to go in now.

  21. #21 Jazmin
    August 30, 2007

    Fan-bloody-tastic! It’s nice to watch the world change, even a little bit, and know that you had something to do with it. Watch out, PZ, I think you may be creating a dynasty, and I mean that in a good way. Skatje and CASH rocks!

  22. #22 Ben Dreidel
    August 30, 2007

    Congrats on the turnout !!!

  23. #23 Collin Tierney
    August 30, 2007

    I think it was something like eight pizzas. 200 buckaroos including the tip, which some of the upper-class philosophy guys pitched in on.

  24. #24 dorid
    August 30, 2007

    Congrats on the great turn out. It’s encouraging to think that so many students showed an interest!

  25. #25 Jazmin
    August 30, 2007

    DaveX @ #18: The LAST thing anyone needs is a fashion police citation. Go for it, Collin!

  26. #26 Todd
    August 30, 2007

    I want to point out that C.A.S.H. was first used by Frank Zappa to describe his mostly fictional Church of American Secular Humanism.

    conceptual continuity must be maintained.

  27. #27 cyan
    August 30, 2007

    SO appreciative of the work done to implement this by Skatje and Collin, and of the endorsement and advertisement of this by PZ, to reach out to others with this similar result to mine of their thinking processes.

    Letting others know that they are not alone in their views of the world: a good thing.

  28. #28 Village Green
    August 30, 2007

    Bravo to you all. Hearing this gives me hope for our collective futures!

  29. #29 KiwiInOz
    August 30, 2007

    I’m sure that Richard Dawkins could be persuaded to appear by video link as a favour for his old mate P-Zed. Cheaper than a flight and surely the appearance fee could be dropped given the free advertising that you are doing with those t shirts. And you could always email him a pizza.

  30. #30 Collin Tierney
    August 30, 2007

    “I’m sure that Richard Dawkins could be persuaded to appear by video link as a favour for his old mate P-Zed. Cheaper than a flight and surely the appearance fee could be dropped given the free advertising that you are doing with those t shirts. And you could always email him a pizza.”

    Sir, it isn’t his actual expertise we want. That can be found in a multitude of books, articles, documentaries and such. It’s actually his autograph and a picture of him standing next to you that costs 50,000.

  31. #31 CalGeorge
    August 30, 2007

    Off-topic:

    Mother Teresa an atheist! Woo-Hoo!

    New York Times:

    “In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss,” she wrote in 1959, “of God not wanting me — of God not being God — of God not existing.” According to the book, this inner turmoil, known by only a handful of her closest colleagues, lasted until her death in 1997.

  32. #32 JJR
    August 30, 2007

    Wow…our greater Houston Atheist meetups at best pull in about 37-some-odd people on any given night. That’s impressive!

    I never had the guts to hang out with the Atheist & Agnostic Student Association at my Alma Mater, Texas A&M. The people I did hang out with, though–MSC Nova, MSC Cephid Variable, Aggie Cinema, Society for Creative Anachronism, German Club, Russian Club…were all thoroughly secular with next to zero religious people of any stripe. The AASA did put out some funny t-shirts on “Why Beer is better than Jesus”, and I had to respect their dogged determination, always putting out their sign week after week, despite having it vandalized, stolen, etc.

    While few people I knew openly called themselves atheist, very few people I knew ever took religion remotely seriously either…and religion was never a topic that held much interest to me or my closest associates at my undergrad alma mater. I guess in those days (late 80s & the early 1990s) the ardently religious were readily identifiable, regularly mocked, and generally dismissed…so I didn’t feel a pressing need to belong to and hang out with groups of other self-identified atheists the way that I DO feel that need and enjoy the company today. The last time I visited College Station I was bowled over by how much Gawd-talk dominated the most casual conversation, and taken seriously. It made me gag, and I wondered if I’d get a form of eye strain from constantly rolling them in response to a lot of the ridiculous sh*t I kept hearing all around me. TAMU has always been more conservative/religious than UT-Austin, but the TAMU of today is way more so than the TAMU of my day.

    I would probably have had a rougher time of it going there today than I did back in the day. I had considered transferring to UT-Austin even back then. Today I probably would’ve just skipped out on A&M altogether and gone to UT-Austin from the get-go.

    I’m a little shocked to hear that UT-Austin lacks an active atheist/agnostic group–no offense but I assumed that’d be par for the course in Ms O’hare’s former home town! Good luck with re-organizing! Is that creepy Scientology place still on the Drag? I have to assume so. *shudder*

    (Even though I’m an Aggie–I freakin’ love Austin.)

    Again, PZ, your campus is to be congratulated…what an inspiration!

