The Amazing Meeting 2014

Like it? Share it!

Sign up for news and updates!






Enter word seen below
Visually impaired? Click here to have an audio challenge played.  You will then need to enter the code that is spelled out.
Change image

CAPTCHA image
Please leave this field empty

Login Form



JREF at the Reason Rally PDF Print E-mail
Swift
Written by Brian Thompson   

Last Saturday an estimated 20,000 people packed into Washington, D.C.'s National Mall for the Reason Rally, and we're proud to say the JREF was there in full force. JREF founder, James Randi himself, was one of the event's keynote speakers, sharing the stage with other well-known academics, activists, and entertainers who worked to spotlight the growing secularist movement devoted to fostering a more reasonable world. Many of our Amazing Meeting regulars were on the bill, including Richard Dawkins, Adam Savage, R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Michael Shermer, Paul Provenza, and Sean Faircloth, and other friends of the JREF also appeared, including the the inimitable comedian Tim Minchin. Close friend of Randi's, Penn Jillette, appeared via video, as did comedian Bill Maher.

rr-previews-077
James Randi speaks to the crowd. (photo courtesy Ingrid Laas)

We were very pleased to see the wet weather didn't dampen the enthusiasm of those who stopped by the JREF's table in the main exhibitors' tent. Along with our president D.J. Grothe and gregarious JREF volunteer Rick Gibson, I was able to meet so many wonderful supporters of our skeptical mission, and we distributed thousands of our educational and promotional materials to thousands of visitors to our exhibition booth at the event. As great as it was to see some familiar faces from past Amazing Meetings, skeptical meetups, and lectures, I was especially heartened to meet hundreds of new people who have been avid followers of James Randi and the JREF for years and years, but who haven't yet gotten involved with the JREF directly.

rr-previews-080
Randi with JREF president D.J. Grothe and Reason Rally emcee Paul Provenza looking on. (photo courtesy Ingrid Laas)

Randi himself stopped by the JREF table during the rally and spent hours happily posing for hundreds of photos and chatting with anyone who wanted to meet him. One fan even showed off his tattoo of the JREF logo!

Special thanks to David Silverman and the whole, tireless team of organizers who worked hard to make sure the Reason Rally was as huge a success as it turned out to be. We are more optimistic than ever that the rationality the JREF and our peer organizations work to promote in society might well be contagious and continue to catch on.

rr-previews-100
An enormous and enthusiastic crowd. (photo courtesy Ingrid Laas)

 

Brian Thompson is the Field Coordinator for the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Trackback(0)
Comments (26)Add Comment
...
written by ThatSkepticGuy, March 29, 2012
"as did comedian Bill Maher."

*deep breath*

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +8
..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
..., cont.
written by SheldonHelms, March 30, 2012
Wow, popsaw! You're as deluded about this issue as you are about the existence of a god. First of all, just because some group attends a rally that's run by atheists doesn't mean that that group is proving itself to BE an atheist organization. Did you hear Randi's speech? If now, how do you know whether he was there to express religious ideas in one direction or the other?

Moreover, you said, "reason obviously being the preserve [sic] of the atheist/secularist." Are you admitting now that "reason" is for atheists and irrationality is for believers? If that's not what you meant, then I have Dr. Freud on the line with some bad news.

Lastly, you don't seem to understand how science works. (Big surprise, I know.) The JREF takes no position in things like how the universe came into existence. The truth is, no one fully knows how that happened. It's possible that the universe has always existed. It could be that the universe comes into and out of existence over and over, and has done so for all time. But since we don't yet have the answer, scientific thinkers (like those at the JREF) simply say, "We don't yet know." That's also well within the spirit of the Null Hypothesis. The ones being truly NONscientific, and who need to bring EVIDENCE to the table are people like you who make a claim that some deity/entity/power/intelligence was involved. Where is this spirit you believe in? By what means have you measured its (note how to spell that word, by the way) existence? Since you cannot provide that evidence, then it is YOU who are being unscientific and irrational. In other words, you're being unREASONable.

See ya in church!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +7
..., Lowly rated comment [Show]
Ohhh popsaw
written by I-Wonder, March 30, 2012
As pointed out to you many times, the JREF makes no claims about origins. The JREF claims that finding out about origins will occur faster with less ignorance and superstition in the world. The JREF does not hold that the universe was not created; it holds that, to date, the varied claims of a creator which currently burden our society have been sufficiently proven unfounded; in point of fact quite clearly demonstrated to be founded in ignorance and superstition.

