Pharyngula

I WANT A UNITY CONVENTION!

An annoying but intrinsic property of atheists is that we are all horribly fractured — this is a disparate group with no central leadership, and that’s the way we like it — but it also means our presence is fragmented and easier to ignore. We have all these different godless organizations with different national meetings that overlap and often share members, but no coherence. Margaret Downey has been pushing an idea for a little while that you can read about in a post on the Friendly Atheist from last year: we should all at least once get together in one giant massive united meeting and make a show of our numbers and our common goals.

It’s been a struggle to get this together. The initial plan was to do it in 2010, but that’s not going to happen; the proposal now is to stage a Unity Convention in 2013 in Washington, DC. All the national non-theist organizations would coordinate for this event and bring their memberships together in one gathering, one grand mega-meeting in which we’d let the leaders of the country know that we’re here and we’re watching them and we vote.

I think it’s a fabulous idea. I’d go. How many of you would join us? We could all join hands in the Mall and make a joyful noise for humanity and reason, and then adjourn to the Smithsonian for some tasty science. If you like the idea, leave an endorsement here or at Hemant’s site…and, I might add, if you’re a member of one of the many atheist groups in the US, let your leadership know you want to be able to share the dream with everyone else.

Comments

  1. #1 Josh
    January 4, 2010

    It’s a fine idea.

  2. #2 VoiceoftheGods
    January 4, 2010

    Sounds like a great idea to me. And the fact that I live just a short metro ride from the National Mall makes my inner laziness happy.

  3. #3 Blak Thundar
    January 4, 2010

    Sounds pretty rad, I’d be up for it.

  4. #4 Ol'Greg
    January 4, 2010

    Wow.

    I have no idea what my life will look like in 2013!

    I’m glad 2010 isn’t happening though since I’ve already committed all my vacation time on a trip to Paris.

    But yeah, I’d love to do it.

  5. #5 mk
    January 4, 2010

    I’m a short Red Line trip from the National Mall… I’ll be there!

  6. #6 fishyfred
    January 4, 2010

    I live here so I’m up for it.

  7. #7 SaintStephen
    January 4, 2010

    With dancing godless girls and everything?

    Count me in!

  8. #8 Michelle R
    January 4, 2010

    2013? What are you talking about?! We’ll all be dead!

    What? It’s bullshit? Oh, sorry.

    Well I guess I could try to be there. 2013 is far enough I can see if I can gather the $$

  9. #9 Abdul Alhazred
    January 4, 2010

    Goody.

    A standard AtheistTM doctrine at last. :p

  10. #10 SteveM
    January 4, 2010

    Its the first step to an atheist religion!

  11. #11 mumonjmk
    January 4, 2010

    Maybe you can let nontheist Buddhists in?

  12. #12 Glen Davidson
    January 4, 2010

    Why do I suspect it will be as successful as the UN at uniting everyone?

    Well, it’s worth a try, anyway, and even the UN has its successes.

    Glen D
    http://tinyurl.com/mxaa3p

  13. #13 NixNoctua
    January 4, 2010

    hmm… 2013 is a looooong time away. At least it gives me 3 years to plan. I think I’ll figure out someway to get there.

  14. #14 Celtic_Evolution
    January 4, 2010

    All obvious ’2012 doomsday’ jokes aside…

    Seriously? We can’t get our shit together before 2013?

    I’m sorry, but that is deplorable and serves to highlight the point PZ made in his very first sentence.

    Of course I’ll be there and think it’s a fabulous idea… I just refuse to believe it can’t happen well before then.

  15. #15 fishyfred
    January 4, 2010

    Oh, I’ll also help organize. And I’ll make a movie about it. And I’ll donate to help make it happen. And. And. And.

  16. #16 ursulamajor
    January 4, 2010

    Yay! I’m only an hour west of DC.
    Will be there with as many heathens
    as I can gather. We can all dance
    naked in the moonlight.

  17. #17 The Pint
    January 4, 2010

    Excellent idea. One of the things I love about the non-theist/atheist community is the diversity (not to mention lack of central, controlling authority) and it would be a fantastic opportunity to mix & meet while demonstrating that we are a far larger portion of the population than given credit for.

  18. #18 Jadehawk, OM
    January 4, 2010

    assuming i’ll still be in the States in 2013, I’m up for it :-)

  19. #19 Kevin
    January 4, 2010

    Well, if I’m still here, I’ll go – I wouldn’t deny the opportunity. I live right outside DC.

    Speaking of which, perhaps minorly OT – how can I find Atheist organizations in my current area? There’s gotta be some other free-thinkers out there.

  20. #20 Endor
    January 4, 2010

    2nd what Jadehawk said. If the plan to move to BC haven’t come to fruition by then, I will absolutely be there.

  21. #21 Knockgoats
    January 4, 2010

    I’m glad 2010 isn’t happening though – ‘Ol Greg

    It isn’t? We’ve skipped straight into 2011? Or into 2013 itself, to avoid the ends of the world? Why does nobody tell me or the BBC these things???

  22. #22 R. Schauer
    January 4, 2010

    About time…I’m in! See you there in 2013.

  23. #23 llewelly
    January 4, 2010

    I’m against it. 2013 is obviously the most unlucky year this century.

  24. #24 Pete K
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in!

  25. #25 Patricia, OM
    January 4, 2010

    Proud member of FFRF – Freedom From Religion Foundation.

    Are the boys going to dance nekked too?

  26. #26 SC OM
    January 4, 2010

    I hope we can, at long last, mend the deep rifts.

  27. #27 Zifnab
    January 4, 2010

    :-p I was kinda a big fan of atheism specifically because we didn’t have to get all dressed up and attend formal functions.

    But I guess if it’s for a good cause…

  28. #28 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    It’s only 6 hours away – I can do that. Definitely think it is a great idea.

    JC

  29. #29 Disturbingly Openminded
    January 4, 2010

    My neck of the woods; I’d love to come.

    But 2012 — a presidential election year — really would be far, far better.

    @Kevin: I’m in Frederick (Fredneck) County, MD. You?

  30. #30 tlbuzz
    January 4, 2010

    Count me in! I’d help organize carpool/bus rentals in Rochester NY if anyone needs a hand (or ride) or whatever.

  31. #31 jojodancingbear
    January 4, 2010

    I am so in. I can be there in 3 hours and will be bringing many with me.

  32. #32 fishyfred
    January 4, 2010

    @Kevin #19

    Speaking of which, perhaps minorly OT – how can I find Atheist organizations in my current area? There’s gotta be some other free-thinkers out there.

    First, lose the capital A. Second, join Beltway Atheists.

  33. #33 Nemo
    January 4, 2010

    This thread needs some “Life of Brian” references, but I’m not feeling up to it.

    Will we see PZ and Mooney hugging?

    Will the liberals lie down with the Randroids?

  34. #34 Sven DiMilo
    January 4, 2010

    have fun
    I hate convening for any reason

  35. #35 Claire
    January 4, 2010

    Sounds great! But can we do it when the weather is nice?

  36. #36 lurker42
    January 4, 2010

    another lazy MoCo(MD) atheist votes yes.

  37. #37 MrFire
    January 4, 2010

    We can get together and cannibalize children in an arena lit by flaming goats.

    Oh wait, the Romans did something similar…?

  38. #38 Kevin
    January 4, 2010

    @Disturbingly Openminded:

    Alexandria, VA. Just moved here in April, since I got out of my overwhelmingly Christian family, I’ve had a lot more freedom to question them, so I haven’t had the opportunity to see who else lives in the area who may share atheist thoughts.

    Now all I need to do is find a hot atheist chick – though her being an atheist would probably make me immediately think she’s hot – intelligence is sexy.

  39. #39 tyaddow
    January 4, 2010

    Absolutely, count me in.

  40. #40 hombremoleculos
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in.

  41. #41 Antiochus Epimanes
    January 4, 2010

    It’s a thousand-mile trip for me, but count me in.

    As for unity: we should work toward it, but let’s not get discouraged if no united front emerges. For comparison, look at how long it took Christians to get together … oh, wait, they still haven’t.

  42. #42 Kevin
    January 4, 2010

    @fishyfred (32):

    Whoops, just a typo. I know atheism has no capital letter unless it’s more or less religious atheism (“there are NO gods” as opposed to “I don’t have reason to believe in a god.”)

  43. #43 scribe999
    January 4, 2010

    Sure, I like D.C. …and I can take another run at wandering around the Smithsonian.

  44. #44 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    @Kevin: You might want to start with the Science Cafe in the area – not a guarantee of Atheist, but a reasonably good start – and you have some pretty interesting meetings coming up. I am jealous.

    Here is ashort list of some atheist/agnostic groups in the DC area

    Good luck! hope this helps a little. There are bound to be more.

    JC

  45. #45 rmp
    January 4, 2010

    Schedule and Finances permitting, absolutely!

  46. #46 Anri
    January 4, 2010

    I dunno folks.

    After Jindal/Palin sweep the 2012 election* and make daily attendence of the Miracle-Spewing Church of the Mighty-White Jesus!!! mandatory, we might end up facing National Guard APC’s on the quad…
    Sounds risky.

    Actually, to echo Ol’Greg above, my life will have changed in some substantial ways by that time, almost certainly. Probably, though (barring a move to Australia), it will make such a trip more, rather than less, likely.

    (*No, I don’t think they actually will. Assuming it’s them and not someone, somehow even worse.)

  47. #47 Ted Zissou
    January 4, 2010

    Yes, I’ll go. lets change the status quo.

  48. #48 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    @Anri – all the more reason to present (some sort of) a united front.

    A bit late perhaps, but hey – you take what you get I guess ;-)

    I can’t tell anyone here how much that scenario scares me. Almost everyone here already understands.

    JC

  49. #49 tony.bubbles
    January 4, 2010

    I’d be there. I’ve wanted to visit DC for a while now.

  50. #50 clockkingfl
    January 4, 2010

    It’s a great idea! It’s an opportunity to demonstrate just how much larger the extended group is than the general public has been led to believe. It’s also an opportunity to demonstrate the potential political influence we have if we all work together.

  51. #51 btj
    January 4, 2010

    In.

  52. #52 elef3u
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in. My girlfriend is in. What a great day that will be. That is, unless the world explodes in 2012 ::rolleyes::

    Can’t wait till 2013!

    Plus, I’m in Baltimore, MD, so it’s a short drive to DC.

    -Charlie E.

  53. #53 Triggertom
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in. I’m a member of FFRF and I will encourage this wonderful goal. We need some unity, as well as diversity. Let’s get this done.

  54. #54 atheoi.org
    January 4, 2010

    @Kevin #19 (+all DC locals): Center For Inquiry has a DC Center on Capitol Hill that does many events throughout the month: http://centerforinquiry.net/dc

  55. #55 ursulamajor
    January 4, 2010

    Hey Kevin and others. There are often smaller casual atheist groups to be found through:

    http://www.meetup.com

  56. #56 The Science Pundit
    January 4, 2010

    The initial plan was to do it in 2010,

    … and in Philadelphia. That would’ve been so sweet for me! I do however still plan to be at (and even volunteer at) the 2013 convention in DC.

  57. #57 matt
    January 4, 2010

    Great idea! Now, where’s my 2013 calendar….. :)

    -Matt

  58. #58 DanielR
    January 4, 2010

    Absolutely in.

  59. #59 Peter Reynolds
    January 4, 2010

    Sounds incredible…I’m in!

  60. #60 washi
    January 4, 2010

    My husband and I would definitely go, assuming we could gather the money for it (being three years in the future, I think that’s pretty doable).

    So, definitely in!

  61. #61 Gus Snarp
    January 4, 2010

    I’m not usually one for joining groups or attending conventions, but I would think about it.

  62. #62 badgersdaughter
    January 4, 2010

    I hope I can go. I will be there if I can.

  63. #63 dutchdoc
    January 4, 2010

    I’m with #14, and all others who have expressed a similar sentiment.

    Love the idea, but 2013 ???

    The folks who picked 2013 probably just love the idea as well, but don’t want to do much for such a gathering: “Let someone else organize it”.

    Let’s do it NOW. 2010!

    Get one of the bigger Atheist organizations organize a get together and invite everyone.

    So what if we don’t get ALL American Atheists to attend the first time! GROW it!

    Look at the TAM meetings! We started with, what? 150 people? Last TAM had over a thousands attendees!

    We have to start NOW! And grow it.

  64. #64 NixNoctua
    January 4, 2010

    Uhh… I just realized: how much would this convention cost to register? ‘Cause if it’s expensive, I won’t go no matter how much I want to.

  65. #65 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    2013??? Are you kidding me? Oh well, I guess that gives me time to actually JOIN a non-theist organization.

    Thinking about starting a Drinking Skeptically group in lower NoVA. (Another DC-er here.) Anyone go to these? This is a weird question, but do women attend? I ask, because I actually don’t know any skeptics that would attend that aren’t men.

  66. #66 Chris Who Runs in the Woods
    January 4, 2010

    I second the motion to have this thing in 2012. Let’s have it on a national election year and really hammer the point home.

    Having said that, I’d make an attempt to be there whatever year it was held.

  67. #67 qbsmd
    January 4, 2010

    I’d love to go. Everyone’s bringing their iron chariots and lions, right>
    “It’s just like The Million Man March, except there actually are a million people.”- Southpark

  68. #68 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    wow–google makes your sign in a HOT MESS…

  69. #69 Doc_Murray
    January 4, 2010

    I hereby signify my endorsement.

  70. #70 Sgt. Obvious
    January 4, 2010

    That’s a great idea! This past semester, we finally got a skeptic group on my (very prestigious) campus, and it felt so good to meet other people who feel the same way, including several people I’d had classes with, but didn’t know about. Taking that to a national level seems like a big boost for public awareness of atheism.

  71. #71 TimJohnsonMN
    January 4, 2010

    I gotta say I’m torn. I think it’s really important to show the nation just how many of us there are, but I also think our lack of unity is such a strong point. I know this isn’t original, but we don’t have a unity conference for people who don’t believe in pixies (although I believe in The Pixies). And I can already imagine how many prominent Christian media outlets will cover a conference like this and use it as a rallying point for people of faith. I could imagine some would look at this and say “See, I told you it’s a religion.”

    So, I’m trying to figure out what the goal of a conference like this would be (??recognition, respect and appreciation???) and if this is the best way to accomplish those goals without the backlash. Almost 15 years later the Million Man March is still a source of controversy as to what it accomplished, regardless of how noble the effort may have been. (And no, I?m not defending Farrakhan.)

  72. #72 The Crocoduck Hunter
    January 4, 2010

    I’m definitely in, no question.

  73. #73 Josh
    January 4, 2010

    Speaking of which, perhaps minorly OT – how can I find Atheist organizations in my current area? There’s gotta be some other free-thinkers out there.

    Kevin, as fishyfred suggested, checking out Beltway Atheists is a good place to begin.

  74. #74 Drew
    January 4, 2010

    But what will we call it? Unified Atheist League? United Atheist Alliance? Allied Atheist Allegiance? Think of the wars that will ensue between the people that want different names. And what about the otters?

  75. #75 Seamyst
    January 4, 2010

    Sure, I’m in!

  76. #76 Kevin
    January 4, 2010

    @Josh (73):

    Yeah, I actually sent in a request to join, just gotta wait for it to be accepted.

  77. #77 Trug
    January 4, 2010

    I’m not sure where I’ll be in 2013, but it sounds like a fine idea to me. Count me in!

  78. #78 Blind Squirrel FCD
    January 4, 2010

    Hell no. Lousy idea. Travel into a large cesspool of a city? DC is on my list of places to avoid. Most of the rest of them are in Ohio, for some reason.

    BS

  79. #79 gre
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in! I’ll put it on my calendar!

  80. #80 UkkotheIrish
    January 4, 2010

    Yeah! Count me in! I’ll bring the Irish vibe me boyo! :D

  81. #81 Orac
    January 4, 2010

    2013? That’s too late to have any hope of influencing or organizing for the 2012 elections.

  82. #82 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    Hot Mess :grin: at 65 – My son just got assigned to NSWC Dahlgren – and I am certain would be VERY interested in a Drinking Skeptically group if it were anywhere within maybe an hour’s drive.

    I would be very happy to tell him about it should you decide to do it.

    JC

  83. #83 CanonicalKoi
    January 4, 2010

    I’d love to! It’s going to be a bit like herding cats to get everyone there, but my husband and I would love to attend. If nothing else, it’d help show the vocal, religious majority just how many of us there are.

  84. #84 Randomfactor
    January 4, 2010

    Can we add in a Council of Non-Nice-ea to decide which blogs are heretical and which canonical?

  85. #85 SEF
    January 4, 2010

    2013 ?! :-o

  86. #86 nic nicholson
    January 4, 2010

    If I’m still an atheist (!) in 2013, I’ll definitely go!

  87. #87 goodboyCerberus
    January 4, 2010

    It seems most everyone is for this, but I haven?t read all the comments. I’m interested in rational reasons not to do this, as this seems like a no-brainer.

    Anyway, yes please!

    I can carpool from Columbia, MD to the Greenbelt station. If anyone’s in the area, let me know.

  88. #88 RichardK
    January 4, 2010

    I vote in favor of the proposition!

    And, lookit all the replies saying “I live right near DC”. I do too (Manassas). Why shouldn’t we be having get-togethers already? Why wait?

  89. #89 Kevin
    January 4, 2010

    @RichardK (88):

    Good point. Maybe we should have some kinda DC get together that we can do all on our own.

    When it’s not so cold, of course. It was freakin’ freezing this morning, I could hardly hold onto my paper waiting 5 minutes for the Yellow Line.

  90. #90 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    Richard K—#88 I was thinking of having the Drinking Skeptically in Manassas…

    hot mess (Denise in Woodbridge)

  91. #91 PinkySlayer
    January 4, 2010

    I think we should do it in 2010 and 2013

  92. #92 Ol'Greg
    January 4, 2010

    I’m glad 2010 isn’t happening though – ‘Ol Greg
    It isn’t? We’ve skipped straight into 2011? Or into 2013 itself, to avoid the ends of the world? Why does nobody tell me or the BBC these things???

    LMAO! Blame the rapture? Yeah, I’ve got a way with words. And by “way” I mean “problem.”

  93. #93 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    @ JackC #82
    If we meet in Fredericksburg, that MAY be an hour from Dahlgren.

    But he and I may be the only two there!! (I would say lol, but this comment makes me just too sad!)

  94. #94 leepicton
    January 4, 2010

    I am in Ellicott City, MD, and circumstances permitting, will be there. We also have 2 guest rooms in in the upstairs we could let out cheap. In a pinch we could sleep 5 up there. I’m a life member of the FFRF, too. If the husbeast is still on the right side of the grass, I should be able to get someone to make sure he is attended to during the day.

  95. #95 Ol'Greg
    January 4, 2010

    Then again I keep saying I’ll go to one of the local meetups around here and never do because um… I don’t already know anyone there.

    Yes, I see the flaw in that logic.
    No, I probably won’t change.

  96. #96 Strangest brew
    January 4, 2010

    Should be a global outing…why not ?

    Seems that the religious have really lost the plot and have degenerated into a parody of hysterically ignorant fools and charlatans…they have a right to know that they are not going to be tolerated much longer…

    Don’t give a flying boomerang for their delusion they are welcomed to it, I just do not want it presented as a ‘goodness’ in the world that we all must aspire to…simply cos it fuckin ain’t so either which way!
    Either in the sense of ‘Good’ or that it must be everyone’s default state.

  97. #97 bastion of sass
    January 4, 2010

    I live near Baltimore. So, yeah, I’d be very interested, so long as I can come even if I’m not a member of one of the groups.

    I hope there will be meetings in bars and such, either before or after–or even during–our tempting God to smite DC once and for all.

    And I will carpool to the Greenbelt Station.

  98. #98 Caddisfly
    January 4, 2010

    A nice idea, but as we all pride ourselves on being free thinkers, I suspect it would be rather like trying to ride herd on cats.

  99. #99 Kevin
    January 4, 2010

    @bastion of sass (97):

    Heck yeah, we need bar meetups!

    I don’t know enough good bars in the area, and getting to know the area plus people in the area is a great use of my free time of which I have too much.

  100. #100 e. howard smith
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in. Tell me when, where, and what time.

  101. #101 sphitz
    January 4, 2010

    I would seriously consider attending a Unity atheist convention, but only as an independent, as I am not a member of any local atheist group.

  102. #102 superposition
    January 4, 2010

    I would likely attend.

  103. #103 Lobotomy
    January 4, 2010

    Count me in.

  104. #104 Harry Tuttle
    January 4, 2010

    I think it may conflict with my aphilataelist club schedule… you know, where people who don’t collect stamps hang out together.

  105. #105 flatlander
    January 4, 2010

    I’m there, god willin’ an’ the creek don’t rise.

  106. #106 En Passant
    January 4, 2010

    Goats on fire, that’s a great plan. Count me in!

  107. #107 Alpha Bitch
    January 4, 2010

    I’d love to be there. I think several from my local meetup group would also attend.
    Link:
    http://www.meetup.com/Ohio-Michigan-Atheists/

    I agree that we should be able to do it a bit sooner than 2013. When I heard of Skepticon, I assumed that this was what it was. No?

  108. #108 redmonster
    January 4, 2010

    Yay, a godless convention in my area! (I live in Greenbelt.) I am so there!

    Furthermore, if I have achieved a non-shitty residential situation by then, I will host out-of-town heathens and show them around the Metro system.

    (Alyson Miers)

  109. #109 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    @Denise (Hot Mess) 90 & 93 –

    Manassas might be a bit far – but I never doubt his ability to travel for beer, particularly if it is good (he has been schooled in beer snobbery). I think he is already looking at trying to join a karate group (Soo Bahk Do, to be precise) in Fredricksburg.

    Only two? Well – you have to start somewhere – and better than just one.

    JC

  110. #110 Paddy-O
    January 4, 2010

    I live in the baltimore area as well (though i may be moving to St. Croix USVI in a month or two). I’ll be back by 2013, and would most definitely go.

    For others that live around baltimore and want to do a “Drinking Skeptically” of our own, a bar in baltimore that is both good and conducive to conversation is brewer’s art.

    No i don’t work there, but i do enjoy it. Another i’ve heard of is idle hour. No tv’s, and at the right times, no loud music either.

    Ok, enough treading the line between conversation and advertising. If any baltimore area athiests want to meet up soon, let me know. I should get on with meeting more like minded peoples.

  111. #111 jnnydnti
    January 4, 2010

    Who has proposed a 2013 conference? It’s not on AAI’s website . . . Who’s the lead organizer for it?

    I Googled. Google came up dry.

    You can count me in if it happens, but is anyone actively working to make it happen?

  112. #112 JT Eberhard
    January 4, 2010

    I’d be in, and I’d drag an army of Pastafarians from Springfield, Mo with me.

    JT

  113. #113 Legion
    January 4, 2010

    We’ll be there if PZ promises to don some robes and flip flops and deliver the Atheist Ten CommandmentsTM. Now where can we find a golden calf?

    Now what about a name for this thing. We’ve got some ideas:

    1. Athiestpalooza 2013
    2. Heathenstock
    3. ???

    And a shout out to all the godless hordes in the Mid-Atlantic region. Be there!

  114. #114 Zernk
    January 4, 2010

    Me ‘n my heathens’ll be checkin’ the locks at the top uh da Four Seasons.

    I mean… yes. I’ll be there with a godless horde in tow.

  115. #115 llewelly
    January 4, 2010

    nic nicholson Author Profile Page | January 4, 2010 2:46 PM:

    If I’m still an atheist (!) in 2013, I’ll definitely go!

    Well. Jesus comes back in 2011, and the world ends in 2012. If one of those two doesn’t change your mind, nothing will.

  116. #116 Nerdette
    January 4, 2010

    Please, oh please can we make this happen. Now that I live in Virginia, I can actually attend such a gathering. I’ll even drag my equally-godless (now) husband with me!

    The 2013 date is a bit of bummer though – such a long wait.

  117. #117 Ol'Greg
    January 4, 2010

    Oh yeah. The thing is I’m not a member of anywhere. I’d have to show up as a free freethinker. Yeah, if any local meetups are more like going for a few drinks and not scary for an under thirty female I’d be game, but I’m nowhere near Baltimore or DC or anywhere but Dallas.

  118. #118 Zernk
    January 4, 2010

    #113: Too Freakin’ Much. Gawd musta made us type that at exactly the same time. It’s living proof of His Existence. Oh… wait…

  119. #119 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    Nerdette #116
    Where do you live?? I assume you are a woman? *fleeting hope passes Hot Mess’s desk*

    Hot Mess Denise in Woodbridge
    (hoping to start a Drinking Skeptically in lower Northern Virginia/Manassas)

  120. #120 kanderson321
    January 4, 2010

    That sounds like a LOT of fun! I’m in.

  121. #121 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 4, 2010

    But what will we call it? Unified Atheist League? United Atheist Alliance? Allied Atheist Allegiance?

    Atheist & Skeptics Society.

  122. #122 Ol'Greg
    January 4, 2010

    121 FTW!

  123. #123 Endor
    January 4, 2010

    OMG. If the A.S.S. presents Heathenstock, I’d be there and buy a t-shirt.

    Please FSM, let this be happening!

  124. #124 Legion
    January 4, 2010

    Zernk:

    #113: Too Freakin’ Much. Gawd musta made us type that at exactly the same time. It’s living proof of His Existence. Oh… wait…

    It’s a miracle! BWWAAAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!!

  125. #125 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmqjr1Soop8J7pn5KfowpETBPlb5K6MC_8
    January 4, 2010

    I support the idea of having a united meeting of all atheist groups, instead of continuing to have fractured un-organized meetings as you mentioned.

    But unfortunately my finances dictate that I will be unable to make the trip as I am located on the wrong coast.

