Monthly Archives: December 2008

Minutes for December 12, 2008

Our trip to the Creation Museum was mentioned on WFHB. Sarah and Bart both heard it and thought it was an accurate good portrayal of our purposes in going.

Another IDS column on religion was brought up, “Tree Gets the Heave.”

We’ve apparently missed some multi-faith panels, both in attending and in being invited. These seem to be a popular event for residence hall event committees. We’re asking members to be on the lookout for them so we can announce them on list before they happen. If you’re connected to anyone involved in its planning, see if you can get an invite for the SAIU.

In order to make way for other sorts of activities and more regular administrative meetings, Russell’s Tea Parties will be held every other week next semester. They will alternate with administrative/planning meetings for other events and service activities and also with fun activity nights.  This will work as such: the first and third Sundays of the month will be Russell’s Tea Parties (RTPs), the second Sundays will be administrative/planning meetings, and the fourth Sundays will be fun silliness nights.

Russel’s Tea Parties will resume on January 11th, the Sunday before classes begin.

Movie nights will resume next semester. Dates TBA. A thread will be posted on the forum to decide what day(s) movies will be shown once we have advanced alien polling technology.

Planned Parenthood needs muscle to escort patrons past protesters. This is an ongoing thing, not just related to recent events. Amy is contacting them to find out how to get involved.

If you were planning on volunteering at Wonderlab (the local childrens science, health, and technology museum), contact Amy (conrada @ indiana). The next training workshop will be held January 18th and you need to register in advance. Visit to find out what Wonderlab is.

We will have a second call-out meeting type event the second week of classes. Date TBA. We will need people to flyer and chalk during the week leading up to it, so keep that in mind the first week.

We plan to table once a month next semester. The first will likely be the week of the call-out, a day or two before. While the weather’s cold, we’ll do this inside the IMU at the desk outside Burger King and the bowling alley. Ideas for tabling topics are welcome. Sarah suggested handing out candy to people who answer questions on secularism and the other usual topics. Adam was placed in charge of tabling.

Darwin Day is Thursday February 12, a celebration of Darwin’s bicentennial birthday. Suggestions included making a day or week’s worth of activities including a showing of Inherit the Wind, an HMS Beagle themed scavenger hunt, and talks on Darwin or evolution. We want to contact the biology and anthropology departments to see if we can coordinate events. A committee volunteered, led by Jordan.  The committee includes Ashley and Laurie.

Hemant Mehta ( is coming to IU March 30. The topic will be his book “I Sold My Soul on eBay” annd on how students can become more involved in the secular movement. Samantha volunteered her place for him to stay. Ashley will be in charge of finding a room, getting Mehta from A to B and such.

We want to hold a myths about atheism panel, possibly with a snappier name and with slogans like “Are atheists among us?”. We’re shooting for March 9 to 13. It was suggested we do it in a residence hall since RAs need event ideas, but we’d also like to have a lot of people attend. Professors of religious studies, philosophy, and such are needed. We also may invite some other active atheists in the area. If you have ideas or want to suggest someone for the panel, contact Bart (bjhelms @ indiana).

Other event ideas proposed:
-Pi Day is March 14. Nothing was agreed upon save the eating of tasty pies. Mmm.
-We still haven’t had a Flying Spaghetti Monster vs Invisible Pink Unicorn debate.
-Do we want to consider producing an atheist or sciency musical?

Field Trips
We want to do a visit to a real museum. Information on a possible two-day Chicago trip is on the forum. Other suggestions were finding things to do in Indy (Children’s Museum) and St Louis.

CFI World Congress is April 9-12 ( Guests will include the likes of James Randi and Christopher Hitchens. The cost could be upwards of $100 per person altogether. Group subsidizing of transportation and lodging costs was considered. Laurie is in charge of looking into IUSA funds.  There is also the need for fundraisers, and Sarah will assign different jobs such as finding restaurants to donate proceeds to our group for raising money.  It was agreed that people are willing to spend up to $100 out of pocket, so the rest should be provided through group funds, which will come from t-shirt sales, bake sales, craft sales, and other fundraisers.

It was agreed to take the IU off of the t-shirts so we can get them done inexpensively. We may investigate the legality of the situation latter.

Hey hoosier atheists!

We probably have a lot of new traffic coming in from Pharyngula and the release of our Creation Museum video. I thought it would be nice for Indiana residents to have a place on our blog to check in and state what is or isn’t going on in their neck of the woods.

A few things we know about:

Center for Inquiry, Indy:Reba does good work! You might benefit from driving into Indy to attend one of the center’s events.

IUPUI Freethinkers

Purdue Non-Theist Society

Fort Wayne Freethought

If you know of more, please get in touch!

Serious Linkage

In my reply to the “Atheism Abandoned” piece in the IDS, I mentioned that new media like podcasts and blogs are the place to go for the real discussions on science and atheism. So in case anyone finds themselves directed here, I’ve prepared a few links to some of my favorites.

These resources are also a great way to keep in touch with other atheists and like-minded people while visiting family over break.

If you have suggestions of your own, please do make use of the comments!

When I bought my mp3 player, I figured I would use it primarily for music, but it turns out that nine times out of ten it’s full of science and audio-magazine style podcasts from NPR affiliates, the BBC, and independent podcast producers. Below are a few of my favorites that you might relate to.

The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe: From the New England Skeptical Society, this popular podcast presents an often humorous look at pseudoscience and the paranormal in addition to legitimate science news. If that sounds at all interesting to you, I recommend you try it even if you’ve never listened to a single podcast in your life. The group also produces the shorter, family-friendly Skeptic’s Guide 5×5.

