The History of Atheism, Feminism, and the Science of Brains
with Jennifer Michael Hecht
Tremendous hope and despair expressed here. Very first thing we can do to forward our goals is to show up.
Moderator: Stephanie Zvan
– Vyckie Garrison – No Longer Quivering. Ex Quiverfull, seven children, got out 5 years ago. Considered man to be head of the household
– Jamilla Bey – “You may not have noticed but I am an African American”. As irreligious, “statistically speaking I don’t exist”. At 4, realized compulsion to believe in Santa forced her to be good. Summary: Nonexistent black baptist muslim jew jehovah’s witness atheist.
– Theresa McBain – Exec director of a humanist organization. Came out as atheist at last year’s American Atheists conference, former pastor. Living as out is difficult. Working for change in Florida
– Maryam Namazie – *feedback, low mic volume* “God is against me today.” Name means prayer, muslims ask her to call herself Ex-Namazie. In islam, greatest humiliation is to be considered a woman. If people are challenged with death, then atheists will come out visibly and break the taboo.
Rebecca Goldstein wrote out her speech for this conference for the first time ever, agonized over whether to for the first time examine “the gender issue”. To examine whether her behaving as though the world doesn’t care that she’s a female was a good behaviour.
Set up late after the 20-min break. Missed opening.
Amanda Marcotte – Skeptics Love Challenging Popular Beliefs
Standing up to patriarchy is not easy, does not make you popular. Anti-secularists make everything about gender, about sexuality, moreso even than school prayer etc. Theocrats spend 90% of their time on gender-related issues.
Moderator: Desiree Schell
– Carrie Poppy of Oh No Ross & Carrie (Spent 5 months undercover in Raelian movement!)
– Sarah Moglia of Secular Student Alliance (has Crohn’s Disease and has pseudoscience foisted on her)
– Rebecca Watson of Skepchick (“Teen Skepchick is just like Skepchick without the profanity”)
– Amy Davis Roth of Skepchick, Mad Art Lab, aka Surly Amy (we’re all part of her art project if we have a Surly!)
Update: Ron Lindsay posted a transcript of his remarks, which is good because this liveblog doesn’t do the actual words spoken justice. I need to emphasize that this man used his opening remarks to tell women to stop being so forceful about getting people to stop talking over them and listening to them for once. That may not have been his intent, but it was the undeniable effect of the words, on their face, not misinterpretable.
Ron Lindsay: as a conference organizer and public speaker, perhaps this might help. Have you considered that when someone says “shut up and listen”, maybe that’s someone telling you — possibly for the nth time — that you’re over your allotted time and are chewing into the next person’s chance to speak? Have you considered that perhaps “shut up and listen” is an admonition against dominating the dialogue and turning it into a monologue, and advice on how to begin the process of listening to others?
1:30: Lauren Becker opens the conference!
CFI and Lauren (the Benevolent Dictator and Time Overlord) are very happy we all had the guts to show up and profess our lack of belief.
Q&A is being done by card/pen, write our questions and raise hands to give to staff and Lauren will read the questions from the floor.
The Availability Heuristic is a well-known cognitive bias that primes people to more readily believe something when they can easily come up with examples. Of the cognitive biases that I’ve encountered among rationalists in the skeptical and atheist communities, this bias is the one I’m most capable of coming up with examples. I am therefore primed to believe more readily that atheists and skeptics are not immune to this bias — myself included.
But there’s a little-discussed inverse to this bias, where examples are generally filtered out of one’s daily existence because they don’t impact on you directly, and thus, you are less ready to believe someone claiming to experience them. I call this the anti-availability heuristic, though I’m sure there are better names for it.