  126. #126 Upliftingmofo
    January 4, 2010

    I am completely there, and willing to contribute to the festivities!

  127. #127 Zygar
    January 4, 2010

    What a great idea!

  128. #128 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=238291301508

    I created a Facebook group for anyone interested in the Lower Beltway/Manassas Drinking Skeptically group yet to be formed.

    JC, tell your son to join it!

    Denise with the Hot Mess Google signature in Woodbridge

  129. #129 Anomic Entropy
    January 4, 2010

    121 = Fabulous

    If I had any doubt about traveling all the way across the country, it has fled. I will have an A.S.S. T-shirt.

  130. #130 Rutee, Shrieking Harpy of Dooooom
    January 4, 2010

    @74: I lol’d. Thanks for that :D

  131. #131 Capital Dan
    January 4, 2010

    If I’m still alive, I’ll go.

  132. #132 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    I will – the moment he lands again. He left this morning to drive from mid(ish) NY to Philadelphia and from there to who-knows-where. I’ll join now and get the message to him. Cool – and good luck!

    JC

  133. #133 inmobileal
    January 4, 2010

    I’m In !!!

  134. #134 Celtic_Evolution
    January 4, 2010

    But what will we call it? Unified Atheist League? United Atheist Alliance? Allied Atheist Allegiance?

    Atheist & Skeptics Society.

    Brilliant!

    Then we could, of course, refer to our little gala as “AssFest”, or “AssWorld”, or better yet, “Ass-plosion”.

  135. #135 Glenn Kachmar
    January 4, 2010

    I am Canadian, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t help to have a few of us, too. Count me in. I’d make a trip to the States for this.

  136. #136 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 4, 2010

    I need more details, like when in 2013.

  137. #137 ursulamajor
    January 4, 2010

    I could do Mannassas! Someone living there organize something and let us all know.

  138. #138 qbsmd
    January 4, 2010

    Posted by: Orac

    2013? That’s too late to have any hope of influencing or organizing for the 2012 elections.

    That’s a very good point that seems to have been missed.
    Atheist & Skeptics Society DC2012: we wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Sarah Palin

  139. #139 andrew
    January 4, 2010

    yes, this needs to happen in 2011 AND 2012 to get the political traction necessary to influence the presidential election.

    i live in DC, so I’m in whenever it happens

  140. #140 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    Hmmm… T-shirt thoughts:

    Atheists and Skeptics Society

    Keeping it Scientifically Skeptical

    … or not…

    JC

  141. #141 acochetti.myopenid.com
    January 4, 2010

    I don’t know about an atheist convention. I consider myself a skeptical or critical thinker before considering myself an atheist. I’m an atheist due to my skepticism, not the other way around. My atheism is just a part of my identity, it does not define me.

    I would be more interested in a convention of skeptics, instead, though I think those already exist?

  142. #142 puseaus
    January 4, 2010

    And there will be cephalopod cookies, of course?

  143. #143 S! Brett Lord
    January 4, 2010

    I’d certainly try to go, if it were to all come together.

  144. #144 Sanction
    January 4, 2010

    I’m there.

    The Smithsonian and a jolly mob of atheists. I can imagine no better place to be.

  145. #145 Starchildren
    January 4, 2010

    Count me in. For all of you who live in DC like me and want to do stuff before 2013, check out Meetup.com or CFI. There are atheist events that happen on a regular basis.

  146. #146 CatBallou
    January 4, 2010

    Yay!
    Although I agree with those who’d like to see this happen before the 2012 elections.

  147. #147 M31
    January 4, 2010

    The Atheist 10 commandments:

    1. I am a jealous nongod: Thou shalt have no other gods including me.

    2. Thou shalt use thy brains.

    3. Don’t be a jerk.

    4. There is no Commandmant 4.

    5-10 see above.

  148. #148 Reality Chic
    January 4, 2010

    Sweet!

  149. #149 BlueMonday
    January 4, 2010

    I’d definitely go. I agree with those who say that we need to do it before the 2012 election. But 2013 definitely gives me enough time to pretend to save money for it.

    @Harry Tuttle
    We non-collectors really need to form an alliance to combat the powerful pro-collector lobbies.

  150. #150 Antiochus Epimanes
    January 4, 2010

    It’s a thousand-mile trip for me, but count me in.

    As for unity: we should work toward it, but let’s not get discouraged if no united front emerges. For comparison, look at how long it took Christians to get together … oh, wait, they still haven’t.

  151. #151 Spyderkl
    January 4, 2010

    I think it’s a great idea. Plus it’s far enough in the future to save up to get there, provided it isn’t in the middle of winter.

  152. #152 William
    January 4, 2010

    Absolutely, imperatively, the must do of all can dos we don’t ever do – long overdo.
    We, the rational collective of non-believes that is, are locked in battle with an ignorant mass of committed and united religious crazies, and we are losing.
    Because we are a group of loosely knit, invisible wimps, we face a tougher task in unification, because unlike the believers, who have their god, whom none will question, we are of a philosophical bent, autonomous by nature – we can’t even agree on the ‘how’.
    We share a common cause, but lack a mascot – ‘noodles’ doesn’t count.

  153. #153 https://me.yahoo.com/keeperofthepies#bd89a
    January 4, 2010

    Unite us! Unite the Clans!

    I’ll be there.

  154. #154 NixNoctua
    January 4, 2010

    What would all of you guys (and I mean that gender neutrally) be willing to shell out for this convention? Would a registration cost of $150 be too much, or would it still be worth it? That plus travel plus hotel, of course. I don’t know if I’ll be able to afford it.

  155. #155 Nerdette
    January 4, 2010

    @119 Denise

    We moved to Fredericksburg in late July. We now are proud bearers of two friends in the area, a coworker of the Husband and his fiancee. Regretfully, they are “happy” Catholics, but we get along regardless.

    I’m tempted join Beltway Atheists that was linked up there. I really need to get out of the house more while I’m waiting to get accepted to grad school.

  156. #156 myao
    January 4, 2010

    I’d go! I’d be in grad school then, hopefully, but I would do my best to make it. I’d like very much to become more involved in the “atheist scene”!

  157. #157 SEF
    January 4, 2010

    Unite the Clans!

    I’m now struck with the horrible suspicion that this is merely a cunning ploy to get all the atheists together in one place so that PZ (or whoever) can gain all their powers by chopping off their heads (or whatever) without having to go to the bother of tracking them all down individually.

  158. #158 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    @155 Nerdette
    Join my Facebook group (link in comment 128). We are discussing locations and Fredericksburg is in the running!

    Trust me, you will find people. Well, maybe not “People” but a few persons…
    Denise in Woodbridge, only 30 minutes away!

  159. #159 yehuimei
    January 4, 2010

    Sounds awesome. I’ll be in year 4 of grad school, so I could use a break.

    But I agree with Claire #35. Minnesota is fine as long as it’s summertime. Those with poor circulation will thank you for it. :)

  160. #160 sydneycat
    January 4, 2010

    I would definitely go if its on the East Coast and if I start saving now I should be able to afford it.

  161. #161 Jeff R.
    January 4, 2010

    Sheesh!
    160 comments and not one reference to the
    Rise of Atheism conference in Melbourne?

    Have I missed something here?

    PZ!
    You may have notived it! Your name appears somewhere in the literature.

    It starts (roughly) 66.6 days (heheh) from now.

  162. #162 Chris Who Runs in the Woods
    January 4, 2010

    I waited a while for someone else to respond to this but since no one else has…

    For those who are asking if this is necessary or even desirable, I say YES. We are an oppressed minority in this country. That will never change as long as we hide in the shadows.

    I understand the concept of atheism being defined by what one is NOT instead of what one IS. I don’t think having a convention has to contradict that. We can and should remain very diverse in all regards other than the fact that we lack a belief in deities.

    (Many of us have much more in common than that, but that’s not the point.)

    A convention of people who don’t collect stamps would make sense in a world where you were scorned and discriminated against if you didn’t collect stamps.

  163. #163 WowbaggerOM
    January 4, 2010

    Well, if for some reason I’m in the contintental USA at the time then I’ll probably swing by. I’m not really thinking that’s likely, of course, but you never know.

    I’ll just have to settle for the Rise of Atheism conference in Melbourne this year. Happy now, Jeff R?

  164. #164 Tark
    January 4, 2010

    121 and 134

    The People’s Front of Judea!

    No, The Judean People’s Front!

    ..or in a (something) completely different vein…

    RealityCON-2010 (or 11 or 12) 13 seems to miss the mark.

    Better yet … ReasonCON-2010.
    Lets’ get this decade off to a much better start.

    Tax Religion.

  165. #165 artconserv
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in central VA and would love to attend. The proposed date of 2013 would give me enough time to save my pennies.

  166. #166 Randomfactor
    January 4, 2010

    We share a common cause, but lack a mascot – ‘noodles’ doesn’t count.

    Well, that kills “Noodstock” as the gathering name. And it had such delicious misunderstanding potential…

  167. #167 CarolBlanchard
    January 4, 2010

    If I’m still here in 2013, I’ll be there! PZ, you must make sure that Roy Zimmerman is there also. He’ll have plenty of time to get some new songs for the occasion.

  168. #168 Josh
    January 4, 2010

    @Josh (73): Yeah, I actually sent in a request to join, just gotta wait for it to be accepted.

    Kevin, that’s terrific. There is usually a lot going on.

  169. #169 Leofwine
    January 4, 2010

    I’ll be there, assuming I can get there.

  170. #170 JPKole
    January 4, 2010

    This is so desperately needed… I suspect the repercussions would be tremendous and quite positive.

  171. #171 CalGeorge
    January 4, 2010

    For a conference logo I’m envisioning atheistic tentacles spreading from D.C. across the land, pulling us together for our very first unity bash! Woohoo!

  172. #172 PinoyHeathen
    January 4, 2010

    I would love to attend a Unity Convention. It’s about time that we have our own version of the 1 Million Atheists March!

  173. #173 Nadai
    January 4, 2010

    I’ll definitely go, but I’ll put in another plug for doing it in 2012. It seems a pity to wait until after the US elections.

  174. #174 neuromathdan
    January 4, 2010

    I’d be down. It would be nice to show how many are on our side of the table (even without a Faux News channel propping it up!).

  175. #175 Goliath
    January 4, 2010

    Please, someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I would imagine, at least for this year, the reason why it won’t happen is the idea was just thought up and most organizations have their conventions for this year either already planned or well into the planning phases.

    2011 may be too close for everyone to save up to journey here, no matter the time of year for the convention. And in 2012, things are gonna be very hyped up for the next presidential election.

    2013 may just be the only logical time to do something on this massive of scale. My thought would be every organization cancel their own convention in leiu of this “Unity Convention”(for lack of a better term). Make it at least a week, preferably two, and everyone can get their fill. And if it is successful(especially if it is), pull off something like this, I don’t know, every 4-5(or more) years, where it’s a different US city or even country. It’s something to look forward to, the organizations might find this to be cheaper to pull off if they work together every so often, plus it will help create ties which cannot be formed any other way.

  176. #176 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnO0w_TypKdio-txF1LnwJZ8TM5wr82R-k
    January 4, 2010

    The godless are notoriously hermitic and rebellious but the rise of fundamentalism must be stemmed. Sign me up.

  177. #177 egaeus
    January 4, 2010

    Sounds like fun. I’d make an effort to go.

  178. #178 Alchemist
    January 4, 2010

    I’d travel from Australia to see this…I think its a great idea, and I don’t think it would be impossible to see alot of others from other countries joining in with the festivities

  179. #179 bkniaz
    January 4, 2010

    Indeed I would go.

  180. #180 mcrotk
    January 4, 2010

    Isn’t this exactly what AAI; Atheist Alliance International, was supposed to accomplish in the first place? If not, how is it different?

  181. #181 Biology Blogger
    January 4, 2010

    I am definitely a yes for Unity2013. Though why DC? It is expensive. We should do it in the epicenter of the Bible belt, Tulsa, Oklahoma baby!

  182. #182 CentralRoute
    January 4, 2010

    Count me in. I will also lure my apatheist husband with the promise of a kid-free vacation and plentiful hotel sex. (Glad it’s postponed as leaving a 5yo with grandparents will be easier than a 2yo!)

  183. #183 atlawrence
    January 4, 2010

    I dunno.

    Organized Atheism? smacks of Organized Religion? to me and seems just as phony. I don’t believe in god just as I don’t believe in leprechauns.

    Organizing to not believe in leprechauns seems specious, if not ridiculous.

    Now to organize to promote critical thinking and to promote freedom from religion, that’s something I can get behind.

  184. #184 Kobra
    January 4, 2010

    Count me in! (Assuming I don’t die before then, of course.)

  185. #185 RichardK
    January 4, 2010

    Re #128

    I’m up for it. 6 so far (Drinking Skeptically in Manassas).

  186. #186 Yellow Dog
    January 4, 2010

    I will be there, and will bring as many Kentucky atheists with me as I can round up.

    Great, great idea.

    Can’t wait!

  187. #187 DN King
    January 4, 2010

    I am all but there, PZ. The only problem I see is the world ends in 2012. But hey, on the chance is doesn’t, what better way to celebrate?

  188. #188 bastion of sass
    January 4, 2010

    For others that live around baltimore and want to do a “Drinking Skeptically” of our own, a bar in baltimore that is both good and conducive to conversation is brewer’s art.


    Attn: Baltimore area skeptics

    I believe we should start our training for 2013 now, and I like the idea of training as a group by Drinking Skeptically. Group training tends to be more motivating IMO.

    So, how should we schedule something? Via a fb group? Meetup?

  189. #189 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2010

    Just the sheer idea of holding such an ungodly congregation will surely rank high on the Christian Anti-Defamation’s regular list of the Top Ten anti-christian acts of each year.

  190. #190 heike6
    January 4, 2010

    I want one, too!! 2010 was a disappointment!

  191. #191 oinonio
    January 4, 2010

    Good idea! It’ll be fun to watch politicians tear themselves in two

  192. #192 Pierce R. Butler
    January 4, 2010

    Oh, uh, wait!

    People, you do realize that if we do anything of the sort, it will set public support of science back by a century or more, right?

    (h/t to the inimitable Abbie)

  193. #193 John Shuey
    January 4, 2010

    I’m a life member of American Atheists and I’ll be there, God willi… Never mind.

  194. #194 John Shuey
    January 4, 2010

    I’m a life member of American Atheists and I’ll be there, God willi… Oh, wait, never mind.

  195. #195 The effin' bear
    January 4, 2010

    Our PZ Myers who art in Morris,
    Hallowed by thy name,
    Thy pharyngula come.
    Thine will be done in DC
    as it is in a world in which human societies operate based purely on rationally guided decisions (heretofore “heaven”).
    Give us this day our daily blog entries,
    Forgive us our superstitions,
    as we forgive, and attempt to enlighten, those who hold superstitions against our central philosophical position (i.e., that there is no god).
    Lead us not into unsubstantiated belief,
    But deliver us from falsehoods,
    For the atheist community, the power, and the Trophy Wife are yours,
    Now and forever.
    Let us now grab a beer.

  196. #196 bjorn.watland
    January 4, 2010

    Conventions are very expensive for people to attend. How about holding a convention, but offering a live web feed for local groups to rally around as well? Have virtual panel discussions between different groups?

    I’ve wanted to go to conferences which require long travel, but the costs of travel, hotel and the registration just have been too much.

  197. #197 Josh
    January 4, 2010

    I believe we should start our training for 2013 now

    Training is very important to success in a situation such as this…

  198. #198 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawncr0FDc8gdl7yJBz0SJ15D0etcTIOtL0s
    January 4, 2010

    Can’t we have a Disparity Convention?

    Another Hot Mess
    Ron Sullivan
    http://toad.faultline.org

  199. #199 Patricia, OM
    January 4, 2010

    FOUL!

    I cry foul against Bastion of Sass and the Baltimore blasphemous bastards. It is patently unfair that they should get to start their drink training four hours ahead of us west coasters.

  200. #200 Antiochus Epiphanes
    January 4, 2010

    @Antiochus Epimanes…I also live within 1,000 miles of DC…that means that we can be no more distant from eachother than 2,000 miles. Weird, huh?

    Sure. I’ll go, but:
    1. There should be drink tickets provided for the opening mixer IN THE REGISTATION PACKET. Who wants to stand in line to buy drink tickets, and then another line to by drinks?
    2. I would be glad to give an address for a small honorarium. Some of my more famous talk titles are:
    “Things I Hate about People Your Age”
    “Why Pokemon and other Japanese Child-Culture Phenomena Confuse Me”
    “Pictures of Flowers that I Like: No, Fuck You. You’re the Pansy!”
    “How to Make A Great Horror Movie for Less Than $40,000″
    “Things Jesus Purportedly Said That I Have No Use For”
    “How to Set Things on Fire and Displease Coworkers”

    I could also come up with something original if need be.

  201. #201 Kel, OM
    January 4, 2010

    It was hard enough to go to a convention in Melbourne later this year, I have no idea how I’m going to convince the OH to go to TAM Australia in November. So yeah, while this sounds nice I’m going to bet I’ll be following twitter feeds.

  202. #202 JackC
    January 4, 2010

    Patricia, take heart in the small fact that you will be able to continue at it 4 hours longer than we will.

    JC

  203. #203 Patricia, OM
    January 4, 2010

    JackC – Oh well, then double FOUL on the Baltimore blasphemous bastards.

    Give them an 8 hour penalty PZ.

  204. #204 Randy
    January 4, 2010

    Terrific idea. We freethinkers are so attached to our independent ways that it often prevents us from exercising any meaningful politcal power. Time to flex some political muscle. Let’s get together and speak with one loud voice. Let’s be heard in the halls of power. Let’s have a meetup. Just tell me when and where.

    Randy

  205. #205 SC OM
    January 4, 2010

    Baltimore blasphemous bastards

    Time out. I demand that someone inaugurate the Baltimore Blasphemous Bastards at once.

  206. #206 bastion of sass
    January 4, 2010

    Baltimoreans

    Is anyone planning on going to the Baltimore Secular Humanist meeting on Jan. 10?

    I haven’t been to one, but I was thinking of going to this one, if only to be around some other freethinkers.

  207. #207 Lalagregg
    January 4, 2010

    Good idea. I’ll do my best to get there from LA.

  208. #208 Mattsiah
    January 4, 2010

    Sounds like a blast. I’d go.

  209. #209 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 4, 2010

    Some of us are having a good time already getting to know each other on Facebook. I am starting to believe I am not the only atheist in town!

    So yea, Facebook is a good place to start. Creating a group is super easy. Someday when we are all going strong, we will preview a few bars for the big day(s) with the Baltimoreans…

    Denise the original Google sign-in Hot Mess

  210. #210 Antiochus Epiphanes
    January 4, 2010

    More than a conference, we need a lobby. While I’m at it, scientists need a lobby.

  211. #211 Patricia, OM
    January 4, 2010

    See! See how they are. Blasphemous bastards one and all. Filled with pride at being four hours ahead in their drink training.

    And then eight hours MORE! Somebody needs to curb these Baltimoreans.

  212. #212 claire-chan
    January 4, 2010

    Ooh, Washington D.C.!

    Better for me than Australia somewheres. I could probably make it there with whomever else I can dredge from the Philly area, especially with the distant 2013 timeline.

    Probably.

  213. #213 damnthing
    January 4, 2010

    We could call it “The Million-Going-To-Hell March”.

  214. #214 Rincewind'smuse
    January 4, 2010

    I’m in but I’m still voting for 2012;The christians will see a large group of atheists in 2012 and thrill themselves with the thought that the apocalypse is at hand.Hard to say which would be more creepy, the half that would be peeing their pants or the half….pleasuring themselves at the thought.

  215. #215 darrrkstarrr
    January 4, 2010

    I will definitely attend. This is a wonderful idea, planning well in advance ensures that many more numbers will be able to attend, too.

    Cheers from South Florida! ~

  216. #216 Phledge
    January 4, 2010

    I’d hit that. Especially if there was subsequent consumption of malted beverages thereafter.

  217. #217 Phledge
    January 4, 2010

    Y’know, like the beer I clearly must be drinking in vast quantities to do such heinous damage to the English language in #216.

  218. #218 Rincewind'smuse
    January 4, 2010

    Atheist & Skeptics Society.

    Woot! I also like the heathenstock idea. A day of love,beer and bacon….and science nerdery.

  219. #219 ftpansy
    January 5, 2010

    Hey, DC people! For those asking about atheist communities in DC, we have a local Center for Inquiry right her! Check out the events!

    http://www.centerforinquiry.net/dc/events

  220. #220 chris0101
    January 5, 2010

    As a person, I consider myself to be agnostic rather than atheist, as I neither reject nor accept the idea that a superior being (which depending on the faith may nor may not have been involved in the creation of … more or less the entire universe). However, like most agnostic individuals, I live a largely secular life and do not practice any religion. Many people have mistaken me for an atheist.

    I have noticed in my life that people from the left and people who do not practice religion are more divided than their counterparts from the right or those who are religious. I think that I finally know why. An ideology that calls for faith and obedience rather than skepticism, freedom of thought (particularly about issues such as the existence of god(s)), namely one from the left (although I have seen some variants of libertarianism that call for such thoughts provided that they are consistent with the libertarian ideology), will be inherently more difficult to unite. People are divided because they have independently reached different conclusions and ideas. They do this because we have allowed our minds to develop more freely and thus think/perceive uniquely as a result of our varying experiences (and perhaps genetics). As such, we who consider ourselves to be left of the centre shall always have great difficulty unifying as one.I do find your idea admirable, but, I believe that you find yourselves greatly hampered by these restraints.

    I myself have not completely dismissed the possibility of a god as I believe that it is not possible to verify whether or not such bold claims are true. Perhaps we never will. It may be irrational to endlessly ponder this question and allow it to disrupt our society the way that religious groups do currently. Then again, that is why I live a secular life. I would support such an idea, although as I live in Canada, I would be unable to join in person.

  221. #221 Diane G.
    January 5, 2010

    “Pictures of Flowers that I Like: No, Fuck You. You’re the Pansy!”

    Speaking of which…does everyone know that the pansy is the symbol of freethought? :-)

  222. #222 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnTAiIRbRIpbzIZTtwLDKEdcE21mgEUtpI
    January 5, 2010

    I think this is a fantastic idea! Although if you don’t want to get arrested, you should probably do it before Sarah Palin becomes president.

  223. #223 Colin
    January 5, 2010

    Y’all do realise if anything was going to tempt the fundies in your neck of the woods to emulate those folk who flew some planes into a building a few years ago, this would do it? Just make you sure you charge enough to pay for security (and perhaps rent some of those nekkid airport scanners…)

    If there’s one thing our ’cause’ doesn’t need, it’s martyrs.

  224. #224 cearbhaill
    January 5, 2010

    Hell, yeah. I’d go.

  225. #225 Mike Wagner
    January 5, 2010

    That would be awesome. Though it would be nicer if it was in a city closer to the Canada/US border. No having to deal with ridiculous flight requirements for those who just want to hop across in a vehicle :)

  226. #226 TVS
    January 5, 2010

    Er…hello? The world ends in 2012, have you all forgotten?

  227. #227 Mike Wagner
    January 5, 2010

    In that case, can I have your stuff?
    Just leave a notarized document assigning your possessions to me.

  228. #228 joreth
    January 5, 2010

    I’d like to go, and 3 years is enough time for me to actually plan and save for it. Also on the agenda is to attend TAM in 5 years or less, but between Frolicon, Dragoncon, and visits back home every so often, travel is hard.

    But for something as historic as this, I’ll make it a priority.

  229. #229 Rorschach
    January 5, 2010

    Tuttle stole my joke way upthread,grumble….
    But srsly, what exactly is the point of a meeting of all the not-Manchester United fans?

    This just fuels the “atheism is just a religion” bullshit, religions have leaders and committees and councils.
    Atheists dont believe in gods, and while I see the need in Pakistan the USA for a public display and show of strength of atheists or something, there could be no purposeful outcome of this, or message sent or the like, because the group of non-stamp-collectors is necessarily comprised of people from the far left to the far right, from anti-vaxers to AGW-deniers….

    Give it a purpose instead, make it the “convention against organised religion” or something to that end, give it a positive connotation and a goal.

  230. #230 Rorschach
    January 5, 2010

    strike tag failure in my 229, obviously….

  231. #231 strange gods before me, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Rorschach makes a good point.

  232. #232 Whupper
    January 5, 2010

    How does not make you want to give up and cry? I hate to go all pessimistic but how can we stop this kind of thing with so much ignorance and apathy around?

  233. #233 dumnezeueateu.wordpress.com
    January 5, 2010

    Ahm, is this US centric?
    I agree the US atheist groups are more in the media (i chalk that up to experience) but sure wish there was a Atheist Unity Europe conference.

    I don’t mind meeting with a million people as long as it has long term benefits for science and reason.

  234. #234 smellyoldgit
    January 5, 2010

    I’m pretty sure we could rustle up a few Raving Atheists to dish out abuse and cause loadsa trouble!

  235. #235 Alpha Bitch
    January 5, 2010

    I MUST have an ASS hat!

    Why do so many people think that having a convention makes us similar to a religion? It doesn’t, really. Lots of non-religious groups have conferences, and it happens all the time. I, myself, have been to several conferences and none were religious. You don’t even have to be a member of a particular organization. A host org. will simply put together a conference that brings together people with similar interests for discussion and learning. That is nothing like religion. There certainly wouldn’t be any learning going on if it was.

  236. #236 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    • science conventions
    • FRP / war-gaming conventions
    • computer (HW+SW) conventions
    • petrol-head conventions
    • household design & technology conventions
    • cheese conventions
    • beer conventionsfestivals

    Some of those lean more towards the competitive sales side, while others are more about the opportunity to party.