As for me, I believe religon is a scam and a racket

Happily, you seem in total agreement with a key principle of the JREF and the key principle of the Reason Rally: Government functions best as the influence of religion superstition and ignorance is decreased.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
@I wonder
written by popsaw, March 30, 2012
"As pointed out to you many times, the JREF makes no claims about origins. The JREF claims that finding out about origins will occur faster with less ignorance and superstition in the world."

This is a false statement in my opinion since the the JREFs alignment with the atheistic 'Reason Rally' takes the foundation out of the 'neutral zone' and places it squarely in the atheistic zone. How can you deny this? Do you not see the point of my KKK illustration? The JREF has clearly taken the position that the universe does not exist due to ID. Do the JREF attend Intelligent design Rallies "to spotlight the growing ID movement devoted to fostering a more reasonable world?"

"The JREF does not hold that the universe was not created "

So you are suggesting that whilst the JREF is busying itself at atheist conventions and giving keynote speeches, praising Richard Dawkins, Adam Savage, R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Michael Shermer, Paul Provenza, and Sean Faircloth, the conclusion a reasonable person would draw is "Yes, this is a neutral position to take and this orgnization does not reject intelligent design at all?"
Don't pee down my back and tell me it's raining!



report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -4
...
written by I-Wonder, March 30, 2012
To clarify, I don’t speak for the JREF. I only pretend, in argument, for the sake of convenience

This is a false statement in my opinion since the the JREFs alignment with the atheistic 'Reason Rally' takes the foundation out of the 'neutral zone' and places it squarely in the atheistic zone.
This is an almost masterfully crafted, compound false premise, obfuscated by intentionally ill-defined terms. You co-opt and then abuse the term “neutral zone”, because it’s a vaguely positive sounding place to be. Neutrality about ignorance versus non-ignorance is ignoble. The JREF is not neutral about ignorance. Opportunistically, you implicitly define (in your own way) the term “Atheistic”, and then tag the Reason Rally with that moniker. Get back to us when you get the official definition from the World Atheist Association headquarters.
How can you deny this? Do you not see the point of my KKK illustration?
Someday, after some more personal growth, I’m confident you’ll be able to grasp the subtle distinction between association with the KKK and association between folks with overlapping values.
The JREF has clearly taken the position that the universe does not exist due to ID.
Repeating; the JREF holds that claims for ID, to date, have been unfounded. Is this distinction also too subtle? Importantly, your comfort level with cognitive dissonance (prominent within the faith community) illustrates why the JREF rarely, directly concerns itself with evaluating religious claims (except for the occasional weeping statue.) In the area of religion, the delusions, shielded by many layers of psychosis, are so pervasive that this kind of (ugh..) “dialog” can smother the prime mission of advancing critical thinking and reducing superstition everywhere in society.
Do the JREF attend Intelligent design Rallies "to spotlight the growing ID movement devoted to fostering a more reasonable world?"
A faith movement devoted to reason? Show us one of those rallies! I hope they wear safety glasses. That much dissonance would shatter wine glasses for blocks around. (As Kitzmiller v. Dover reminds us, ID is Creationism is theology - faith.)

….this orgnization does not reject intelligent design at all?" … Don't pee down my back and tell me it's raining!
Such ID claims, to date, have proven unfounded. Maybe tomorrow a new ID claim will surface that survives reasonable scrutiny. It’s possible. It’s similarly possible that I will track you down and pee down your back, but you don’t carry an umbrella throughout your day to protect against that happening. See….you’re also an “atheist” about something that’s possible. Why are you so closed-minded?
smilies/smiley.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by I-Wonder, March 30, 2012
arghh. Sorry for the poor line spacing...
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
@ IWonder.
written by popsaw, March 31, 2012
"Get back to us when you get the official definition from the World Atheist Association headquarters. "
Words are defined in dictionaries and not by organizationsf the word.If I want to know the meaning of the word Billionaire, must I ask Donald Trump?
The word atheist is well defined and understood as follows.."Definition of ATHEIST: one who believes that there is no deity "

Repeating; the JREF holds that claims for ID, to date, have been unfounded"

That on it's own would constitute partiality but when considering the JREF's partialityin the matter of atheism, it has clearly taken a position by aligning itself with the Reason Rally.
All of the aforementioned constitutes a body of evidence that would convince a neutralJury that the JREF supports atheism yet does not suport ID. Hardly neutral!
Incidentally, your strident defence of the 'charges' I have made against the JREF cause me to believe that you feel neutrality is paramount. If however I.D. is unfounded and the atheistic view is the truth, why remain neutral?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -3
...
written by I-Wonder, March 31, 2012
Sorry I was so cryptic…that was sarcasm, begging for stipulation to the obvious lack of unanimity over the definition. The WAA doesn’t really exist.

