Pharyngula

Daniel Dennett is coming to town

Hey, look at this: Dan Dennett is coming to Minnesota State University in Mankato this week. I hope he shows up wearing that pimpin’ hat.

i-4ebc561b187e6809bffac22fcd47f178-pimp_dennett.jpg

Dennett, one of the nation’s most original and influential philosophers, will talk about “Religion as a Natural Phenomenon” on April 3 and “Evolution and Evitability: Free Will and Responsibility” April 4. His April 3 lecture will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Centennial Student Union Ballroom. His second talk will begin at 9 a.m. the following day in CSU 253, 254 and 255. Both are free and open to the public.

I may have to swing out that way for the first lecture…if, that is, the weather cooperates. We’re in the early hours of a serious snowstorm here…6 inches of snow tends to chill the desire to go on road trips.

Comments

  1. #1 Bueller 007
    March 31, 2008

    Pimp Dennett is my computer wallpaper.

  2. #2 Eric
    March 31, 2008

    Those lucky students!

    I can’t stand this stupid snow anymore. Curse you Ullr!

  3. #3 Sili
    March 31, 2008

    Hope won’t get you anywhere.

    You need to take a leaf outta Xkcd Monroe’s book and make sure one of your pharyngulite minions buys a pimp hat and brings it to Dennet.

  4. #4 Steve Ulven
    March 31, 2008

    Awesome, I will probably have to show up to that as well. Wish it wasn’t on a work night.

  5. #5 Dave S.
    March 31, 2008

    You can’t go anyway PZ. Look, they didn’t invite you. Do you have a ticket? Dennett wants to kick you out to make a point!! Seriously…if you sit down you might get kicked out…the public is invited to attend…NOT TO SIT!!!

    I jest. :)

  6. #6 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Go Mankato! (got my MA there, and was on faculty for a year a few years later)

  7. #7 globalizati
    March 31, 2008

    I wish I could sit on his lap and tell him what I want for Christmas (his books, of course).

  8. #8 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Lucky you. I’ve heard Dennett speak several times, and I think one of his lectures was the “Religion as a Natural Phenomenon” one, which comes, of course, from his book Breaking the Spell.

    If so, you may get to hear one of his pithy new neologisms: “The Fuzzies.” That’s his term for liberal theologians who have vague, shifting, high-sounding definitions of God you can’t really get a handle on, but which nevertheless indicate how very, very important and critical God really is. All part of his larger point about the underlying problem for scientists being this pervasive Belief in Belief.

    “I’m not sure what I’m talking about when it comes to God, but that’s not important: I have FAITH in it. That deserves respect.”

  9. #9 Logicel
    March 31, 2008

    @Sastra, think that Dennett refers to that especially annoying group of religites as Murkies or Murkys.

  10. #10 Sastra
    March 31, 2008

    Logicel #9 wrote:

    @Sastra, think that Dennett refers to that especially annoying group of religites as Murkies or Murkys.

    Arghh! Sorry — you’re right. Murkies (or Murkys), not Fuzzies. I had my notes around somewhere, but thought I remembered the term so well.

    See; that’s why we need peer review.

  11. #11 wÒÓ†
    March 31, 2008
  12. #12 Blake Stacey
    March 31, 2008

    Hard to say, but “Fuzzy” might actually be better.

  13. #13 Badjuggler
    March 31, 2008

    Forecast is for 48 degrees by Thursday, so here’s hoping they are right (for once)…That 90 minute drive from the Twin Cities is ugly enough without the white stuff.

  14. #14 Eric
    March 31, 2008

    Is this where we submit Expelled movie news? :)

    “Ben Stein Wins Money from Intelligent Design Community”
    http://www.biola.edu/academics/professional-studies/scienceandreligion/news/benstein/

    “Big science in this area of biology has lost its way,” says Stein. “Scientists are supposed to be allowed to follow the evidence wherever it may lead, no matter what the implications are. Freedom of inquiry has been greatly compromised, and this is not only anti-American, it’s anti-science.”

  15. #15 CalGeorge
    March 31, 2008

    Freedom evolves!

