Outside the science, I managed to come away from the weekend learning quite a bit:
- Cats that give me allergies are evil.
- I have been focused too long on atheist license plates as a way to display your beliefs. I completely ignored the possibility of promoting your beliefs on the backs of trucks!
Indiana is scary.
- I always knew PZ bore a resemblance… :
- The Creation Museum has a presentation called “Men in White”:
One friend offered this explanation: “If you learn any real science during your museum tour, they zap you at the end and make you forget it.”
- I’ve never enjoyed Twitter as much as I did while going through the museum. Granted there was little wi-fi access inside the museum, it was easy to catch up on what was happening, live, while reading the #creozerg feed.
- Best part about the museum: The gift shop. It’s a storehouse of humor.
- Books in the museum gift shop are incredibly un-politically-correct. I don’t know what this subtitle means, but I don’t think it’s a Poe:
I’m sure there’s some wacky Biblical explanation behind this… but are the fundamentalist Christians trying to make people dislike them?
- When writing about Life in the Great Ice Age, a book cover with lots of green grass doesn’t convince me of its accuracy:
- What is the purpose of rainstorms? According to this Creation Museum book, reason #1 is that God wants to punish people:
- The other best part about the museum: The clothing worn by our group.
- Check this out:
Alli‘s shirt reads “Science is Awesome!!!” Her left sleeve indicates where she bought it from: the Creation Museum, during a previous visit.
Yep. How’s that for irony?
Alli said the shirt was no longer being sold during this more recent visit… maybe the staff realized that science doesn’t help their cause. Or maybe they just ran out of the shirts because the atheists bought them all.
- You can be told to turn your shirt inside-out when it reads “There’s probably no god, so stop worrying and enjoy your life”… but Jason‘s shirt went surprisingly unnoticed:
- Carl Sagan would have been appalled by this joke of a “science museum”:
- You know you’re a math nerd when you see Mark‘s shirt as I did, solve it, and then giggle in amusement while others stare blankly:
- When several dozen atheists march outside the museum to see a special ceremony just beyond the entrance gates, it totally freaks out the Creation Museum security guards.
- I’ve been asked: What do we gain from visiting the museum when much of its content is already online? Why give money to the museum? Several things.
300 atheists can go back home with a first-hand description of what the museum is like and how many lies are contained inside of it.
They are motivated to educate others about rational thought and the scientific method — a motivation you probably can’t get when you just read about this museum from afar.
There will be a plethora of blog postings, Twitter messages, and media mentions about how atheists went to this museum. Those messages contain examples of the absurd theories this museum says are accurate. The reach we have is really immeasurable.
Our admission costs were (unfortunately) a drop in the bucket for the museum. Even on the day we went, we were only 12% of the daily attendance. To give them some money in exchange for exposing their lies and motivating atheists to fight against unscientific ideas is well worth it, I think.
- The Secular Student Alliance decided to forego several hour-long talks and instead have shorter 20-minute talks at the conference (with a couple exceptions). This was an awesome idea. We’re *totally* doing this again in the future. It’s much better than my experience at other conferences, when in some cases, I realized 10 minutes into a talk that the boring speaker had another 30 or 40 minutes to go… thankfully, the SSA had great speakers and the sessions flew by.
- Atheists often talk about gaps at meetings, like the Gender gap (lots of men, few women) and the Age gap (lots of old people, few students). But we rarely talk about the Race gap. There was only one black person attending the conference (one other spoke) and very few Asians. We need to find a way to fix this problem and get more minorities involved in our movement.
- It’s probably not a good idea to schedule a talk on “How to get people to attend your meetings” at 9:00 a.m. on a Saturday.
- PZ Myers has a very strong sense of awareness about how influential he is, what he means to other atheists (especially younger ones), and how to connect with his audience. Despite his “bad guy” reputation online, he is incredibly nice in person. The disconnect between those two personas may be larger than anyone else’s I can think of.
- PZ reads every single one of the comments on his blog. I’m amazed (though not very surprised) by that.
- PZ’s philosophy in a nutshell:
Don’t take “mockery” the wrong way. The idea is that if you can convince people that religious beliefs (e.g. a cracker being the actual body of Christ, the Earth being only 6,000 years old, etc.) are ridiculous, we’ll be able to be more effective at getting people to think rationally. Debating and calling the other side nasty names aren’t as powerful.
- If the Secular Coalition for America‘s Executive Director Sean Faircloth stays in his position for a long time, his greatest gift to our movement could be influencing one of our own to run for Congress. The students had wonderful things to say about him after he spoke and I wouldn’t be surprised if others eventually decide to follow in his footsteps and run for public office.
- The Secular Student Alliance (of which I chair the board of directors) ran a very efficient conference, all thanks to our two staff members, two interns, and a few volunteers. I think we put on a really excellent conference (but I’m biased). You can tell me if I’m wrong.
- One down side to the SSA’s work is that it’s very hard to raise money for our organization when the people we serve (students) are the least able to give us donations. Look at this chart:
That’s how big we’re becoming. I don’t know how many groups we’ll end up having in 2010. It’s amazing and scary all at once. Scary because we may not be able to support all these groups.
Look at the SSA’s cash flow:
It may look like a lot of money, but that money pays for two full-time staffers, interns, an office, travel grants to students, project grants to our groups, speakers’ travel fees, etc. At the rate of growth we have, we need at least one other campus organizer on the payroll. At the very least, we need to keep our current staff and pay them what they’re worth (we don’t do them justice). We need your help to be able to provide services like this conference and campus group support. Please consider making a contribution if you have the means..