    I suspect an atheism convention would lean more towards the latter, since there isn’t really any content to sell (despite the fact that some individual people will have books to push).

  237. #237 MikeMa
    January 5, 2010

    I hereby endorse proposed idea for the convention. I also think that DC is great because I can drive to it but for other distant adherents, is it possible to do a/v hookups from London, Sydney, etc? As science geeks, that shouldn’t be too big of a leap.

  238. #238 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    @ NixNoctua #154 (or anyone else in the US):

    Would a registration cost of $150 be too much

    Is that a joke or is it considered quite normal for all of UnSAnia? Eg contrast with costs for a UK event last year.

    I would have expected the model for atheists to be more along the lines of Woodstock and geekdom than Corporate America.

  239. #239 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    January 5, 2010

    Hmm, I’m about 6 hours away. Admittedly, in London. I do have family friends in Silver Spring MD so this may be fun. I’ve transatlantic road-tripped for less!

    I ALSO think that there should be an English English version of the A.S.S.:

    Atheists & Related Skeptics Entente

    Works for me.

    With added French to piss any passing conservatives off too.

  240. #240 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    If you are going to Wash’ton DC
    Be sure to wear an ASS hat on your head.
    If you are going to Wash’ton DC
    With those whose god delusions have been shed.

    For those who come to Wash’ton DC
    Summertime will be a chance to share.
    Ev’ryone in Wash’ton DC:
    You’re gonna meet some godless people there.

  241. #241 Gwydion Suilebhan
    January 5, 2010

    I humbly suggest, as a Washington, DC resident, that a march would get a lot more press than a convention. Conventions are blase. Get a million people to march on the city, then you’re talking.

  242. #242 Christine
    January 5, 2010

    Great idea! Count me in.

  243. #243 berlzebub
    January 5, 2010

    March or convention, I’m up for it. This gives me three years to plan, anyway.

  244. #244 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 5, 2010

    I humbly suggest, as a Washington, DC resident, that a march would get a lot more press than a convention. Conventions are blase. Get a million people to march on the city, then you’re talking.

    Think of the Red panic that would cause.

  245. #245 Josh
    January 5, 2010

    Think of the Red panic that would cause.

    Glenn Beck would likely wet himself on national TV; that alone would be worth it.

  246. #246 Spiv
    January 5, 2010

    I’d go, and it would give me a good excuse to visit some family and friends in the area (some of whom I suspect would also go).

  247. #247 sandrewsbibliophile
    January 5, 2010

    I’d try to be there, even though I’ve spent way to much time in DC lately.

  248. #248 hullgra
    January 5, 2010

    If I’m still state-side in three years count me in. I might even roadtrip it.

  249. #249 SC OM
    January 5, 2010

    Is that a joke or is it considered quite normal for all of UnSAnia? Eg contrast with costs for a UK event last year.

    Yeah! Or contrast this!:

    http://www.atheistconvention.org.au/registration/

    Oh, wait…

  250. #250 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    Even at an exchange rate of just over half a UK pound to the Oz dollar that seems over-priced to me – and more over-priced than the US proposal above (if those are supposed to be equivalent events). But then I’m not the herdable type anyway.

  251. #251 Disturbingly Openminded
    January 5, 2010

    @ bastion of sass & other Baltimoreans:

    I work in downtown Balt but live in Frederick County.* I’m up for a bar meet right after work. Someone above mentioned a couple of bars. I don’t know where they are but no bar has ever stayed hidden from me for long. Hard to stay in Charm City for evening events when the family is at home 50 miles away.

    * Yes, this means I commute about 100 miles RT most days and I feel badly about that. It wasn’t the plan. I moved the family from DC to Fredneck to get rid of a 90 mile RT commute and was walking distance from my office for a glorious 8 months. Then my employer was gobbled up and I was bright-sized out of my job. At least my car gets 40 mpg.

  252. #252 BAllanJ
    January 5, 2010

    Ummm…chris0101, If you don’t believe in a god you’re an atheist. This does not mean that if some evidence comes up later that you’re not allowed to re-evaluate and come to a belief then. Atheism is not about making a final decision, it’s about being able to say that you haven’t yet seen convincing evidence for a deity.

    OK, now about getting across the border from Canada to attend such an event… what do I tell your border gestapo without lying that will still get them to let me across without too invasive a search? Keep this in mind when you name the convention… too in-your-face and the border guys won’t let the rest of us into your country to attend. Or have a sister conference on knitting or something as a cover story maybe.

  253. #253 SC OM
    January 5, 2010

    Even at an exchange rate of just over half a UK pound to the Oz dollar that seems over-priced to me – and more over-priced than the US proposal above (if those are supposed to be equivalent events).

    I wasn’t commenting on the price but on your presentation of it as a US thing in contrast to other countries (“or is it considered quite normal for all of UnSAnia?”), asshole.

    But then I’m not the herdable type anyway.

    We’ll have to try to live with the disappointment.

  254. #254 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    I wasn’t commenting on the price but on your presentation of it as a US thing in contrast to other countries

    You never specified that and I never claimed that other countries might not be bad too! I was merely enquiring about the norm for UnSAnia.

  255. #255 mazyloron
    January 5, 2010

    Hmm…not sure how I feel on this. Having a big group get together to show just how many of us there really are sounds like a good idea. But a big gathering of people all joining together to shout their religious opinions to the world…not so much.

    The words “atheist convention” seem…oxymoronic, at least to me.

    At the same time, I’m surprised to hear there are so many locals on here – I’m from Baltimore (and surrounding areas) and work just outside of DC. That’s pretty cool. could be interesting to run into some of you.

    I guess the same reason I’m on the fence about the convention is the same reason I’ve never looked up local atheist groups…I’d like to meet up with people who I can relate to on this stuff, but at the same time, getting together to talk about things you *don’t* believe seems a bit odd. But hey, i’d give it a shot, as long as it’s not just sitting around going: “omg how dumb are religionists? sooo dumb.”

  256. #256 mazyloron
    January 5, 2010

    Ok, now I’ve read through some more of the comments, this Drinking Skeptically thing seems like a great idea, I’d happily meet up with some godless heathens for a drink or seven. I just haven’t read all 250+ comments to figure out when/where it is going to be…

  257. #257 Sesame St Bus
    January 5, 2010

    To the effin’ bear at #195 – I say “Amen” or rather “Hell yeah!”.

    I like this idea. I will make an effort to attend and will start saving now.

    I also think 2012 would be better or at least more interesting (the election, nontheist politics, press coverage, etc.) But 2013 also works.

  258. #258 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    The folks talking about a convention to “talk about things you don’t beileve” (sorry mazyloran, you were just the closest!) is missing the point, I think.

    As noted earlier there are many groups that get together for a common cause – and in this case, the “cause” is more like a showing of strength than a gathering “against” something.

    Though we in the US have recently seen quite a LOT of “gathering against” – and particularly in DC.

    I like the idea because i have long felt that a political unified front is lacking in the non-believing community. For frack’s sake, even Amway has a political committee.

    We ARE all of different minds, different attitudes and different feelings about “joining”. I don’t view this proposed gathering of ASSs as interfering with that at all. I DO view it as a way to collect a fair number of us in one place, get some facetime with the media and maybe, just maybe, some recognition as a viable and powerful minority group in this nation, if not the world.

    And there is certainly to be beer and other Adult Beverages in abundance. And if RBDC shows, maybe even bacon!

    JC

  259. #259 creating trons
    January 5, 2010

    I’ll be there. less than 2 hour flight from Knoxville.

    Just hanging out and drinking beer with you amazing people is good enough for me.

    3 years is too long to wait. we should do it sooner. please???

  260. #260 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    maybe even bacon

    An Atheist Bacon Convention might have potential. Though, to be fair, there’d need to be provision for the a-baconists too.

  261. #261 DangerousTalk.net
    January 5, 2010

    I have a more aggressive plan for getting the atheist groups to agree to the unity convention. I talk about it on DangerousTalk.net
    -Staks

  262. #262 mazyloron
    January 5, 2010

    JackC #258

    Not a problem, I know I’m not the only one saying that here. And I’m sure that’s also at least partly due to my misanthropic tendencies, too.

    My feeling is that big groups of people gathering together for a common interest tend to turn said interest into a cause, which then needs support, and support begets dogma, and dogma begets…well, bad things. (also puppies, which are cute things, until they grow up into dogmas of their own)

    There are plenty of people out there who want to belong to a cause/movement/group, and completely miss the parallels with religion when they start to proscribe beliefs and views and actions. I’m not saying that most people here do that, but any big group will attract those sort of people.

    Also I’m wary of groups whose members just sit around telling each other how right they are. Again, not something skeptics ought to be doing, but it’s certainly human nature to do that sort of thing, and I’ve seen plenty of “skeptics” who do exactly that (kind of like those “rebellious” kids in high school who all dressed alike and listened to the same music).

    That being said, I think meeting up for drinks would be fun (small scale gathers don’t strike my misanthropy-bone as much as big, politically-motivated ones). I’d be happy to meet up in the Baltimore area. Brewer’s Art sounded good, never been but wanted to try it…Pratt Street Ale House is a good sized place if we have a big crowd. Or, really, anywhere in the Baltimore to HoCo area is fine with me.

  263. #263 Richard Fallstich
    January 5, 2010

    On Sunday (1/3) I attended a talk by Maggie Ardiente, and expressed some concerns that our many various groups are too ‘fractured.’ I would absolutely love to attend an event where we can show our commonality and unity.

  264. #264 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    Brewer’s Art … Pratt Street Ale House

    While there are undoubtedly some beer-swilling female atheists, I’d expect there also to be a substantial number of atheist mothers with minors in tow who would be put off by meetings being primarily arranged in pubs. Why pay to play when you’re going to be forced out of most of the action anyway.

    I’m sure someone posted something recently (perhaps on a thread version of “why are there no prominent female atheists”) about how (in a company situation) they first had to work hard to actively change the meeting environment before the previously mysteriously absent (and hence deemed to be non-existent / disinterested / incompetent) females suddenly felt able to show up and participate.

  265. #265 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    mazyloron – all points above agreed. There are however times when a large showing of hands is a valuable asset. Or perhaps just simply a good time had by most. There may be some of the “telling each other how right we are” going on, but I can’t imagine a D&D conference would be attended by lots of folks sitting around telling each other how much they would rather be playing other RPGs though – can you?

    Not to pick on only the D&D players – which I am not numbered among.

    I am, however, a ham (Amateur radio that is) and as such, I and my many other numbers have an interesting similar association. We have a name that is associated with a negative connotation. When we took the name back in the dark ages, it was because we were derisively referred to by the Professionals. Rather than fight it, we thought it amusing and took the name ‘ham” (from “ham-fisted” on the Morse code key), wore it proudly and now have many and varied conferences all over the world. The Dayton Hamfest draws in excess of 20,000 souls annually.

    Had we not done so, our abilities to ply our hobby (which today is so much more than just talking to people in far away places on radios) our abilities to use Radio to communicate would have been reduced to nearly nothing – if not in reality nothing. We presented a unified force to Reckon With – and developed over time an actual respect for our work, perhaps out of proportion to our hobby. I see this as paralleling the fear many of us have of having our personal freedoms curtailed by the Religious – solely because we just don’t fight back as a Unified Group.

    As a Ham, I have left many local groups for many of the reasons you mention. We now have a local group referred to by the communication code for “change frequency” (QSY) – the group was created by those who did not like the rules and regulations set up by other local groups. This in no way prevents these folks from attending the huge conferences and gatherings though – since what normally occurs there is not “This is how we must behave while using the Radio” – but usually good general information on How To Do Things, etc. It is also nice to get to meet others you have talked with that are not in your immediate area, as well as look over (and sometimes drool over) their radios, computers, programs or other “goodies”.

    It is somewhat unfortunate that many of them seem to be overly religious – but that again will not stop any of us (particularly me) from going to a group gathering.

    I see this proposal – as well as the Australian meeting (which I am jealously watching from afar) as a similar thing. It can serve to gather the like-minded (along with, I dearly hope, the opposite!) for discussion, airing of Ideas (the philosophical equivalent to the radio gear?) and maybe to just have some fun outside of Normal Life.

    It might even make those smaller gatherings around a glass at the pub that much more enjoyable!

    Me? I like to meet folks and would particularly like to finally get Richard Dawkins to sign my small collection of his books. I would like to hear some of our ilk speak, without the need to travel to many diverse meetings miles away.

    JC

  266. #266 kilternkafuffle
    January 5, 2010

    Don’t know if I can be in the area at the time yet, but if it’s possible, I’ll come!

    I’d also second two suggestions: let’s come together earlier (why do we have to wait 3 years?) and let’s come marching! With the rapid progress of technology by 2013, convening will be replaced by teleconferencing ;-), so I think we absolutely must include a march element in it that’s loud and visible.

  267. #267 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    I think we absolutely must include a march element in it that’s loud and visible.

    PZ Myers’ Godless HeartsMinds Club Band?

  268. #268 Kraid
    January 5, 2010

    Get some interesting speakers at the convention (any of the “bad guys” from Expelled would do nicely) and I’m in.

  269. #269 bastion of sass
    January 5, 2010

    I humbly suggest, as a Washington, DC resident, that a march would get a lot more press than a convention.

    If the point is getting our voices heard and getting the attention of the politicians and the media, we’ve got to have a rally; a big loud rally with many cool signs and t-shirt.

    Just quietly and politely convening won’t do it.

    Heh, I wonder if Fox would cover it.

  270. #270 Josh
    January 5, 2010

    Heh, I wonder if Fox would cover it.

    Well, they might if we did what those teaparty asshats did. I personally saw a number of them carrying signs that said things like “we came unarmed–this time*.” If we stooped to similar levels fuckheadedness, Faux News would probably cover us (as they are demonstrably attracted to fuckheadedness).

    *But the signs weren’t usually quite that coherent.

  271. #271 bastion of sass
    January 5, 2010

    SEF wrote:

    While there are undoubtedly some beer-swilling female atheists, I’d expect there also to be a substantial number of atheist mothers with minors in tow who would be put off by meetings being primarily arranged in pubs.

    Activities like Drinking Skeptically are local, social events, not meetings. They’re opportunities to hang out with rational freethinking people.

    I wonder, how do atheist dads with small kids manage to get to these events? Hmmmm.

    If female atheists aren’t attending events they’d like to attend specifically because of lack of child-care, I hadn’t heard that.

  272. #272 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    Josh – if I recall, some of them didn’t really…

    Maybe we could have signs that read “Some of us think we might have come unarmed, they really aren’t certain ….”
    ;-)

    I am thinking of carrying a few signs – so far, I am working over these ideas:

    “Tea. Earl Grey. Hot.”

    “I am the Anti-Christ! Ask me how!”

    “24,283,637 predictions for the end of the World, and yet here we are”

    Maybe marginally more serious:

    “Atheist for Peace, Security, Freedom and Voice”

    “Keep your mythology out of my Science Class”

    Work still in progress….

    JC

  273. #273 mazyloron
    January 5, 2010

    SEF

    While there are undoubtedly some beer-swilling female atheists, I’d expect there also to be a substantial number of atheist mothers with minors in tow who would be put off by meetings being primarily arranged in pubs.

    Because pubs are for men and not women? I’m not sure I follow this line of reasoning. I get that there are people who might not want to hang out in a noisy, crowded, meet-market-type bar, which is why I suggested Pratt Street – it’s big, open, has a couple of dining rooms where you can sit down with a group like you would at, say, a TGIFriday’s, only it’s a nicer place than that. It’s my understanding that Brewer’s Art also has a laid back atmosphere, suitable for talking over a few drinks.
    Also, to the second part of that…there are probably an equal number of people who would be put off by a meeting that involved a bunch of strangers’ children running around.
    The suggestion was called “Drinking Skeptically”: that kind of implies picking a place where we can have an adult beverage, which also kind of implies that it’s not a place for minors.

    Why pay to play when you’re going to be forced out of most of the action anyway.

    I’m not even sure what that means?

    I’m sure someone posted something recently (perhaps on a thread version of “why are there no prominent female atheists”) about how (in a company situation) they first had to work hard to actively change the meeting environment before the previously mysteriously absent (and hence deemed to be non-existent / disinterested / incompetent) females suddenly felt able to show up and participate.

    I thought PZ’s commentary on this was more along the lines of “actually, there are lots of female atheists, they’re just not being invited to speak.” Which has what to do with meeting at a bar?

    Anyway, I’m not here to bicker over this. It sounds like a good idea and I would be happy to meet some local people over a drink. No matter where we pick as a place, someone will think it’s a bad choice and not come, just like for any date that we pick, someone will be busy that day. If we overthink it and reject every idea that someone doesn’t like, it will never happen. It doesn’t have to be a one-time thing, so if some people don’t like one place, then set up another meeting at someplace that works better.

    Sorry to be grumpy, I’m usually much more agreeable in person :)

    If anyone wants to organize something outside of the comments section, please put up a link! (facebook, meetup, myspace, whatever…)

  274. #274 bastion of sass
    January 5, 2010

    Josh wrote:

    personally saw a number of them carrying signs that said things like “we came unarmed–this time*.”

    Oooh, maybe PZ could bring his cyberpistol! Too bad the Jesus-shooters aren’t more affordable, or a bunch of us could come packin’ those.

  275. #275 mazyloron
    January 5, 2010

    ….and bastion of sass said it better, anyway.

  276. #276 Jadehawk, OM
    January 5, 2010

    SEF, that conversation about bars and unions was about it being a NASTY bar with no women’s bathrooms, and the guys not actually ever wanting to get to the point, thus dragging the event out impossibly; not about it being a place that serves beer.

  277. #277 Josh
    January 5, 2010

    Josh – if I recall, some of them didn’t really…

    Didn’t really what? Come unarmed this time?

    That’s correct…

    Oooh, maybe PZ could bring his cyberpistol!

    I’ll refrain from bringing my M4.

  278. #278 bastion of sass
    January 5, 2010

    Baltimore Blasphemous Bastards

    OOOh, I like that! Thanks, Patricia!

    Unless someone else is willing to take the initiative, I guess that I can try to organize some kind of bar meet-up.

    If we got a good response and there’s sufficient interest in continuing, we could officially start a Drinking Skeptically group.

    Would everyone interested be able to access a fb group page (I’m thinking of a Baltimore Blasphemous Bastard group.) Or would arranging something through meetup.com be more accessible?

  279. #279 Sven DiMilo
    January 5, 2010

    I’m probably not coming, but if I did I’d be unarmed.

  280. #280 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    Josh – yeah – that was what I meant. I seem to recall a few were packing heat at least to a DC event. Not to mention three functioning brain cells.

    Me personally, I have an old Expert qualification and two offspring that took first and second place in a local shooting competition, and a third that tied for first – and I don’t personally own anything to not bring. Weird.

    I prefer the relative anonymity of the feathered shaft and the blade ;-)

    JC

  281. #281 Disturbingly Openminded
    January 5, 2010

    The thing about DC marches is….

    You actually need to have a large number of people or you wind up communicating that your group is small and can be safely ignored. IMO, a march in DC isn’t “large” until it gets to 100,000 or so. (Or you can do something videogenic like the farmers did several decades ago: They drove tractors to DC and tore up the Mall and the reflecting pool. I don’t think the Atheist Farmers of America has enough membership to pull that off.)

    A march of 10,000 atheists would counterproductive.

  282. #282 mazyloron
    January 5, 2010

    RE: Baltimore Blasphemous Bastards

    I can’t speak for others, but I have both a facebook and meetup profile, so either is fine for me. Whatever is easiest and accessible to the most people.

  283. #283 bastion of sass
    January 5, 2010

    Sven, I know my mental image of people in this group probably doesn’t match up well with how they really look, but I was way, way off with you.

  284. #284 Josh
    January 5, 2010

    Not to mention three functioning brain cells.

    *giggle*

    Actually, truth be told, watching that “demonstration” made for a strange and depressing morning.

    I prefer the relative anonymity of the feathered shaft and the blade ;-)

    It’s nice and quiet, to be sure. But somehow I think you’re gonna have trouble being all anonymous in DC packing a bow… It’s not exactly an urban weapon anymore.

  285. #285 Disturbingly Openminded
    January 5, 2010

    sass ~ meetup.com would be better for me. I have assiduously avoided facebook.

  286. #286 Badjuggler
    January 5, 2010

    Great idea. I would be happy to bring it up before the board of Humanists of Minnesota.

  287. #287 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    Josh… I was trying to figure out how to work in that bit about the bow problem somewhere… I was kind of hoping you would miss that.

    Thanks a bunch. ;-)

    JC

  288. #288 Josh
    January 5, 2010

    Well, you know…I try to be observant. :P

  289. #289 ursulamajor
    January 5, 2010

    For those near and to the west of DC…

    Drinking Skeptically of Lower NoVA/Manassas

    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?v=wall&ref=mf&gid=238291301508

    We already have 7 members (and so far, more women than men.)

  290. #290 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    Activities like Drinking Skeptically are local, social events, not meetings.

    Actually that’s still a meeting! :-D

    However, I was thinking in terms of thread context, where people seemed to be touting these events as alternatives to attempting a more or less full-blown convention in each of the next few years – like dress rehearsals.

    I wonder, how do atheist dads with small kids manage to get to these events? Hmmmm.

    Sadly, in the real world, there’s still not equality over parenting responsibilities – as I suspect you already know, despite your feigned naivety. Though one could always hope that atheists were better than average there.

    Similarly, with the proposed costliness of the convention, what proportion of females are at the higher income levels? Males still do have more disposable income on average.

    Meanwhile, are impoverished students (both sexes this time) going to be disadvantaged by it – in a way they wouldn’t be at a merely local drink-buying meet-up?

    If female atheists aren’t attending events they’d like to attend specifically because of lack of child-care, I hadn’t heard that.

    Well, we know an internet poll certainly wouldn’t find out! However, since the available context is those local skeptic meetings, anyone who goes to them can state what the balance of males to females attending those is in their area. If it’s anything other than approx equal numbers, then there’s probably a problem.

  291. #291 SEF
    January 5, 2010

    a NASTY bar with no women’s bathrooms, and the guys not actually ever wanting to get to the point, thus dragging the event out impossibly

    OK. No “nasty” bars at the mini or big conventions then! Only ones which have provision for minors who might attend in their own right. I gather the US minimum drinking age is older than the UK one. But perhaps your bars are less tween/teen unfriendly anyway. Here, some places are particularly family friendly (tending to be the ones at holiday destinations and serving proper meals).

  292. #292 mazyloron
    January 5, 2010

    SEF:

    If it’s anything other than approx equal numbers, then there’s probably a problem.

    ursulamajor:

    We already have 7 members (and so far, more women than men.)

    Uh oh, we have a problem! This misandrist system needs to be reformed before we marginalize an entire gender! We cannot continue to deliberately exclude atheists from these events based on their sex, it’s simply not fair!

    I suggest we have the Baltimore Blaphemous Bastards meeting at the Hustler Club, so we can attract more males, and nto run afoul of the female-domination that apparently plagues lower NoVa/Manassas.

  293. #293 bastion of sass
    January 5, 2010

    I was thinking in terms of thread context, where people seemed to be touting these events as alternatives to attempting a more or less full-blown convention in each of the next few years – like dress rehearsals.

    I firmly believe that these kind of bar meet-ups could be very useful training for the bar meet-ups in D.C. in 2013.

    Sadly, in the real world, there’s still not equality over parenting responsibilities – as I suspect you already know, despite your feigned naivety.

    I wasn’t feigning naivety. I was trying to make concerned men think.

    Similarly, with the proposed costliness of the convention, what proportion of females are at the higher income levels? Males still do have more disposable income on average.

    I’ve had to miss plenty of conferences, workshops, and conventions for lack of money, but putting on these types of events is costly, so although I’ve been very disappointed to have been priced-out, do you have an alternative? And are you stepping up to help put any alternative plan you might have in place?

    However, since the available context is those local skeptic meetings, anyone who goes to them can state what the balance of males to females attending those is in their area. If it’s anything other than approx equal numbers, then there’s probably a problem.

    I’d really be surprised if in most cases where women are under-represented the primary problem is lack of child care, money, or the meetings locale.

  294. #294 ivankaramazov
    January 5, 2010

    In another three years, atheist here would have moved on. The momentum has been losing steam for sometime. You have less than 2% of the American population self-identifying themselves as atheist, many of whom are not liberals, and are ayn rand like republicans, who care little to hear secular liberal dribble, and many of whom have little concern for religion, and atheism organizing for some grand godless cause at all. According to the pew forum 70% of the american nonreligious don’t find there to be any conflict in being non-religious, in a religious society.

    At best you have some atheist living in the bible belt, disgruntled by theist who try to promote creationism being taught in schools, but that’s clearly a regional issue, because most of the country doesn’t have the slightest worry of such things occurring at all. There’s no more “Moral Majority”, or an unpopular conservative evangelical president, to have a national resent to gather around on.

    In all these years, at its peak, the best this recent breed of atheist have to show is some cheesy bus signs.

    I mean what’s next, are you going to fight to have calendar renamed, and removed from public spaces, because they promote pagan religions??

  295. #295 ivankaramazov
    January 5, 2010

    and let’s not forget most of these conventions thrive on the fact, that you’d at least have some women to hit on, with 7 in 10, atheist being male, you’re looking at a national sausagefest, of hairy, over weight white men, the equivalent of a video game convention for grown folks, but without the cool toys

  296. #296 Endor
    January 5, 2010

    Really, ivan? The best you can come up with? Atheists shouldn’t have a convention because *you* think atheism’s peaked?

    We’ll get right on caring what you think. really.

