Oxford in August — be there

I’m hoping to be able to make it to the World Humanist Congress next summer — I’m at the stage where I’ve convinced myself I must go, but am still moaning at the expense. Maybe if you guys all buy lots of copies of The Happy Atheist I’ll be more comfortable with swinging it; or alternatively, if a lot of you tell me you plan to be there, the pull of good company will sway me further.

Although…have you looked at the speaker roster? Grayling, Pullman, Singh, Edamaruku, Igwe — whoa. I need to go to this. I am desperately seeking something to bring aspiration and inspiration back to atheism, and this looks like the place.

Also, a vacation in England and Scotland is rather attractive.


  1. says

    I am committed to a week in Boston this summer, I really wish I could go to this thing in Oxford. That looks well worth the trip.

    As for funding, have you considered crowdsourcing it? You go to so many of these things on your own dime, maybe you should rattle the tipjar once or twice.

  2. Walton says

    I was initially interested when I read this, because Oxford is very easy for me to travel to. But no, £299 is way too much money to consider spending, and I can’t commit to it that far in advance, so the conference is not a possibility for me.

    However, if you wanted to have a UK Horde event of some sort while you’re here, there are a few of us in southern England.

  3. embertine says

    I’m afraid that, like Walton, that’s just too much money for me, even though I am close. I am very much up for attending a horde event though, although technically I am of the Ilk. ;)

  4. Louis says

    I second Walton in the UK Horde being able to host some PZ related event in that area (broadly speaking, London might be better….who knows). There are a goodly few of us. As for the £299 attendance fee, well one of these years I have to attend such a conference, might as well be one worth turning up to.


  5. says

    I would couple the visit to Oxford with a leisurely vacation — it’s been a while since I had one — so I’m certain there would be free time for a casual visit somewhere between the London airports and Edinburgh.

    And I’ll only charge £99 for my time! (Nah, just joking. Although I might consider couch-surfing with people to lighten my financial burden a bit.)

  6. says

    I bought two copies already… hardback(to pass around) and kindle(for me). I would certainly toss a few bucks into a crowdsource tip jar. UK£ 299 ~ US$ 471 … a lot of money. Humanists must be doing pretty well. Putting that price into perspective (for me) I paid US$ 350 this past August for a three day (12 hour days) scientific ‘immersion’ at Caltech. It included all meals and the food was excellent. The science was even better.


  7. graham says

    If you want to couch-surf I’ve just bought a really lovely sofa-bed. I live a couple of miles outside Oxford. I won’t be ‘attending’ as such as I’ll be volunteering. If you get a better offer (eg actually in Oxford) I won’t be offended. Sorry- not sure how to PM you.


  8. opposablethumbs says

    Not a cat’s chance of attending, but I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for any possible mention of any possible time in any possible pub in London (not sure how to manage any impossible pubs e.g. the Leaky Cauldron though).

  9. stevebowen says

    Yep I’ll be there. Looks like I’ll have to buy a dead tree version of The Happy Atheist so you can charge me the price of a pint to sign it… :)

  10. says

    Well, I’ve been thinking of getting back to Olde Blightey to see the cousins (and trying not to make it a 37-year gap between visits, like the last one!). And I do want to see some of the science-historical stuff in Oxford. (Two years ago, we did Downe House. Also Greenwich, but the Observatory was closed by the time we got there. And found out that my one of my cousins is a science enthusiast, who in retirement is taking a degree in Landscape Archaeology. British science stuff FTW!)

    So: WHC? HordeFest UK? Sounds like another enticement.

  11. graham says

    There are a few grants available:

    “Applicants should be from developing countries, or from countries with small organizations supporting Humanism or supporting Freedom of Thought and/or Freedom of Expression. Neither the applicant nor the organization s/he represents should be able to afford to cover the full costs of travel and congress participation. Priority will be given to applications from members of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) and the International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organization (IHEYO).”


  12. James says

    There are also flights going to Cardiff from London. Admittedly Cardiff isn’t quite as scenic as Edinburgh, but it does have a castle, plus some good transport links up into the Valleys, where Doctor Who’s studios can be found, and Caerphilly Castle.

    Right, that’s enough pimping of my country.

  13. Rich Woods says

    £299! I can stretch to a bus ticket to Oxford, but that’s my lot.

    @Gregory #1:

    I am committed to a week in Boston this summer, I really wish I could go to this thing in Oxford.

    I visit Boston most summers — the original Boston!

  14. Louis says


    I have a very decent and well appointed spare room for visitors and guests. I’d not even charge you to use the bathroom. I’m also within 20 mins of Heathrow (traffic permitting of course) and would be happy to offer you a few nights should you need them. Without triangulating my position too much, commutes to Oxford, sundry other southern UK locations etc are very simple from where I am. So if the offer is needed, there it is.


  15. Malachite says

    I live in Oxford. Long-time reader of Pharyngula but usually I just lurk. Very happy to be hospitable whilst you’re here – how about a punting trip (very traditional and lovely) up the river for you and any other of the horde who are around?

  16. says

    I let my brother know about this, he recently moved to the Abingdon area and I am sure he would be interested in this. I had no idea so many people on here lived in the area but everyone seems to be coming out of the woodwork now.

  17. Charlie Foxtrot says

    My dead tree THA arrived in the mail yesterday, safely encased in other dead tree, (and suitably accompanied by ‘The Demon Haunted World’)
    Read the first three chapters on the train this morning. Very enjoyable read, so I hope it helps you buy a decent English stout of some kind!

  18. kittehserf says

    Be careful out there, PZ. Oxford’s a dangerous place. Look how many murderers Inspectors Morse and Lewis arrested over the years. /English detective addict

  19. Rich Woods says

    @Gregory #16:

    You mean the one in the county named after our 16th President, right?

    That’s the one! Wow, I never knew that. ;-)

    I’ve got a reproduction of a 1610 map of Lincolnshire on my wall. I’d post a photo of it but I know you’d only say I’d photoshopped it.

    All that aside, I’m envious of your visit to Boston, Mass. I’ve been meaning to go since 1996 but reality keeps intruding. Shit, I’d even have to splash out on a new tourist guidebook now…