  33. #33 Eric
    August 31, 2007

    You might think about having Richard Carrier speak. I don’t know what his fees are or anything, but I saw him speak in Ohio once for a humanist convention, and it was really good. You can check out his blog, and I highly recommend his book if you haven’t seen it before. He’s extremely intelligent, speaks well, and has a sense of humor too (in a nerdy sort of way…).

  34. #34 Eric
    August 31, 2007

    Oh yeah.. and you can read some of his stuff for free on the Secular Web.

  35. #35 simplicio
    August 31, 2007

    Way to go! Congratulations on the turn out. Great to see so many students showing interest. Best of luck to you this semester as you build your organization! Cheers from Austin, TX!

  36. #36 Eli Mayfield
    August 31, 2007

    I’d like to point out that while I can’t speak for everyone there, the inclusion of free pizza in the description of the meeting was a major draw that probably brought in a lot of people who would be faintly curious about the intentions of the group (but not enough to actually attend a meeting) – this certainly was the reason I came.

  37. #37 TomK
    August 31, 2007

    Nice. I like it.

    I don’t like the shirt though. It’s like super-serif. Sans serif is what all the cool kids use. A more minimal design maybe. (Hey I got beavers ready to go to war over it.)

  38. #38 Brian
    August 31, 2007

    You may not be able to get Richard Dawkins to speak, but we can’t get Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers or Christopher Hitchens to speak down here in OZ. Pity the antipodeans.

  39. #39 phat
    August 31, 2007

    Nice!

    That’s very encouraging.

    phat

  40. #40 Dave Carlson
    August 31, 2007

    I’m not exactly a Dawkins fan-boy, but it seems clear to me that if he owes anybody a favor, it’s you, PZ. Here’s hoping you can “CASH” it in!

  41. #41 Scott Hatfield, OM
    August 31, 2007

    That is a truly impressive turnout! I guess congrats are in order.

  42. #42 Ed Darrell
    August 31, 2007

    Keep a diary for future organizers in other places. Especially note, for the record, just how difficult it is to keep the godless hordes from drifting off into evil pursuits, versus the noble ones. Or note that it’s not difficult at all.

    A good history, to prevent future errors.

  43. #43 Soren
    August 31, 2007

    As an organizer for our local branch of the evil atheist world conspiracy, http://www.atheist.net, I can tell you about the roadblocks to organizing atheist events.

    Since atheists do not believe in morals, they cannot be trusted. We generally demand payment up front, say 15$ down payment to reserve a place in one of our orgies. If you don’t show up, then we use your money to buy beer.

    This gives new problems as you might imagine. If you cannot trust an atheist, how do you know the one collecting the money doesn’t just use it to buy beer, and drink it before the event?

    We have come trhrough these problems now, thanks to some very nice HA bikers who were very good with baseball bats, and the introduction of microchips embedded in the brains of the organizers and tattoos on our brow and right hand, we have established the right mixed of survaillance, threatening mental breakdowns and shattered kneecaps.

    So my message is, do not give up hope. You can herd cats, and you can get atheists to meet up regulalry and drink Newcastle Brown Ale or Leffe’s.

  44. #44 Jonathan
    August 31, 2007

    You do realize your daughter is going to end up dating the other co-founder, right?

  45. #45 SEF
    August 31, 2007

    I suspect there is also a lot of pent-up demand for more godlessness out here in the rural Midwest

    Whereas I suspect there’s a lot of pent-up demand for free pizza among students anywhere.

  46. #46 Ithika
    August 31, 2007

    Are you going to use some kind of oxen as your logo? You know, a CASH cow… 😉

  47. #47 SEF
    August 31, 2007

    Are you going to use some kind of oxen as your logo?

    They already have the A for alpu/aleph/aurochs (= ox)!

  48. #48 jim
    August 31, 2007

    When I see that acronym I can’t help but think of the New Statesman episode where Rik Mayall’s character (the sleazy politician) cons an evangelical Christian woman out of a large donation to “Christian Approach to Society Handbooks”. When she complains that the name is too large to fit on the cheque, the response is “oh yes. Well, just put the initials. C.A.S.H.”

    (I don’t think it works any more – I’ve never tried it – but at the time you could potentially redeem a cheque to cash for actual, er, cash.)

  49. #49 ajay
    August 31, 2007

    The obvious solution: Richard Dawkins impersonators/ tribute artists/ cover bands.

  50. #50 Carlie
    August 31, 2007

    Incredible turnout! Now I’m changing my mind and wanting one of those t-shirts, but I’m afraid I know I wouldn’t look half as good as Skatje does in it.

  51. #51 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007

    Mother Teresa an atheist! Woo-Hoo!

    Not quite so fast. Read the whole article. She ended up wanting to be a bodhisattva — to be eternally (!) separated from God so that others might not have to be.