”The word atheist is well defined and understood as follows.."Definition of ATHEIST: one who believes that there is no deity "

You’re not trying very hard. That’s one definition. There are others. Can you find out about them? I think you’re up to it; in fact Wikipedia has quite a good section on the term. After you learn about the other definitions, I wonder which of those you can find in the Reason Rally’s sacred text? Wait…never mind, I think they left that section out. All I can seem to find is repeated references to Secularism.......hmmm.


”Repeating; the JREF holds that claims for ID, to date, have been unfounded"


”That on it's own would constitute partiality but when considering the JREF's partialityin the matter of atheism, it has clearly taken a position by aligning itself with the Reason Rally.
All of the aforementioned constitutes a body of evidence that would convince a neutralJury that the JREF supports atheism yet does not suport ID. Hardly neutral!”


Spectacular! We are in significantagreement! The JREF has taken a position by aligning itself with the Reason Rally, and the JREF does not support ID. As for atheism, well, (as demonstrated – once again - by your difficulty with linguistics and nuance) it’s too fraught to be a specific part of the JREF mission.

”Incidentally, your strident defence of the 'charges' I have made against the JREF cause me to believe that you feel neutrality is paramount. If however I.D. is unfounded and the atheistic view is the truth, why remain neutral?”

Neutrality is neither paramount, nor actual-mount smilies/smiley.gif. Neutrality in defense of reason is no virtue, and the JREF is not neutral in the face of current ID proponent’s claims.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by popsaw, March 31, 2012
"You’re not trying very hard. That’s one definition. There are others. Can you find out about them?"
If you are struggling to understand the definition, I am not going to do the work for you. Give a man a fish etc!

"I wonder which of those you can find in the Reason Rally’s sacred text? Wait…never mind, I think they left that section out. All I can seem to find is repeated references to Secularism.......hmmm. "
"Organizers said the aim of the rally was two fold: to unite individuals with similar beliefs and to show the American public that the number of people who don’t believe in God is large and growing."
However you slice it, you cannot claim netrality if you are endorsing, supporting or aligning with the Reason Rally. It's promotion of secularism compromises political neutrality and it's promotion of Atheism compromises religious neurality. If the JREF is not supporting the atheist component then it is supporting the secular component, otherwise, why are they there? If they are supporting secularism they are taking a political stance and compromising their charity status, hence the insistence they are neutral.

"the JREF is not neutral in the face of current ID proponent’s claims. "
I did not mention any "current clams". I merely suggested that ID is the force actuating the existence of the Universe. I did not go on to expand the claim. Therefore, if you are saying that the JREF completely rejects intelligent design as a possibility, then it cannot be said to be neutral. It has taken a position on one of two possibilities, Creator or no creator.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
...
written by Willy K, April 01, 2012
The above comments illustrate why, when asked, "Are you an atheist?" I say no.

I simply state "There is no supernatural, there are no supernatural beings."

Typically the inquirer will then sputter, stammer, get red in the face and will emotionally blurt out "PROVE IT!"

To which I say either "No" or "You first, prove there is no Santa Claus."

On this forum someone might come up with what they believe is a really clever "analogy" but will be simply a inane non sequitur, or they might insist that I answer a question that is a blatant false dichotomy.
To which my response is..... smilies/wink.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
...
written by popsaw, April 01, 2012
The above comments illustrate why, when asked, "Are you an atheist?" I say no.

I simply state "There is no supernatural, there are no supernatural beings."