  297. #297 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawk9oFT1fJHlsRBrfiQvzpBDo19snGT45ME
    January 5, 2010

    Looks like someone is trying to keep the thread alive…
    *averts eyes from Troll after quick glance*

  298. #298 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Ah, one just has to admire the idjit godbots, who get everything wrong. What else is new…

  299. #299 Jadehawk, OM
    January 5, 2010

    #295: your attempt at nerd-shaming is failing miserably, but tells us a lot about yourself. Haven’t mentally outgrown high-school, have you.

  300. #300 kev_s
    January 5, 2010

    This event should be called ‘The Rapture’.

  301. #301 https://me.yahoo.com/hairychris444#96384
    January 5, 2010

    “The Rupture”, more like….

  302. #302 Sven DiMilo
    January 5, 2010

    theist who try to promote creationism being taught in schools, but that’s clearly a regional issue, because most of the country doesn’t have the slightest worry of such things occurring at all.

    Ohio?
    Indiana?
    Pennsylvania for the luvamike?

    Dumbass troll.

  303. #303 Bill
    January 5, 2010

    This all sounds great, but then what? “we’re here get used to it”–? Promotion, political gain, and awareness is what religion does. How do you get away from religion by becoming one?

  304. #304 SC OM
    January 5, 2010

    Promotion, political gain, and awareness is what religion does.

    And a zillion other sorts of groups.

    How do you get away from religion by becoming one?

    So any group or coalition that has a convention becomes a religion? Really? Please define “religion.”

  305. #305 Bill
    January 5, 2010

    No, but as atheists, you don’t BELIEVE in something that you can’t prove–when this becomes a formation that may persuade politics, support causes because of the belief, or promotes gain of resources it slides towards a religion. Are you practicing something? Btw i’m agnostic and I would never try and group others of the same mind together for any reason. Why would you wanna form something of this? Do you have something to prove? Do you want to change people?

  306. #306 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    Bill – that is a bit narrow-minded. Promotion, political gain and awareness is the means by which religions gain power and influence. Why should the non-religious not wish the same thing? Why, for that matter would the ARRL, AARP, AAA (why can’t I even get out of the As – oh yeah – because there are so MANY groups….) not want the same thing?

    Are you saying that AAA is a religious organisation because they have good promotion, political power and promote awareness? Not to mention discounts and some marginally reasonable maps?

    Then there’s the NRA, but they probably AREE religious….

    JC

  307. #307 Rorschach
    January 5, 2010

    Bill @ 305,

    No, but as atheists, you don’t BELIEVE in something that you can’t prove

    Wish that was true, but unfortunately it isn’t.Atheists can hold irrational views or beliefs just like anyone else.

  308. #308 Bill
    January 5, 2010

    So, the “non-religious” want to become a religion now? why? What good would it do?

  309. #309 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    January 5, 2010

    Btw i’m agnostic and I would never try and group others of the same mind together for any reason.

    Define same mind?

  310. #310 Jadehawk, OM
    January 5, 2010

    So, the “non-religious” want to become a religion now? why? What good would it do?

    what are you, anti-social? not every group is a religion, and people like to get together with similarly-minded people and socialize. and grouping together for civic/political purposes is the (long forgotten, evidently) basis of democracies

  311. #311 WowbaggerOM
    January 5, 2010

    So, the “non-religious” want to become a religion now? why? What good would it do?

    Socially/politically relevant subculture (for want of a better word) ≠ a religion. I don’t know about anyone else but I’m very much over the power and privilege religion is granted in today’s society and I’d like that to change.

  312. #312 Bill
    January 5, 2010

    JackC seems to think religion is good. Would an atheist religion be good? What is atheism–a belief in something you can’t prove. What does a group like this that gets together do? What is the purpose of promoting this and forming a group? It has nothing to do with being anti-social. There’s just no point to it

  313. #313 SC OM
    January 5, 2010

    Do you want to change people?

    Yes. What a stupid question.

  314. #314 SC OM
    January 5, 2010

    Define “religion,” Bill.

  315. #315 Jadehawk, OM
    January 5, 2010

    What is atheism–a belief in something you can’t prove.

    definition fail.

  316. #316 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    JackC seems to think religion is good.

    Wow. Pretty sure what orifice THAT came out of.

    Or maybe it was just that additional E at the end of the ARE….

    JC

  317. #317 JackC
    January 5, 2010

    SC – There is a Bill to Define Religion?? What’s the number?? We must fight it!! Or Support it!! I am not sure which!!one!eleven.

    Oh … wait…

    Sorry. I got lost in the absurdity there for a moment. I will try to contain myself.

    Bill seems to feel that language is his personal playtoy.

    JC

  318. #318 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    January 5, 2010

    What is atheism–a lack of belief in something you can’t prove.

    You missed a couple of words.

  319. #319 Patricia, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Actually Bill it’s for show & tell, bacon & beer. Got it?

  320. #320 Antiochus Epiphanes
    January 5, 2010

    @Bill, #305

    Why would you wanna form something of this?

    1. In my view, the most important reason is political. While we don’t have a single political agenda, most atheists are united in the conviction that policy should be decided by real rather than revealed knowledge. People can keep their supernatural beliefs. I just want those beliefs to remain out of debate on policy that affects us all.

    2. Maybe you live in a place where reasonable people abound…why, if you go outside and throw a stone it is likely to hit a reasonable person. I, however, live in Don McLeroy’s district in E. Texas. The religious saturation of culture in this neck of the woods is enough to make one feel insane. Example: I picked my 3 year old daughter up from day-care today and asked her what she learned about in school. The answer: Angels. Christ on a crutch…not letters or colors or means of getting from place to place, but angels. And this is a secular day-care, and not the first that we have had her in with similar incidents. So we had to have the “what is real?” talk all over again.
    Giraffes: real
    Unicorns: not real
    Dinosaurs: Real, but extinct
    Dragons: not real, and never were. & cetera./

    Maybe a weekend with a bunch of like-minded skeptics would be enjoyable? I like to drink and complain about fundies. The feeling I get is that others on this forum do as well.

  321. #321 WowbaggerOM
    January 5, 2010

    What is atheism–a belief in something you can’t prove.

    It’s not a belief in anything; it’s a description of the state of lacking a belief in gods.

    And the thing that makes a religion a problem isn’t that it is based on a belief in something you can’t prove; it’s that it what is believed in includes prescriptions for behavior and consequences for not adhering to those prescriptions.

    The difference more than a little significant.

  322. #322 'Tis Himself, OM
    January 5, 2010

    I’m still trying to figure out how atheists having a convention is going to make atheism a religion. Perhaps after Bill figures out what atheism is* he will explain how that works. Or not, as the case may be.

    I’m betting on “or not.”

  323. #323 krc [clowersnet.net]
    January 5, 2010

    2010 I doubt I could do, but 2013? Sure, no problem. It’ll be a good excuse to visit DC. I’ll be there.

  324. #324 WowbaggerOM
    January 5, 2010

    Even if you do want to call atheism a belief in no gods it’s still vastly different from religion being a belief in a god or gods.

    Religions include instructions – you are then choosing to live your life based on the belief you can’t prove; atheism, on the other hand, does not include instructions – you aren’t living your life based on the belief you can’t prove because the belief does not include any means to instruct.

    Kind of why you don’t find a lot of atheists opposing deism – because deism doesn’t influence behaviour.

  325. #325 Bill
    January 5, 2010

    Prove there isn’t a god. There is a burden of proof there. “i’m an atheist” someone says. Why?–you believe there isn’t a god. It is a belief–and to participate in what most are talking about here becomes a “fellowship” of believers who claim that there is no god. As an agnostic I have to say: I don’t know if there is a god, i can’t prove it.

  326. #326 John Morales
    January 5, 2010

    Bill:

    As an agnostic I have to say: I don’t know if there is a god, i can’t prove it.

    ‘agnostic’ means not gnostic.

    You don’t subscribe to gnosis? Me neither.

    ‘atheist’ means not theist.

    Are you a theist? If not, you’re an atheist.

    I, too, am an agnostic… I’m an agnostic atheist.

  327. #327 Hilary Mark Nelson
    January 5, 2010

    I’m In!

  328. #328 WowbaggerOM
    January 5, 2010

    Bill wrote:

    Prove there isn’t a god. There is a burden of proof there.

    Bill, prove you don’t owe me a million dollars. There’s a burden of proof there.

  329. #329 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Prove there isn’t a god. There is a burden of proof there.

    You are right Bill, there is a burden of proof here, but not for those who say god doesn’t exist. You can’t prove a negative. However, all data to date does not conclusively prove a deity exists. In fact none of it does. Ergo, the parsimonious explanation is lack of existence for your deity. So the burden of proof is upon you, the claimant, to show conclusive physical evidence for your deity. Otherwise, it stays in the realm of dragons, unicorns, invisible pink rabbits, bigfoot, and other mythical creatures.

  330. #330 jachranit
    January 5, 2010

    I love it, I’d just like to know why we can’t do it in 2011 or 2012.

  331. #331 Janine, She Wolf Of Pharyngula, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Nerd, you forgot the shared heart of Cheney and Limbaugh as mythical constructs.

  332. #332 Nerd of Redhead, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Janine, you are correct. I’ll have to try to remember that for the next time…

  333. #333 Patricia, OM
    January 5, 2010

    Now Nerd, you know full well that dragons and unicorns exist. The Holy Babble says it, that proves it, and that’s the end of it.

  334. #334 Nanu Nanu
    January 5, 2010

    Prove there isn’t a god. There is a burden of proof there.

    You’re correct but you’ve also got which claim the burden lies on backwards.

    Excuse me if this double posts but when I hit submit it sends me to the preview page which is odd.

  335. #335 negentropyeater
    January 5, 2010

    If the main objective of such a convention is political (other than getting together to drink and make fun of fundies), ie make sure that public policy isn’t influenced by religious beliefs :

    1. why not target 2011 (otherwise people are again going to complain that their voices aren’t heard in the next POTUS election).

    2. why call it an Atheist Unity convention, and not a Unity convention of all non religious Americans ? especially when self identified Atheists represent only a small fraction of non religious folks (something like 2% vs 18%).

    Non religious Americans have grown to represent more than 1 in 6 potential voters, surely that is now a political force that can and must make its voice heard.

  336. #336 Tad Pohl
    January 5, 2010

    Are any skeptics/atheists/agnostics interested in getting together in greater Minnesota – the middle of “everywhere” as they say in this neck of the woods?

  337. #337 ivankaramazov
    January 5, 2010

    #296 Endor,

    haha, when did i ever suggest atheist shouldn’t meet up, or hold a convention? i mean if that’s the sort of stuff that does it for you, then hey, by all means you go for it brother.

    it’s funny to me, and if they held such a convention in my part of town, and it was free for the general public i’d probably even drop by, just for fun.

    And yes, atheism as a “movement” has peeked, because no one really cares to jump on the wagon. We could barely persuade young american adult’s to vote, let alone jump on some bizarre sort of crusade. Folks like Richard Dawkins give interviews talking about how science sometimes makes him weep, you have out campaigns that attract anonymous donors. Less than three percent of the American population prefer to classify themselves as atheist.

    Here’s the sort of proud folks the convention is bound to attract:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TAk5FF-Bvyo

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x1xHD_9OV4&feature=player_embedded

    http://www.youtube.com/user/TheAmazingAtheist#p/u/19/fvHe7-NHJ4Q

    With such folks as passengers, it’s a little wonder why people aren’t so quick to jump on board the campaign.

    If you’re looking for a gathering of such minds, then hey, more power to you.

  338. #338 Ol'Greg
    January 5, 2010

    Well since other people are doing this, if there are any Dallas area skeptics interested in meeting (I think there is a group I heard) I guess I’d be game provided people aren’t already completely afraid of my creepy online persona.

  339. #339 Patricia, Queen of Sluts OM
    January 5, 2010

    OK since some others have tried it – are there any other godless heathens in Wasco County, Oregon?

  340. #340 Janine, Mistress Of Foul Mouth Abuse, OM
    January 6, 2010

    My Queen! See my sniny new moniker!

  341. #341 Jadehawk, OM
    January 6, 2010

    you believe there isn’t a god.

    I do no such thing. I merely do not believe in the existence of any god ever postulated, due to lack of evidence for any such thing.

    And yes, atheism as a “movement” has peeked, because no one really cares to jump on the wagon. We could barely persuade young american adult’s to vote, let alone jump on some bizarre sort of crusade. Folks like Richard Dawkins give interviews talking about how science sometimes makes him weep, you have out campaigns that attract anonymous donors. Less than three percent of the American population prefer to classify themselves as atheist.

    that was supposed to be an argument that the atheist movement has peaked? wtf? do you even understand how to argue for trends? here’s a hint: it requires comparing the past with the present, and identifying emerging weaknesses/signs of lesser interest. a majority of young people not voting/not being politically active is not a trend; it’s a constant that hasn’t changed for decades. has the atheist movement peaked decades ago, too?

    and anyway, i’m amused that you trot out the “the youth doesn’t care” canard, and then your first link is to someone who is arguably still part of youth.

    not to mention that you seem confused about the goals here. atheists don’t evangelize and don’t need constant converts. that’s not the point of the atheist movement.

  342. #342 strange gods before me, OM
    January 6, 2010

    not to mention that you seem confused about the goals here. atheists don’t evangelize and don’t need constant converts. that’s not the point of the atheist movement.

    Speak for yourself. I’ve been hoping for a critical mass to summon Cthulhu.

  343. #343 John Morales
    January 6, 2010

    I’ve been hoping for a critical mass to summon Cthulhu.

    I’ve heard of a Black Mass, but never of a Critical Mass. :)

    Which reminds me: Summoning Cthulhu For Dummies by Bosshamster.

  344. #344 Owlmirror
    January 6, 2010

    So we had to have the “what is real?” talk all over again. [...]
    Unicorns: not real

    You might want to be careful about that (and google “unicorn goat” for more)…

    Narrowly-defined “animals with a single horn” are real.

  345. #345 ivankaramazov
    January 6, 2010

    Jadehawk,

    Okay, so tell me what are goals of the “movement”, are the goals, and the actual practices of those pursuing them self-defeating?

    Let’s just leave it here.

  346. #346 Patricia, Queen of Sluts OM
    January 6, 2010

    I’ve just about had it with you heathens.
    Dragons are real.
    Is. 13:22, Is. 27:1, Rev. 12:9, Rev. 12:7, Rev. 20:2, Neh. 2:13.

    Now sit up straight and believe.

  347. #347 alex.asolis.net
    January 6, 2010

    I would definitely go. :)

  348. #348 Patricia, Queen of Sluts OM
    January 6, 2010

    Huzzah for the Mistress of Foul Mouthed Abuse!

    Sinner.

    Pffft! ;)

  349. #349 Patricia, Queen of Sluts OM
    January 6, 2010

    Unicorns: not real.

    How tragic that these people are allowed to breed. All little children should be taught the TRUTH about Unicorns.
    Num. 23:22 and Job 39:9-12.

  350. #350 Jadehawk, OM
    January 6, 2010

    Okay, so tell me what are goals of the “movement”, are the goals, and the actual practices of those pursuing them self-defeating?

    I’ve no flaming clue what that sentence is supposed to mean. if you don’t know what the goals are, how can you claim they’re self-defeating?

    bad grammar is not your friend.

  351. #351 https://www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawmVCRS6uKXY5v9-Sl3jMKxcz_Evl55aDck
    January 6, 2010

    Dear PZ,

    They can take the “Unity Convention” and shove it up their ass.

    I am an atheist not because I am against something but because – perhaps due to my autism (I have Asperger’s); the various religious dogma strike me as bullshit at best and criminal conspiracies at worst.

    I am an atheist, not an adherent of an organisation, belief construct or marketing ploy called atheism. It would be as stupid as calling you a “Darwinist” or espousing your religion to be “Darwinism”.

    I will not allow others to define my own views or practice of myself within the my own boundaries of ethos and ethics.

    I do not decide on who I like or dislike based on sex, race, gender (subset of sex) or religion.

    I put my own skin in the game in the 1980′s when the police in Bonn, Germany (a right wing bastion) were turning a blind eye to skinheads kicking the shit out of Turkish Muslims and homosexuals (a few of us who were like-minded got together and the skinheads – and a few of their enablers – got payback involving months of hospital and in some cases permanent sterility).

    I could care less if someone prays on their knees, I do however care when someone, or a group of someone’s, prey on their neighbours.

    I will not as an atheist be pulled into a fight, nor lend my support to a fight, of someone else’s choosing.

    I lent, and lend, the weight of my fists, my wallet and my home to the innocent victims of individual tragedy – I always have – irrespective of how much the political or social norms dictate that “they had it coming”.

    Also I do so irrespective of their religion. Tragedy is personal, it takes a collective to perpetrate obscenity.

    I do so however an my own behest and not at the beck and call of some stranger purporting to be a member of an organisation with my “best interests” at heart. That’s just another way of establishing yet another dead-end dogma.

  352. #352 John Morales
    January 6, 2010

    Evl55aDck, I’m not a joiner either, but unlike you I don’t have a problem if other atheists wish to have goals and group up to achieve them.

    Anyway, what’s your problem with it? It’s not as if atheists are gonna be more demonised or disliked because of it… :)

  353. #353 WowbaggerOM
    January 6, 2010

    I don’t consider having ‘x’ percentage of people refer to themselves as atheist as a goal; I just want a much larger proportion to actually admit what I suspect is actually true – that they don’t believe in gods.

    It’s not that people believe in gods that’s the problem; it’s that many of those who don’t actually believe any more than I do don’t seem to want to admit that. As a result the minority who do believe in the nonsense get a much bigger voice in society than they deserve.

  354. #354 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    @ Wowbagger #353:

    The same problem occurs with specific religious sects/cults – when they’re among the dominant ones anyway!

    There are lots of people who clearly don’t really believe in all the Catholic stuff (including the infallibility of the pope) and yet they are determined to continue to self-identify as Catholic – hence propping up that particular piece of evil for longer and providing it with more apparent support for its evilness than it genuinely has.

    It’s probably partly that they’re cowards and daren’t strike out on their own. Peer pressure to conform is a major force in humans. They’ve invested too much of their personal identity and self-worth in being “Catholic” to give it up (as well as the tangible social benefits to lose and massive penalties to incur from leaving).

  355. #355 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    @ mazyloron #292:

    That, 7 (of the Facebook “generation”), is your entire sample base is it?! From which you intend to extrapolate to the entire population of potential convention-going atheists. I’m not impressed with your grasp of statistics.

  356. #356 John Morales
    January 6, 2010

    SEF, I think mazyloron #292 was just joking satirically.

  357. #357 WowbaggerOM
    January 6, 2010

    It’s probably partly that they’re cowards and daren’t strike out on their own. Peer pressure to conform is a major force in humans.

    Cultural pressure seems to be one of the biggest ones. Many religions are adhered to because adhering to that religion is part of a racial/national identity – most interestingly in America, where it’s not that important which Jesus you belong to; contrast that with, say, Greeks for whom specifically Greek Orthodox Christianity is as important to them as their language.

    In practice and belief huge numbers of both are essentially atheist, but because the religion is so intertwined with cultural identity it’s considered a betrayal of one’s people to deviate from it.

    This, of course, is manipulated to the fullest by the religious leaders – as illustrated by the number of US Christians who like to say that it’s a Christian nation, even when there’s no document that support that, and several which contradict it.

  358. #358 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    SEF,

    There are lots of people who clearly don’t really believe in all the Catholic stuff (including the infallibility of the pope) and yet they are determined to continue to self-identify as Catholic

    I tend to agree with this, but unfortunately, it’s very hard to find some good evidence to support this.
    What % of self identified catholics aren’t actually catholics ? 1% ? 10% ? 30% ?

    The same is true of course with all other belief systems.

    Unless someone comes up with a generally accepted normative set of beliefs for each religion, and polls on those specific beliefs, it’ll be difficult to get an answer.

    Until then it will all remain very murky, which is of course what religious leaders want.

  359. #359 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    @ Wowbagger #357:

    I wonder if a small part of that insistence (against the real evidence, of which they are generally ignorant!) that it’s a Christian country is down to the obsessive teaching and play-acting of the pilgrim fathers story. If they don’t think any further than that (almost a given for humans!), they could easily assume the whole settling thing was a specifically Christian venture. Any “native” “indians” can of course be completely ignored or regarded as saved by being Christianised.

  360. #360 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    What % of self identified catholics aren’t actually catholics ?

    Pretty much every single individual one ever gets to question in detail on the matter!

    And that of course applies to all other religionists. In my experience, they’re all adherents to their own private version of religion (made in their own image) and disagree quite strongly with core tenets of whatever main-stream religion they’re pretending is their religion.

    But then one finds that they don’t care about the facts and even tend to get angry at having the conversation over what the core beliefs are at all. What they falsely believe about themselves is far more important to them than the truth of the matter. Of course, if they cared about truth they wouldn’t be religious anyway. So that’s also pretty much a given.

    Unless someone comes up with a generally accepted normative set of beliefs for each religion, and polls on those specific beliefs

    At some point last year on a thread here, I did spend some time looking for whether there was a decent online classification system for religions (like the ones for working out what plant or insect you’ve got in front of you) – one which would be able to show people which religion they’re really closest to having rather than starting out from whatever they’ve claimed to be. Although, having them enter their self-identification afterwards and then pointing out precisely where they differ from it in their actual views would also be an important part of the lesson.

    And I think many of them secretly already know this (that they’re not being honest about what they really believe), which is why they get angry about and resist being questioned at all.

  361. #361 Thunderbird 5
    January 6, 2010

    Dear #351

    Probably less due to autism that to self-important-arseholism.

  362. #362 ivankaramazov
    January 6, 2010

    Wowbagger:

    “In practice and belief huge numbers of both are essentially atheist, but because the religion is so intertwined with cultural identity it’s considered a betrayal of one’s people to deviate from it.”

    Actually I find the opposite to be true, even some individuals who call themselves atheist, hold some sort of intelligent design beliefs, referring to human creatures as having some sort of intrinsic purpose and design.

    Clear examples would be Buddhist, I was talking to some dude the other day calling himself an atheist, and trying to peddle Buddhism to other atheist, and he confessed that he believed with this statement by a Buddhist scholar:

    “Morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion, not subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality.”

    Even folks like Hitchens seem to be walking a similar sort of tight rope, with good old Chris claiming he is not a relativist, but being too dumb to actually reflect on his views on morality any deeper than that, but does seem to be peddling a view akin to the above.

    If you hold a view of morality as some sort of intrinsic law of the cosmos, you’re just a closeted God-bot.

  363. #363 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    It seems ivankaramazov has a predilecion for confused, incoherent, incompehensible comments.

  364. #364 ivankaramazov
    January 6, 2010

    negent,

    perhaps you can tell me what was so difficult for you to comprehend? I was claiming that I find many atheist to actually hold some sort of closeted god-belief, or what is refereed to as “teleological” beliefs, particularly when it comes to morality

    Buddhist who refer to themselves as atheist are one such example, as well as a number of dewey eyed devotees of the enlightenment

  365. #365 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    perhaps you can tell me what was so difficult for you to comprehend?

    A circumvoluted comment that juxtaposes atheism, buddhism, intelligent design, teleology and relativism (did I forget something ?) to arrive at a rather obvious conclusion is just too complicated for me.

  366. #366 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    @SEF #355
    John Morales #356 is correct, I was attempting to satirize your playing of the gender card in reaction to choosing a pub as a place to meet up for drinks.

    The point of the meetup was to get together over drinks, so a pub seemed like an appropriate suggestion (as opposed to a nightclub or a bar, which are not really good venues for having a meaningful conversation). Then the cries of “sexism” started up because, apparently, women don’t go to bars, because they invariably have children in tow (as any good woman ought to!) and cannot take them to a pub? I still don’t understand how meeting at a pub excludes women.

    There was sarcasm in the previous paragraph, in case it was not obvious. But it also contained legitimate questions.

    If I read your posts correctly, we have to pick a place that has daycare, or a place to which people can bring their children? That excludes single people, men especially, exactly as much as meeting at a pub excludes women.

  367. #367 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    Correction: “That excludes childless people, men especially, exactly as much as meeting at a pub excludes women.”

  368. #368 Walton
    January 6, 2010

    What exactly is the point in having an “atheist unity convention”? Atheism, as is often (correctly) pointed out here, is not a religion or an ideology or a movement. Rather, it’s simply a state of not believing in any gods. Atheists don’t necessarily have anything whatsoever in common with one another, except a lack of belief in gods. And I can’t imagine that a convention where people sit around staring into the sky and saying to each other “Nope, still no god” would be much fun.

    Why not have a pro-science, sceptic or secularist convention instead? Unlike atheism, those are beliefs that are positively-defined and that involve a common worldview. And a convention of that type can also incorporate opposition to pseudoscience, “alternative medicine”, astrology and similar forms of bullshit that are not specifically religious.

  369. #369 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    Then the cries of “sexism” started up because, apparently, women don’t go to bars, because they invariably have children in tow (as any good woman ought to!) and cannot take them to a pub? I still don’t understand how meeting at a pub excludes women.

    Meeting at a pub won’t exclude women, but then they all will have to have a ladies drink

  370. #370 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    The point of the meetup was to get together over drinks

    Which makes it not a particularly suitable rehearsal for the convention! Unless you imagine those to be non-stop drinking sessions.

    It does alienate those who wouldn’t drink alcohol (including the extremely rare allergic-even-to-alcohol-fumes ones). It doesn’t match well with those who might prefer to meet up at a coffee morning. I’m not sure whether US bars still have smoking – which excludes all the asthmatics and anyone with any sense at all.

    I still don’t understand how meeting at a pub excludes women.

    Unless it’s a male-only members club, it doesn’t explicitly exclude women. It’s merely a hostile environment for some of them (and for some men too but traditionally fewer of those). I.e. it discourages them. Just as much as some environments discourage non-whites, homosexuals or non-Christians just by their very nature.

