This morning I fly out to Buffalo, and then ride on to Amherst, New York, home to the Center for Inquiry — the hub of Skeptical Inquirer magazine, Free Inquiry, and much else, including the Point of Inquiry radio show and podcast. This is the place I worked, for my very first job out of college, along with Matthew Nisbet in the summer of 1999. Also present back then: Derek Araujo, now Vice President and General Counsel of the Center for Inquiry, director of CFI’s legal programs, and CFI’s Representative to the United Nations; and Austin Dacey, a writer in New York and author of The Secular Conscience.
The occasion is the Center for Inquiry On Campus Leadership Conference — and, well, I’m reminiscing. It is hard to believe that ten years ago, I was in a secular humanist rock band with Araujo, Dacey, and a few other young skeptic/freethinkers called the House Judiciary Committee (it was the time of impeachment). I was the rhythm guitar player, though I didn’t have any rhythm. One of our hits? An instrumental called “Hook, Quine, and Pinker.”
My goals in Amherst are several. First, I’m going to give a talk to the young freethought advocates. It’s one I’ve only given once so far, entitled “Why Truth Loses: Understanding and Defeating the New War on Science.”
The first time I gave the talk was in Australia, and it was broadcast nationwide on the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). The talk itself originated because I had been invited out to address the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies‘ annual Science Meets Parliament event–why we don’t have one of these here, I have no idea–and I had 14 hours on a rather empty plane across the Pacific to figure out what to speak on. And so arose a speech that sort of combines The Republican War on Science, Unscientific America, and a lot of research I did about the history of science into a big-scale account of why the forces of reason all too often seem to get defeated, despite having the better arguments.
My second objective in Amherst is even more glorious — on Saturday, find a TV to watch the U.S. vs Ghana!
And then my third objective: Robert Price, my fellow Point of Inquiry host, is also going to be on hand. So I think the plan is that we’re going to record a live show together, on an as yet undisclosed topic. We’ll see.
So it should be quite a visit/adventure. In future posts, I’m going to say more about the “Why Truth Loses” talk, as I hope to start giving it more frequently — starting today.