    “How can we be freer than our parts? Well, think about another thing that I think you will accept. We are alive, but our parts, if you get small enough, aren’t alive. You can make a living thing out of parts that aren’t living. Well, you can make a free thing out of parts that aren’t free, too. And for the same sort of reason. Freedom is a feature of the design of all those parts. If you put ‘em together right, you’ve got something that has freedom in the most interesting way anybody could ever hope for. And it has nothing to do with physics. It has to do with design and the design comes from evolution.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eS5Q-9uNCLU

  16. #16 PZ Myers
    March 31, 2008

    You did notice that his big prize is coming from the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, did you not? Do you really think we’re impressed by noise from a podunk bible college with delusions of grandeur?

  17. #17 BicycleRepairMan
    March 31, 2008

    Daniel Dennett rocks, I’m currently reading “Darwins Dangerous Idea” and its a fascinating read. I’m in a chapter now where he talks about how tool-making can help snowball an evolution if intelligence, how things like language, as a tool, might have been a crane for our high intelligence, its interesting stuff.

  18. #18 Keith Eaton
    March 31, 2008

    Do you think we’re impressed by Zebra fish researchers from the 1990’s living in a frozen tundra where they pitch a tent and start a new college wherever 18 people with 127 THAWED BRAIN CELLS and SAT scores exceeding a hockey score can raise the tuition for 7 hrs.

    I think Ann Coulter’s analysis of your background pretty well sums things up and explains your anger management issues.

    Yuu miught try reading her take on evolution and wise up.

  19. #19 RamblinDude
    March 31, 2008

    Yuu miught try reading her take on evolution and wise up.

    LOL!!!

    Great parody of a clueless idiot, Keith. Good job!

  20. #20 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Oh, Keith brings up Coulter. Time to restate the challenge:

    I will suggest instead that if anyone reading this thinks some particular paragraph anywhere in chapters 8-11 is at all competent or accurate in its description of science, send it to me. I couldn’t find one. That’s where the obligation lies: show me one supportable claim in Coulter’s farrago of lies and misleading statements and out-of-context quotes, and we’ll discuss it.

  21. #21 S.Rassi
    March 31, 2008

    Huh?

    Ann Coulter is only marginally more qualified to talk about evolution than a jar of Tang.

  22. #22 RamblinDude
    March 31, 2008

    All part of his larger point about the underlying problem for scientists being this pervasive Belief in Belief.

    “I’m not sure what I’m talking about when it comes to God, but that’s not important: I have FAITH in it. That deserves respect.”

    Good way of putting it. Weird pavlovian response to “faith”.

  23. #23 J
    March 31, 2008

    #20 Oh, Keith brings up Coulter.

    Indeed.

  24. #24 Carlie
    March 31, 2008

    Ann Coulter is only marginally more qualified to talk about evolution than a jar of Tang.

    A dry jar of Tang. Hydrate it, and it might be quite the competitor for her.

  25. #25 Eric
    March 31, 2008

    I think the only debate Ann Coulter might remotely stand a chance of holding her own against PZ would be debate on the deliciousness of Tang and how we should best thank the astronauts who created it.

  26. #26 Sven DiMilo
    March 31, 2008

    I spend way too much time here.
    I see the name “Keith Eaton” and my eyes start to roll Pavlovianly.

  27. #27 Todd
    March 31, 2008

    Tang has a sweet, orange flavor. Ann leaves a bitter, bile taste in your mouth. On the other hand, she’d be a lot more fun to freeze.

    Speaking of which: We’re in the early hours of a serious snowstorm here…

    It’s time like these I’m glad I’m in Texas, but just barely.

  28. #28 Reginald Selkirk
    March 31, 2008

    I will not have Tang derided in this manner. Tang is part of the space age.

  29. #29 DrFrank
    March 31, 2008

    Ann Coulter is only marginally more qualified to talk about evolution than a jar of Tang.
    I’d personally put the jar of Tang significantly above Coulter in the understanding evolution stakes, as at least it’s never made any statements that were complete bullshit.

  30. #30 Eric
    March 31, 2008

    Mankato!?

    Why not the U of M, Twin Cities campus? CASH?

  31. #31 Reginald Selkirk
    March 31, 2008
  32. #32 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    March 31, 2008

    Yuu miught try reading her take on evolution and wise up.

    heh heh. Man Keith you definitely take the cake for the dumbest and loudest commenter here recently. You are a grade A dumb ass. And i say that will all the insult and abrasiveness intended.

    You are the prime example on the group of people we need not coddle.

    I’m repeat myself

    You are a complete and utter fucking moron who couldn’t present an argument to save his ass if he had to.

