From Puebla

November 9, 2009 • 7:08 am

I’m putting up my holiday snaps from the Ciudad de Las Ideas meeting in Puebla, Mexico, which ended yesterday.  As I said, the meeting was incredibly stimulating, well organized, and very plush.  It was fun playing “intellectual” for a couple of days, but I had to miss the Big God Debate yesterday, which included Dinesh d’Souza, Dan Dennett, Christopher Hitchens, Shmuley Boteach, Sam Harris, and Robert Wright.  I’m hoping for an account of this debate, which I’ll post here. In the interim, here are some candid photos.


Fig. 1.  Randy Cohen, the New York Times ethicist (l.), Barry Schwartz (r.), psychologist

Frans de Waal

Fig. 2. Frans de Waal, primatologist and popular author


Fig. 3.  Speaking truth to power.  JAC with Mario Marin, the governor of Puebla. He was accompanied by a phalanx of gun-toting guards in black, and the conference started an hour late because he hadn’t yet arrived.

Sam, Andres 470

Fig. 4.  Sam Harris (l.) and Andres Roemer, conference organizer (r.)

Dan susan 54

Fig. 5.  Dan and Susan Dennett.  The interviewer asked Dan one question: “Do we know what consciousness is?” Dan’s answer: “Yes, but it’s not what you think.”


Fig. 6.  Sam and Dan being lionized. All of us were constantly asked by Mexican students for autographs and photographs.

Bob Wright457

Fig. 7.  The good Rev. Robert Wright at the pulpit. We had a “talk.”


Fig. 8.  Andres Roemer (l.), Marc Hauser (c.), Lilan Hauser (r.)

P. Zimbardo

Fig. 9.  Philip Zimbardo, whose theme was “evil.” Here he poses appropriately with a margarita and a plate of the local delicacies.

Zimbardo dancing

Fig. 10.  As Zimbardo came onstage, the strains of “Evil Ways” by Santana blasted out of the loudspeaker. He threw away his cane and proceeded to boogie to the song, enlisting the whole audience to dance along. They did.


Fig. 11.  The picture that will ruin me.  With Dinesh d’Souza. I figured that since I chided P.Z. for posing with Michael Ruse, I should give him a chance to reciprocate. Unlike Ruse, however, Dinesh seemed like a nice guy. I shook the hand that fondled Ann Coulter!


Fig. 12. I made the papers! Here I am onstage, showing speciation on my fingers.  Above is Andres with the governor.


Fig. 13.  Hitch, sporting a poppy for Armistice Day and a Mexican flag in his lapel

Luis nd Barbara

Fig. 14.  Each of us was assigned a host to take care of us during our visit. Fortunately, I shared Luis Ramon and his wife Barbara Arana, who also tended Philip Zimbardo.  They were wonderful folks; many thanks to them!

JC plus Mole

Fig. 15.  GOOOOOOAL!!!!!  A plate of the local speciality, mole poblano, and a dark Mexican beer. Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!


Fig. 16.  Beside being the gastronomic capital of Mexico, Puebla is dotted with colonial churches, many of them clad in brick and the local tiles. Here’s one.

16 thoughts on “From Puebla

  1. Those are some wonderfully vibrant photos; looks like you had a great time.

    Zimbardo doing the boogie, Hitch trying to look well-behaved! I especially liked the one with Mario Marin, who didn’t seem quite ready for the scientist to put his arm around his esteemed personage. I’ll bet his guards flinched when Jerry did that!

  2. Those badges are at least readable. Good call. I hate having to squint (not that I’ve been at a conference in years).

    Unlike Ruse, however, Dinesh seemed like a nice guy.

    You need to pay better attention. And count your internal organs.

  3. Actually, Fig. 11 is harmless. The one I think you don’t want to be in is Fig. 3. The fact that the whole event had to wait for him should give you a hint regarding what’s his idea of “serving the people.”

    1. If I were an elected official in Mexico, I would also have a phalanx of gun-toting guards. There are way too many assassinations of officials in that country.

      Did the Governor request that the conference wait for his arrival or was that decided by the organizers?

  4. I fear your name and personage are forever sullied! d’Souza is soo much more irritating than Ruse. I can’t even stand to listen to him.

  5. “I shook the hand that fondled Ann Coulter!”
    Oh, for god’s sake!!Was that statement really neccessary? That one’s gonna hang on my frontal lobe for a while.
    Did it seem as though some of his essence had been sucked out through that hand? Was it dry and cold? Did you ask him if it was like groping a deflated vinyl balloon filled with old rusted railroad spikes? Maybe a crusty old pillow case full of broken curtain rods?
    AAAAAGGGGHHH! Stop it! Stop it! Stop thinking about it!

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