  52. #52 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007

    Mother Teresa an atheist! Woo-Hoo!

    Not quite so fast. Read the whole article. She ended up wanting to be a bodhisattva — to be eternally (!) separated from God so that others might not have to be.

  53. #53 Maugrim
    August 31, 2007

    Judging by the students I know, you will get a substantial attendance dropoff just as soon as you stop offering the free pizza. I really hope you retain a decent core of the enlightened though 🙂

  54. #54 SEF
    August 31, 2007

    I really hope you retain a decent core of the enlightened though

    Hmm… Bizarrely, my first parse of that came out as “enlightened dough”. I had to double-check you hadn’t really written that. It must just have been my expectation of a punch-line, given the pizza context.

  55. #55 J-Dog
    August 31, 2007

    I think you should consider offereing a sacrifical lamb at one of the meetings by getting an IDea Club hack like Hannah Maxson (SP?) or Slimey Sal Cordova to show up would be perfect!

    Extra points for the CASH member that makes the Baby Jesus cry first!

    ps: Colin – re: Fashionista Police – Eff ’em if they don’t like it! I think the Right To Dress Any Damn Way You Want is guaranteed by the Constitution.

  56. #56 August E. Brunsman IV
    August 31, 2007

    I want to say congratulations from everyone at the Secular Student Alliance to everyone at UMM CASH. What a wonderful first event!

    We created a little piece trumpeting your excellent first meeting on the front page of our website: http://www.secularstudents.org/node/1640

  57. #57 Jeremy
    August 31, 2007

    You’ve got some generous upperclassmen at UMM, Colin. ‘Course, my campus group was ballroom dance, so it was QUITE a bit more expensive to pay for a coach every week than Dawkins once. Talk to the other orgs, I’m sure some group wants to get an atheist there to talk. Make lots of contacts. Campus org is much like politics. Horse-trading and all that.

    Glad to see it all come together. Good luck to you, coming from Purdue, even there you’d have support. Give it your best! Good luck!

  58. #58 Collin Tierney
    August 31, 2007

    “You do realize your daughter is going to end up dating the other co-founder, right?”

    Let’s not jump to conclusions. This is a blog, not a tabloid.

  59. #59 John
    August 31, 2007

    Is there any way for people who aren’t local to UMM to donate to CASH’s cause?

  60. #60 Collin Tierney
    August 31, 2007

    “Is there any way for people who aren’t local to UMM to donate to CASH’s cause?”

    We’ve been thinking about that. Presently, no. We’re not sure we’ll accept donations because it will mean a lot of filing, taxes, and management, and I don’t sign up to be co-chair so I could manage anything. Best case scenario, the government finds a flaw in my poor accounting skills and lands us in Kent Hovind’s jail cell.

  61. #61 Curt Cameron
    August 31, 2007

    Did you read Hitchen’s notes from his recent book tour (mostly through the Bible Belt), that his sponsors kept saying he’d get small audiences, but then they’d find that it was standing room only, or that they had to book more events to handle all the people? He said that typically half the audience were people who had thought they were the only atheists in town.

  62. #62 Casey Schmidt
    August 31, 2007

    I know that Richard Dawkins is like the George Clooney of the atheist world but I’m sure there are plenty of other great speakers you could induce. PZ, you should definitely get this group signed up as a student chapter of the Center for Inquiry. They would possibly make some speakers available for your group. Get all the students to become members, it comes with a discounted subscription to Free Inquiry. I think that the Center for Inquiry does good work as an advocate for secularism and rationality. Any chance they can get to announce that they have one more student group, gives them more of a voice.

  63. #63 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    This is great! Are there going to be any of these fundamentalist rallies up in Fridley, MN? PZ, I’ll even bring a podium that you can pound on and you can truly scream dogma from the pulpit.
    Nothing like a little pseudo-intellectual gathering such as this.
    Quick question: who’s the fruit with the blue shirt under his A uniform? He looks familiar.

  64. #64 saurabh
    August 31, 2007

    I realize this discussion has been had, but I was distracted, and besides, I didn’t realize that people would actually start WEARING those t-shirts. God, I hate them. Not only is the logo TERRIBLY designed, there’s nothing like a tacky symbol to say “I AM A GROUPTHINK IDIOT.” Thoughtful people should not self-identify using logos. It seems monumentally uncreative and not-very-thoughtful-at-all to me.

  65. #65 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    “(hmmm…maybe they can stuff Richard Dawkins in with the order!)”

    PZ, maybe this really is an Out Campaign.
    Last time I saw someone slober over their idol this much my sister was hanging pictures of Joey, Jordan, Danny, Donnie and Jonathan in her room with “Hangin’ Tough” playing in the background.
    You’re an odd duck, PZ.

