Make plans for ReasonFest now!


On 19-20 September, cool things will be going on in Winnipeg — you all should come! I’ll be there…OK, you’re unimpressed. Hector Avalos will be there! And Stephanie Zvan! Greta Christina, too! All kinds of Canadians! And it should be well before the first snow! (That is, chances of being snowed in and trapped in Manitoba for the entire winter are fairly low. Also, the polar bears don’t usually come down that far south. And just the average fraction of Canadians live in igloos there.)

This is also far enough ahead that you can tell me in the comments what I should talk about. Go ahead, anything goes.


  1. says

    Sorry, much cooler things are happening in Winnipeg next month. FIFA Women’s World Cup (soccer). That’s all the traveling to Winnipeg I can afford.

  2. voyager says

    That is nearly the END of September. Snow is definitely possible PZed. Bring warm clothes. No really, bring warm clothes.

  3. chigau (違う) says

    Minnesota and Manitoba are side by each.
    There are no big weather changes across the 49th.

  4. azpaul3 says

    Since you asked…

    Other speakers on the program may address the present fragmentation of the Atheist Community at large. As a leading voice in the community your views on the subject would be of great interest in this conference. Right now your opinions are strewn across multiple blog posts. This talk could be a comprehensive review of those opinions.

    Or, you could give an even higher level view.

    Atheism may simply be non-belief but the underlying rationally-based analysis of the evidence that inevitably leads to this non-belief conclusion is the more important aspect of the philosophy. This same discipline applied to other topics should likewise lead the critical thinker to rational evidence-based conclusions.

    Without this, atheism is just an emotional tenant that becomes a peg upon which other emotional tenants, many irrational, are hung. The present fragmentation in the Atheist Community is not atheism but is the result of people’s emotion-laden faulty analysis of these other issues.

    Or whatever.

    The point of the suggestion is for you to plant a stake in the ground, what is atheism, what is not atheism, where atheism should lead and where it could not possibly go.

    Or, you could show slides and videos of funny cat things. Do squid eat cats?

  5. jhm says

    Two suggestions:

    I. I’m not sure what the state of the art is on the subject, but let us say that speciation occurs when two groups no longer interbreed (and never will again, eventually, because they cannot). From this point, their individual genes start to change, even though their purpose and structure are similar. Now let us consider on a larger scale of time, say the split which occurred when various modern day kingdoms separated. I assume this was at least a billion years ago since the respective lines had no meaningful interaction (might be horrible mistaken here); what force makes the DNA molecule itself stable across these different divergent paths? Is it simply too much of a leap, after the basic chemistry has been laid down? or is it some other factor which dissuades changes in otherwise separate systems? Is there no hypothetical modification to the DNA molecule’s structure (not matter how unlikely) which would realize efficiency gains and which therefore might be selected for?

    II. Perhaps a bit less ridiculously, I heard about a paradox involving the complexity of an organism being negatively correlated to the amount of DNA it possess. My first thought was whether this was total DNA or actual coding DNA. My second thought was what exactly was meant by ‘complexity.’ Is it being more complex if fewer actual genes are needed to perform a similar number of functions? It seemed to me that the paradox assumed that more recently evolved organisms (e.g., people) were more ‘complex’ than, say, plants; but without any real justification. Is there a commonly accepted definition of an organisms complexity, and what is the significance of this ‘paradox?’

  6. says

    I’ve been looking for an excuse to visit Manitoba, and this might be my chance. Would anyone be interested in rooming together?

  7. says

    Not sure if you could address this, but an interesting talk might be about the hierarchy of science. So many of the issues surrounding social justice are answered by the so-called “soft” sciences that get less respect.

  8. ck, the Irate Lump says

    And it should be well before the first snow!

    Should be, but weather patterns recently has been… erratic. It’s May and we haven’t received any snow this month (so far), but it’s still cold, and the trees don’t seem to quite to know what to make of things.

  9. jhm says

    ‘Nother suggestion:

    Let’s hypothesize an organism and an environment wherein some trait, which in the main is somewhat unhelpful, nevertheless becomes very beneficial to have in the population during rare and short, but inevitable periods of time. I might be totally off base, but this doesn’t seem like an unreasonable situation. Is there some mechanism in which a trait is preserved (either in individuals in the population, or dormant or unexpressed in the genome), because populations which did so were able to ride out the straits? How would this preservation of normally counterproductive traits work (or would it?)