    That quote alone up there is all the proof I need.

  33. #33 Rev. bigdumbchimp
    March 31, 2008

    typos bad

  34. #34 DrFrank
    March 31, 2008

    As someone from the UK, I have to say that it genuinely terrifies me that you have actually have people in your country who genuinely believe in what Ann Coulter says.

    I don’t think even the British Nationalist Party (racist idiots) could prod right far enough with a ten foot pole to touch Coulter :S

  35. #35 pimp
    March 31, 2008

    Sure hope it beats his lecture on the same topics at the Evolution 2006 conference in Venice. He pretty much got shouted down.

  36. #36 blf
    March 31, 2008

    After suffering repeated coughing fits from the numerous dense clouds of smoke emitted by all the recently expiring Irony Meters, I decided not to replace it for awhile. I did, for safety, install an escape value, in an attempt to prevent a dangerous build-up of the stuff.

    Yuu miught [sic] try reading her [Ann Coulter] take on evolution and wise up.

    That blew up the escape value.

  37. #37 laserboy
    March 31, 2008

    blf: so that was the whistling noise I just heard

  38. #38 Michael X
    March 31, 2008

    Speaking after Pimp Dennett, will be Generic Soul Singer #3, backed up by Lil’Jon, who will be answering all your questions about heterophenominology by running around and yelling: YEEEAAAH!! OOKAAAY!?

  39. #39 Skwee
    March 31, 2008

    Tang is part of the Space Age.

    Ann Coulter is a relic from the Dark Ages.

  40. #40 James F
    March 31, 2008

    #38

    *holds hand up to ear*

    WWWWHHHHHHHHAT?

  41. #41 blf
    March 31, 2008

    Ann Coulter is a relic from the Dark Ages.

    How did she escape being burnt at the stake? I think that was the punishment for being batshite crazy back then (in certain parts of the world).

  42. #42 CJO
    March 31, 2008

    How do you know she’s a witch?

    She looks like one!

  43. #43 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    Do you think we’re impressed by Zebra fish researchers from the 1990’s living in a frozen tundra where they pitch a tent and start a new college wherever 18 people with 127 THAWED BRAIN CELLS and SAT scores exceeding a hockey score can raise the tuition for 7 hrs.

    another case example of projection.

    Keith, who do you mean by “we”?

    judging by the traffic PZ gets, I’d say your end of “we” must be rather minuscule, if you were speaking of numbers of people who find this particular blogger of interest.

    were you referring to some other commenter in this thread?

    *looks*

    funny, but your comments appear to be shared only by yourself.

    are you a gang of one?

    moron.

  44. #44 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    I do apologize, but I’ve decided that every time some troll mentions Coulter I just have to post this.

    http://ifuckedanncoulterintheasshard.blogspot.com/

    I promise to vary it between the first and second chapters every time, though.

  45. #45 windy
    March 31, 2008

    CoE refuses to de-baptise atheist

    A church is not needed for de-baptism. In Finland we have this lake, where the pagans used to go to wash the baptism off.

  46. #46 DanioPhD
    March 31, 2008

    Ichthyic @#44: I was intending to post that very link if you hadn’t beaten me to it. LOVE it! Must be a fish thing ;-)

  47. #47 JJR
    March 31, 2008

    re: Neologisms, #9,10, 12
    ‘Hard to say, but “Fuzzy” might actually be better.’

    I agree. Or FuzzMurks for Fuzzy Murkies if you want to do a mash-up of terms.

    In any case, as Dawkins and Dennett have pointed out repeatedly, their goodie-goodie Diety-construct bears little or no resemblance to the tyrannical, blood-soaked, bible-bound Gawd character the masses exalt…

  48. #48 mandydax
    March 31, 2008

    Eric wrote:

    I think the only debate Ann Coulter might remotely stand a chance of holding her own against PZ would be debate on the deliciousness of Tang and how we should best thank the astronauts who created it.

    Don’t be rediculous, the Astronauts didn’t invent Tang. It was the catering staff to the soundstages where they fakes the moon landings. The only thing that would have made that hoax more laughable is if they had a monster chase the “astronauts.” <Poe> ;P

  49. #49 mandydax
    March 31, 2008

    oops, that should be a < /Poe> tag. >.<

  50. #50 SteveM
    March 31, 2008

    #48: my humor detector is not broken, but just to be clear, Tang was not invented by or for the astronauts.

