Successful Skepticism: Creating Lasting Community

Tucker Phelps

11 a.m., January 12, 2020

We often look at youth as a source of hope for the future: we want them to be less prejudiced, more equitable, able to tell right from wrong and better equipped to build a better world. As Skeptics, we often tell ourselves that critical thinking and analytical reasoning are key tools for building this better future.

Yet surveys show that while the newest generation of young adults supports science and scientific literacy, they are increasingly disconnected from the broader skeptical inquiry. Surveys find that US Adults 18-33 are the most likely to identify Astrology as “sort of scientific,” the most likely to fall prey to pyramid schemes and twice as likely to express skepticism in a round-earth than their older peers.

One element which may explain this trend is that social pressure to engage the world rationally is lacking. Research has shown that on its own, analytical reasoning is insufficient to prevent belief in unfounded ideas. The true test is whether or not the individual personally values critical thinking as a means of engaging with their world.

At Camp Quest, we provide children 8-17 the tools necessary to be critical thinkers and engaged members of their community. Between your traditional summer camp activities, campers are taught to engage with everyday science and given the freedom to put to practice what they learn among their peers. Campers are encouraged to ask questions and rewarded for inquiry. In this way they learn more than the bare facts of some scientific experiment, but rather how to value that process and bring it into their everyday worlds at home, school or elsewhere.

What they learn at their sleep-away summer camp they take home for the rest of the year and return again smarter and wiser. Come learn how a volunteer organization is teaching children to think critically while building a supportive community.

For 7 years Tucker Phelps has been serving as Leadership Track Director, board member, and curriculum developer for Camp Quest West, a volunteer-run 501(c)(3) educational non-profit who envisions a world in which children grow up exploring, thinking for themselves, connecting with their communities, and acting to make the most of life for themselves and others. This marks his first year as Director of Operations for Camp Quest West. In his spare time, he works as an analyst in the financial sector.

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After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

Successful Skepticism: Creating Lasting Community – Tucker Phelps from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.

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U.S. Sanctions: The Weaponization of the Global Financial System

Dr. Sharat G. Lin

11 a.m., January 5, 2020

While wars have historically been fought with soldiers and guns, the sole superpower has realized its monopoly ability to wage financial war through sanctions and embargoes against its perceived enemies around the world — Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Gaza. How and why does the United States alone exercise this extraterritorial power to such devastating effect?​​
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Dr. Sharat G. Lin is a research fellow at the San José Peace and Justice Center. He writes and lectures on global political economy, labor migration, the Middle East, and public health. He has visited all of the countries under U.S. sanctions and observed the consequences of sanctions and embargoes.

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After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

U.S. Sanctions: The Weaponization of the Global Financial System – Dr. Sharat G. Lin from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.

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Do your online shopping at https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-6173979, and Amazon donates to the Humanist Community every time you do.

Note: If you would like to speak at a Forum, or know of someone who you think might be willing to speak at a Forum, please send an email about your idea to the HCSV Program Committee.

Approval Voting is the Easy Way to Fix Major Problems

Jeff Justice

11 a.m., December 22, 2019

Our current voting method (choose one) has major problems. It causes society to polarize. It allows voting splitting and spoilers to select unpopular candidates. It suppresses third-parties and new ideas.

A simple and effective solution is Approval Voting. Approval Voting is the system that lets you vote for all the candidates you like, including your favorite.

Jeff Justice is a board member of The Center for Election Science, which advocates for better voting methods. In this talk, he will explain why his group settled on Approval Voting as the simplest way to dramatically improve our democracy.

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After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

2019-12-22 Jeff Justice from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.

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Against the Wind: What’s the Deal with Free Will?

Michael Abramson

11 a.m., December 15, 2019

Do we really have a Free Will? If we do, in what sense our choice is “free”? If we don’t and our Free Will is just an illusion, why is this illusion so important to us, and what is behind it? Do we need a Free Will to make moral choices?

These questions were debated for centuries, but now we can try to draw insights from psychology, neuroscience, computer science, and other disciplines. Do we know enough to develop a “model” of Free Will consistent with our subjective experience and moral intuition? What can we learn from it?

Finally, even if our Free Will served us well in the past, can it still be a reliable guidance in the Silicon Age?

Let’s try to find the answers together.

Michael Abramson is a physicist specializing in system modeling and simulations, and a concerned citizen leading a “Positive Agenda” group who is involved with a number of activist organizations.

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After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

Against the Wind: What’s the Deal with Free Will? – Michael Abramson from Humanist Community-SiliconValley on Vimeo.


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Bicycle Touring and Zero Waste

Tim Oey

11 a.m., December 8, 2019

Earlier this year, Tim Oey bicycled 5000 miles from San Francisco to Boston while giving 254 talks about Oceans, Plastic, Climate Change, and Kids at schools, aquariums, and museums across the US and raising money to combat climate change. Come learn about the wonders of bicycle touring, how his household of 3 people and 3 dogs generates just a quart of trash a month, and 5 easy things we all can do to save our world for our kids as well as save money. It’s really all about balance.

Tim is a long time cycling and environmental advocate. In addition to a long career in high tech at Harvard, Fidelity, Apple, Sun, and Adobe, he was the VP of Rides for the Charles River Wheelers in Boston, President of the Friends of Stevens Creek Trail, vice chair for the Sunnyvale Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, and a founding board member of the Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition (SVBC). He often speaks at government meetings on behalf of bicyclists and the environment and is a bicycling instructor who loves to teach people how to bike and how to bike better.

After the Forum, please join us for a lunch at 12:30pm. The lunch is complimentary for first-time visitors and students.

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Do your online shopping at https://smile.amazon.com/ch/94-6173979, and Amazon donates to the Humanist Community every time you do.

Note: If you would like to speak at a Forum, or know of someone who you think might be willing to speak at a Forum, please send an email about your idea to the HCSV Program Committee.