  66. #66 Collin Tierney
    August 31, 2007

    “I realize this discussion has been had, but I was distracted, and besides, I didn’t realize that people would actually start WEARING those t-shirts. God, I hate them. Not only is the logo TERRIBLY designed, there’s nothing like a tacky symbol to say “I AM A GROUPTHINK IDIOT.” Thoughtful people should not self-identify using logos. It seems monumentally uncreative and not-very-thoughtful-at-all to me.”

    I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. I wasn’t planning on wearing it, as all can see with an observation of the blue shirt I wore under it, but it a made a recognizable symbol of leadership. People can think we’re “groupthink idiots” all they want — they are the members of the audience who we would fail to impress no matter what we wore.

  67. #67 amyg113
    August 31, 2007

    What a phenomenal turn-out! That makes me all warm and tingly.

  68. #68 Steve_C
    August 31, 2007

    Wow,

    Imagine being a member of a club, the horror, the sheepishness of it all.

    Get a grip.

    Tyrone sounds like another poster, what’s that other nic you use?

  69. #69 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    Looks like a Dungeons and Dragons meeting.
    You’ll never get your message across enlisting friggin’ nerds.
    PZ, your daughter should be kept in back offices doing paper work for this company/church/whatever of yours. You think you’ll impress the people that matter by promoting your message with geeks, dweebs and nerds?
    Fuck.
    Collin you might be able to work with. But you might need to ‘straighten’ out his image a bit.
    Gotta be realistic too. Say The Cure (or some modern emo-bitch about everything band comes to town). Do you really think half of these kids (including your daughter) will be able to follow through with any commands, if those commands happen to coincide with with a meeting?
    PFFT….. please.

  70. #70 Steve_C
    August 31, 2007

    Coming from a guy who thinks Rush Limbaugh and Metallica are still cool. Ummm, yeah right.

    He look everybody it’s one of those “cool” conservatives!

    Welcome to the blog asshole. Shouldn’t you be playing over at Town Hall?

  71. #71 Graculus
    August 31, 2007

    I smell parody troll

  72. #72 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    Steve, ya dumb fuck.
    You find me 12 black (okay – half and half) men that listen to Metallica. Mention Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, PE then we can talk.
    And Rush Limbaugh? Please. Shoehorn me into whatever category that makes you happy. Just do it to my face and I knock your whiney ass out. Coward little white boy.

  73. #73 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007
    I really hope you retain a decent core of the enlightened though

    Hmm… Bizarrely, my first parse of that came out as “enlightened dough”. I had to double-check you hadn’t really written that. It must just have been my expectation of a punch-line, given the pizza context.

    See, that’s why there’s supposed to be a comma in front of “though”.

    (As you can see, Tyrone, we are geeks and nerds. I am one of perhaps 100 people in the world who have understood the German comma rules, and I’ve largely understood the — much different — English ones, too. Eat that!)

  74. #74 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007
    I really hope you retain a decent core of the enlightened though

    Hmm… Bizarrely, my first parse of that came out as “enlightened dough”. I had to double-check you hadn’t really written that. It must just have been my expectation of a punch-line, given the pizza context.

    See, that’s why there’s supposed to be a comma in front of “though”.

    (As you can see, Tyrone, we are geeks and nerds. I am one of perhaps 100 people in the world who have understood the German comma rules, and I’ve largely understood the — much different — English ones, too. Eat that!)

  75. #75 tony
    August 31, 2007

    Tyrone Baker: *Groupthink*???

    WTF?

    SO wearing a (common) shirt at the inaugural meeting of a club indicates groupthink? Are you some kind of weird libertarian activist? Or simply a troll?

    Is Pharyngula ‘groupthink’? We’re all on this same page, typing our comments, and sharing thoughts….

    I don’t suppose you’ve ever been part of a club – since that involves some form of conformity. I daresay you find it difficult to make friends, or even operate in society.

    Do you wear pants? a dress? Nothing at all?

    If pants – is that simply conforming to male stereotypes and enforcing the subjugation of women….
    If a dress – are *you* ready to come out?
    If nothing – you really *don’t* get out much, do you?

    You, sir, are an ass.

  76. #76 saurabh
    August 31, 2007

    :People can think we’re “groupthink idiots” all they want — they are the members of the audience who we would fail to impress no matter what we wore.

    Maybe so, but the ostensible purpose of the Out Campaign is to increase visibility, and to present yourself as a free-thinking individual. I.e., its ONLY purpose is image. If the image is a failure, why stand by it? I suggest you guys make your own t-shirts, and forget about Dawkins’.

  77. #77 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    Graculus, you smell your own punk ass trying to be clever. Cuz that’s what a punk does.