    That excludes single people, men especially, exactly as much as meeting at a pub excludes women.

    … because the mere existence of day-care, despite not having to sit in it oneself, is such a terribly scary thing. Yeah, right.

    Granted that children are pretty scary things even to be near, does that mean that in your world there’s a minimum age that children (tweens or teens), even the most intelligent ones, have to be before they’re allowed to assert their atheism and discuss issues surrounding it with like-minded people without risking freaking out the old’uns?

  371. #371 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    I think mazyloron #292 was just joking satirically.

    I was attempting to satirize

    Well duh! That doesn’t make it any good. It was the whole ineptitude of the thing (on every possible level) which made it all the more objectionable.

  372. #372 SC OM
    January 6, 2010

    a coffee morning

    *shudder*

  373. #373 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    What exactly is the point in having an “atheist unity convention”?

    Sadly, given the inevitable lack of strictly atheistic content(!), it seems that it’s mostly that they want to be able to see that other atheists really do exist; to see that there’s a significant number of them; and to be seen being there in numbers – both by other atheists and by theists.

    Much like the way religionists like to pray (ie indulge in wishcraft) together in large numbers, and hence be seen doing it, rather than praying in private (as the Christian subset were actually told to do) where no-one can see them (and approve, admire or be threatened by them).

    It’s human gang culture. It’s endemic.

  374. #374 Antiochus Epiphanes
    January 6, 2010

    Narrowly-defined “animals with a single horn” are real.

    Yeah, but no sensible taxonomist would ever call all one-horned goats a “species”… I mean, by that definition, chameleons and rhinos can be considered unicorns. My kid’s taxonomy is straight-up off the hook, though, and she ain’t hearing that noise.

  375. #375 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    @ SC #372:

    *shudder*

    Well there you go then. You should appreciate that other people might have similar horrors about your own preferred type of venue.

    Unless the meet-up itself is “secular” (neutral) in regard to drinking etc habits, and unless there’s a wide variety of the purely socialising / ingesting / imbibing opportunites, you’re always necessarily going to be discouraging some parts of the atheist demographic. Not because they don’t want to socialise (like those of us on this thread who’ve said as much) but because the particular limited type of socialising being offered is very off-putting to them.

  376. #376 Sven DiMilo
    January 6, 2010

    Nobody is “allergic to alcohol fumes.”
    Smoking is not an issue (in most states).
    Nobody is talking about some biker dive where we’ll all get completely hammered and start a brawl.
    Order a freakin ginger ale.

  377. #377 SC OM
    January 6, 2010

    Here are just a few goals of the atheist/skeptical/freethought/secularist/humanist movement(s), off the top of my head:

    1. giving nonbelievers more of a public presence, including providing a context for more people to come out

    2. giving the godless more of a political presence

    3. promoting the acceptance of nonbelievers

    4. opposing the power of organized religion in various institutions – schools, the military, etc. – and encouraging the continued separation of church and state

    5. encouraging the use of reason and evidence in political life – both discouraging deference toward superstitions and working for political positions to be based in evidenced claims

    6. promoting an evidence-based and humanistic worldview generally, including leading others to question their beliefs and justify their ethics

    7. recognizing the history of atheism and freethought, and working to have this more known

    8. socializing with others who broadly share our views

    9. Learning about the challenges different individuals and groups face in different parts of the country or world as disbelievers or secularists and what activities they’re engaged in

    Most of these require projects and organizing – in short, action. A large convention may not be necessary for all of them, but it’s arguably useful and potentially quite fun.

  378. #378 SC OM
    January 6, 2010

    Mr. SEFHyde:

    Well there you go then. You should appreciate that other people might have similar horrors about your own preferred type of venue.

    You’re fucking nuts.

  379. #379 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    Nobody is “allergic to alcohol fumes.”

    Your ignorance is showing. Genuine alcohol allergy is very rare though. We’ve been through this all already in a previous thread (within the last few months). I don’t recall whether you were unusually absent at the time though.

  380. #380 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    SC,

    great list of objectives.

    should “atheist/skeptical/freethought/secularist/humanist” be grouped under the term “Non Theist”, or “Non Religious”, or “Non Believers” ?

    Also, a large convention usually includes many smaller workshops, which gives the possibility to have at the same time reunions by state, by causes, by association, etc… People can pick and choose what interests them the most, with what the identify the most.

  381. #381 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    Also, given that many of these objectives are political, I really wonder why such convention can’t be organized in Fall 2011 (20 months leadtime is quite standard practice for such a first large event).
    Just on time to have some influence on the next election cycle.

  382. #382 SC OM
    January 6, 2010

    should “atheist/skeptical/freethought/secularist/humanist” be grouped under the term “Non Theist”, or “Non Religious”, or “Non Believers” ?

    I guess I don’t really see the need for umbrella labels (though I don’t think any of those terms is incorrect). “Unity” convention sounds good to me, as it captures that this would be bringing together a diverse coalition.

    Also, a large convention usually includes many smaller workshops, which gives the possibility to have at the same time reunions by state, by causes, by association, etc… People can pick and choose what interests them the most, with what the identify the most.

    Exactly.

  383. #383 negentropyeater
    January 6, 2010

    It’s just that for marketing/PR purposes, the convention is going to need a quick catch phrase :

    eg
    UNITY, the first (inter)national convention of non believers.

  384. #384 SC OM
    January 6, 2010

    Ah, I see.

    That’s not so bad.

    Hmmm…

  385. #385 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    While googling shows that bunches of things have called their conventions “Unity” ones, it’s rather unfortunate in the atheism/religion context because it would seem to indicate it’s about either unitarians or monotheists in general. Ideally, the no-prophet organisation would have a term for zero as its name. But those tend to have negative connotations, unlike terms for the number one.

  386. #386 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    Which makes it not a particularly suitable rehearsal for the convention! Unless you imagine those to be non-stop drinking sessions.

    How exactly does one rehearse a huge convention/march/whatever without actually having a huge convention/march/whatever? The idea is for a small-scale social gathering of local people, because, living near one another, we don’t need to wait for a national convention three years in the future just to have an opportunity to meet up.

    It does alienate those who wouldn’t drink alcohol (including the extremely rare allergic-even-to-alcohol-fumes ones).

    It only alienates those who cannot be around other people who are drinking alcohol. (If someone wants to come who is allergic to alcohol fumes, I’m going to assume that they realize that’s an extremely rare condition for which the rest of society cannot be expected to compensate 100% of the time, and they will speak up, and then we will pick a more appropriate place.) As the Drinking Skeptically website says, teetotalers are perfectly welcome. No one’s forcing everyone who comes to drink alcohol against their will.

    It doesn’t match well with those who might prefer to meet up at a coffee morning.

    No, I guess it doesn’t. Did you see my point earlier about how any suggestion that anyone makes will likely be objectionable to someone else? For example: A coffee morning doesn’t match well with those who might prefer to meet up at a pub. (As evidenced by SC OM #372.) Therefore a coffee meeting is completely unacceptable as an option, by your standards.

    I’m not sure whether US bars still have smoking – which excludes all the asthmatics and anyone with any sense at all.

    So, you’re not from the US, meaning you’re certainly not local to the Baltimore/DC area, and you clearly don’t know what local meetup locations are even available, least of all what any specific one is like, and yet you’re criticizing how those of us who live here and do know the area and its venues are choosing a place to meet up? Seriously?
    If you were a local, you’d know that the entire state of Maryland has outlawed smoking in all places of business (other than smokeshops).
    Furthermore, what if someone wanted to come who was allergic to peanuts? They could die if we picked someplace that served them, so we should avoid all peanut-friendly places. And Of course someone might be a vegetarian and be uncomfortable watching others eat meat, so we can’t pick any place that serves meat. And then there’s people on gluten-free diets, we can’t pick a place that they couldn’t get something to eat, so we’ll have to adjust accordingly. So, no alcohol, no smoke, no peanuts, no meat, no gluten…what else could anyone possibly object to? Let’s make sure wherever we go has every possible objectionable quality pre-screened.

    That was sarcasm again. Because you’re being ridiculous. So, I ridicule.

    Unless it’s a male-only members club, it doesn’t explicitly exclude women. It’s merely a hostile environment for some of them (and for some men too but traditionally fewer of those). I.e. it discourages them. Just as much as some environments discourage non-whites, homosexuals or non-Christians just by their very nature.

    Maybe “pub” has a different connotation in whatever country you live in (I’m guessing the UK, but I really don’t know), but here, specifically in Maryland, “pubs” are usually quieter places with a bar and some dining tables, that serve decent food, good beer & liquor, and a wide variety non-alcoholic beverages, and are generally a good place to hang out for a while, while having a nice conversation with friends. None of the places suggested are loud, crowded, or aimed at the one-night-stand crowd – those are “clubs” or “bars”, and I would agree that those sorts of venues would be discouraging to some people, including women. If I had said “let’s meet up at Baja Beach Club or Cancun Cantina,” then your argument about being exclusionary to women would be valid, but I didn’t suggest places like those. (But then, you’d know that if you were local.)

    … because the mere existence of day-care, despite not having to sit in it oneself, is such a terribly scary thing. Yeah, right.

    Exactly as scary as going to a bar to talk to people over a drink (alcoholic or otherwise). Thus my point.
    And single, childless men hanging around a daycare tend to raise eyebrows.

    Granted that children are pretty scary things even to be near, does that mean that in your world there’s a minimum age that children (tweens or teens), even the most intelligent ones, have to be before they’re allowed to assert their atheism and discuss issues surrounding it with like-minded people without risking freaking out the old’uns?

    It was my understanding that this was a social event, not a “sit around and discuss atheism and skepticism in a forum/roundtable environment” event. I don’t socialize with children. I’d have a discussion with a child if they were mentally developed enough to discuss skeptical things (and assuming their parents wouldn’t freak out if I were to do so), but I don’t hang out socially with children.

    I think you have the impression that this is supposed to be some sort of skeptical support or advocacy meeting, when it’s just a social event. It’s an excuse to meet new people who have at least one thing in common with you.

    Well, not you, as you don’t even live in the area, apparently.

  387. #387 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    Oops, an ‘n’ got away from me (and in addition to the lack of an edit feature here, these days we’re not even allowed to post corrections too quickly).

  388. #388 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    Ugh, the formatting here is odd. Sorry if that’s blocky, I’m still a bit new to the comments section on this site, and didn’t realize that including some HTML requires that I use HTML for all formatting. It didn’t look like that in the preview.

  389. #389 SC OM
    January 6, 2010

    …what else could anyone possibly object to?

    Bad music. :)

    That was sarcasm again.

    And it was funny again.

  390. #390 Sven DiMilo
    January 6, 2010

    We’ve been through this all already in a previous thread (within the last few months).

    Thanks for that useful pointer. Guess I was unusually absent at the time. Unfortunately searching Pharyngula for “alcohol allergy” was similarly uninformative.
    Because I am mildly interested, though, and hate to be WOTI, I tried Teh Google and learned something.
    This page of unsourced but reasonable-seeming assertions is mostly about ALDH deficiency and the “allergy-like symptoms” that accompany the consequent histamine pulse. But these symptoms are neither life-threatening nor a true allergy [repeat: NOT AN ALLERGY], and in any case have nothing to do with “fumes.”
    Scroll down to the bottom for a brief discussion of the “few dozen case reports” of putative true alcohol allergy.

    As little as 1 ml of pure alcohol…is enough to provoke…anaphylaxis.

    Not exactly “fumes,” and very poorly documented and understood, as the subsequent “Mechanism” and “Testing” paragraphs make clear.

    So I’m still not buying it, but if you can set me straight I hope you will.

  391. #391 Ol'Greg
    January 6, 2010

    Gah! Listening to you people quibble over pubs and coffeehouses reminds me why I don’t hang out more with liberals.

    What a damned shame.

    I’d throw a party but I’m afraid some one who invited themselves might be allergic to my cat and sue me.

    People suck.

    NVM.

    I’m with unbearably long username. Conventions can shove it.

  392. #392 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    The idea is for a small-scale social gathering of local people

    The really small-scale ones (eg Drinking Skeptically) already happen! What was actually being discussed as an idea was something on a slightly larger scale instead of waiting for 2013.

    Maybe “pub” has a different connotation

    It’s generally an ancient place of alcohol drinking, traditionally for working men, but now with added ladettes as well as drunken louts to disturb the old fogeys rotting in corners. It can be quite noisy – especially with the addition of TVs and gambling/video games. There are a few pubs which deliberately market themselves as family-friendly though (as I already explained above). Eg there is/was a rather nice one in The New Forest.

    It’s an excuse to meet new people who have at least one thing in common with you.

    But apparently not anyone who might be just different enough from you to not like the same venue as you! It’s a rather limited form of socialisation you have there – especially to be automatically excluding children (and I don’t mean toddlers, just the under-aged but precocious ones who wouldn’t normally be allowed to hang out in pubs/bars/night-clubs).

    Like I said, people had been trying to discuss some sort of credible precursor to the 2013 event. 7 “blokes” (including the female version) in a pub doesn’t cut it.

  393. #393 Rorschach
    January 6, 2010

    If this thread is anything to go by, organising such an event should prove next to impossible, alcohol fumes, smokers, coffee por and contra, probably find some people with nut allergies too, what are we going to do with them, separate rooms for all of those?
    The people’s front of Judea is nothing against the factionism the atheists will create !
    :-)

    Btw, it’s not inconceivable that someone allergic to ethanol would have a reaction to molecules contained in the fumes of a glass of some spirit, it is well known to happen for food allergies, e.g. the aforementioned nuts, in planes and other confined places.

  394. #394 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    @SEF

    The really small-scale ones (eg Drinking Skeptically) already happen! What was actually being discussed as an idea was something on a slightly larger scale instead of waiting for 2013.

    Drinking Skeptically doesn’t happen in Maryland, check their website. DC is close, but it’s an hour drive one-way from parts of Baltimore, and baltimore is a big enough city that starting a group here seems like a good idea.

    I direct you to the comment that seems to have gotten the Baltimore-area-meetup started, #110:

    For others that live around baltimore and want to do a “Drinking Skeptically” of our own, a bar in baltimore that is both good and conducive to conversation is brewer’s art.

    And, see, your definition of “pub” varies wildly from mine, and from the “conducive to conversation” comment of one of the first people to suggest a Baltimore meeting. So again, stop using *your* definition of “pub” to say that our pubs here in Baltimore aren’t suitable as meeting places.

    But apparently not anyone who might be just different enough from you to not like the same venue as you!

    Ok, please name a venue in the Baltimore area that no one will find objectionable for any reason whatsoever.
    I’ll wait…

  395. #395 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    So I’m still not buying it

    … despite finding for yourself a page where they had been forced (reluctantly) to admit that the real allergy cases did exist.

    It’s easier for me to know because I exist and I’m already evidence of it being true. But since you’re not going to believe my existence because you don’t know me in real life, you’re apparently going to have to find one of the other extremely rare examples nearer to you.

    Do you disbelieve in all other minority medical conditions too?! I.e. the many ones throughout the world for which approximately no research is available and no treatments are developed because the sufferers are so few in number that there’s no money in it for “big pharma”? (Or, worse yet, because the medical profession has a vested interest in continuing to pretend the condition is something different and hence mistreating it, eg ulcers being the classic example of this.)

    Each one is far rarer than atheism and each represents a far more disadvantaged and ignored (and sometimes despised) minority. Only the slightly less rare ones can hope to come close to having their own “Unity” convention (which is still more towards that 7 people end of the scale across an enormous region, or even the world, whenever one is shown on TV).

  396. #396 Ol'Greg
    January 6, 2010

    “Like I said, people had been trying to discuss some sort of credible precursor to the 2013 event. 7 “blokes” (including the female version) in a pub doesn’t cut it.”

    From what I can tell a bunch of people who already live in the area were proposing meeting each other for drinks.

    OMG people who know each other over a messageboard or blog are proposing doing something they all happen to enjoy and SOME PEOPLE DON’T ENJOY IT!!!!

    Stop the presses.

    I’d hate to see what you’d do if some people suggested a group of us go windsurfing together.

  397. #397 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    Still having formatting issues. The preview window for comments is not so great, it seems.

  398. #398 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    Windsurfing? OMG, someone could get hurt! What if there are parapalegic atheists, you’re excluding them, you monster!

  399. #399 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    It’s a rather limited form of socialisation you have there – especially to be automatically excluding children (and I don’t mean toddlers, just the under-aged but precocious ones who wouldn’t normally be allowed to hang out in pubs/bars/night-clubs).

    So, the part where I said I specifically did not suggest a nightclub or bar, nor did anyone else…you didn’t read that?
    The place I suggested, Pratt Street Ale House, does allow children. They don’t typically sit at the bar, but there are often families in there sitting down having dinner together. Most places in Baltimore have both a bar and dining tables and allow people of all ages in, other than those that are set up for live music or dancing. Not that you’d know that, since you’re not from Baltimore. (Yet you continue to tell those of us who are living here why we cannot meet up wherever we want to meet up.)

    Like I said, people had been trying to discuss some sort of credible precursor to the 2013 event. 7 “blokes” (including the female version) in a pub doesn’t cut it.

    I’m pretty sure that the original idea of a 2013 event spurred a suggestion of an earlier, smaller event, which THEN spurred discussion of a plain old social meetup for those of us living in the area (not you). It’s the latter to which I was replying.

  400. #400 crazysticks
    January 6, 2010

    I can’t wait to see this unfold!

  401. #401 bastion of sass
    January 6, 2010
    I still don’t understand how meeting at a pub excludes women.

    Unless it’s a male-only members club, it doesn’t explicitly exclude women. It’s merely a hostile environment for some of them (and for some men too but traditionally fewer of those). I.e. it discourages them.

    Oh, for pity’s sake! Our all-female PTSA, including the school’s female principal, often goes to a bar (albeit a nice one connected to a restaurant), after PTSA meetings to socialize.

  402. #402 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    name a venue in the Baltimore area

    You’re the one imagining that I was talking only to you and fellow Baltimoreans. How long exactly is it going to take you, despite being told repeatedly and explicitly, to read and comprehend that the discussion context was actually a more general and large-scale meet-up.

    Fawlty Towers: “please try to understand before one of us dies”.

  403. #403 bastion of sass
    January 6, 2010

    Baltimore Blasphemous Bastards

    I plan to getting a meetup.com group for us up either late today or tomorrow. Really busy, so can’t attend to it before then.

    Tentative date for first get-together will be the evening of Jan. 29, probably at Brewer’s Art and probably at a time that both those staying in Baltimore after work, and those traveling to downtown from elsewhere, will find equally inconvenient.

  404. #404 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    I might as well retract the forlorn Fawlty Towers hope. Someone with the spooneristic name of “mazyloron” isn’t likely to be one ever to “read all 250+ comments” properly for context; let alone then put the necessary ability-mediated effort into working out into which context “Why pay to play when you’re going to be forced out of most of the action anyway” has to belong.

  405. #405 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    How long exactly is it going to take you, despite being told repeatedly and explicitly, to read and comprehend that the discussion context was actually a more general and large-scale meet-up.

    Did I not already direct you to comment #110? And I included the quote that I was referring to:

    For others that live around baltimore and want to do a “Drinking Skeptically” of our own, a bar in baltimore that is both good and conducive to conversation is brewer’s art.

    So, explicitly and contextually: Your first reply (#264) to me referenced these lines of mine (comment #262):

    Brewer’s Art sounded good, never been but wanted to try it…Pratt Street Ale House is a good sized place if we have a big crowd.

    It should be obvious that I was referring to the post that suggested Brewer’s Art, and if you had read that post (which I have linked above and quoted to you twice), you would know that my suggestion was not for a practice-run convention, but for a Drinking Skeptically-style meetup.

  406. #406 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    Someone with the spooneristic name of “mazyloron” isn’t likely to be one ever to “read all 250+ comments” properly for context; let alone then put the necessary ability-mediated effort into working out into which context “Why pay to play when you’re going to be forced out of most of the action anyway” has to belong.

    Oh, we’re going ad-hom now? I didn’t get that memo.

  407. #407 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    @ mazyloron #405 + #406:

    It’s not an ad-hom because it’s not in lieu of the valid argument. You’re just selectively ignoring the valid argument part in making that false claim.

    Your first reply (#264) to me

    No. I highlighted your names of pubs because your post was the nearby one but I explicitly did not address the post to you.

    Usually*, when I’m primarily addressing just one person, you’ll see an @ name # post-number line at the start of my post; and I certainly always try to do that when there’s a direct one-to-one connection to a far-away post rather than a general point to be made for which the quoted bit is merely a relevant example. In this case you should already have been forewarned of that possibility by JackC in #258! Read the content of #264 more carefully and you might note the lack of it being in anyway personally directed towards you.

    * I’ve been slightly more online of late and the imposition of sign-in has slowed down the rate at which people post on pharyngula; hence, recently, I’ve not generally had the risk of being so far away from any post which I’m addressing individually as to absolutely need the name and number procedure on every single post. I’ve included it here again though just so you can compare with other threads – if you decide to override your choice of name, of course.

  408. #408 mazyloron
    January 6, 2010

    SEF
    Ok, so maybe it was not directly aimed at me. However, the suggestions of pubs and the like were made, as far as I can tell, by people looking to do a more Drinking Skeptically-style meeting, not people suggesting that we have a trial run of the 2013 Unity convention/march/thing. I was one of those people making the suggestion, so your post was indirectly aimed at me, and it included a suggestion which was solely mine, both of which are why I replied.

    I disagree with the suggestion that pubs in the Baltimore area are not female-friendly, and I think you are wrong about the pub suggestions being intended as venues for a serious atheist/skeptic meeting.

  409. #409 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    Back on the constructive organising of an atheist knees-up not in a brewery*: do any of the prominent (ie millionaire celebrity subset) atheists have control of any possible venue? I.e. in the same way that Woodstock and Glastonbury each involved a man with a farm, and other infamous get-togethers of the past have involved people with estates, but in a more modern and indoors-y, non-muddy (and perhaps less orgiastic) sort of way.

    * Taking as accepted the fact that many of you social animals do feel the need for one, even if you do lack the (corresponding?) god-shaped hole.

  410. #410 Jadehawk, OM
    January 6, 2010

    If you hold a view of morality as some sort of intrinsic law of the cosmos, you’re just a closeted God-bot.

    nope. just because you lack the imagination to look beyond the “my god or no god” dichotomy, doesn’t mean human beliefs can actually be pigeonholed like that. People who don’t believe in any gods (i.e. atheists) can still believe in other forms of magic and magical creatures; not all atheists are skeptics, after all. and belief in a “caring” universe, or in moral laws as inherent to the universe as its physical laws are godless magical beliefs.

    Even folks like Hitchens seem to be walking a similar sort of tight rope, with good old Chris claiming he is not a relativist, but being too dumb to actually reflect on his views on morality any deeper than that, but does seem to be peddling a view akin to the above.

    let me guess: you actually believe that everyone who doesn’t believe in the Magical Lawgiver in the Sky is a moral relativist. How ignorant of you. Atheist moral absolutists exist and they usually base their belief on perceived cultural superiority of the Enlightenment moral structures over all others (based on the belief that those Western structures are the best and only way to create happy, successful societies that don’t hurt their members).

    IOW, it’s not a “we know the Real True Moral Laws” sort of absolutism, it’s a “we’ve figured out the best-working solution” type.

    Buddhist who refer to themselves as atheist are one such example, as well as a number of dewey eyed devotees of the enlightenment

    you don’t know what Buddhism is, evidently. otherwise you would understand why atheist Buddhists aren’t closet monotheists. And I also fail to see how belief in human reason and learning is a form of closet monotheism. you probably suffer from some weird form of pareidolia of beliefs.

  411. #411 Bill Dauphin, OM
    January 6, 2010

    Zounds! In my neck of the woods, a “pub” is a restaurant that also serves alcohol (most notably, beer), and is an eminently appropriate venue for men, women, and children of all ages, unless they have a religious (or literally pathological) aversion to being in the same room as potable alcohol. In my state, at least, it would also be a smoke-free environment, by law. When we get down to arguing about vanishingly rare allergies and suggesting that atheists who just want to have a fucking party are somehow discriminating against people with rare illnesses (???), I begin to understand Ol’ Greg’s frustration (but don’t give in to it, OG: Illegitimus non carborundum!).

    As for the UNITY convention, a couple broad-based responses to the thread so far:

    1. To those claiming that having a convention validates the specious claim that “atheism is just another religion,” I say ye bullshit! Lots of non-religions have conventions, for the not-unrelated reasons that they [a] have common interests, [b] have goals for social action that cannot be accomplished except through collective efforts, and [c] enjoy hanging out and partying with like-minded people. Shared beliefs and goals do not a religion make, unless said beliefs are actually religious in nature. This business of using “religious” as shorthand for passion and commitment without regard to the nature of whatever it is one is passionately committed to has just got to stop.

    2. Regarding the notion — expressed explicitly by at least one commenter and implicitly suported by others — that any attempt to organize atheists and humanists will necessarily result in dogmatism, I not only disagree, I think it’s a pretty fatalistic view: Given that almost nothing in the way of social change gets accomplished by un-organized individuals, the notion that organization inherently generates invidious dogma leaves us with damn few useful courses of action. Shall we all sit at home with a bottle of cheap gin in one hand and a revolver1 in the other? Or shall we organize in support of our shared goals, and guard against dogmatism by dint of self-awareness and vigilence?

    3. Regarding the timing of this vis a vis the electoral calendar, I think 2013 is just about right: Barring some unforeseeable crisis, the 2012 presidential election will be won either by Obama (whom I persist in believing is friendlier to the goals of atheists and humanists than his political pragmatism allows him to appear, and also friendlier to those goals than any other plausible Democratic candidate2) or by some rightwing nutbag that’ll have us all fleeing to New Zealand; the next realistic opportunity to affect electoral outcomes in a secular humanist direction will be the 2014 midterms, and those campaigns will be just getting spooled up in 2013… making that a perfect time for the proposed convention. If we have any success in building political momentum, 2013 will give us just about the right ramp-up to the 2016 presidential, which I fervently hope will be the Democrats defending an open seat, and might thus actually be influenceable by a coalition of humanists and other progressives.