Point of Inquiry: A product of Center for Inquiry, with which SAIU is affiliated. Hosted by D. J. Grothe, the program features interviews with scientists, philosophers, and others on current issues where science, religion, and politics overlap. D. J. brings in guests of all different positions and, I think, does a great job interviewing even people he disagrees with. Search the archives for one of your favorite skeptics/atheists to get started.

Here are three weekly science podcasts that try to make things fun and entertaining as well as educational. This Week in Science, out of UC Davis, hosted by Kirsten Sanford and Justin Jackson. The Naked Scientists, brought to you by the BBC and Cambridge. Talk of the Nation: Science Friday, Ira Flatow’s classic radio show in podcast form. I highly recommend all three for anyone who can’t get enough science.

Two more skeptic pocasts: Skepticality, the official podcast of Skeptic Magazine hosted by Derek Colanduno and Swoopy. The “Where do we go from here?”, “What’s the Harm?”, and “This One Time at Skepticamp” episodes are great places to start. Skeptoid is a skeptical podcast designed to be used in the classroom for critical thinking.

On the religion front there’s Apologia, where theists of various stripes and atheists come together to discuss issues without all the shouting or name-calling. The themes and panels vary from show to show, keeping it fresh each time. Choose a topic that interests you and take a listen. Reasonable Doubts is a slightly more one-sided and humorous podcast hosted by Jeremy Beahan, Luke Galen, and David Fletcher. And don’t forget The Infidel Guy Show, a podcast from before there were pods, when Real Audio represented the height of human achievement, and mislabeled Weird Al mp3s took two hours each to download.

Or just search iTunes for your favorite keywords. You might be surprised.

You’ll probably want a good RSS reader to keep up with these. If you use Firefox, I recommend the latest version of Sage. (Mileage may vary.) If you use IE, I have no idea. If you use anything else, you’re probably thinking about wonderful Iceweasel, Lynx or Opera are right now and not actually reading this anyway.

If there’s one thing every member of SAIU should regularly read it’s xkcd. If there are two things, Pharyngula is the other one. You might recognize the author, PZ Myers, as one of the evil atheist masterminds interviewed in Expelled. PZ also writes for The Panda’s Thumb, a group blog on evolutionary biology that frequently debunks creationism.

PZ’s blog is hosted by ScienceBlogs, which is owned by Seed Magazine. Both are great sources for up-to-date science and technology discussions. ScienceBlogs has a number of subject-area feeds for you to subscribe to. Two of my favorite individual blogs are Adventures in Ethics and Science and Good Math, Bad Math.

Daylight Atheism, at its best, can be absolutely inspiring and a great example of positive atheism. Greta Christina’s Blog, on the other hand, is more about sex-positive atheism but is somehow nearly as popular.

I’d also point atheists toward The Secular Outpost, Rationally Speaking, or Atheist Ethicist.

People who were Christian in a past life might enjoy Debunking Christianity, a blog of counter-apologetics featuring our former guest John W Loftus. Or your thing might be ExChristian.Net, a blog of personal experiences in deconversion.

Language Log follows linguistic issues like the grammar police, language in politics, and startling developments in English language usage. The occasional posts on the horrors of pop psychology are particularly great.

Skepchick: A group blog about science, skepticism, feminism, and drinking games. The blog also has a brand spankin’ new spin-off podcast. If you want more feminism (with an occasional rant on religion) try: Pandagon, Feministing, Feministe, or Broadsheet.

Skeptic’s Guide host Steven Novella also writes the blog Neurologica about skepticism and science with a particular interest in medicine and the brain sciences. Bad Astronomy is a popular skepticism and astronomy blog by Phil Plait, author of Death from the Skies and current president of the James Randi Educational Foundation.

FemaleScienceProfessor is a great look at academic life from the point of view of, well, a female science professor. Expect gruesome details on dissertation nightmares, working with sexist faculty, and physics department fashion.

And that’s enough from me. If you feel like emptying your feed folder onto my screen in return, feel free to do so below!

Festivus Party!

You are invited to SAIU’s end-of-year Festivus celebration!   

The Festivus pole is used as an alternative to the flashy Christmas tree.  Why an aluminum pole? Aluminum has a high strength-to-weight ratio, of course.

The Festivus pole is used as an alternative to the flashy Christmas tree. Why an aluminum pole? Aluminum has a high strength-to-weight ratio, of course.

It will be held in State Room East in the IMU, at 8pm.  We’ll have cake and games and you’ll have a chance to hang out and say goodbye to all your secular buddies.  It’ll be a good time!

We are looking for people to bring games (especially games that will work well with a large group, like Cranium, Apples to Apples, etc.) and maybe a Festivus pole? Please volunteer if you have either of these items. Also, people are welcome to share food. Post what you’re planning on bring in a comment or on the forum.

If you’ve never heard of Festivus, you can read about it on Wikipedia or watch a short video on YouTube.  The holiday was invented by the father of a Seinfeld scriptwriter, who introduced it into popular culture in an episode of the show.

The holiday Festivus was introduced into popular culture through the show Seinfeld.

The holiday Festivus was introduced into popular culture through the show Seinfeld.

Russell’s Tea Party – 12/7

What? Russell’s Tea Party, a discussion
When? Sunday, December 7 @ 8pm
Where? Georgian Room (in the IMU)
Topics? The Mumbai terror attacks; education and home-schooling (whether it should be allowed)

Our weekly discussions are named after Bertrand Russell’s religious parody often termed Russell’s Teapot. (Read about it on Wikipedia.) Anyone is welcome to come to the discussion. We’ve been talking about very general topics for most of the semester, but recently decided to hone down on more focused ideas.

You are welcome to discuss potential topics on the forum.