  78. #78 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2007

    Everyone, please ignore “Tyrone Baker”. He’s on an Out campaign of his own — to out himself as a colossal ass. His mission has been accomplished, so don’t encourage the poor sap to waste any more time here.

  79. #79 Mike P
    August 31, 2007

    Tyrone, Tyrone, Tyrone. Methinks you doth protest too much. Picking on nerds works maybe through middle school. Then people start growing up and they realize comments like yours are just fine examples of douchebaggery. Have you ever been to a college campus? No one cares if you’re a nerd. The people who do really care usually don’t have many friends themselves. I suspect this is the lot you cast yourself in with. Well, smell the coffee, sunshine. Your ranting just makes you look stupid.

  80. #80 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007

    (Uh-oh… I’m on my comma trip.)

    Welcome to the blog asshole.

    What, pray tell, is a “blog asshole”?

    >duck and cover<

  81. #81 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007

    (Uh-oh… I’m on my comma trip.)

    Welcome to the blog asshole.

    What, pray tell, is a “blog asshole”?

    >duck and cover<

  82. #82 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    Tony, where did I mention anything about groupthink?
    You’re confusing me with someone else, because you’re a confused little boy.
    I’m an ass, because I make women like you cry.

  83. #83 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007

    Confused lt (<) and gt (>). There go my nerdy 1337 sgillz.

  84. #84 David Marjanovi?
    August 31, 2007

    Confused lt (<) and gt (>). There go my nerdy 1337 sgillz.

  85. #85 Steve_C
    August 31, 2007

    Yeah I listened to PE, 16 years ago. Welcome to the club.

    So now you’re a “hard” black man who hates atheists?

    That’s supposed to be scary? Intimidating? Please.

    You’re still an asshole. Whatever race you are. And I’m sure you’re far from “cool’.

    Plus your “threats” are not only silly but pathetic. Hey, look a 40 year old guy picking on teenage kids.

    Go back to playing Halo or whatever you do in your Mom’s basement.

  86. #86 Steve_C
    August 31, 2007

    Yeah, my punctuation blows. I doubt it’ll get better. I type fast and rarely proofread closely. Bad habit, I know.

  87. #87 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    PZ, I really don’t care one way or another.
    God exists, God doesn’t exist. Who cares. I’ve done enough stuff in my life that if he does exist I ain’t going anywhere pleasant.
    But I know this, PZ. You are a coward. I’ve seen your types all over the place. You talk big here. You might even talk big to someone’s face – but a cowards a coward. You got sparked a few times when you were a kid and now you’re lashing out. You were the kid getting punked in hall ways – and you know what? It’s your own fault for it. But now you lash out. You lash out with a quick, arrogant tough. All because you were too weak to handle it the 1st time around. So go cry, you coward. Go cry for all the stuff that happened to your sorry ass. And watch as a man, myself, takes responsibility and owns up to his own. See the difference, but you won’t learn anything. You’re just a coward old man now, you haven’t learned it up until now – why should that change?

  88. #88 Tyrone Baker
    August 31, 2007

    Hate atheists?
    Nope.
    I hate wise asses that think they’re different from the object of their criticism.

  89. #89 Nerull
    August 31, 2007

    Tyrone: Project much? You’ve described your own behavior to a T.

    You talk big here. You might even talk big to someone’s face – but a cowards a coward.

    Talking awfully big, aren’t you?

    You got sparked a few times when you were a kid and now you’re lashing out. You were the kid getting punked in hall ways – and you know what? It’s your own fault for it. But now you lash out. You lash out with a quick, arrogant tough. All because you were too weak to handle it the 1st time around.

    From the person who spending his time picking on young adults who are actually trying to get things done. Your the one lashing out – does this mean, by your own description, you were the one getting beat up in hallways?

    Go cry, Tyrone.

  90. #90 Mike P
    August 31, 2007

    Tyrone,

    What are you taking responsibility for? I can’t for the life of me figure out what you’re talking about, and I don’t think you know any more than I do. You sound too sincere to be a parody, but at the same time, you’re acting like a one-dimensional cliche. I don’t really mean to feed your ego cuz you’ve clearly overstayed your welcome, but I’m at an absolute loss as to what your point is, if you have one at all.

  91. #91 Steve_C
    August 31, 2007

    Zzzzz. Maaaaan, these douche bags are boring.
    No more troll feed for you.

  92. #92 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2007

    But, but…what will I do with my A-labeled pants, shirts, shoes, shorts, and ties? My monogrammed towels? That giant A painted on each side of my house? My custom car in the shape of a swooshy A?

