What we're about

Tired of spending your evening socializing with others talking about the weather, your job, or the big game. Prefer to have a deep and meaningful conversation instead? We could talk about politics, science, spirituality, the environment, the male/female relationship, or the nature of the universe. Heck, we could even have a meaningful conversation about meaninglessness.

Come join us, help us choose something fun and meaningful to talk about, and lets get in there deep over a cup of tea, or a beer if it suits.

If you are just looking for a good argument, this group is not for you. But if you are craving some good conversation and truly want to communicate and learn from other peoples perspectives. . .

Join us for a good, deep, meaningful, time.

Note: this group maintains an anti-cult stance. For information about cults, how to identify them, how to avoid them, and what to do if someone you know is involved with one, I have found that http://www.cultinformation.org.uk/home.html (http://www.cultinformation.org.uk/home.html) is a good starting point.

Upcoming events (5+)

Identity Politics

Shaw's

I gave up on the Meetup method of charging an annual fee after they stole $15 from me without authorization. This Meetup costs me roughly $180/year to run. If you can afford to contribute $5/year, that would be helpful. If you suddenly need to change your RSVP from Yes to No, I understand, but doing this an hour or two before the event makes it almost impossible for those on the waiting list to attend. Please try to make a final decision about attending by late on Saturday if you can. We meet in the Community Room at the Shaws at the intersection of routes 189 and 7; the Community Room is at the parking lot end of aisle 2. The room is often cool, so you might want to bring a sweater, even during the summer. --- Identity Politics (IP) occurs when people group together, using one of their characteristics or beliefs (age, skin color, culture, gender, belief system, language, locale of origin, job type) to create a political group. Think of the AARP, black power, the Jewish lobby, the Quebec separatist parties, Feminism, etc. For people my age, IP has been a common thread throughout our lives. The Baby Boomers expected special treatment. The efforts to get people-of-color the same rights as the whites. Acceptance of non-traditional sexual orientations. Feminism and the glass ceiling. Hispanic signage here and French signage in Quebec. The newly renewed general recognition of the obligation of those in power to treat those with less power respectfully, in a variety of ways (which has origins that are centuries old). So, IP seems natural to some of us, especially those of us who consider themselves to be a member of an at-risk group (women, people of color, Jews, older, etc). In fact, we might feel that we belong to more than one such group, and those groups might not have common goals. But there are some who find IP to be dangerous. When we stop thinking as "people" and rather think of one power block against another, we lose something. Sam Harris is one of the most vocal advocates for the end of IP. It is "a dead end". "We need to build a viable global civilization." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w0vEQBxbgU https://samharris.org/podcasts/134-beyond-politics-race/ The following is from a forum discussion: IP is "a way of thinking in which you define yourself by your membership in a specific group or grouping, often but not always defined by skin color or sexuality. Rather than identifying yourself as an individual who is dealing with a mass of other individuals, all of whom share a common humanity, you view yourself as defined by your race or sexuality or ideology. Related to this idea is the belief that the only people who can understand your lived experience are people who share the same skin color or sexuality, etc, that you do." From this it follows that I cannot understand what it is to be a woman, or black, or Catholic. That claim or belief can lead to frustration as each group claims to own their particular truth. Is IP "obviously" good or bad? Is it just necessary while there is inequality, but could be shelved once everyone is equal (yeah, I know: I'm being both way too optimistic and I'm not defining my terms clearly). Is IP as old as the hills, or something new? Are you a member of an IP group? How and why is that important to you? Do you feel that IP is helping the country (or the world) or is causing problems?