    Tang is a sugared, fruit-flavored, non-carbonated soft drink from the USA. The original orange flavored Tang was formulated by General Foods Corporation in 1957 and first marketed (in powdered form) in 1959.[1]

    It was initially intended as a breakfast drink, but sales were poor until NASA began using it on Gemini flights in 1965, and that use was heavily advertised.[2] Since that time, it has been associated with the U.S. manned spaceflight program.[3][4]

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_(drink)

  51. #51 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    LOVE it! Must be a fish thing ;-)

    Have you embraced your inner fish today?

    ;)

    your handle implies that like PZed, you too work with zebrafish?

    I fancy cichlids and pomacentrids myself.

  52. #52 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    I fancy cichlids and pomacentrids myself.

    I’m a fan of seared tuna myself.

  53. #53 DanioPhD
    March 31, 2008

    your handle implies that like PZed, you too work with zebrafish?

    Indeed I do, and, like PZed, I am interested in them principally for their usefulness as a model organism, as opposed to an interest driven by any distinct ichthyophilic proclivities (not that there’s anything wrong with that…). Specifically, in using zebrafish as a model for human deaf-blindness, I’m most interested in the ways in which the molecular/cellular processes of zebrafish eyes and ears are similar to those of humans.

    Sorry for the verbose justification, but most people outside the field who find out I work with fish assume that I am an ichthyologist of some sort. I feel it’s important to point out that I only know as much about fish as I need to know to ask the biological questions that interest me.

    I fancy cichlids and pomacentrids myself.
    What is it about cichlids that’s so sexy? You’re the third person in a week who’s expressed an interest. Are they, and also pomacentrids, presumably, appealing from an aquaculture/hobbyist perspective?

  54. #54 Ichthyic
    March 31, 2008

    Specifically, in using zebrafish as a model for human deaf-blindness, I’m most interested in the ways in which the molecular/cellular processes of zebrafish eyes and ears are similar to those of humans.

    Damn, I’ve been out of circulation too long; never would have even guessed at that direction of research. Meh, but then I focus on behavior and population biology. Sounds fascinating, though. Grad or postdoc?

    What is it about cichlids that’s so sexy?

    adaptive radiation is the big one*. Have you ever heard of the rift lakes in Africa? They pretty much have served as a cornucopia of information on evolution and speciation. However, my particular interest in them focused on female mate choice, and also adult/juvenile interactions. Mate choice can be quite a complicated affair in fishes. Also did some work looking at how color patterns influence behavior in adults and juveniles.

    There’s been some good systematics work done on them too, and they served as primary subjects in developing many PCR techniques in the old Alan Wilson lab at Berkeley.

    actually, I think they would probably rank just behind Poeciliids in popularity as subjects of scientific study in the fish world.

    that said, most of my published work actually utilizes Pomacentrids. Took me to the tropics (French Polynesia can be a damn fine place to do research), and had a chance to explore some interesting (if offbeat) questions regarding ontogenetic color change.

    Are they, and also pomacentrids, presumably, appealing from an aquaculture/hobbyist perspective?

    oh yes, quite:

    http://www.cichlid.org/

    we had hundreds of them in dozens of tanks (from tiny to huge pools) at Berkeley.

    Pomacentrids, being essentially all marine, are a bit more restricted, but also extremely popular aquarium animals.

    Of course, after having said all that, I actually switched to working on elasmobranchs about 15 years ago, and still work on them from time to time.

    good luck with your work!

    Maybe drop a link to it at some point?

    *here’s a link to a nice little non-technical review:
    http://www.aquarticles.com/articles/breeding/Wilkins_Evolution.html

  55. #55 Carlie
    March 31, 2008

    In Finland we have this lake, where the pagans used to go to wash the baptism off.

    But, um, do they scare the eels away first? Because I wouldn’t set foot in a lake that had human-sized eels in it. Not even to wash away the baptism. Can one do it Catholic style and just sprinkle some of the lake water on oneself?

  56. #56 MAJeff, OM
    March 31, 2008

    Just a note for folks from outside Mankato who may be tempted to take the trip–eat before you leave (or take food with you). Mankato is a culinary wasteland (although Schmidt’s Meat Market in Nicollet–13 miles west–makes awesome bratwurst–I make my parents ship them to me here in Boston once or twice a year).