    Look, saurabh, it’s a couple of t-shirts. That’s all. Don’t get carried away with the deep significance of it all. The big A is nothing but an occasional token, not a whole commitment to the worship of all things Dawkins. We wore it because this was the first meeting of a group of people who didn’t know each other at all well, and it was a way to mark the organizers so everyone would know who to ask questions of.

    I also think it’s good to have some kind of marker and some kind of organization. We are all dependent on one another and we all make public commitments of one kind or another to various institutions — it doesn’t mean we’ve become slaves to the symbol. Perhaps you’ve been misled by the bizarre commitment of some other groups to their symbols, whether it’s ten commandments or the flag or the constitution, but that doesn’t mean every symbol is so overbearing. The shirts are nice. People can wear them, or they can skip them. They can design their own little logo, or they can avoid symbols altogether. We don’t care.

    But this attitude that atheists must be consistently and completely unjoined in even the most tenuous way is ludicrous and unrealistic. People don’t work that way. It’s a kind of self-defeating self-hatred that the other sides love to encourage, and it’s the kind of attitude that makes it difficult for freethinkers to increase their clout. We can’t even wear a common t-shirt now and then lest the purists express their outrage? Pathetic.

  93. #93 Dan
    August 31, 2007

    Tyrone:

    I hate wise asses that think they’re different from the object of their criticism.

    Wow. I think my irony meter just blew up.

  94. #94 Mike P
    August 31, 2007

    Masrk,

    My money says Skatke was raised to be an intelligent rationalist, who then decided on her own she was an atheist.

    It’s not PZ’s fault that many parents raise their children to be stupid.

  95. #95 saurabh
    August 31, 2007

    PZ,

    I’m not getting carried away with the significance of it, and I DON’T think the t-shirts mean a whole lot to those who wear them, and I don’t think they indicate any actual groupthink; my point is, rather, how they will be *construed*, which is the intended purpose of the Out Campaign. There’s already an effort to paint Dawkins, Hitchens, etc., as the leaders of some new atheist evangelical movement. Why feed into that?

    You say: “We are all dependent on one another and we all make public commitments of one kind or another to various institutions…” But what institution are you talking about, here? A commitment to institutions is one of the major failings of religion I’d think we’d like to avoid, and eschewing the appearance of that sort of commitment would seem to me to be a worthy goal for (what amounts to) a marketing campaign. When you’re critiquing a cultish organization, it behooves you, I think, to be savvy about your own appearances. For appearance’s sake.

  96. #96 Bronze Dog
    August 31, 2007

    I have a “Joss Whedon is My Master Now” T-shirt, but that doesn’t mean I’m slavish or claim that he can do no wrong. I just think Firefly was really cool.

    So, A-shirts, atom symbols, abstract IPU icons, FSM shirts? Go right ahead. I may get one when it doesn’t significantly increase my perceived risk of severe beatings. I live in Texas, after all.

  97. #97 Skatje
    August 31, 2007

    I don’t really see the A shirts as anything unifying. Their main purpose to me is a conversation piece.

  98. #98 Calladus
    August 31, 2007

    I think you should consider offering a sacrifical lamb at one of the meetings by getting an IDea Club hack like Hannah Maxson (SP?) or Slimey Sal Cordova to show up would be perfect!

    J-Dog, When I first read that, I thought you were suggesting Mutton instead of Pizza for the next event.

    heh. Wouldn’t that make for an interesting PR campaign?

  99. #99 Wilson Fowlie
    August 31, 2007

    Congratulations on the inaugural meeting and the excellent turnout!

    I was going to say that I was jealous of and annoyed at Ithika for posting the CASH Cow mascot idea before I got to, but she did it so much better than I would have that I can’t bring myself to be bitter.

  100. #100 Mooser
    August 31, 2007

    That’s the first time I’ve seen a picture of Skatje! Wow, she looks like a splendid young lady! And she radiates graciousness and intelligence combined with a healthy skepticism. Two qualities which will always be irresistable.

  101. #101 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2007

    Skatje and Collin are forming an organization. That will involve some commitment to the group by the members — attending meetings now and then, discussion, maybe a little fundraising, group trips (but no tithing, no threats of hellfire if members elect not to come, no sacrifices of first-borns). Reality requires that atheists find some common ground to work together, or they can continue to be irrelevant.

    What’s your solution? A club where the members are told not to show up? Where we all police each other to make sure we don’t agree on anything or show any sign of similarity? Where solidarity and consensus are forbidden?

    And here’s a surprise: I WANT the other sides to “construe” atheists as rising up and organizing and mobilizing and working together for some common goals, BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO. That’s what we need to do.

