Midwest Science of Origins conference…all done!

I’m extremely impressed with this group of students, the organizers of the first ever #msoc.

They pulled it off: they brought in a great lineup of speakers, Marco Peloso, Michael Wilson, Dan Demetriou, and Neil Shubin,* who did a fine job of explaining how science works, why we’ve got the answers we do, and the importance of scientific thinking. A special thanks to Neil Shubin, a scholar and a gentleman who made a major effort to support a student run event.

They also drew in a respectable number of community and regional citizens. I’m so used to having science events in Morris, and the usual suspects — students and faculty of our science and math division — show up, but no one else. These two days I looked out at the audience in wonder, because I didn’t recognize most of the people!

Another bit of good news is that in that collection of student organizers are a fair number of sophomores and juniors…they aren’t all graduating this year. And what that means is continuity and experience, ripe for MIDWEST SCIENCE OF ORIGINS II! You didn’t really think we were completely done, did you? There will be another, even if I have to take a whip to the students (which I won’t, since they were all totally enthusiastic and disciplined about this one).

One last note of appreciation: I have to thank Answers in Genesis for making it all possible. It was Terry Mortenson’s lies and ignorance, proudly paraded in a series of church-sponsored lectures last year, that outraged these students and inspired them to respond productively, bringing in scientists to report the facts accurately, rather than that awful creationist propagandist. Good work, Ken Ham! It’s amazing how effective you are at motivating young scientists to fight back!

Although, speaking of Terry Mortenson, one thing I noticed at that lecture was that the church was packed: where were you church attendees this weekend? You missed an opportunity to learn something. But don’t worry, like I said, there will be another chance next year at #msoc2.

*I know, they know…all men. They tried to get more diversity in the speakers, but this conference was assembled on a shoestring, and there were other speakers who turned them down. Next time, with a proven track record, the hope is they’ll be able to get more money and be able to afford speakers from elsewhere other than the upper midwest, and also get more positive responses. First time events are hard, but now we’ve got momentum.


  1. janine says

    Said it before and I will say it again. Neil Shubin’s book Your Inner Fish is one of my very favorite books of recent years.

  2. says

    Although, speaking of Terry Mortenson, one thing I noticed at that lecture was that the church was packed: where were you church attendees this weekend?

    Reading Dawkins, of course. Because they are intensely interested in everyone knowing both sides. When anyone other than themselves were listening.

    So reading Dawkins at home didn’t take too long, really.

    Glen Davidson

  3. MG Myers says

    Woo hoo! Very successful conference! I’m looking forward to Midwest Science of Origins II.

  4. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    PZ, Ophelia says ur in a church with Chris Stedman right now. I demand an expeditious report on what the little weasel had to say.

  5. dano says

    Congrats on what sounded like a great event (at least for Atheists). Even though I do not agree I am glad you were able to get together and even spent some time in a church. Wow now that was memory I bet. Cheers!

  6. MG Myers says

    Very nice summary of the conference, michaelb! Thanks for sharing the link.

  7. says

    There’s actually a great free conference in my area for once, and I couldn’t go! :( But at least one member from the SCSU SSA affiliate attended, and the group stopped by in St. Cloud on the way back, raving about how awesome it all was. Congrats to the Morris student organizers…I can’t remember which one of you I met at the MN Atheist’s hosting of Jen McCreight last month, but you were great. Don’t forget to apply for a Best Award from the national SSA – you deserve one!