    All in all, I say Party On!

    1 Entirely tangentially to my comment, but speaking of handguns… my brother-in-law took me and my family to the shooting range during our holiday visit, and we had the opportunity to fire a variety of handguns, ranging from a .22 Colt Targetsman pistol to a .44 Magnum revolver. The latter was, shall we say, a startling experience! I don’t love guns, and have no interest in hunting or keeping a gun for alleged self-defense, but target shooting can be a lot of fun.

    2 I actually think a second, lame-duck Obama term (which I desperately hope we will see) is our best hope for real progress on some more politically risky social goals like federal recognition of marriage equality, liberalization of drug laws, etc. However frustrated you might be with the pace of change under Obama, you should really be hoping he’s reelected if you care about any of that stuff.

  412. #412 ivankaramazov
    January 6, 2010

    410# Jadehawk: “……superiority of the Enlightenment moral structures over all others…yada, yada, yada”

    Well, it’s because you have no conception of development and history of the enlightenment, which was just a pseudo-religious enterprise. With it’s visions of utopia, and progress stemming from the judeo-christian notion of perfectibility of mankind and human history.

    Let’s go back to the beginning of your post. I said if you hold a view of morality as the buddhist scholar I quoted from held, that the moral good is an intrinsic law of the cosmos, you’re just a closeted believer.

    Much of greek thought, from socrates, to plato was based solely on this notion of a intrinsic Good woven into the fabric of the cosmos. To quote Socrates in the Allegory of the Cave: “in the region of the knowable the last thing to be seen, and that with considerable effort, is the idea of good; but once seen, it must be concluded that this is indeed the cause for all things of all that is right and beautiful? in the visible realm it gives birth to light and its sovereign; in the intelligible realm, itself sovereign, it provided truth and intelligence”

    God in this sphere of thought is merely that which can make this possible, the whatever it is that can endow the universe with some instric sort of purpose that humanity is to live up to.

    Such beliefs profess that the cosmos were intelligently created, the product of foresight, endowed with purpose. This is very basic, and shouldn’t be too difficult for you to understand why this is so. Socrates in his reflection on the notion of intrinsic good woven into the fabric of reality, even speaks of it as the creator of all things.

    In a deistic rendering of God, in the rendering of God by the certain athenians, and much of the world over, God is merely the force that makes such an instrisic good possible, the desire of the cosmos for us to live the Good life. It just another version, of intelligent design argument, that instead of pointing to the complexities of the eye, profess a created universe, by claiming that the moral good is intrinsically woven into it.

    An individual who holds such a view, like buddhist are not atheist even though some may claim to be, they just reject certain qualities of God, like the personal god of christianity, but yet uphold others. They’re not atheist, for the same reason Socrates was not an atheist. The hold a belief, in the notion of God, i just described. They believe in such a god, even if they do so as closeted.

    Even in Catholic thought, in the Second Vatican Council, labels such closeted folks, anonymous christians, their believers, just not in name, in the catholic view.

    Such folks are just closeted believers, parading around as if they’re atheist. They are no more sillier than some individual believing the universe was intelligently created, that prayers are supernaturally answered, that there is a heaven and hell, and jesus was resurrected from the grave, going around saying he’s an atheist.

    You go around, with the word “God” that’s hallow, you didn’t even bother going over what you meant by God, I did that for you, I went over what Plato, and Socrates and many others meant by God. And that is exactly what many buddhist believe.

    Much of the enlightenment beliefs are based on this notion of a Good as well, just a more self-denial version of it, it’s just a version of god-belief, masquerading as secularism. You should read works by atheist such as John N. Gray, who dismantle the enlightenment project as just this.

  413. #413 John Morales
    January 6, 2010

    SEF @373, prayer = wishcraft.

    I can’t believe I’ve never come across it (or thought of it myself!) before.

    I’ll be using that one. :)

  414. #414 Sven DiMilo
    January 6, 2010

    they had been forced (reluctantly) to admit that the real allergy cases did exist.

    They “admitted” (though I saw nothing indicating reluctance or forcing) that a few dozen published case reports existed. They then presented 2 paragraphs worth of details that (to me) make the case reports dubious.

    Do you disbelieve in all other minority medical conditions too?

    what? It depends on the evidence. As far as I can tell, evidence for a true allergy to ethanol is crappy, your anecdotal claims included. I am ASKING you to provide better evidence if you can, but you are giving me conspiracy theories instead. Until I see it I remain skeptical that a true allergy to ethanol is even possible.

    it’s not inconceivable that someone allergic to ethanol would have a reaction to molecules contained in the fumes of a glass of some spirit

    Nuts and the like contain proteins and lipids, i.e. potential allergens. It’s the very concept of an allergy to ethanol that I am questioning.

  415. #415 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    I’ve never come across it

    To my recollection (too many years ago to be sure), it comes from the BBC boards – in connection with a religionist nutter (quite possibly literally of the sectionable kind!) who was accusing other people (not witches, just rival religionists) of witchcraft and wishing for stuff. I don’t recall exactly how we arrived at “wishcraft” though.

    NB it could also have been invented quite independently by multiple people. Google has it down as being a film and a book – neither of which were connected with the coining I recall. I think the film would barely have been around though the book’s older. I don’t know the contents of either to say whether or not they use the term in the same manner.

  416. #416 Jadehawk, OM
    January 6, 2010

    Well, it’s because you have no conception of development and history of the enlightenment, which was just a pseudo-religious enterprise.

    ROTFLMAO. you fail history forever. the Enlightenment was primarily an anti-clerical movement; to claim otherwise is about as correct as the old “evolution is a religion” canard.

    the judeo-christian notion of perfectibility of mankind and human history.

    you also fail christian theology, i see. are you a mormon? other christians don’t believe that men can become “perfected”, i.e. like the gods. matter of fact, most of judeo-christian mythology centers around the hubris of attempting this and being punished by god as a result.

    Much of greek thought,[...]

    this is relevant to the discussion of the Enlightenment, reason, morals and atheism… how? The ancient greeks have nothing to do with any of this except as a starting point which was found lacking and was improved upon (transformation of philosophy into actual science, for starters)

    You go around, with the word “God” that’s hallow, you didn’t even bother going over what you meant by God, I did that for you, I went over what Plato, and Socrates and many others meant by God. And that is exactly what many buddhist believe.

    actually, it is you who has decided to use the severely dilluted faitheist definition of what a god is. however, most faitheists are closed atheists, not the other way round: they don’t actually believe in any gods, but like the idea of there being one, and there being intrinsic good or intrinsic purpose.

  417. #417 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    Back on the march sub-topic: there are definitely pros and potential cons to having those.

    • A march ought to be cheaper to organise and to attend. Publicity is the same but the venue is public highways rather than a rented building. I don’t know whether getting permits for each type of event differs much in difficulty or cost.

    • Different people might attend a march than a conference. I’m not sure which way that would swing in numbers but it has to increase the options for acquiring more of the atheist demographic.

    • A march (if done well) could be invaluable publicity for the existence of atheism and even for the 2013 convention. Posting on message boards certainly isn’t going to gain the attention of the non-internet-using subset of the population – atheists included. Whereas being on the TV (or other media) might. You’re probably never going to get through to Amish atheists or those in similarly closeted groups though.

    • A march is much more likely to attract a backlash protest – and one that’s harder to control because it isn’t in a privately owned convention building.

  418. #418 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    @ Sven DiMilo #414:

    Nuts and the like contain proteins and lipids, i.e. potential allergens. It’s the very concept of an allergy to ethanol that I am questioning.

    Reality trumps your ignorantly bigoted beliefs, over which things should even be allowed to be allergens, every time.

    You’re probably not going to like the existence of people who are allergic to water either. I recall a case (from some years back) of a young girl displaying the skin-blistering symptoms when under general anaesthetic (so hardly in a position to be faking or hysterically inducing anything!) but google turns up a bunch of more recent examples.

  419. #419 ivankaramazov
    January 6, 2010

    ROTFLMAO. you fail history forever. the Enlightenment was primarily an anti-clerical movement; to claim otherwise is about as correct as the old “evolution is a religion” canard.

    haha, I failed history huh? Apperently you believe anti-clerical is the equivalent of anti-religious.

    other christians don’t believe that men can become “perfected”, i.e. like the gods. matter of fact, most of judeo-christian mythology centers around the hubris of attempting this and being punished by god as a result.

    Well, the christians surrounding the enlightenment era sure did. In fact the notion has been around since the conception of christianity.

    Not only have you failed history, you also fail theology. If you can’t pick up a history book dealing with the development of enlightenment thought, you could always run to wikipedia.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perfection

    Plato seldom actually used the term, “perfection”; but the concept of “good”, central to his philosophy, was tantamount to “perfection.” He believed that approximation to the idea of perfection makes people perfect.[11]

    Soon after, the Stoics introduced the concept of perfection into ethics expressly, describing it as harmony ? with nature,reason, man himself. They held that such harmony?such perfection?was attainable for anyone.[11]

    Plato and the Stoics had made perfection a philosophical watchword. Soon it would be transformed, in Christianity, into areligious one.[11]

    The Christian doctrine of perfection rests on Gospel. Matthew 5:48 enjoins: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Luke says the same, only replacing “perfect” with “merciful” (evidently, for Matthew, an attribute of perfection).[12]

    Early Christian writings, especially Paul’s, are replete with calls to perfection. Many of these are collected in a discourse bySt. Augustine, De perfectione iustitiae hominis. They begin already with the Old Testament: “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.” (Deuteronomy 18:13.)

    Elsewhere, synonyms for “perfection” are “undefiled”, “without rebuke”, “without blemish”, “blameless”, “holy”, “righteous”, “unblamable”, “unreprovable.”[13]

    Augustine explains that not only that man is properly termed perfect and without blemish who is already perfect, but also he who strives unreservedly after perfection. This is a broader concept, of approximate perfection, resembling that used in theexact sciences. The first ancient and Christian perfection was not very remote from modern self-perfection. St. Ambrose in fact wrote about degrees of perfection (“gradus piae perfectionis”).[13]
    [....]

    Even as, for the ancient philosophers, the essence of perfection had been harmony, so for the Gospel and the Christian theologians it was charity, or love. St. Paul wrote (Epistle to the Colossians, 3:14): “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”[15]

    St. Gregory wrote that perfection will be realized only after the fulfillment of history ? only “then will the world be beautiful and perfect.” Still, everyone should make his own approach to perfection ? to holiness. Discourses in moral theology and asceticism were generous with advice on how this was to be done.[15]
    [....]

    The 18th century brought a sea change to the idea of moral perfection. Faith in it remained, but it changed character from religious to secular. This secular, 18th-century perfection was a fundamental article of faith for the Enlightenment. Its central tenet was that nature was perfect; and perfect, too, was the man who lived in harmony with nature’s law.[18]

    Primitive man was held to be the most perfect, for he was closest to nature. Perfection lay behind present-day man rather than before him, forcivilization distanced man from perfection instead of bringing him closer to it.[18]

    A second interpretation, however, took the contrary view: civilization perfected man by bringing him closer to reason, and thereby to nature; for reason would direct life with due consideration for the laws of nature.[18]

    These two mid-18th-century schools of thought ? one seeing perfection in nature and in the past, and the other in civilization and in the future ? represented a reaction not against the idea of perfection, but against its transcendental interpretation: as, earlier, the measure of perfection had been the idea of God, so now it was the idea of nature or of civilization. It was the latter idea that ultimately gained the upper hand and passed into the 19th century as the legacy of the Enlightenment.[18]

    So who failed theology and history as well?

  420. #420 John Morales
    January 6, 2010

    ivankaramazov:

    Apperently you believe anti-clerical is the equivalent of anti-religious.

    It’s anti-codified religion.

    Also, if you’re gonna link to Wikipedia, that (or, at most, a pullquote) should suffice — a wall of text is redundant and obnoxious.

  421. #421 ivankaramazov
    January 6, 2010

    Jadehawk, OM

    actually, it is you who has decided to use the severely dilluted faitheist definition of what a god is. however, most faitheists are closed atheists, not the other way round: they don’t actually believe in any gods, but like the idea of there being one, and there being intrinsic good or intrinsic purpose.

    Facepalm

    There’s nothing less magical about believing an intrinsic good or purpose, and believing in irreducible complexity. It’s no more a version of God deluded, than a fundies version of God is God deluded. One is no more a closeted atheist than the other, just like muslims and theist are no more or less closeted atheist than the other.

    The enlightenment rose on top of close to 2000 years of religious thought and thinking. The dewey eyed children of that age dismissed the bit of superstitions they didn’t like, and kept the superstitions they did like, and just attached a secular label to it, though the content was purely superstitious. You’d be hard pressed to find a historian of that period who would deny this basic fact, but apparently you’re just a victim of self-denial.

    But go and pick up a book, educate yourself, rather than peddle your ignorant dribble. You don’t even have to read shit by theist, pick up works by atheist, such as Jurgen Habermas, John N Gray, even Nietzsche for Christ’s sake. If you want to peddle an argument that denies this basic fact, let me here what books you’ve read to support your argument for the development of enlightenment thought, that claims it wasn’t rooted in the religious thinking in the air.

  422. #422 SEF
    January 6, 2010

    Until I see it I remain skeptical that a true allergy to ethanol is even possible.

    Well I can’t and won’t show you me and, unless another individual case of it hits the news, you probably won’t be able to see video footage of anyone else either. Unfortunately most of the articles turned up by google scholar turn out to be locked ones (something which seems to be happening more and more, whereas a couple of years ago many articles found that way were viewable by the general public).

    However, I did find a case of someone allergic to acetic acid – which is another thing that doesn’t fit into your prejudiced subset of things to which people are permitted to be allergic. How silly of us all not to know we and our allergens needed your prior permission to exist.

    Another general acknowledgement that the problem is real but without discussing a particular patient:

    Bronchospasm was precipitated in some asthmatic patients by administration of ethanol, and contact hypersensitivity to 50 percent ethanol solution was produced in 6 percent of subjects tested.

  423. #423 Jadehawk, OM
    January 6, 2010

    you’re not really good at reading comprehension, are you ivan. to want something to be true is not the same thing as believing something to be true. faitheists don’t believe, but they really really want to, so they come up with diluted definitions of “god” so they can tell themselves that they’re believers (or that those that are believers don’t believe in anything truly fucknuts crazy, as the case may be).

    and in any case, i still fail to see how the (non)existence of atheists in the past has any relevance on the existence of closeted atheists in the present, of which there’s plenty. and just because they’re faitheists or believe that the western moral standard is the best one available, doesn’t make them godbots. that’s just your wishful thinking.

  424. #424 Rorschach
    January 7, 2010

    Sven @ 414,

    Nuts and the like contain proteins and lipids, i.e. potential allergens. It’s the very concept of an allergy to ethanol that I am questioning.

    I’m not aware that an allergen, to produce an immune reaction in a human body, has to be a protein or lipid.Where did you get that from? Antibiotics come to mind.All a substance, and any substance, has to do, is enter the body through skin,respiratory tract,blood etc., to potentially cause an immune reaction.

  425. #425 oldfuzz
    January 7, 2010

    “An annoying but intrinsic property of atheists is that we are all horribly fractured…”

    Can be said of any non-atheist group as well. I applaud your call for a unity conference and hope you discover the importance of diversity. It would be a shame, however, if an atheist convention did for atheism what Constantine’s Council of Nicaea and King James’s Bible did for Christianity.

    It has taken many centuries for Christianity to begin its evolution into an earth born faith. See Lloyd Geering’s Coming Back to Earth for references.

  426. #426 JackC
    January 7, 2010

    Something in one of the above just made me think of Chalker’s Soul Rider series. Not exactly “biological” change I think, but pretty cool nevertheless.

    Then again, that could just be my occupation.

    I am pretty sure I have read other Chalker books – but can’t quite locate them – either in searches, or in my mind. That could be indicative of something….

    JC

  427. #427 Bill Dauphin, OM
    January 7, 2010

    SEF, what in the pluperfect Hell is your alleged point? Regardless of whether there exist people (and whether you’re one of them) who might have an adverse physical reaction to a few airborne molecules of ethanol, and regardless of whether said adverse reaction qualifies as a true allergy, how on Earth does that stand as a general objection to having social gatherings in locations that serve beer? Surely you’re not (and yes, I am calling you Shirley!) suggesting that nobody can ever hold a gathering in a place that might occasion even the most vanishingly rare of physical reactions? And if you’re not suggesting that, what the (nonexistent) devil are you on about?

    Maybe I’m just in a cranky mood this morning, but this thread strikes me as one of the more egregious examples of someone wandering off into bizarre inanity just for the sake of continuing to argue!

    If you genuinely have an allergy to ethanol (or even just genuinely believe you do), I’m sorry for your hardship… but it’s got nothing to do with where or when atheists get together to enjoy each other’s company.

  428. #428 Bill Dauphin, OM
    January 7, 2010

    JackC:

    Was #426 intended for the SF thread?

  429. #429 JackC
    January 7, 2010

    Damn and blast – wrong thread :)

  430. #430 SEF
    January 7, 2010

    what in the pluperfect Hell is your alleged point?

    Go back and re-read the thread for comprehension and you’ll see that *I* wasn’t the one making that one throwaway comment about a rare allergy into the big point at all!

    Among other diversions, for some reason Sven DiMilo suddenly decided (from a position which can only be described as one of profound ignorance) to dogmatically dictate to the universe what classes of things could and could not be allergens, rather than observing what reality had to say about the matter and letting that inform him – ie the scientific way of going about things.

    I know you humans are mostly pretty thick (and endemically far too lazy to bother to read properly most of the time even if you theoretically can) but it would be nice if, just occasionally, you weren’t so unremittingly thick. Then there wouldn’t be so much of this sort of thing. You’d be able to learn in the quiet and methodical way instead.

  431. #431 Bill Dauphin, OM
    January 7, 2010

    SEF:

    Go back and re-read the thread for comprehension and you’ll see that *I* wasn’t the one making that one throwaway comment about a rare allergy into the big point at all!

    “Throwaway” or not, it was a transcendently silly point to make, and once called on its silliness, you insisted on defending the point with a bizarre intensity. If it makes you feel any better, you can read my previous comment as an implicit (though mild) rebuke to Sven for continuing to engage your intransigent silliness (a fault I won’t repeat, beyond this one last comment)… but I’m generally on his side on this one.

    Just as an aside… I’m not knowledgeable enough about the biology of allery to know whether you or Sven is more correct on the point (my complaint was not about your argument per se, but about its total irrelevance to the core conversation), but surely you must realize that allergy as a concept has long been a hobbyhorse of cranks and quacks. Without meaning to deny actual allergies, surely you understand that when you claim an obscure allergy that most have never heard of, it’s likely you’ll be challenged on the point. In this case, unfortunately, the point you set yourself up to be challenged on was a total waste of time relative to what we were actually talking about, regardless of who was correct.

    I know you humans are mostly pretty thick…

    “You humans”?? And you are… what? One of the talking dogs from Up!? A cetacean with an iPhone? A Martian, perhaps? (Maybe JackC’s SF-related comment was so misplaced after all, eh?) Well, for humans or Martians, reading comprehension involves seeing both the forest and the trees… and not, as you seem to think, just the bark and knotholes.

  432. #432 JackC
    January 7, 2010

    Hell – the Sun can be an allergen!

    SEF – been partially reading (way to long to keep up properly), but am interested, simply because I had heard something very similar to what you describe many years ago. I referred to it some time back – with no ready reference to fall back on, and I really have not been able to find any similar alcohol-related information (as I think you are also finding?)

    Simply for information, I am kind of interested in anything available on the condition. I have long wondered if it maybe was just one of those things I imagined hearing. There are so many these days….

    Kind of “good” to know it isn’t.

    BTW: I do know that one of the specific actions of certain mushrooms is to remove the ability of the body to metabolise alcohol (certain forms, not going into details, because I would need to look it up first!) The ‘rooms are not poisonus per se, but prevent a normal ability of changing the alcohol into a non-toxic substance – and the effect lasts for up to two weeks after mushroom consumption!

    The effect is deadly if not treated very quickly – the person presenting this information had it happen to his wife – who took a glass of wine 10 days after said mushroom consumption – and had to be dashed to the hospital. If her husband had not been aware of the issue (he teaches mycology at the Culinary Institute of America, apparently) she most likely would have died.

    Mushrooms are so much FUN!

    JC

  433. #433 plien
    January 7, 2010

    As a non-american i ofcourse have n say in your convention. Just want to throw in that you need to have a presenter at least as funny and able as Ruth Wishart. (the woman who introduced Richard Dawkins at Edinborough book convention 2009)

  434. #434 SEF
    January 7, 2010

    @ JackC #432:

    I really have not been able to find any similar alcohol-related information (as I think you are also finding?)

    It’s slightly more complex than that.

    Firstly, the problem is a very rare one (like the other examples I then gave). So you’re unlikely to know a sufferer personally – for immediate observational evidence. Neither do such things get much attention from the medical (un)profession (in all its parts) and it’s a bit random whether a case gets noticed by the meejah.

    Secondly, unlike some of the other rare allergies, there’s a quite different and relatively common alcohol intolerance problem; which means that, in any basic internet search (ie without a specific named person to use in it), the numerous references to that issue (eg in Asians) are always going to swamp any refs about the rare condition which might exist online.

    Thirdly, whole bunches of institutions have made their online records into subscriber/fee-payer only ones (whereas more of them used to be accessible by the public). This means that even the few genuine scholarly refs one might find cannot be read beyond the title (or occasionally an abstract).

  435. #435 bastion of sass
    January 7, 2010

    ATTN: Baltimore Blasphemous Bastards

    We will attempt to get together for the first time on Friday, Jan. 29, between 5:30 and 8:30 PM at Brewers Art which is in the upper Mt. Vernon area of downtown Baltimore. Feel free to bring one or more companions.

    Because of the reluctance of some Pharyngulates to join Facebook, and my reluctance to pay meetup.com’s group organizer’s fees, I have set up a yahoo group for us, Baltimore Pharyngula Fans. Not as catchy as Baltimore Blaspheming Bastards, admittedly, but not as scary for the less militant who might potentially join us.

    Please join the yahoo group and let me know if you’ll be coming to this meetup or just to keep in touch with other Pharyngula fans in the Baltimore area.

    Because of the (surely) spam and (potential) troll issues, I have set moderator (that’s me, so far) approval of members and messages from new members, so there may be some delay in seeing your first message appear.

  436. #436 JackC
    January 7, 2010

    SEF: If I recall correctly (something I am getting recognisably worse at lately), about 8-10 years ago I heard some report about folks born with an alcohol intolerance. Memory tells me that at least one of the manifestations was nearly any amount of alcohol (intake? Not necessarily vapourous? I don’t recall) induced inebriation, with no previous alcohol intake known. It was if a newborn was born an alcoholic.

    I could be well off with this, but that was what I remember. There could also be many other ways it is presented, but this is the part I remember.

    I have just been rather put off over the years that I could not corroborate my recollection – and your comments here are about as close as I have come in years.

    As to whether I actually know someone, I am not at all sure – however, my (half) sister has made noises in this direction. Her father was an alcoholic, and it apparently “ran” in that side of the family, but I am unaware that any of this can be seen to be a genetic trait, or “passed down” in any meaningful way.

    It could just be an over-abundance of caution and worry from the history of that side of the family – a hypersensitivity to “might”? THAT concept is rather prevalent in my mother’s side of the family ;-)

    JC

  437. #437 mazyloron
    January 7, 2010

    SEF & Bill Dauphin #429-431

    Since we’re all so big on re-reading all 400+ comments…here’s where the alcohol fume allergy concern came from, SEF’s comment #370:

    It does alienate those who wouldn’t drink alcohol (including the extremely rare allergic-even-to-alcohol-fumes ones).

    Who brought up allergies as a valid concern when picking a venue before that? I don’t see anyone mentioning allergies until SEF did.

    Also, Bill…I might be new to the comments section here, but I know a troll when I see one. SEF’s been concern-trolling mostly (at least in this thread, I can’t speak for others): getting all worried on behalf of other people, and over the classification and location of an event that he/she/it can’t even attend anyway. Also, the superiority complex thing got old long before the comment about “you humans,” but that made it painfully obvious what sort of self-important, smug, know-it-all SEF is. Unless, of course, SEF is not actually a human, in which case that comment was warranted, though I’d require proof of SEF’s non-humanity before changing my stance on that.

    This insistence on alcohol allergy being real, and offering as an excuse for why no one’s heard of it, the always-credible, “oh it’s there but mainstream medicine doesn’t know about it, or hides it, or both,” is just laughable. I’m not saying I know for certain that there isn’t such an allergy, but, here of all places, do we not understand where the burden of proof lies? And, no, claiming “the issue was resolved on another thread that I won’t name” does not constitute evidence substantiating a claim.

  438. #438 Bill
    January 7, 2010

    Still absurd and quite ridiculous. What do atheists have to prove? What bothers me is I, like most on here, don’t think religion does good. It eventually turns into a money-making, power hungry, membership of “believers” a or cult. What you don’t realize is this unity is the beginning of such. And if it isn’t, what is it for? Again, i call you believers of the “fact that there is no god”. What do believers usually do together in organized groups? -Agnostic Bill

  439. #439 Bill Dauphin, OM
    January 7, 2010

    Bill:

    What you don’t realize is this unity is the beginning of [a religion-like cult].