    You better start taking the tranquilizers now. Because if you’re going to freak out over the fact that 3 of 60 freethinkers in one small town group wore similar t-shirts, you’re going to be gibbering from the fetal position when we have a nationwide PAC and you discover there are groups like the SSA and AA that have their own logos and offices and people who lobby for us, as if we have common goals.

  102. #102 saurabh
    August 31, 2007

    Argh. Forget it. I already gave my solution: make your own fucking t-shirts. It would be better for your organization, and it would make you look better. Every campus club oughta have their own t-shirts anyway.

  103. #103 Cassidy
    August 31, 2007

    Congratulations on the success of the first meeting! I got back to Raleigh from Korea last month only to find that not only does my new school, NC State not have any sort of Freethinkers organization (that isn’t a shock), my alma mater UNC doesn’t either. In fact, I have to drive all the way to Greensboro for Piedmont Freethought! Ah, well, I guess that’s what I get for now living down the street from a hockey rink…don’t have to drive for hockey, just for godlessness.

  104. #104 Jennifurret
    August 31, 2007

    Awesome! We had a similar surprising turnout an out unofficial callout at Purdue. We expected maybe 15 people, and we got 40. Granted, a lot of people couldn’t make it because of the time, and we did *no* advertising (couldn’t advertise because we weren’t official yet). It was only by word of mouth, somewhat through facebook. I’m optimistic that we’ll get a lot more for our real callout (or at least should, on a campus of nearly 40,000…)

  105. #105 PuckishOne
    August 31, 2007

    I’m feeling fairly smug in the knowledge that no one will pick on me should I order an Out Campaign t-shirt since my first initial is “A,” after all. 😉

    Congratulations, Skatje and Collin, on a great turnout, and I wish you continued success.

  106. #106 Scotty B
    August 31, 2007

    Expected ~20 people? Well you weren’t that far off considering it includes 3 groups: Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists.

    20+20+20=60

    Come on, even an ID/creationist could figure that one out. 😉

  107. #107 Blake Stacey
    August 31, 2007

    saurabh:

    Argh. Forget it. I already gave my solution: make your own fucking t-shirts. It would be better for your organization, and it would make you look better. Every campus club oughta have their own t-shirts anyway.

    I figure they will, in a few months. Hell, it takes a semester for the MIT physics department to get a decent shirt design (good physics puns take time), so I can’t be too harsh on CASH for using what’s available.

    I’m still waiting for the Pharyngula merchandise. Dammit, I thought Adam Bly had more business sense than this: why isn’t Seed tapping into the swag market?

  108. #108 doctorgoo
    August 31, 2007

    PZ, Skatje and Collin,
    Be sure to get something written up in the college newspaper, or even the town newspaper, too, if you decide to open your group up to the community as well.

    Also, try your best to get this as an ‘officially recognized’ group by the university if you haven’t already done so (but it looks like from the website that it already is).

    Good luck guys! I recommend the “adopt a highway” program (or whatever it’s called in your state) as a good first-step philanthropy. Sure, your group is responsible for going out and picking up trash along the side of the road once or twice a year, but you a sign recognizing your group… it’s great advertising if you can get a section of a busy highway to ‘adopt’.

  109. #109 Ken Mareld
    August 31, 2007

    Congratulations on the fantastic turnout.
    20 said they would show, 60 actually did.
    This bodes well for the organizations sustainability.
    I’ve always told my son when complaining about people calling him a geek or a nerd, is that they will always later have to call him Boss.
    Ken

  110. #110 Ray
    August 31, 2007

    Congrats on the great turnout! Good luck with the future.
    As to comment #98, wouldn’t a group have to organize to a degree before they could decide on their club identity/logo and if they want to have their own t-shirts made? Give them some time. It is only their first meeting after all.
    Cheers,
    Ray

  111. #111 Xopher Y
    August 31, 2007

    Congratulations to you all, from a fellow midwesterner living in a (godawfully) godful small town.

    And, even if the hypothesis that most showed up for free pizza turns out to be true – that, at least, shows that there’s not too much of a stigma to appearing in a group of self-declared atheists, skeptics, and humanists. (I think that those, along with “evolutionists” are the four horsemen of the apocalypse, aren’t they?)

    Anyway, congratulations from one who is self-identified as all four!

  112. #112 SEF
    August 31, 2007

    I’m still waiting for the Pharyngula merchandise.

    Eg a white T-shirt with one (or more) of the original site-design’s cute embryos on it (and perhaps the web address in small print if one really must do marketing). That shouldn’t be too hard via CafePress:
    http://www.cafepress.com/

    Seed are doing their own ScienceBlogs mugs.

  113. #113 Collin Tierney
    August 31, 2007

    “Good luck guys! I recommend the “adopt a highway” program (or whatever it’s called in your state) as a good first-step philanthropy. Sure, your group is responsible for going out and picking up trash along the side of the road once or twice a year, but you a sign recognizing your group… it’s great advertising if you can get a section of a busy highway to ‘adopt’.”

