Our team is crashing the 2011 TAM – The Amazing Meeting – and we’ve snapped some pictures with some secular celebrities who support foxhole atheists and what we’re doing here at Fort Bragg. I’ll post them here and on Facebook, as they trickle back to me.
First up was the TAM workshop: Defending Evolution in the Classroom and Beyond. Featuring Eugenie Scott, Joshua Rosenau, and Donald Prothero – this was a great way to kick off an amazing meeting. I wish I could have been there myself. However, I am currently deployed to a sandy location.
I heard it was awesome (get to that in a minute), but we got some great photo-ops right afterwards.
Eugenie Scott supports foxhole atheists!
One of my heroes, Eugenie Scott was on our original lineup for the first (unsuccessful) attempt at Rock Beyond Belief. She actually had to drop out right before the effort fell through, due to a schedule conflict with the date we were aiming for. She was really such a sweetheart, and helped get me in touch with many people.
Eugenie is a key figure in the fight against junk science. Specifically, she has fought the teaching of Creationism and it’s peek-a-boo doppelganger ‘Intelligent’ Design in public science classes. When I was 11-13 years old, I was a huge cdesign proponentsist myself. I remember taking my Bible to school with me, and arguing with teachers about evolution (even thinking I’d won several times). I finally challenged myself to look at what the ‘evil atheists’ were saying about my beloved “scientifically proven” biblical literalism. Tracts from the NCSE were impossible to reconcile with my Behe / Dembski / Whitcomb / Morris volumes. Eugenie Scott, and the NCSE helped me to learn good science, as well as an important lesson in being humble. I’m forever in debt to her.
Even though her typical honorarium is $5,000 for a speaking engagement, she had waived it for us (without us even asking). She clearly supports the foxhole atheist community(!) As do the other members of the panel.
Joshua Rosenau and Donald Prothero also plug Rock Beyond Belief on the spot!
Our Production Manager, Robert “Chip” Matthews, really enjoyed the workshop, and stayed to talk to the three panelists after it was over. Eugenie already knew us, but Donald and Joshua were more than willing to give us the thumbs up too.
Planning for this was complicated, because we wanted it to be a true workshop, i.e., to have interactive aspects, and time for people to work through exercises in small groups. But we didn’t know what sort of crowd to expect for the first workshop of the first day. Chatting about our plan, we joked about how embarrassing it’d be if only 3 people showed up, but we planned for about 30, and made 60 copies of the handouts.
About 350 showed up, packing the hall. The idea to split the audience into small groups of 10 who could work through some sample creationist workshops went out the window.
As planned, Prothero gave a great, and greatly compressed, version of his talk about the importance of evolution and the failures of creationist attacks. Then Genie took her standard, hour-long talks on the history of creationism and tools for refuting standard creationist arguments, and scrunched them into 10-15 minutes total. Then I presented a 20 minute version of weekend-long trainings in science communication and community organizing that I’ve been part of.
Then we posed a scenario to the attendees: what message would they try to bring to a state board of education meeting to convince wavering board members to avoid creationist revisions to state science standards? What messengers would they choose to bring that message?
We got great ideas, and a great discussion. For a plan created on the fly, I think it worked rather well, and the parts of the audience who came to chat with us afterward seemed to think so as well.
Josh – I know our team can second that. Thanks for the support, and keep on fighting the good fight! I’m yet another former creationist freed from intellectual dishonesty by the efforts of the NCSE and Talk.Origins. I was 13, and there are many more out there in desperate need of good science. Keep up the good fight!