Rethinking Human Sexuality

Shaw's

I gave up on the Meetup method of charging an annual fee after they stole $15 from me without authorization. This Meetup costs me roughly $180/year to run. If you can afford to contribute $5/year, that would be helpful. If you suddenly need to change your RSVP from Yes to No, I understand, but doing this an hour or two before the event makes it almost impossible for those on the waiting list to attend. Please try to make a final decision about attending by late on Saturday if you can. We meet in the Community Room at the Shaws at the intersection of routes 189 and 7; the Community Room is at the parking lot end of aisle 2. The room is often cool, so you might want to bring a sweater, even during the summer. --- This topic was suggested by James, and he will lead the Discussion. In everyday life, most people assume that sex and gender have a binary existence…that there are two sexes – male and female – and two genders – feminine and masculine. How appropriate and universally applicable are these categories? Many in the rainbow community dislike the binary categorisation of gender, preferring the concepts of a ‘gender spectrum’ and ‘gender fluidity’. But the long reach of binary categorisation still persists. Are the labels ‘male’ and ‘female’ sufficient and are the four sexual orientations associated with them – heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual and asexual – in fact, completely explanatory and inclusive? Sexual orientation is defined in terms of an individual’s romantic and sexual attraction to persons of the opposite sex, the same sex, of both sexes, or none at all. But human behaviour is more complex than this. What about the people who are physically attracted to non-operative trans men and trans women? This is a reality for many trans people. The fact is that many trans people do not have sex reassignment surgery. They transform their bodies, but retain their birth genitals. Many trans people can be described as ‘women with a penis’ or ‘men with a vagina’. What is the sexual orientation of the people who are attracted to them? This is where the concept of ambisexuality comes in. And the goal of promoting education, understanding and inclusion Let’s discuss what we know about sexual orientation. There may be more colours to the rainbow than you think.

Rationality

Shaw's

Boilerplate: I gave up on the Meetup method of charging an annual fee after they stole $15 from me without authorization. This Meetup costs me roughly $180/year to run. If you can afford to contribute $5/year, that would be helpful. If you suddenly need to change your RSVP from Yes to No, I understand, but doing this an hour or two before the event makes it almost impossible for those on the waiting list to attend. Please try to make a final decision about attending by late on Saturday if you can. Some people are naturally outspoken, but others are not. If you are outspoken, please try to say your piece and then hold back a bit so that those who are less forceful get a chance to participate easily. We meet in the Community Room at the Shaws at the intersection of routes 189 and 7; the Community Room is at the parking lot end of aisle 2. The room is often cool, so you might want to bring a sweater, even during the summer. --- Our group takes rationality as a fundamental premise; our intellectual conversations use terms like cause and effect and our explanations are usually required to be "rational". The following podcast (WHICH YOU MUST LISTEN TO in order to participate in this Discussion) intrigued me when the participants explained that the arguments used against rationality are, themselves, inherently rational. How could one argue against rationality except using rational arguments? https://soundcloud.com/instituteofartandideas/e160-the-right-way-to-think-paul-boghossian-mary-jane-rubenstein-alister-mcgrath Let's discuss the issues that came up in the podcast!

Is Obama Articulate?

Shaw's

Boilerplate: I gave up on the Meetup method of charging an annual fee after they stole $15 from me without authorization. This Meetup costs me roughly $180/year to run. If you can afford to contribute $5/year, that would be helpful. If you suddenly need to change your RSVP from Yes to No, I understand, but doing this an hour or two before the event makes it almost impossible for those on the waiting list to attend. Please try to make a final decision about attending by late on Saturday if you can. Some people are naturally outspoken, but others are not. If you are outspoken, please try to say your piece and then hold back a bit so that those who are less forceful get a chance to participate easily. We meet in the Community Room at the Shaws at the intersection of routes 189 and 7; the Community Room is at the parking lot end of aisle 2. The room is often cool, so you might want to bring a sweater, even during the summer. --- A few months ago, I observed that Obama was/is an articulate man. I was gently admonished, because saying that a black man is articulate can be seen as a backhanded compliment. It implies that blacks are normally considered to be inarticulate. Who knew So, the general pattern appears to be this: take a group (blacks, Jews, poor people), pick a characteristic that is stereotypically attributed to them (inarticulate, cheap, lazy) and then create a compliment from that combination (a black man is articulate; a Jew is generous; a poor person is full of energy), and then consider that compliment to be an insult. Think of all of the groups that you can, and all of the stereotypical characteristics that you can for those groups. Then fabricate compliments that are counterfactual to the stereotypes. And then let's discuss them all. Which of them really feels like an insult? Which feel "OK"? Why? Is there a way to compliment someone that avoids this "trap"? Who gets to control this situation where a compliment is re-framed to be an insult? If, as a Jew, someone says "I like your nose", am I entitled to outrage? Let's get into it, in a thoughtful and kind-hearted way.

Past events (467)

The Origins of Violence

Shaw's

Photos (6)