    I was thrilled a couple years ago when I was back because there was actually an Ethiopian restaurant (dunno if it’s still there, but given Minnesotans’ allergy to flavor, I kind of doubt it). I used to drive the hour and a half to Minneapolis for Pho, sushi, or anything South Asian…heck even for a decent pizza or pasta. If you’re a vegetarian, all you’ll be able to have is an iceberg lettuce salad.

  57. #57 Bill
    March 31, 2008

    Ahhh! I wish I could go. Will Dennett be speaking in the Seattle area any time soon?
    Will his talks be recorded? Could somebody please post them afterwards?

  58. #58 malatesta
    March 31, 2008

    #3

    Excellent idea

    This is pretty close to the hat in question, if anyone is up for the task:
    http://www.pimphats.com/ecatalog/product_info.php/cPath/26_31/products_id/60
    You can probably find similar at any costume shops around too.

  59. #59 malatesta
    March 31, 2008

    Oh yeah, and Pimp Dennett is totally my myspace profile pic.

  60. #60 Lyle G
    March 31, 2008

    Ann Coulter;
    T will not call her the ‘b’ word
    Because I have nothing against
    Lady canines
    I will not call her the ‘W’ word
    Because the witches I know
    are NICE people
    Just call her an ‘itch’

  61. #61 John Scanlon, FCD
    March 31, 2008
    In Finland we have this lake, where the pagans used to go to wash the baptism off.

    But, um, do they scare the eels away first? Because I wouldn’t set foot in a lake that had human-sized eels in it.

    Lakes with abundant large eels are associated with the Rainbow Serpent in Australia, and similar traditions in New Guinea. Powerful indigenous pagan stuff.
    That reminds me, when Dennett comes to town doesn’t he usually travel by sleigh and wear the red suit?

  62. #62 webron1653
    April 1, 2008

    Drats, Not close enough- Is anybody going to post a video or audio of the talks. Would be a nice piece to listen to on a cool evening, better than listening to the “news”.

  63. #63 Hap
    April 1, 2008

    1) Isn’t reading Ann Coulter for anything resembling logic or honesty kind of like reading Kissinger to find out how to peacefully resolve conflict?

    2) One of the people on another blog said that AC reminds him of the scene in Alien:Resurrection where Ripley sees the engineered aliens for the first time:” (Ripley) She’s a queen. (Scientist) Yes – how do you know? (Ripley) She’ll breed. You’ll die.” It seemed accurate, particularly in light of Kseniya’s proposal that AC has pharyngeal jaws. Too bad no solution to alien infestation (including nukes) has been revealed to alleviate the problem.

  64. #64 Eric
    April 1, 2008

    How was it?

  65. #65 Eric
    April 2, 2008

    ^^^ I was addressing that question to those of you who own working time machines that operate in both the backwards and forwards directions.

    Turns out this is Thursday night and Friday morning.

  66. #66 MikeD
    April 4, 2008

    Interesting article in the Minnesota State University Reporter regarding Daniel Dennett’s lecture. An excerpt:

    http://media.www.msureporter.com/media/storage/paper937/news/2008/04/03/SpeakersAndPresentations/WellKnown.Philosopher.To.Discuss.Evolution.At.Msu-3301438.shtml

    Although the philosophy professors responsible for inviting Dennett to come do not entirely agree with his beliefs, that is partially why he was invited. The field of philosophy is generally looked at as one very long conversation about life.

    “We’re privileged to have such an internationally distinguished philosopher speak at our school,” said MSU philosophy professor Richard Liebendorfer.

    Not everyone agrees with this point of view. Controversy began when the Mankato Free Press printed a letter written by one of its readers, denouncing Dennett and his views.

    The last line of the letter said, “Evolution has a stranglehold on today’s educational system and it is time to start allowing students to truly be free thinkers.”

    That same day, someone created a forum titled ‘evolution’ on the paper’s website. The forum has received more than 90 posts since it was created.

    Dennett’s visit to MSU was made possible by the Andreas family’s recent donation to the College of Arts and Humanities. Dennett was also invited from one of his former students, Sun Yu, who is now a philosophy professor at MSU.

    Anyone who attends the lectures can speak once Dennett is finished with his talks. There will be microphones available in aisles for questions and comments.

  67. #67 mirc
    December 31, 2008

    tahnks

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