Do you sincerely believe the sun will rise tomorrow? If so then you have 'faith' since you cannot prove that it will. You can only prove that it has done so historically.
This faith that you have is not a blind faith but is based on an assurance gathered from past events, a reliable hope. There is no basis for faith in Santa yet there is a basis for belief in a creator when one examines the bible, including it's many prophcies that have unerringly been fufilled in great detail, not least of all the fall of Babylon in 539 BCE and the prophecy that it would never again be inhabited. Still true to this day!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: -1
...
written by Willy K, April 02, 2012
If so then you have 'faith' since you cannot prove that it will.


To which my response is..... smilies/tongue.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by I-Wonder, April 02, 2012
Popsaw, you are certain there is but a single definition of the word atheist, ”One who believes there is no deity”; I am saying there is nuance involved, and hope that readers will be inspired to study the word – it is rich philosophical soil.

Some choices?
•“There is no deity”
•“I don’t believe in a deity”
•“There is probably no deity”
•“There might be a deity, but it’s so good at hiding that it’s left is no evidence so I’ll live each moment as though there is none, until such evidence arises.”

And there’s much more.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheism

You seem drunk with the self edifying prospect of defeating a claim that exists only in your imagination; that the JREF asserts there is no god and/or creator and/or creation. You salivate in anticipation of the thrill of victory over this imaginary opponent; for, even against your unique prowess, an opponent forced to prove a negative automatically occupies difficult ground. Sorry, we don’t make that claim.

"Organizers said the aim of the rally was two fold: to unite individuals with similar beliefs and to show the American public that the number of people who don’t believe in God is large and growing."
However you slice it, you cannot claim netrality if you are endorsing, supporting or aligning with the Reason Rally. It's promotion of secularism compromises political neutrality and it's promotion of Atheism compromises religious neurality. If the JREF is not supporting the atheist component then it is supporting the secular component, otherwise, why are they there? If they are supporting secularism they are taking a political stance and compromising their charity status, hence the insistence they are neutral.

I did not mention any "current clams". I merely suggested that ID is the force actuating the existence of the Universe. I did not go on to expand the claim. Therefore, if you are saying that the JREF completely rejects intelligent design as a possibility, then it cannot be said to be neutral. It has taken a position on one of two possibilities, Creator or no creator.


Arhhh!
The compounded inane non sequiturs!! (Thanks WillyK)
They burn!!!


If your claim is simply that a creator is possible – period – then nobody cares. Science doesn’t care much about claims without a hypothesis and the JREF doesn’t care much about claimants that can’t, or won’t include aspects that can be measured or compared against other hypotheses. (That’s not about neutrality; it’s a shoulder-shrug.) Go the religion section of the forum, start a new thread with an ID claim that can be measured and we’ll have a go at your extraordinary claim and its extraordinary evidence. Otherwise get off this neutrality kick. (I think that word must not mean what you think it means.)
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by Willy K, April 02, 2012
@ I-Wonder

You're welcome.

Stay tuned for the blatant false dichotomies, they should be arriving soon. smilies/wink.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
@I Wonder
written by popsaw, April 03, 2012
I think we both accept that atheism is a 'rejection' of belief in deities. You cannot reject the concept of creator then claim neutrality. There are only two possibilities, a creator or no creator. By actively rejecting one possibility you are by default accepting the other. Neutrality requires that neither claim is accepted or rejected yet the JREF requires proof of ID in order to accept it whilst not requiringing proof of the unscientific claim of atheists, that the Universe was uncaused.

It is clear that the JREF promote atheism and secularism by a brief perusal of it's articles, especially of late.
Would you expect an individual that claimed political neutrality to be keynote speaker at a republican rally? I hold the Oxford dictionary definition of neutrality to be correct. (http://oxforddictionaries.com/...neutrality) Which definition of neutrality are you employing?

As already stated, if the JREF is perceived to be promoting secularism or atheism, it will lose it's charity status. For that reason, I believe this absurd neutraliy claim persists.

report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
Looking for Reason Rally videos
written by Willy K, April 03, 2012
Most of the videos of the Reason Rally that I've seen are of very bad quality. By "bad" I mean the cameras are very shaky and not pointing at the speaker. The audio is also usually very bad too.

Does any one know of some resonably well done videos online?

