The Midwest Skeptical Meetup (Recap)

We have officially beaten the Bostonians.

Much fun was had (and Guitar Hero games lost) in Chicago last night.

It helps that we had an impressive turnout — thanks to all who came! We’ll be doing it again soon enough.

Some images from the evening:

Best. Shirt. Ever.

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A close-up:

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A bit of Guitar Hero:

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Curse you, all those who beat me. (Which turned out to be everyone.) And just so you can see my full decked-out-with-Scarlet-A-pin shirt…:

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A couple other close-ups and group shots (the non-cartoon version of Skepchick Elyse is on the right, below):

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That is one fine group of über-awesome atheists.

Elyse wrote a bit more about the night and has many more pics! (Thanks to her for some of those pics and for helping put the whole event together!)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • http://kjcw.blogspot.com Kelly

    Hey! I have that WWJD shirt!! I would have been there if I hadn’t had family in town! Schedule the next one soon. I’ll totally be there.

  • http://bjornisageek.blogspot.com Bjorn Watland

    We’ll fly down the next time you’re not in competition with Dawkins. I think even Dawkins could beat you at Guitar Hero!

    In all seriousness, the American Atheists conference was a hit. There were about 600 people there, with about 80 students. On Saturday night, there was a free student pizza party, which got people from all over the country talking together. Joe Foley got to plus the SSA like mad, which was good. A group of three in South Dakota are planning on becoming members of SSA, so anyone can really use SSA.

  • http://www.jaredmlee.net jared

    Ok Seriously – Hemant, I like and appreciate you… but my first reaction to your shirt is that it is racist… it seems to imply that evolutionally speaking Africans (African Americans) are less developed.

    I KNOW you don’t really think that – but can someone explain it to a guy who believes God created Mankind equal?

  • Claire

    Jared, that’s a very bizarre interpretation of the shirt. Clearly, what is depicted is our common ancestor of the distant past, the one we ALL evolved from in Africa. How you can get racism from that is beyond me….

  • Aj

    I think jared is getting at a scar on western society. “Black” people are associated with our (humans) cousin apes in western society because of about 200 years of propagating this concept. There are studies that support that this concept prevails in our society using evidence. Our ancestor on the T-shirt looks like our (humans) cousin apes.

    What the T-shirt, which is awesome in my opinion, is saying is that we’re all from the same ancestors in Africa. It’s only commenting on common descent of our species.

    We’re not separated into homogeneous groups. There is more difference within a population than from one population to another. It wouldn’t even be a problem if we judged others by the content of their character not the colour of their skin or any other arbitrary attribute.

    Also, atheists throw the best parties.

  • Claire

    Really, Aj? If those studies are thirty years old or done in the wrong part of the country, I can credit that. But are there any recent studies with good methodology that show this? I would like to think we have (for the most part) progressed beyond that, but maybe I’m wrong.

    I really like the t-shirt, too.

  • Aj

    Research papers from IAT are pretty good on this subject. I first heard about the IAT from Beyond Belief 2006 (available on google video), where Mahzarin Banaji gave an extremely interesting talk. I’ve heard reports about recent studies written by Jennifer L. Eberhardt et al on this topic. In 2005 a sixteen year old produced a documentary called “A Girl like Me” that replicated Dr. Kenneth Clark’s doll test, although I do not know whether the test was valid.

  • Claire

    Thanks for a link to an interesting site, Aj! Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any research specifically on this topic there. I had a little more luck with searching on the name “Jennifer Eberhardt”, but all the links led back to one single study, of which only the abstract is available free on the internet, and the abstract isn’t enough to base anything on. It appears that they did use the implicit association test for part of it, but from what I could see of that test in the videos of Mahzarin Banaji I found, it would be really easy to build biases into that test, so that it’s measuring something other than what it should.

    Just to be sure, I went to the implicit.harvard.edu site and actually took a couple of the tests. I started with the political one, and the results were what I expected – I showed a distinct preference for Obama (even though I support Hillary), because I like his face and personality better than hers, and that I prefer Huckabee to McCain (also wrong for the same reason). So, there’s a bias built in – it’s more about how I feel about the face and personality than the person as a leader.

    Then I took the race one and the skin tone one, and the results were that I had a slight preference for black faces and no preference for light vs dark skin tones. So, either I’m even less racist than I thought (what are the odds?), or those results can be gamed from either end. While I did try to take them honestly, I told/reminded myself before I started that I really like black faces and I’m colorblind, and those are what the results showed, to a degree beyond what I think is true. Because of this, I do have some doubts about this methodology.

    Maybe I will get one of those shirts. And it really did look like a great party…

  • http://kevinreed.net Kevin

    It was nice to meet everyone! Here are a couple more photos:
    http://kevinreed.net/guitar-hero-at-whiskey-road/

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Ok Seriously – Hemant, I like and appreciate you… but my first reaction to your shirt is that it is racist… it seems to imply that evolutionally speaking Africans (African Americans) are less developed.

    I KNOW you don’t really think that – but can someone explain it to a guy who believes God created Mankind equal?

    Others responded to this already. But my interpretation of it is simply a promotion of evolution. We’re all descended from Africa and the common ancestor was not a human as we know them today but closer to the ape-like creature on the shirt. I’m sure someone can correct my science here. I can understand the misinterpretation (taking a second look at the shirt) but I assure you that’s not the intention or I wouldn’t have worn it :)

  • http://reasonableatheist.blogspot.com Bart Dorsey

    Hemant, that is EXACTLY the sentiment the shirt expouses. In a way the shirt is “anti-racist”, as in , there’s no such thing as race, we are all descended from the same ancestors. That shirt is what Dawkins would call a “consciousness raiser”. If you were to wear that shirt out in public (especially if you were a white guy like me, I think Hemant probably gets away with it more because his skin is brown), then you would probably be noticed and someone would probably call you a racist. It would be your job at that point to explain what the shirt really means. In doing this, hopefully you’ve caused someone to think about something they really haven’t thought about before.

    I do agree, though, that in today’s American society, you are going to get a lot of negative gut reactions to the shirt.


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