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
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.
Fig. 4. Sam Harris (l.) and Andres Roemer, conference organizer (r.)
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.
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.)
Fig. 9. Philip Zimbardo, whose theme was “evil.” Here he poses appropriately with a margarita and a plate of the local delicacies.
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
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!
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.