I looked at the Reason Rally website and saw a DVD priced at $39 plus $2.50 shipping.
I think that is an Un-Reasonable price. smilies/sad.gif

report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +1
...
written by I-Wonder, April 03, 2012
Neutrality? Still? The JREF is not neutral in the face of unsupported supernatural claims. The JREF is not neutral about whether secular values and a secular society help foster critical thinking and skepticism – the key tenants of its mission.
You intentionally misrepresent the Reason Rally. Luckily, readers can learn for themselves.

http://reasonrally.org/about/

Creation? You are certain about the ultimate origin of the universe - strike one- and that that creator is an intelligent designer - strike two and three – (since, when presented with a mystery, it’s unreasonable to lean toward a hypothesis that requires the highest number - or the most complex set - of assumptions.)

We claim we don’t yet know about the ultimate origin of the universe. When evaluating possible explanations, we very affirmatively lean toward parsimony, or Occam’s Razor. A fantastic and ultimately complex creator, for which there is zero evidence, deserves the least attention among all possible origin explanations.

That is our claim. That is our claim. That is our claim.

Over the millennia, that has been the claim of reasoning thinkers in the face of the multitude of previous supernatural claims about the universe. Without exception, those explanations now occupy the dust bin of history, in humiliating contrast with the splendid exhalations of the deluded proponents of their day. You demonstrate a spectacular immunity to such humiliation. Maybe evolution can explain that.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
@ I Wonder
written by popsaw, April 03, 2012
Why do you persist in bringing up the fact that I believe in ID. I have no interest in defending my belief (though I can) as that was not the objective in my original post.
The point I orignally made was that I believe the JREF has compromised it's stated position of neutrality by endorsing secularism and atheism which are not matters of skeptical or educational interest.
You say "Neutrality? Still? The JREF is not neutral in the face of unsupported supernatural claims. The JREF is not neutral about whether secular values and a secular society help foster critical thinking and skepticism". Atheism and secularism are have nothing to do with skepticism and cannot be tested for accuracy or validity by using the scientific method. I thought the JREF was about debunking, exposing false claims and frauds and offering a platform and a prize in which to test absurd claims. By which method is intelligent design to be debunked?
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Willy K, April 03, 2012
@ I-Wonder
Okay, now you give up. smilies/grin.gif

You are now on the merry-go-round of idiocracy. There is no brass ring there, just those blatant false dichotomies, inane non sequiturs and straw man arguments.

I once had a back & forth with you know who and I realized that I was wasting my time.
As I see it, this person has obvious severe cognitive problems that can not be solved or even addressed on this forum. It's really sad, I sometimes wonder if this person is as disruptive to the people who know him personally. smilies/sad.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by I-Wonder, April 03, 2012
Yep, but then, to "give up" implies I've - lately - endeavored to reach him]/i]. Hopefully some modest benefit acrues to the reader.

Have a neutral day!
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
@Willy K
written by popsaw, April 03, 2012
"As I see it, this person has obvious severe cognitive problems that can not be solved or even addressed on this forum"

Even if the above were true, personal insult is unwarranted and is childish attention seeking
If you disagree with my views you should either ignore them or challenge them, not me.
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Willy K, April 04, 2012

If a person has no legs they are disabled, it wouldn't be an insult to acknowledge their disability. They can use a wheelchair or get prosthetic legs.

I'm sorry if someone here feels insulted, but I still believe they have severe cognitive problems. Their ideas and how they express them are very childish. It's not a question of education, it's a question of how someone cognitively deals with the information available to them. Opinion simply does not trump facts. The Universe is not shaped by any Humans belief.

I wouldn't expect for someone who wants a rational discussion about a complex topic would sit themselves down in a preschool and argue the merits of Santa Claus with a four year old child.

And now back to our scheduled program.... smilies/kiss.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
@Willy K
written by popsaw, April 04, 2012
"
If a person has no legs they are disabled, it wouldn't be an insult to acknowledge their disability. They can use a wheelchair or get prosthetic legs.
"

If that is the reasoning you emyploy you have a lot to learn about manners and debate.
If you were to challenge Stephen Hawking on one of his theories, would you deem it necessary to invoke his own cognitive disabilities as though they prop up your own argument?
Believe what you wish about me but please direct your comments in the form of a challenge or rebuttal to the points I raise. Personal insult is against the rules and not in the spirit of the JREF and I do not wish to use the report abuse button. smilies/wink.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0
...
written by Willy K, April 04, 2012


My response to the inane posting above...... is..... smilies/tongue.gif
report abuse
vote down
vote up
Votes: +0

Write comment
This content has been locked. You can no longer post any comment.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Please register if you do not have an account yet.

busy