    This repetition of the notion that any collective action in support of shared goals is inevitably a slippery slope to cultism is getting incredibly tedious. Unless you’re an individualist of the most extreme stripe, you must recognize that people must work together to get anything done. Thus, suggesting that any attempt to work together is inherently evil is purest (to coin a word) futilitarianism.

    In fact, the world is full of both longstanding organizations and temporary conventions/coalitions that never become cults.

    As to what atheists have to prove, you must recognize that we live in a culture that is (or at least pretend to be, regardless of what individuals actually believe) majority pro-theist. If that were not so, a convention of atheists would, indeed, be unnecessary (though any excuse to party is always in order); however, things being as they are rather than as they should be, there are plenty of ways in which atheists and other humanists need to organize to push back against cultural forces that intend to deny them their rights.

  440. #440 Sven DiMilo
    January 7, 2010

    Sven DiMilo suddenly decided (from a position which can only be described as one of profound ignorance) to dogmatically dictate to the universe what classes of things could and could not be allergens, rather than observing what reality had to say about the matter

    Give me a break. I specifically asked you at least twice to direct me to some observations of reality that would set me straight on the matter and you have been unable to do so. It’s true that I am surprised to learn of an allergic reaction to a compound as small and simple as acetic acid, however, and apparently true allergy is possible to chlorine. So I learned something.
    I’ll try not to be so dogmatic when I dictate shit to the universe in the future.

  441. #441 Bill
    January 7, 2010

    Bill Dauphin:
    Who are denying you rights? What rights are you talking about? In trying to “push back against cultural forces” as you say, you are becoming one (of these forces) yourself are you not? If this doesn’t work, what will you do? What will this group become if there is “success” in “pushing back”? What will it become if there isn’t “success”? You need to realize that anything like this can become extreme. All you are becoming is an opposing side of what you dislike in the first place.–another group of believers to contend against those who you oppose.

  442. #442 JackC
    January 7, 2010

    Ok – I just found this and it is even from our gracious host. I mean this in all-seriousness-aside kind of way but…

    I think I have worked out that SEF stands for:

    Sensitivity-Enhanced Fruitfly

    (See the indented paragraph about 4 paras in… particularly the part after cheapdate)

    … which might go some way towards explaining that “you humans” note above.

    Actually, kind of finding some pretty interesting stuff out there…. hope SEF can take it.

    JC

  443. #443 Nebula99
    January 7, 2010

    My opinion is that it is possible for a group of people with a common interest and common goals to be united and organized and not become dogmatic. The world community of Harry Potter fans has conventions and at least one social action organization, but no dogma. The charity Nothing But Nets (a group fighting malaria) is quite well organized, but again has none of what you’d call dogma.

    On that note, here’s a poll on the subject of “Would you go to a 2013 Non-Theist/Humanist Unity Conference in DC?”:
    http://www.palibandaily.com/2010/01/04/non-theist-unity-conference-would-you-go/
    Current breakdown:
    Yes!–68%
    Meh.–3%
    I want to see successful regional conferences first–29%
    I’m going to the Melbourne Convention–0%
    Other–0%

  444. #444 Bill Dauphin, OM
    January 7, 2010

    Bill (@441):

    You need to realize that anything like this can become extreme.

    Anything like anything can “become extreme”; it does not follow that everything will become extreme. The suggestion that any opposition to anything automatically makes you like the thing you oppose is a recipe for futility. Thankfully, reality is more in line with Nebula99′s opinion (@443) “that it is possible for a group of people with a common interest and common goals to be united and organized and not become dogmatic.”

    As for your questioning of whether atheists are being denied rights, I guess the utter lack of any social or legal discrimination against nonbelievers is why we see so many “out” atheists in positions of power, and so few facile declarations of religious faith by our leaders, right? Oh, wait….

  445. #445 Bill
    January 7, 2010

    Nebula:
    Yes, you, like others are right–there can be organized groups without dogma. But, like most here (and as you say also) there are “common goals”–what would these goals be? Again, what is the purpose? The outcome? Harry potter conventions are for entertainment. Would you attend a theist convention that didn’t have dogma?–would this be okay to have? Bill D mentions “pushing back against…” So my point remains–it would become a “fellowship” of believers that there is no god.–what then is the outcome or purpose? What are the “common goals” as you say?

  446. #446 bastion of sass
    January 7, 2010

    Bill, we get it. You don’t think a Unity get-together is a good idea. But I don’t recall reading any comment of yours offering a rational reason not to have one.

    SC gave a number of good reasons for such a gathering in a post above. Did you read that post? Which of those goals do you oppose or feel unworthy of undertaking?

    Bill wrote:

    Who are denying you rights?

    Oh, here are a few that spring to mind:

    Anyone who would threaten me or my family with harm because I do not believe in a god.

    Those who persist on trying to teach my children nonsense.

    Those in government who make decisions based on their religious beliefs.

    What rights are you talking about?

    How about these just for a start?:

    The right to live peacefully and openly as a nonbeliever.

    The right to earn a living without having my business boycotted and my livelihood threatened because I am an atheist.

    The right of people to marry same-sex partners.

    The right to choose whether or not to end a pregnancy.

    The right not to have my tax dollars subsidize religious organizations and activities.

    In trying to “push back against cultural forces” as you say, you are becoming one (of these forces) yourself are you not?

    I, for one, would sure hope so! A force for rationality, freethinking, and freedom from believing in silly things.

    If this doesn’t work, what will you do?

    If you don’t succeed once, try again, maybe doing something differently the next time.

    Or, I guess, given the fact that you and a few other commenters don’t think this is a good idea, we could just stay home, hide under our blankets, and whimper.

  447. #447 SEF
    January 7, 2010

    @ mazyloron #437:

    I know a troll when I see one.

    Evidently not! Or it just suits you to be dishonest.

    SEF’s been concern-trolling mostly

    Untrue.

    Since people clearly wanted some sort of major atheist event before the 2013 convention, I was pointing out things they needed to consider in order to maximise the number of atheists they could get. I wasn’t saying “don’t do it” but “do it better” and “do it more”.

    You really don’t read very well. A common problem, not a rare condition at all. Seemingly untreatable too – or at least mostly ignored.

    no one’s heard of it

    Untrue.

    At least a few people here (including the original reality denier at the same time as continuing to deny it!) have now looked at links acknowledging that the condition exists – written by people who themselves had to have heard of it! I’d already previously seen the one Sven re-found for himself; but the one I then posted, by some medical researchers, even gave some indication of its prevalence relative to the more common situations they were investigating. Hardly the sign of something no-one’s ever heard of.

    So, were you being too much of a mazyloron to do that reading yourself? Or does lying about the situation suit you better? Dishonesty seems to be another of those widespread and largely untreatable human conditions.

    Now, I didn’t need excuses for it not being known because I know that it is known to some (albeit that many individual doctors are likely to be as pig-ignorant as ever)! What I was explaining was why it was hard to find – a distinction which apparently eludes you.

    However, it is an ongoing unfortunate circumstance that the best looking papers are more and more frequently being made restricted access these days. And, just as with fossils, although that hard to acquire status applies fairly equally to all things one might want to research, it certainly makes the specimens which were already rare in the first place almost impossible to find in the records. Whereas extremely common things are more easily found fossilised somewhere or other in the public domain (eg wikipedia).

    Oddly enough, Ben Goldacre recently had a link to the foolishness of locking up research that way.

  448. #448 Prometheus
    January 7, 2010

    Guys, it’s important to listen to what PZ is saying here.

    LET’S POLL-CRASH WASHINGTON D.C.!

  449. #449 WowbaggerOM
    January 7, 2010

    Bill wrote:

    Still absurd and quite ridiculous. What do atheists have to prove?

    Simple – you simpleton: that we exist in numbers.

    To show politicians there are enough of us to make a difference to their chances of success at the polls.

    To show the religious powerbrokers that we’re out there and we’re not afraid to admit we don’t share their beliefs – and that we will oppose them when they try to make public policy march to the beat of their nonsensical, dogmatic drums.

    To show that significant proportion of the population who disbelieve but don’t admit to it (yet) that it’s okay to openly live life without pretending to believe in gods.

  450. #450 Rorschach
    January 7, 2010

    To show that significant proportion of the population who disbelieve but don’t admit to it (yet) that it’s okay to openly live life without pretending to believe in gods.

    I’d go one further.
    Since it’s probably next to impossible to agree on a date, a venue, or what to do with the beer-allergics, let alone come to a common message, maybe this opportunity should be used to address some of the misconceptions about atheism, and some of the common lies told by faithiests, the whole Hitler/morality/angry crap you so often hear.One big PR weekend, I could live with that.

  451. #451 WowbaggerOM
    January 7, 2010

    I guess the straightforward questions is why do any people who share things in common choose to meet in groups?

    Really, I’m going to the AGC in Melbourne because PZ and a bunch of people from this site who I like are going and I’d like to meet them all in person and have a beer (or two); that they’re atheists is secondary to the fact that I think they’re interesting people.

    I certainly don’t need my atheism validated, any more than I need my knowledge that the sun isn’t Ra in a fiery chariot validated.

  452. #452 mazyloron
    January 7, 2010

    SEF #447
    So, no reply to the part where I point out that you did in fact bring up allergies first, despite your claims to the contrary? How unlike a troll to ignore a counterpoint and continue on as if it never occurred.

    Since people clearly wanted some sort of major atheist event before the 2013 convention, I was pointing out things they needed to consider in order to maximise the number of atheists they could get. I wasn’t saying “don’t do it” but “do it better” and “do it more”.

    Because you’re better than us petty humans and can tell us how to run things better than we do ourselves, we know, thanks.
    You were criticizing the idea of meeting in a pub (something that has an altogether different meaning in the area on which the discussion was focused than it does in wherever it is you live) as being exclusionary to women, and then added in the alcohol-fume-allergic as another group whose needs were being overlooked. At what point would anyone rationally think that the equivalent of a national gathering could be held inside of a pub? And, since you’re so big on reading comprehension, the posts that mentioned meeting up in bars all referred to a casual, social type meet up for people who are already local, yet you acted as if their suggestions were for a trial-run version of the proposed 2013 event. You don’t really read very well either, it seems.
    Or, you do, but you’re concern-trolling.

    At least a few people here (including the original reality denier at the same time as continuing to deny it!) have now looked at links acknowledging that the condition exists – written by people who themselves had to have heard of it! I’d already previously seen the one Sven re-found for himself; but the one I then posted, by some medical researchers, even gave some indication of its prevalence relative to the more common situations they were investigating. Hardly the sign of something no-one’s ever heard of.

    So we’re nit-picking my exact word choice now? Clearly, if YOU have heard of it, then SOMEONE has heard of it, thus negating a literal interpretation of “no one.” I’m not playing the semantics game. That’s another troll tactic.

    You mention that others have seen proof of this condition, yet you do not name them, other than Sven, whom I have seen on this thread myself. You do not say on which thread this subject was discussed. You offered one link that listed somewhat credible information regarding alcohol allergy, but that is all, the rest of your argument consisted of “well I am allergic, so it’s real.” Which carries about as much weight without proof as “I saw bigfoot, so he’s real.”

    Still, I’m willing to admit that it’s a possible condition, though one link to one webpage isn’t really much evidence. Do note that I have not claimed certainty that this condition does not exist, despite your snide attempt to label me a “reality denier.” But, lacking any evidence for it, why should I believe you any more than if you told me that fairies live in your backyard? I’m willing to accept it’s likely a legitimate condition given the small amount of proof offered, and I’ve certainly heard of stranger ones. Though, nowhere did it say anything about fumes, which was your original claim.

    I do agree that locking up research so it’s not available to the public is unfortunate. It would make it easier to find out things like this on one’s own, instead of having to take the word of some random person you know nothing about on a blog. Were this information more readily available, it would probably be more common knowledge, or at least it would be easier for it to become so.
    See we can agree on something!

    But, you can cut the “I’m better than all of you humans” crap. Condescension is, at best, fucking obnoxious. It’s a sign of mental illness if you genuinely think you’re better than everyone else – if you were that smart, you wouldn’t be trolling the comments section of an online blog. And if you actually think you’re not human, as comment #430 implies that you do (and others, that’s just the most recent and obvious example), then that’s a sign of more than a minor mental issue, and I advise you to seek help. Or, post proof that you are, in fact, not a human being. Until that happens, stop referring to “you humans” and acting as if you’re above us all.

    You know, I think I’m going to agree with Bill Dauphin here…I’m done feeding the troll.

  453. #453 mazyloron
    January 7, 2010

    …any more than I need my knowledge that the sun isn’t Ra in a fiery chariot validated.
    I need validation of this. Every once in a while I look up and think: “Really? Just a big ball of gas? ‘Cause, it kinda looks like a chariot…maybe…”

  454. #454 SEF
    January 7, 2010

    @ mazyloron #452:

    So, no reply to the part where I point out that you did in fact bring up allergies first, despite your claims to the contrary?

    I never claimed that I didn’t bring up allergies first. You’re being dishonest and shifting the goal-posts. Quelle surprise.

    The actual issue/complaint (Bill Dauphin in #427) was over the thread drift being blown up. However, Bill Dauphin was already ignoring the rest of the original examples and the overall problem with only having meetings in pubs/bars – by going on to pretend it was all about allergies when it never had been (that part had been in brackets!).

    The cause of the initial unnecessary diversion was you grossly misunderstanding my post (#264) about some venues being off-putting to some people and hence limiting the numbers of atheists likely to attend (hardly helping the build up to 2013), just because I chose your names out of all the possible posts immediately above. The cost of events having been a previous point along those same lines (of discouraging people) – and one not solely made by me.

    I then gave an extended set of examples of the disputed issue (in #370) – which is hardly an odd thing to do, especially since you can see in this thread (or could if you looked!) all the whinging other people have done over the lack of examples, eg of why atheists need to meet at all. Yet I don’t see people then whinging to a similar extent at those lists being given.

    However, you merely took umbrage on behalf of your personal choice of pub/bar rather than recognising yours were just the nearest examples of all this focus on pubs/bars.

    It was Sven DiMilo (in #376) who then started dogmatically telling ignorant falsehoods about allergies, instead of taking the mention as an educational opportunity on something he’d missed. As with falsehoods about evolution and atheism, it’s SIWOTI which should not go uncorrected.

    It was Sven who made that into its own diversion. He could instead have stuck to the bit he actually knew about and which I was explicitly questioning (although he’d clearly missed the larger point about needing a wider range of things to bring in more atheists) – viz that smoking is no longer the norm in US pubs/bars.

    But no: he had to spout off about things completely outside his competence and experience.

    Bill Dauphin almost manages to admit this in #431 but decides to side with the fellow gang member and declare that the truth doesn’t matter!

    An outrageously bad attitude which wouldn’t be tolerated by the local gang members if it was coming from a religionist. Double-standards.

    the posts that mentioned meeting up in bars all referred to a casual, social type meet up for people who are already local, yet you acted as if their suggestions were for a trial-run version of the proposed 2013 event.

    No, I was trying to point out that they needed to do something further if they hoped to contact more atheists in order to sell and to build up to 2013. Just meeting the subset of the existing pharyngula clique who are willing to go to bars isn’t going to get them the numbers they want. They’re excluding too much of the demographic.

    Even the non-allergic members of my family don’t generally hang around in bars – and I gave a bunch of perfectly sensible other reasons for that before throwing in (in brackets) the most ridiculously extreme case I knew. Sure they “need bar meetups!” (Kevin #99) but they need other things too – a greater variety to include more types of people.

    You know, I think I’m going to agree with Bill Dauphin here…I’m done feeding the troll.

    Another fabrication from you – putting words into Bill Dauphin’s mouth when you were the one actually making the false accusation of trolling. I expect you’re again hoping to rely on the laziness of everyone else in checking the facts.

  455. #455 John Morales
    January 8, 2010

    [meta]

    Hm, looks like the thread switch is set to “deep rifts”, not to “echo chamber”.

  456. #456 Louis
    January 8, 2010

    You bunch of insensitive pricks. Frankly you and your so-called “unity” convention can go to hell.

    Not only have you decided to hold it in America, a country *I* don’t even live in, but you have decided to hold it in bar/pub when you have failed to consider if *I* (or someone else) might have an extremely rare allergy to pretzel bowls. You haven’t even considered the fact that *I* might be agoraphobic, you stalinist nazi fucks.

    Have you asked *me* what beer I like? Or even if *I* like beer? Suck my dick you dishonest shit drenched whores of consumerist socialism. I might prefer organically farmed perry from the south side of a Somerset orchard and you wouldn’t even care you heartless baby raping turd gobblers.

    As for a coffee morning…a COFFEE MORNING!!?? Fuck you and the paedophilic communist horse you rode in on. You haven’t asked *me* if *I* even like coffee. *I* might be allergic to the word cappucino. Capitalist running fuck pigs.

    Have you even considered if *I* prefer male or female bar staff/baristas? You homophobic, sexist, misogynist perverts. You don’t even know if *I* have a racial preference you mindless, lying bigots. I bet you don’t even care that *I* might want people who serve me to be all black, pygmy, disabled lesbians working only for ethically farmed bacon and sourdough niblets do you, you insensitive gigantic thunderassholes.

    “Unity”? “UNITY”? Pah, you don’t even know the meaning of the word.

    And on top of all that you don’t care that *I* might actually want to turn atheism into a rival cult to all other religions and convert the planet to non-belief in deities by the sword. Your tiny googolplexthed rate minds cannot even begin to comprehend the fact that the All Comers United Non-Knitting Association us the most powerful group in the world (illuminati? space lizards? BAH!) and is EXACTLY the same cultish, religious union as the Coalition of Lovely International Knitters (you thought I was going somewhere else with that acronym didn’t you? Admit it, sexist pig pervert oppressors), because knitting for a hobby is exactly the same thing as not knitting for a hobby. You fanatical piss drinking donkey rapists.

    Thank you for your “concern”, liars.

    Louis

  457. #457 SEF
    January 8, 2010

    looks like the thread switch is set to “deep rifts”, not to “echo chamber”

    No, the “echo chamber” gang behaviour is largely intact. They’re not objecting to PZ (or even that much to each other). They’re just doing their usual thing of not reading properly and being dishonest, selective and hypocritical.

    Eg suddenly my tone matters whereas their own doesn’t and whereas normally they’d be leaping all over any religionists who were whinging about the tone of a message. I’ve already made the point how their uninformed but dogmatic opinions on allergy are a good match for the uninformed but dogmatic opinions of religionists on biology (and other sciences). Yet look which side of that they’re generally supporting this time (while notably failing to support the correct side – viz mine!).

    They’re not really substantially different from creationists for all their pretence. It’s a gang with gang loyalties. A largely unthinking, noisy, poo-flinging mob. Every time this sort of thing happens they demonstrate that many of them are only accidentally on the right side with regard to atheism and science. They don’t display the necessary abilities to consistently spot the side which is in the right, nor often have the courage or honesty to support it against members of their preferred in-crowd who are in the wrong.

    And no, they won’t be able to be honest about seeing that this time either. They’ll just carry on being scum. It’ll be the same next time too. There’s not been much sign of them making progress in the right direction over the years and learning any better from their repeated failures (at least in part because they refuse to acknowledge and admit them).

    PS a couple of different alcohol (ie not lipid or protein) allergies (which can be isolated only by eliminating the confounding Asian issue which gets in the way of finding ethanol cases).

  458. #458 SEF
    January 8, 2010

    Rather amusingly, the first visible ethanol-only allergy paper I came across was one showing that even you normal humans can artificially be made allergic to ethanol! It’s not just us extremely atopic individuals with the natural problem who can have even that unusual an allergy. Unfortunately, I’m still just coming up against locked papers on the subject otherwise.

    Rather dangerously (for me and whoever else is in my minority) though, there are also papers proposing the use of ethanol as a bronchodilator. That would mean fairly instant collapse and possible death for anyone at risk to whom they ignorantly administer such a treatment.

  459. #459 JackC
    January 8, 2010

    Louis

    Thanks. I like what you did there.

    JC

  460. #460 JackC
    January 8, 2010

    Interesting extract in the Nature article. If I am reading that correctly:

    93 test subjects
    6 became sensitive to alcohols after 2 months of initial sensitisation
    2 continued to exhibit sensitivity 18 months after
    One showed sensitivity to many different kinds of alcohol
    One author (!) became sensitive during the course of the study.

    All seemed to be “contact” rather than vapour exposure.

    I looked above, (not entirely – too much text for the time I have) – but didn’t find what your reaction is to exposure to vapour-only alcohols. Do you mind saying? I have recently found that I have a reaction (mild but very annoying) to ibuprofen. To date, that is the only thing I am significantly allergic to – having had extensive tests for other things over the years. The “ingestion” effects I have seen for alcohol sensitivity mirror what I experience for ibuprofen, and I have to presume it is similar for all such allergens.

    JC

  461. #461 Louis
    January 8, 2010

    @ JackC #459,

    Well honestly, the complaints/arguments on this thread were getting more than mildly beyond parody. I thought a timely nuclear f-bomb or two might make the world a better place.

    Was I too subtle?
    ;-)

    Louis

    P.S. Just to stave off the terrible worry I know is gripping many readers: I do like beer.

  462. #462 SEF
    January 8, 2010

    Do you mind saying?

    It seems to be more a case of other people minding me saying! (Another piece of hypocrisy from them given all the thread drifts they don’t whinge about.)

    I start wheezing first. Then I get dizzy, sick, nauseus and weak, losing much feedback control over muscles and with hearing and vision loss as I collapse (just as with other anaphylactic shock causes).

    My joke is that it’s an instant hangover but the other (lack of!) symptoms don’t match with being drunk. There’s no happy high or depression or anything you’d normally associate with drunkenness. Not even that Asian face-reddening reaction. They’re all just a subset of the range of possible allergy symptoms which I also experience in various combinations from other allergies I have.

    What I don’t get from airborne allergies like that, which I do get from my many skin contact ones, is the skin rash and the blistering (with accompanying prickly burning sensation) – for fairly obvious reasons. It’s the delicate bronchial tissues which are being selectively attacked, without (seemingly) enough concentration in the air to trigger skin effects directly (and not quite the same set of sensory nerves either, internally).

    To date, that is the only thing I am significantly allergic to – having had extensive tests for other things over the years.

    My situation is the opposite! I’ve had a positive reaction to every single thing for which they even had a skin test back when they first did them on me. Eventually the guy gave up inflicting further damage on my arm. It might be easier to list the things to which I’m not allergic. I do seem to be OK with water. But I’m not at all good with chlorine (another one which Sven found surprising), though I haven’t been officially tested for that one.

  463. #463 JackC
    January 8, 2010

    Louis – if you were going for subtlety, try to keep your day job ;-) For the record, total agreement here.

    SEF – ouch. Basically, for the skin contact stuff, you sound like my brother long ago. We used to kid him that if you got any of the huge number of things he was allergic to in the same city, he would bust out with something. I have heard references to ultra-sensitives, but don’t recall if I have ever actually knowingly met one.

    I was tested long back for some 350 common allergens trying to figure out why I had so many headaches. I was tested again before going into the Navy, since I checked Yes for “Do you have frequent headaches?” For me, allergens seemed to just die on the arm – or back – or leg – wherever they did it. I just had no reaction. My latest test was about 12 years ago and I am still pretty inert as far as allergens go. I suppose that is why it kind of fascinates me?

    Oddly, in my very first year in the Navy, of all places, while getting a new prescription for glasses, the Dr (I will never forget LtCdr Card) said “You have a lot of headaches, don’t you?” – turns out it was my eye muscles causing the problem and a particular lens construction solved THAT issue too. Even more oddly, the issue is genetic (muscular), my brother had had surgery for it. My condition was correctable – but only just.

    Odd stuff is out there. The fact that only one in a million may have it does not mean it isn’t there!

    JC

  464. #464 Sven DiMilo
    January 8, 2010

    It was Sven DiMilo (in #376) who then started dogmatically telling ignorant falsehoods about allergies, instead of taking the mention as an educational opportunity on something he’d missed.

    Bite me, asshole. I made one dogmatic statement (“Nobody is ‘allergic to alcohol fumes’”)(a statement, btw, I have seen no need to retract since), and then pretty much immediately (#390) went looking, myself, with zero help from you, the person making the truth claim, for any evidence that there was something I’d missed. I then explicitly and politely asked you, the person making the truth claim, to “set me straight.” Instead, you got offended or pissed off or bugfuck nuts (questioning the existence of ethanol allergy is “ignorantly bigoted”? wtf?) or something instead.

    (By the way, I had previously missed your #418, but since you asked, no, I do not think it’s possible to be allergic to water (!) either.)

    But no: he had to spout off about things completely outside his competence and experience.

    You know jack shit about my competence and experience.

    decides to side with the fellow gang member and declare that the truth doesn’t matter!

    You are nucking futs. Please, as the sole knower of truth on the whole freaking thread, share with us! Educate me as to the truth! And please quit fucking whining!

    They’re not really substantially different from creationists for all their pretence. It’s a gang with gang loyalties. A largely unthinking, noisy, poo-flinging mob. Every time this sort of thing happens they demonstrate that many of them are only accidentally on the right side with regard to atheism and science. They don’t display the necessary abilities to consistently spot the side which is in the right, nor often have the courage or honesty to support it against members of their preferred in-crowd who are in the wrong. And no, they won’t be able to be honest about seeing that this time either. They’ll just carry on being scum.

    Bite me harder, you fucking narcissistic asshole. “Scum,” seriously???
    FUCK YOU; SHOW ME SOME FUCKING EVIDENCE!

    PS a couple of different alcohol (ie not lipid or protein) allergies

    Good! See, this is the kind of stuff you could have supplied two days ago (before, say, I tossed off the stupid unthinking reply about proteins and lipids).

    one showing that even you normal humans can artificially be made allergic to ethanol!

