What we're about

"The most formidable weapon against errors of every kind is reason. I have never used any other, and I trust I never shall." —Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American revolutionary, pamphleteer, and atheist, "The Age of Reason"

Had enough of astrologers, psychics, homeopaths, and spirit channelers? Yearning to talk with someone rational for awhile? Meet up with other local skeptics for some refreshing and sane conversation.

If you've got some kind of event or opportunity that's commensurate with what we're about (as described below), we'd love to hear about it and publicize it to our 1000+ members. E-mail your idea to RichardSRussell@tds.net and we'll either schedule it or explain why not.

What is a skeptic, anyway? It's someone who lives by the Missouri state motto: "Show me!". Does some claim seem too good (or amazing) to be true? Well, that's because it's probably not. Having an open mind isn't the same as having holes in your head.

OTOH, doubting everything makes you a cynic, and suspecting everybody makes you a conspiracy theorist. Skeptics who ARE shown something are willing to accept it. A couple of cases in point:

(1) Even little kids notice that the east coast of South America and the west coast of Africa look like jigsaw-puzzle pieces that should fit together. DID they, at one time? In the early 20th Century, skeptics scoffed at the idea. "Just coincidence", they said. And rightly so. There was no known mechanism for how anything that big could be moved. Then Alfred Wegener showed evidence that continental drift had definitely happened, and later Arthur Holmes explained how plate tectonics was the mechanism behind it. With those in hand, skeptics were convinced.

(2) For most of human existence, people believed the Earth was only a few tens of thousands of years old. Skeptics concurred. If the Sun were made of wood or coal or petroleum, it couldn't possibly keep burning for much longer than that. But there was all this other geological evidence that indicated the planet was millions, if not billions of years old. What to believe? Skeptics openly admitted they didn't have the answers. But as soon as we discovered the amazing amounts of energy that could be produced by nuclear fusion, the source of the Sun's longevity was revealed, and skeptics settled in on the proper scientific answer.

We skeptics take our cues from people like the Nobel-winning physicist Richard Feynman, who pointed out: "I have argued flying saucers with lots of people. I was interested in this: they keep arguing that it is possible. And that's true. It IS possible. They do not appreciate that the problem is not to demonstrate whether it's possible or not, but whether it's going on or not."

In other words, "show me".

Upcoming events (5)

Classifying God Time

Online event

THIS WILL BE A VIRTUAL MEETING CONDUCTED OVER ZOOM!!! A link will be sent out at noon on the day of the event to everyone who has RSVPed before then. How do you spend your day? More generally, how do you spend your entire time on Earth? It’s possible to classify all your activities into a few broad categories: (1) basic biology (eating, drinking, sleeping, excreting, giving birth, dying) (2) productive (work, original thinking, household chores, shopping, arts and crafts, hobbies) (3) informative (including both learning and teaching) (4) enjoyable (examples too numerous to mention, but certainly including socializing) (5) restful (altho recreation would go under “enjoyable” rather than here) (6) useless (for example, waiting around for someone else to finish getting dressed) (7) awful (being tortured or persecuted; dealing with illness, injury, or loss; arguments and fights; being insulted or demeaned) Clearly, if you were to do a Venn diagram of these categories, there’d be quite a few overlapping circles. Kicking back with a good book, for instance, could be productive, informative, and enjoyable all at once. But ”useless” and “awful” seem to be off in a little corner of their own. If an activity could plausibly fall into one of the first 5 categories, it has to be useful to SOME extent. And, for all of the hyperbole about “work is hell” or “wage slavery”, does anybody seriously consider those to be awful in the same sense as a car wreck or a thumbscrew? (Altho, to be fair, ACTUAL slavery was both productive and awful.) The question before us tonight is how to classify “God time” — church attendance, prayer, rituals like baptism or saying the rosary, confession, auto-flagellation, etc. Are there any of these that don’t qualify as useless? Or perhaps awful? In free-form discussion, we’ll consider the first 5 categories above, one at a time, and talk about whether it could arguably include any of these “God time” activities.

Post-Election Bull Session

Online event

THIS WILL BE A VIRTUAL MEETING CONDUCTED OVER ZOOM!!! A link will be sent out at noon on the day of the event to everyone who has RSVPed before then. One week earlier than usual, to dodge around Thanksgiving. Since nobody will be talking about anything else after the 2020 election BUT the 2020 election, let’s just give in to reality and have a free-form discussion of how it all shook out. No program, no handouts, just open mic for any observations anyone feels like making.

A Natural End on a Natural Path

Online event

THIS WILL BE A VIRTUAL MEETING CONDUCTED OVER ZOOM!!! A link will be sent out at noon on the day of the event to everyone who has RSVPed before then. The Linda and Gene Farley Center for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability (http://farleycenter.org) is located on 43 acres of rolling hills in the Town of Springdale just outside of Verona, Wisconsin. It is dedicated to making the world a better place while respecting the natural world. Its major source of revenue is natural burial in its Natural Path Sanctuary (http://naturalpathsanctuary.org). That enables the foundation to support local farmers and artisans and its expansive educational activities, including everything from beekeeping to juvenile corrections. The center’s director, Shedd Farley, will explain the philosophy and practice behind natural burial as well as the history of how the center came to be.

The God Quiz

Online event

THIS WILL BE A VIRTUAL MEETING CONDUCTED OVER ZOOM!!! A link will be sent out at noon on the day of the event to everyone who has RSVPed before then. How likely are you to NOT believe in God? It turns out that there’s a short quiz that provides a fairly reliable idea of that. We’ll begin the evening’s proceedings by all taking that quiz,* then discussing the results and their implications. To learn any more, you’ll have to show up for the event. ––––– *Nobody will be graded on the quiz.

Past events (558)

Conspiracy Theories

Online event

Photos (260)

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