Dueling conferences

Begin the banjo music. You’ve got a difficult decision to face. There are two conferences going on simultaneously this weekend, and you should go to one!


Rock Beyond Belief

Midwest Science of Origins Conference

Venue: Fort Bragg, NC

Venue: Morris, MN

Headliner: Richard Dawkins

Headliner: Neil Shubin

Topic: Rock’n’Roll!


Date: 31 March

Date: 30 March-1 April

After objectively weighing the merits of both, I have come to the entirely impartial conclusion that you should all attend the Midwest Science of Origins Conference — after all, it’s 3 days long, and located in lovely Morris, which I swear is entirely thawed out already.

Of course, if you’re already somewhere south of Minnesota, and are concerned about the accommodations available in a town of 5,000 people, I suppose you could be forgiven for attending Rock Beyond Belief instead. I will allow it.

There is one other difference. Midwest Science of Origins Conference has been sailing along without controversy, fully supported by the university, and with a team of enthusiastic students contributing to the organization. On the other hand, Rock Beyond Belief has faced constant harassment : the latest nonsense comes from a frivolous administration that is telling RBB that they can’t have a food drive for the homeless. Why? I don’t know. Evangelical Christians were allowed to do all kinds of fundraising for their event, but apparently it’s OK to discriminate against godless atheists, even when they’re trying to do good for the community.

All right, I guess you should go to Rock Beyond Belief if you can, if just to piss off the whimsical jerks higher up the command chain. But the Midwest Science of Origins Conference is a solid second choice!

So we’ll see you in one place or the other, right?


  1. Gregory in Seattle says

    Psst! I’m pretty sure that RBB is the rock and roll one, and the science of origin is the science one. Or am I not getting the joke?

  2. Brownian says

    So we’ll see you in one place or the other, right?

    Only if you’re not trying to measure how fast I’m going.

  3. Mattir says

    I will be making a donation to National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (www.nchv.org) in honor of Rock Beyond Belief and encouraging everyone I know to do the same and label it as being in honor of RBB. I’m not military, I’m not going to RBB, and I’m offended by the last several years military responses to the very idea that atheists might actually exist and wish to have community groups.

    And after dealing with the severe exhaustion from Reason Rally, I think I’m ok to stay home this weekend.

  4. says

    Already going to RBB. Even if I weren’t, the cold up in MN is a bit of a hurdle for me. Cold runs a cheese grater down my throat. Repeatedly. On fire.

  5. stubby says

    It’s supposed to be in the low to mid 70’s this weekend in Morris. If anyone is on the fence, Morris has a Taco Johns and Dairy Queen. You’re welcome.

  6. gregpeterson says

    So…we’re going. My partner Lynn wasn’t able to make it to Reason Rally last weekend, so I went stag (so to speak), but we’re going together to the Midwest Origins Conference. Can’t make it until late Friday night, though, so we’ll miss Yosemite Zed (I assume the cowboy hat will be an ongoing fixture, part of the PZ persona ensem?). So we’ll miss that, which is unfortunate, but we’re pumped about the rest, especially Shubin.

    It might be kind of nice to hear lectures sitting in a room, all indoorsy and non-rainy and such. Oh, don’t get me wrong–I had the time of my short, unimportant life at the RR. A tribal lovefest I would not have wanted to miss. But my feet and legs still ache. I turned 50 not long ago. At least I had the sense to stay out of the pit during Bad Religion’s set…though I feel good about encouraging one teen to dive in. “Come on, dude. Do it now. Do it for me, cuz I no longer can.” And he let out his barbarian yalp and joined the wild rumpus.

    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly say ‘To-morrow is Reason Rally Day.’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Reason Rally day.’
    Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember, with advantages,
    What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
    Familiar in his mouth as household words-
    Richard Dawkins, Minchin and P. Zed,
    Savage and Graffin, Shermer and Krauss-
    Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Reaon Rally shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remembered-
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers (and sisters).

    But now I am ready to take up again civilized pursuits. Science, philosophy. Dry clothes, hot meals. SO thanks to all the folks who put this together, because this is making for one of the densest, most fertile, provocative and motivational times so far. You don’t have to be at Fort Bragg to rock.