    Even better. Thank you.
    So OK, it looks like simple organic compounds like acetic acid and ethanol can in rare cases evoke contact dermatitis (i.e. a positive skin test). I’m happy to admit that I just learned that.
    But let’s leave the goalposts where they were, shall we? A positive skin reactivity test is a far cry from a systemic allergy to ethanol (let alone “fumes”). Ask the NIH:

    A positive result means you reacted to a specific substance. Often, but not always, a positive result means the symptoms that you are having are due to exposure to the substance in question. In general, a stronger response means you are more sensitive to the substance.
    People can have a positive response with allergy skin testing, but not have any problems with the specific substance in every day life.
    The skin tests are generally reliable. However, if the dose of allergen is excessive, a positive reaction will occur even in persons who are not allergic.
    The accuracy of allergy testing varies quite a bit. Even the same test performed at different times on a person may give different results. A person may react to a substance during testing, but never react during normal exposure. Rarely, a person may also have a negative allergy test and still be allergic to the substance.

    As for me, I’ve taught too many premeds to be able to take clinical case reports at face value anyway. Yes I am very skeptical about all extremely rare putative medical conditions. That will not change in general, but I will of course accept valid evidence.

    Nobody is being dogmatic here but (until just recently) you, SEF. Even that list of symptoms in #462 would have been useful (putative) information earlier on, but your reaction to skepticism was to lash out in a weirdly substance-free fashion instead. Of course, when I expressed my initial doubts about ethanol allergy I could not have known that you were talking about your apparently extradoublesuperhyperallergenic self (this didn’t start to come out until #394), so clearly I meant no insult to you personally. OK?

    Call me a creationist, bigoted, dishonest, scum, or the equivalent again and you’re in my killfile forever, which would be a shame since I’ve enjoyed some of your saner comments here and there.

  465. #465 SEF
    January 8, 2010

    I made one dogmatic statement

    Two: “Nuts and the like contain proteins and lipids, i.e. potential allergens.”

    Things other than proteins and lipids can be allergens. You dogmatically dismissed the entirety of everything else from even being potential allergens. You didn’t say something like “that’s odd, I’d only ever heard of proteins and lipids being allergens, have you got any more examples”.

    with zero help from you

    You posted that link only just before I’d got back to the thread with a copy of it myself! It’s not like you’d been waiting around for a long time. Patience much. Though at least you did go looking. A shame it didn’t occur to you to try to rectify your ignorance before spouting off.

    You know jack shit about my competence and experience.

    Untrue. I have the evidence of your posts for it! Are you now claiming to be an expert in allergies who has merely been jokingly lying all along? It seems unlikely. It would make you very definitely a troll though (as per god and the problem of evil).

    Nobody is being dogmatic here but (until just recently) you, SEF.

    Liar.

    Even that list of symptoms in #462 would have been useful (putative) information earlier on

    A shame you didn’t think to ask for it yourself then instead of dogmatically telling me (and everyone else who might read the thread) that my allergy was a fundamental impossibility for the universe.

    I didn’t go in to detail initially because *I* wasn’t the one trying to de-rail the thread (nor jumping to conclusions). That was you lot. Not that you’ll ever be honest enough to admit it.

    See, this is the kind of stuff you could have supplied two days ago (before, say, I tossed off the stupid unthinking reply about proteins and lipids).

    You only left a gap of less than 7 hours! And I’d already pointed out that you were wrong before you went ahead, ignoring that hint (#379), with being even more wrong. Once I’d returned to bother with the matter at all, since you made it into such a humungous issue for you, why do you assume that it would be easier for me to find the examples on the internet than it would be for you?! You’ve already shown that you did (belatedly) search.

  466. #466 Bill
    January 8, 2010

    I’ll go a step further. Atheists have no point or purpose in life. After you die, that’s it right–lights out nothing more–you won’t care what you’ve done because nothing matters.

    Atheists can’t even prove what they believe in. Thats true for the rest: creationists can’t prove the “magic” that started everything. Theists can’t prove there’s a god(s). Evolutionists can’t prove their own theory.

    If you think you have the answers, you must be the only lucky one in the universe–no one or nothing else matters because you’ve figured it out–you know what happened and what will happen.

    So these “get togethers” are point less

  467. #467 JackC
    January 8, 2010

    That’s great Bill. I have a suggestion for you then. Don’t show up. We probably won’t miss you. I have no doubt whatsoever that I know several other folks named Bill that WILL show – and no one will say “Hey. Where’s Bill?”

    JC

  468. #468 SEF
    January 8, 2010

    @ Bill #466:

    So these “get togethers” are point less

    The small ones have the point of being socialising occasions. Most humans seem to need that. For atheists stuck in an oppressive theocracy, having a get-together of non-theists may be the only way to escape from the perpetual preaching of the theists (who are seeking to con and recruit more victims and to shore up their own failing faith by desperately defending their indefensible views).

    The larger ones have gang culture points. They’re about asserting that you have a gang, a big(gish) gang, a gang which can be visible and should be listened to (political lobbying etc), a gang with which to intimidate the opposition and reassure any lurking potential gang members who are currently too cowardly to admit their status.

  469. #469 bastion of sass
    January 9, 2010

    Bill wrote:

    Atheists have no point or purpose in life. After you die, that’s it right–lights out nothing more–you won’t care what you’ve done because nothing matters.

    After you die, you won’t care what you’ve done because you’ll be dead.

  470. #470 Sven DiMilo
    January 10, 2010

    I made one dogmatic statement
    Two: “Nuts and the like contain proteins and lipids, i.e. potential allergens.”

    The only dogmatic statements there are that 1) nuts contain proteins and lipids and 2) proteins and lipids are potential allergens.
    Now the statement implies that proteins and lipids are the only potential allergens, but it does not state so dogmatically. And in any case I long ago owned up to the fact that that implication was wrong (just a comment left in haste; of course I already know about antibiotics, for example).

    Are you now claiming to be an expert in allergies who has merely been jokingly lying all along?

    Nope. I do know something about immunology, from which my initial doubts stemmed. But dude, I will bet money that 8 out of 10 professional allergists have never heard of an “allergy to ethanol fumes.”

    A shame you didn’t think to ask for it yourself then instead of dogmatically telling me (and everyone else who might read the thread) that my allergy was a fundamental impossibility for the universe.

    If your intitial statement had been “I am allergic to ethanol fumes” it cetainly would have been my first question. None of us knew you were talking about yourself for some time there.
    By the way, I don’t give a shit about “derailing threads.” Most people can follow more than one simultaneous conversation or ignore the posts they are not following. But in any case, my initial comment was on-topic.

    I’d already pointed out that you were wrong before you went ahead, ignoring that hint

    Why don’t you get this? Hints and bald assertions DON’T MEAN SHIT. Bring some substance or STFU.

    Liar.

    oops!
    killfile.

  471. #471 Annie
    January 10, 2010

    Does anyone know how many people usually attend these things? I’ve only seen videos of AAI-esque meetings, but (on YouTube at least) the crowd sizes seem less-than-encouraging.

  472. #472 SEF
    January 11, 2010

    I will bet money that 8 out of 10 professional allergists have never heard of an “allergy to ethanol fumes.”

    Worse than that, they’d pretty much all be as dogmatic about their ignorance as you. The ongoing incompetence (through the active mis-education, relative stupidity and arrogant ignorance) of medical staff represents a clear and present danger to the health of anyone with anything other than a nice simple problem.

    That’s why this piece of SIWOTI matters so much.

    Not only do medical staff not know a lot of important stuff for themselves but they won’t listen to other people (eg the patient who is the real expert on their condition) telling them. (Eg X-rays have to be done twice because they just won’t listen to you telling them that your organ is in a different place than normal.)

    Not only do they not always keep notes of bad drug reactions etc, let alone report them to the drug manufacturer for potential investigation and inclusion on subsequent warning documents, they don’t typically bother to read any notes on such things which they may already have on file for that patient!

    I’ve had decades of unremitting stupidity from doctors – not just aimed at myself but at other members of the family. Not a single member of my immediate family has gone undamaged by them. Though the dead one probably got off most lightly.

    That’s far worse than the problem atheists have with theists. Incompetent medical staff don’t even have to be intentionally evil to be a severe danger to people’s health. And it’s not just the most delicate of minorities who are endangered.

    The miseducation problem goes much farther than you imagine. It’s not just creationists in/around schools, it’s faulty information and bad attitudes being passed on at higher levels too.

    None of us knew you were talking about yourself for some time there.

    It wouldn’t have mattered if I’d been talking about someone else’s case that I knew very well but similarly couldn’t show to you on the internet! I’d still be right (and have the evidence on my side even if you weren’t in a position to look at it) and the SIWOTI and real-life version of that problem would still be very dangerously wrong.

  473. #473 Rorschach
    January 11, 2010

    The ongoing incompetence (through the active mis-education, relative stupidity and arrogant ignorance) of medical staff represents a clear and present danger to the health of anyone with anything other than a nice simple problem.

    Ahem.
    Now this is just silly.
    Active mis-education? Prove it, show it, do something to make me even consider it…
    It is very difficult for medical professionals to know everything about anything these days, and we are more and more confronted with wiki-educated clients that come to see us with some special knowledge they got from the net, and expect us to know everything about it.
    Your condition is , if it is for real, clearly something exotic, so to blame medical professionals to not be instantly familiar with them is pretty silly.

    Not only do medical staff not know a lot of important stuff for themselves but they won’t listen to other people (eg the patient who is the real expert on their condition) telling them.

    This is even more silly.
    Patients are not, and Im sorry if that offends you, qualified to tell the doctor about their condition and what to do about it.
    Will some doctors you meet be arrogant pricks that dont take your rare condition seriously? I dont doubt that for a moment ! But to presume that the patient is the expert on his/her own condition reveals a certain misconception of the doctor-patient relationship.

    I was sympathetic with you for a while there, but this last post was just totally silly.

  474. #474 SEF
    January 11, 2010

    Active mis-education? Prove it, show it, do something to make me even consider it…

    ie the continuing passing on of false information to the next generation of doctors. The classic example is the situation with ulcers, where the mistreatment as a psychiatric/psychological problem rather than an infection was obviously wrong long before someone actually bothered to find the infection and demonstrate it. Doctors had been dogmatically claiming to each other and to their victims, that it was impossible for people to have infections in the stomach at all, let alone persistent ones.

    to blame medical professionals to not be instantly familiar with them is pretty silly.

    But blaming them for being dogmatically dismissive of it on the basis of their own (creationist-like) ignorance is not at all silly. You’re just mischaracterising the situation (whether dishonestly, as per strawman or goal-post shitfing fallacies, or through incompetent reading).

    Patients are not, and Im sorry if that offends you, qualified to tell the doctor about their condition and what to do about it.

    Untrue. Patients (or to a much more limited extent parents) are the only possible experts and specialists on what is and is not normal for them. Doctors are at best merely generalists.

    Meanwhile, in addition to that personal expertise, some patients really are more knowledgeable than their doctors. And that’s without even including the patients who are themselves qualified doctors – who already blow your dogmatic assertion out of the water!

    It’s not that your ignorant and widely held falsehood offends but that it is a very real threat to health. Everyone who believes as you do is dangerously incompetent in a medical situation.

    Patient expertise is the one big advantage that a doctor can have over a vet – and yet they nearly all completely waste it! It’s a real shame that it’s not possible to divide up the world and give whatever vanishingly small minority of competent doctors exists to the competent patients and leave the incompetent patients (of which there are undoubtedly many) with the incompetent doctors they deserve.

    But to presume that the patient is the expert on his/her own condition reveals a certain misconception of the doctor-patient relationship.

    I don’t presume it – I know it from the evidence! It is that normal presumption of what the doctor-patient relationship should be which is wrong-headed. And your evident misconception that it’s the is which ought to dictate the ought here is also wrong.

    Just because it’s a fact that most doctors are arrogant scum who habitually ignore their patients’ expertise (and often don’t even keep up to date with published data) doesn’t mean it’s a good thing that that should continue to be the case.

    Just because creationists are arrogantly ignorant of biology doesn’t mean that’s a good thing either.

    this last post was just totally silly.

    Untrue. Your mischaracterisation of the situation and expecting me not to notice was silly though. It just goes to show how bad and all-pervading this bit of SIWOTI (and SIW In Real-Life) is.

  475. #475 Rorschach
    January 11, 2010

    ie the continuing passing on of false information to the next generation of doctors

    Ehm you know, the scientific method applies to medicine, if new knowledge becomes available, it is integrated.

    The classic example is the situation with ulcers, where the mistreatment as a psychiatric/psychological problem rather than an infection was obviously wrong long before someone actually bothered to find the infection and demonstrate it

    Incorrect.The prevailing theory before Marshall’s discovery of H Pylori was of hyperacidity or some such as cause of ulcers, and the condition was therefore treated with milk,antacids, H2 antagonists and the like.It was not seen a s a psychological problem.

    But blaming them for being dogmatically dismissive of it on the basis of their own (creationist-like) ignorance is not at all silly.

    Your onus to prove the “dogmatically dismissive”.And the “creationist-like ignorance” for that matter.
    Just because a doctor does not recognize some esoteric rare condition does not make that person one of creationist-like ignorance.

    You obviously have some personal investment here, but let me tell you, most doctors are not as stupid as you make them out to be, and are capable of recognizing a rare condition.

    Untrue. Patients (or to a much more limited extent parents) are the only possible experts and specialists on what is and is not normal for them. Doctors are at best merely generalists.

    Yeah, well, I wouldnt want to be your doctor then.Put it that way lol….Patients are the only possible experts? Good luck with that mate….Wouldnt want to be your plumber either !

  476. #476 SEF
    January 11, 2010

    Since I know a lot of you are hard-of-thinking, I’m going to repeat, in another way, that correction of one of the most important misconceptions about doctors.

    I know I’m broken (I was never likely to fall for the religious idea that I was intelligently designed for life on this planet!). I know in detail about the many and various ways in which I am broken. I generally know the consequences of those and I know when something differs from my normal levels of brokenness.

    In these situations I’m the expert specialist, not the doctor.

    The doctor can’t possibly be expected to have the level of specialist knowledge in myself that I have. But they can and should be expected to pay attention to it. Not paying attention is totally unforgivable and is health (or life) threatening.

    I know when a specific test or treatment is going to fail on me – either because of my brokenness or, paradoxically, because one of my superior abilities will interfere with it. I’m not so foolish that I don’t tell the medical moron I’m up against in advance, in quite some detail, exactly why / how / where they are going wrong. But they are generally too foolish to pay proper attention.

    This also applies to some other people I know. They (and I) do know how they differ from the norm.

    PS Another classic example of ongoing medical miseducation is over what the normal temperature for humans is – and hence on what counts as a fever. The situation there is even worse than it used to be, because of the move from Fahrenheit to Celsius/Centigrade – when they arbitrarily and falsely declared the normal to be higher simply because it matched up better with a scale step! To quote a family saying: “That’s not history, that’s my life!”.

    There is insufficient education of doctors on the variability within species. Which is of course where the ongoing medical problem is most directly related to the problem of creationists – and goes to explain why medical doctors are often creationists (having avoided studying or being tested on the information which would break them of that).

    Being dismissive of even the possibility of that variation, and arrogantly imagining that the “one true norm” which they’ve been taught or have made up for themselves(!) defines reality, makes medics very very dangerous to real people.

    Many regular pharyngulites would already be rather worried to have Michael Egnor as their neurosurgeon. I’m pointing out that the problem goes far deeper than that. It’s endemic in the profession.

  477. #477 SEF
    January 11, 2010

    It was not seen a s a psychological problem.

    Oh yes it was! All that emphasis on the patient causing it themselves by getting emotionally stressed (instead of doctors recognising that they’d got the cause and effect the wrong way round!).

    Perhaps you somehow missed that bit of reality too – despite it being common knowledge among the victims of doctors who were told precisely that about their ulcers (and continued being told that by many doctors even once H.pylori had been discovered). Are you really claiming that it didn’t happen, based solely on your personal dislike of it being true of doctors (and perhaps some carefully cultivated ignorance on your part of the evidence of it happening)?

    They do the same thing with ME/CFS. It’s so much easier for doctors to blame the patient (and at the same time provide highly paid employment for their cohorts in that whole subculture of mistreatment of conditions) than to own up to their own failings.

    Wouldnt want to be your plumber either !

    (a) Plumbing isn’t as hard as the whole of human biology.

    (b) Most plumbers (NB ignoring the conmen types) wouldn’t ignore what the “patient” had to say about where their plumbing or the performance of it differed from its norm! Only doctors tend to be routinely that arrogant. (Or perhaps Sb/SixApart bods who pretend that the login problems don’t and can’t exist because they haven’t seen them in their own sandbox.)

  478. #478 John Morales
    January 11, 2010

    SEF,

    Many regular pharyngulites would already be rather worried to have Michael Egnor as their neurosurgeon.

    Much as I normally appreciate your posts, I think you’re clutching at straws here.

    Best as I can tell, Egnor is an excellent neurosurgeon; I think your contention is equivalent to saying that if, say, Michael Schumacher were a creationist, you’d be rather worried to have him driving for your team (because of his beliefs).

    PS I’m pretty sure, based on his posting history, that Rorschach is an evidence-based-medical practicioner, and not a creationist.

  479. #479 SEF
    January 11, 2010

    Rorschach is an evidence-based-medical practicioner

    Apparently not when it comes to the history of medical mistreatment of ulcers. :-/

    Currently behaving much better than Sven DiMilo over what is and isn’t possible for allergies though.

    I think your contention is equivalent to saying that if, say, Michael Schumacher were a creationist, you’d be rather worried to have him driving for your team (because of his beliefs).

    If he were likely to start praying in an imminent crash situation instead of putting all his efforts into doing what he could with the steering wheel and brakes etc (as might possibly have been the case in some black-box data of a fatal crash I investigated), then I would indeed be worried to have him driving.

  480. #480 John Morales
    January 11, 2010

    SEF @479, don’t you think a neurosurgeon whose record is less than exemplary (for whatever reason) would not be considered excellent at it?

    I’m not disputing cognitive compartmentalisation, indeed I’m highlighting it!

    Egnor’s epistemic egnorance and scientific denialism has evidently not affected his vocation (which (and I’m sure to be corrected on this) is that of a glorified mechanic).

  481. #481 SEF
    January 11, 2010

    don’t you think a neurosurgeon whose record is less than exemplary (for whatever reason) would not be considered excellent at it?

    No. I’ve seen far too many bad people held up as pillars of the community (it’s more the norm than the exception)! The in-group can be very prone to ignoring the flaws of its own members (and in its whole system) and also committed to covering up for each other. The murderous Harold Shipman was regarded as a good doctor by his fellows, despite evidence to the contrary already existing.

  482. #482 JackC
    January 11, 2010

    SEF has some valid points, though the manner of expressing them may be a bit wide.

    I am the son of a Doctor (well… Dentist – some people do not consider that the same thing!) I have been associated for all my life with medical folks. My father was, up to his retirement, of some international note as well.

    He once heard on a broadcast something regarding how a Doctor may determine the “correctness of Diagnosis” – it had to do with follow up. The comment was something along the lines of (paraphrased) “One diagnoses, then one follows up to determine the efficacy. One then may adjust if required to improve the diagnosis.”

    My fathers response to this was – basically: “Bollocks!” Essentially, he said if he makes a diagnosis, it is the correct one – because he made it.

    Now – I have since come to understand that my father is most likely a lifelong “sufferer” of NPD (look it up) and this explains quite a number of things – but it kind of falls right in there with what SEF is saying – though I do think a bit too broadly. My father was infallible, just ask him – he would tell you. His diagnoses were correct – because he had made them. Information he passed on to colleagues was correct and valid and pertinent – because he had passed it on to them. Please note: I do not believe any of this – but HE does and did and it is that basic concept I think SEF may be talking about.

    First, not all the associates of my father were this way, however, as a rule, he seemed to align with those of similar mind.

    Second, I personally have found great difficulty in locating a personal physician with anything approaching an advanced understanding that what they know is not necessarily written in stone. I have found at least one such, but he is a hand surgeon and not a GP, so I only get to use him on rare occasions! Many of the doctors I have visited DO appear to me to diagnose within their specialty – because it is that specialty that they are familiar with – damn you and your variant symptoms.

    But these are perhaps concentrated aberrations. The medical profession is a massive field and to expect a particular doctor to have all the most advanced tech, information and treatments in even an up-to-the-decade manner is perhaps extreme. Particularly in a practice where any specific doctor must treat a patient on little to no information, unknown earlier treatment and insufficient time or facility to examine. I am unaware if House could actually exist IRL.

    Any doctor I am aware of would treat SEF in a manner that would cause SEF to believe the treatment was insufficient. SEF can only BELIEVE that the best possible information for medical diagnosis comes from SEF alone. From the perspective of the doctor, the only thing SEF can offer is anecdotal, although there is a possibility that it can be guiding. Whether SEF understands that or not is mostly immaterial to the doctor. If SEF can present (assuming here that the same doctor is not involved in all his (SEF’s) cases) all previous historical medical procedures whether positive or negative, then these are more than anecdotal and can be used to inform the doctor, but anything SEF says without medical procedure to back it up is simply comment on the condition, from the perspective of the doctor.

    Now – I do believe that any GOOD doctor would take SEF’s comment and follow it – not simply discard it as SEF seems to indicate, but a “medical opinion” does not emanate from the mouth of SEF simply because SEF desires it, or so the doctor will believe – unless SEF has the data as well.

    Until and unless the doctor in question undertakes an extensive program of examination of SEF’s condition and is able to either locate an underlying cause or condition – a situation I personally know of no doctor willing to do – SEFs commentary on his condition is merely a point of information for the doctor and not anything to be taken as a medical guidance. If SEF volunteers for a study of the condition, then SEF may have different results, however SEF may also be involved in a blind study that produces information that is contrary to what SEF believes to be the case, in which case, his current opinion may be bolstered, but the condition remains unresolved.

    Aside from a newly fledged doctor in a teaching hospital* SEF has a particularly valid point though. Current thinking tends to become embedded and though new information WILL come to the mainstream – eventually – it is a very slow process. Doctors do tend to propagate outdated procedures – because it is what they know and are familiar with. The doctors I know are horridly slow to take on new procedures – simply because they are familiar with the old ones. The exceptions to this are treatments known to be faulty or poor in the extreme, when there is a sense that more study will affect a more reasonable approach. Today, these are those rare conditions, one (or more) of which SEF may suffer from.

    I for one am sometimes grateful for this – as I am really not sure I would like every new thing to be tried on me just because it is new! It is bad enough that the world seems to want me to change operating systems at the drop of a hat yearly (or so).

    And if I ever have need of a Neurosurgeon in my life, I will not particularly care if that surgeon has a temple to Vishnu or Ra in his garage – as long as his success rate is the highest I can possibly lay my hands and insurance company on.

    JC

    * I used to work Bio-Medical electronics at a University hospital in my home town. The general consensus among nearly everyone I knew was – if you have an Emergency of any sort, get thee to this hospital as soon as possible. Once your emergency is resolved, get somewhere ELSE – ANYWHERE else – as soon as possible!!

  483. #483 Rorschach
    January 12, 2010

    JackC @ 482,

    Aside from a newly fledged doctor in a teaching hospital* SEF has a particularly valid point though. Current thinking tends to become embedded and though new information WILL come to the mainstream – eventually – it is a very slow process.

    This is in your best interest. New procedures and medicines undergo a vigorous testing scheme, because doctors should not do harm, and one Thalidomide scandal is enough.You want doctors to be cautious with new procedures, trust me.

    Doctors do tend to propagate outdated procedures

    Bollocks.
    You are talking out of your ass, how would you know this?Please provide evidence for your claim.

    The doctors I know are horridly slow to take on new procedures – simply because they are familiar with the old ones.

    Please provide an example of this.

  484. #484 JackC
    January 12, 2010

    Hmm. I posted, then kind of lost all Pharyngula for a bit – trying again and apologising a forehand if this duplicates – but I DID refresh first!

    You are talking out of your ass, how would you know this?

    I told you how I could know it.

    As for the “bollocks” part, a single representative example here.

    However, you yourself note (as I indicted and you saw fit to restate), it is in the patients Best Interest to have new medical treatment delayed and not jumped into simply because it is new. This goes to the heart of the statement regarding “outdated” procedures.

    Doctors – and I believe this to be rightly so – will tend to continue a known course of treatment, even if a new course is available, for any one of several reasons:

    A: because they don’t yet know of it. This is primarily the concern of the linked article. Can’t fault them if they honestly don’t know, but consider that some may not be acively trying to find out. This would be the case of the particular Dr I noted earlier in my personal case. Yes, that man was a complete fool – and no longer is allowed to practice Medicine in NY.

    B: They know of it, but are concerned about efficacy, or perhaps effect on specific individuals (your example of Thalidomide is particularly apt)

    C: They know of a new treatment, but do not – for their own reasons – “believe” it is any better than the original treatment (which could in fact be NO treatment)

    D: They know of the new treatment and simply believe their particular way, tested and familiar, are more reliable.

    E: they know of the treatment, but insurance does not cover it (this really does not apply to the statement, but I thought I would include it anyway).

    … and so on.

    They will begin the new (and I am presuming here “more effective”) course of treatment only after being assured of it’s efficacy. They may, in fact, never actually begin new treatment under certain circumstances. In so doing, they “propagate” outdated procedures. I will restate that this is usually (probably) wise.

    For my manner of thinking, A is the most likely reason that any GOOD doctor would be lagging in the current practice of available treatment. If this were an Engineering situation, it might be referred to as a hysteresis function. Perhaps it still is.

    You on the other hand in one breath note that delay is a GOOD thing, then in another say it is a bad assumption that outdated procedures are propagated. I think you are assuming maliciousness where none is intended. Either that, or you don’t understand hysteresis.

    JC