    I like that idea. It will give the illusion that we atheists actually care about the world. Sure, to an ID’ist, the ploy will be about as invisible as a drawing covered by wax paper, but just imagine how effective it would be with everyone else. Good idea.

  114. #114 Josh Schraiber
    August 31, 2007

    Not fair! I’m vice president of my campus’ atheist association (called AgASA, for “Agnostic and Atheist Student Association”) and we get, at best… 15 people? Usually maybe 5 would show up to our meetings. I think this problem had to do with our leadership, though… hopefully I can help turn things around this year!

  115. #115 Collin Tierney
    August 31, 2007

    Tyrone, I don’t have a problem with any of your comments save the one where you misinterpreted our organization’s purpose. It isn’t to disprove the notion of God’s existence. It isn’t to infringe on the religious rights of anyone. It isn’t even to convert religious people. The purpose of CASH is to provide an avenue of discussion and education for people who would otherwise stay in the back of the atheistic closet. The one result these groups conclusively show around the country is that many of its members previously believed themselves to be one of very few at their school. CASH disproves the notion that atheists are outnumbered to a degree that they cannot even find someone else like them to talk to. If you’re someone who doesn’t care about whether or not God exists, good for you; I’m still not sure how that makes the rest of us cowards.

  116. #116 Brownian
    August 31, 2007

    I think Skatje, Collin, and PZ look very handsome in their T-shirts (though PZ and Skatje should smile more. I know PZ’s thinking about the enormous pizza bill, but….)

    As for groupthink, well, I’ll just have to wait for Helly Hansen and Dockers to give me my opinion on that before I can share it with you.

    Congratulations!

  117. #117 PZ Myers
    August 31, 2007

    Realistically, the attendance will drop off now that the free pizza is gone, and also as the semester proceeds and people’s schedules get increasingly busy.

    I’m sure there will be other t-shirts. Our biology club, for instance, comes out with a new t-shirt each year; they also do the adopt-a-highway business. A nice op-ed for the school paper is a good idea, and maybe Skatje would be willing. Another thing we could do at the next meeting is find out if there are any conservatives in the group who’d be willing to write an op-ed for the alternative Republican-funded rag that gets distributed around here.

    I’m pretty sure Collin and Skatje don’t plan to make the A shirt mandatory. You never know, though, I keep hearing that atheists are all amoral fascists.

  118. #118 J Daley
    August 31, 2007

    See, what you need to do is have a common aesthetic that is still indvidual to each member. Like these guys. Holla!

    Seriously, though, you all should have a t-shirt making party; it’s really easy with stencils and fabric ink. There’s a great tutorial here.

    I have often wondered about the general fashion sense of science nerds. I have to admit I go out of my way to look as dapper as possible (as do a number of undergraduates in my program) and I will continue to do so through grad school. Science nerds are super cool and generally good in bed. We should reflect these truths with our aesthetic. Then we’ll get more funding and laid more. Everybody wins.

  119. #119 Trip the Space Parasite
    August 31, 2007

    saurabh reminds me of the story I heard of Bakunin, that he went around bombing anarchist meetings because they were too organized.

  120. #120 idlemind
    August 31, 2007

    Re: T-shirts: I though a God-less atheist meeting would be clothing-optional.

    Seriously, though, there is this peculiar idea that atheists have to be “independent thinkers” of Ted Kaczynski proportion, while there really isn’t any less reason for fellowship than any other group. It’s just another aspersion cast at unbelievers be those who fear them, an attempt to dehumanize people who are simply attempting to live their lives as honest to their own perceptions as they can.

  121. #121 Louis
    September 1, 2007

    Well done PZ, Skatje and Collin. Great first night turn out, I hope the future meetings turn out as well as possible.

    The herding cats/grouping atheists thing was I think best summed up by the inestimable Mr William Hicks:

    “We’re the People Who Hate People Party. You turning up to the next meeting?”

    “Yeah”

    “Then I’m not fucking coming!”

    Louis

  122. #122 idlemind
    September 2, 2007

    That’s a nice hermetic cell you’re living in there, Louis. Mind if we not join you?

  123. #123 MarkIn Texas
    September 12, 2007

    PZ! Damned awesome! Keep kicking ass, and taking names. I suspect this development scares the hell out of the fundie herds in your area. I’m sure it’ll give the local preachers something to flap their lips about.

    I was at both the CTC meetings you spoke at in St. Paul area last month. I asked you if there were any mammals in the Cambrian. You stirred enough stew up on your own though. Ha!

    Hats off to you guys!

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