Upcoming peregrinations

October 18, 2012 • 5:16 am

I’m announcing two trips a bit in advance (I leave next week for Boston) because the people in Mexico asked me to, and also because the second meeting has a bearing on a certain autographed book.  Finally, it’s to let you know that the press of preparation is keeping me from any substantive postings, so for a few weeks you’ll have to live on travel photos, contributed posts, and kittens.

First, for any readers who live in Mexico City or thereabouts, I’ll be at the second annual meeting of the very young but enthusiastic Mexican atheist organization, which takes place November 2 and 3. Since it’s time that we all learned to speak Spanish, here’s their description:

Fundada legalmente el pasado 12 de Noviembre de 2010 Ateos y Librepensadores Mexicanos es la primera asociación civil en México constituida con el propósito esencial de dar voz a las opiniones e inquietudes de las personas que no comparten o se identifican con ninguna religión o creencia sobrenatural y que basan su visión de la realidad en el uso de la razón.

A tough job in a religious country (Mexico is nearly as religious as the U.S.)

All the information about the meeting is hereThe speakers are a diverse and interesting group from both the U.S. and Mexico; my talk, which is on Nov. 3 at 1 p.m., will be about the evidence for evolution and why people disregard it.  That’s followed by some Mexican speaker named “Comida” with whom I’m not familiar (ONLY KIDDING), and then by the awesome Annie Laurie Gaylor.  Registration information is at the site.

I hope to make a lot of new friends from Mexico, and consume some good nomz. The organizers have kindly prepared a list of authentic local restaurants for me, so expect some food posts.

Second, right before Mexico I’m participating in a small meeting in a B&B in Stockbridge, MA, “Moving naturalism forward.” It was organized by physicist Sean Carroll, who saw a lot of debate on atheist/science/skeptical websites about free will, consciousness, determinism, the role of philosophy in science, and the roots of morality.  He thought it would be nice—and most of us agreed—for some of the more vocal people to get together and hash matters out in a small place.

The meeting is from Nov. 25-29, and isn’t open to the public, but the proceedings will be taped and made public. A lot of cool people will be there, including some old friends and some big names. I’m honored to be invited, but am a bit nervous since I’m supposed to help introduce the discussion of free will.  I will be going up—in terms of my anti-compatibilism, against philosophers like Dennett, Churchland, and Pigliucci—and so must prepare feverishly!  But it should be fun, since there are no lectures (just some “talking points” I raise at the beginning) and everyone can participate in every discussion.  I hope to learn a lot for the book I’m writing.

What this means for you, my alert readers, is that the presence of all these Big Guns in one place allows me the chance to get a copy of WEIT signed by many luminaries (everyone at the meeting, I hope). And when that special book is signed, I will auction it off here, with all proceeds going to the Official Website Charity, Doctors without Borders. It goes without saying that I will sign it, too, and add a special cat drawing. The book already bears a official genuine pawprint in ink of Baihu, Ben Goren’s cat, as well as a message from Ben.

So get out the WD-40 and loosen up those checkbooks.  In the meantime, indulge me if I don’t post as often, or as substantively, as usual.  And those of you who haven’t gotten your cat-illustrated copies of WEIT, please hold on until the end of November, when I return from the UK.

20 thoughts on “Upcoming peregrinations

  1. That sounds like great fun. I am sure there will be many interesting discussions. I hope the video and sound person does a good job. Hopefully whoever is responsible for that will arrange for a professional, or at least an accomplished amateur, to take care of that. Heck, I am sure you could find someone well qualified to do it for free, just for being able to listen in and hang out.

  2. Yes, we must share our Jerry with the world. DON’T hey sick!

    On “naturalism” – never let your opponents name you. Agenda item one — create you own terms. Study George Lakoff on this.

    Naturalism makes evidence-based knowledge sound like just another ideology. That is conceding ground before the battle is joined.

    1. Actually, the Mexicans are some of the best chefs on the planet. Jerry should be in heaven. And, no — Taco Bell isn’t Mexican food. Doesn’t even resemble Mexican food.

      Jerry, I’d appreciate if you could float the idea in Stockbridge that, what people are pointing to when they say they’re exercising their free will, is the multiple mental simulations of the likely outcomes of their decisions. That’s not to say that that’s what free will actually is, but that that’s what people are pointing to and mistrakenly labeling, “free will.”


      1. It’s not a mistake to use the same idioms your neighbors use to describe social phenomena. By definition, “free will” means what people are pointing to when they say the words “free will”. Language is defined by actual usage in everyday speech, not by armchair theorists who insist on parsing such idioms literally.

        1. While I generally agree with you, I think there’s a strong case to be made in the particular instance of “free will.”

          You see, the definition in everyday speech matches that used by many of the armchair theorists — specifically, the random-schmuck-on-the-street thinks that “free will” has something to do with a dualist extra-personal force that is somehow unconstrained by the laws of nature (whatever they may be) whilst simultaneously being other than random, and that it’s that form of free will that the arguments are all about.

          I’d liken it to an optical illusion…say, one of Escher’s, where everybody is arguing over whether or not the water wheel is a perpetual motion machine, all the while completely missing the point that it’s just a bunch of ink on the page that tricks your visual cortex into thinking it’s seeing a real three-dimensional image.




    2. What the hell are you talking about? What does the comment about “authentic local restaurants” mean?

      And what do you mean about ideology, and moving the merchandise.

      This all sounds quite snotty, so please explain what you mean before you can post here again.

  3. Wow! What a great and pertinent focus for a meeting of the vocal ones. Looking forward to its documentation.

    Not only is Mexican cuisine way up there as a highly esteemed cuisine, local restaurants often provide excellent examples of their country’s cuisine. Maybe not in America, but in most other countries, yes.

  4. I really miss good Mexican food. I was spoiled by living in New Mexico. The only other area of the country that I have found any Mexican food on a par with what was commonly available in New Mexico was in California. Where I live now the best Mexican food around isn’t a whole lot better than Taco Bell.

    In other words, you’re making me feel envious again.

    1. Ahh, so you DON’T live in my town! Tucson has 50+ Mexican restaurants so there’s bound to be one to suit your taste. I have a short list of regular favorite places…and I’ve learned to cook some of the things that I like best. Sonoran food is quite different from what you usually get in NM or CA, but equally good (I enjoy the others but I prefer the local style).

      As for Taco H*ll…Ewww, it’s better to go to bed hungry!

      1. Braggart! At the best (out of 2) Mexican restaurants here, their idea of ceviche is some rubbery, tastless, precooked, frozen, then thawed shrimp in an awful one note liquid that tastes like that cheap bottled lime juice, in the plastic squeeze bottle that looks like a lime, that has been watered down. It is so awful it borders on the criminal.

        Their chorizo con huevos with beans, rice and salad is a decent breakfast, especially after a workout, but that is about the only thing worth eating there.

  5. so must prepare feverishly

    Just re-read your own excellent posts! They certainly helped me clarify my own thoughts on free will.

  6. Your focus, energy and commitment is outstanding and I’m happy to hear your talk about anything. And as others have commented, your past posts would keep us going for a long time. 😉

  7. SO then Jerry…
    Sorry to mention this again, it is at this meeting that you will get RD’s signature, not at Oxford !

  8. While in Mexico ask your hosts to take you to 2 great restaurants: Farolito, which is a fantastic “taqueria” and to El Bajio, where you will find all kinds of typical Mexican food.
    I live in Mexico City so I am certified to recommend 🙂

Leave a Reply