2012

 

A World of Ideas

January 2012

In 1989 Bill Moyers presented A World of Ideas for public television. He interviewed writers, sociologists, ethicists, physicians, historians, pastors, anthropologists, teachers, poets, and more, one of whom was Isaac Asimov, author of nearly 400 books and past president of the American Humanist Association. Following is a short excerpt from his interview with Moyers.

Moyers: Do you think that we can educate ourselves, that any one of us, at any time, can be educated in any subject that strikes our fancy?

Asimov: There are some things that simply don’t strike my fancy and I doubt that I can force myself to be educated in them. On the other hand, when there’s a subject I’m ferociously interested in, then it is easy for me to learn about it. I take it in gladly and cheerfully.

M: Learning really excites you, doesn’t it?

A: I think it’s the actual process of broadening yourself, of knowing there’s now a little extra facet of the universe you know about and can think about and can understand. It seems to me that when it’s time to die, there would be a certain pleasure in thinking that you had utilized your life well, learned as much as you could, gathered in as much as possible of the universe, and enjoyed it…What a tragedy to just pass through and get nothing out of it.

M: It is possible that this passion for learning can be spread to ordinary folks? Can we have a revolution in learning?

A: Yes, I think not only that we can but that we must. [There is a lengthy discussion about how Asimov sees the future of computers helping people educate themselves.]

M: Is this revolution in learning just for the young?

A: No, it’s not just for the young. That’s another trouble with education as we now have it. People think of education as something that they can finish. And what’s more, when they finish, it is a rite of passage. You’re finished with school…I’ve talked to some…dropouts, and they think they’ve become men because they’re out of school…

There’s the famous story about Oliver Wendell Holmes, who was in the hospital one time, when he was over ninety. President Roosevelt came to see him, and there was Oliver Wendell Holmes reading the Greek grammar. Roosevelt said, “Why are you reading a Greek grammar, Mr. Holmes?” And Holmes said, “To improve my mind, Mr. President.”

–Susan Fox

What is Religious Humanism?

October 2012

“If you think about religion as a set of beliefs about supernatural agents, you are bound to misunderstand it.”

I recently read The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt, and the above quotation shouted at me because I strongly support the idea of humanism as a religion because it deals with how people treat each other. I searched the internet and found the following article from which I selected some paragraphs.

What is Religious Humanism?
Humanist Philosophy as a Religious Position

Austin Cline, About.com Guide

Religious humanism shares with other types of humanism the basic principles of an overriding concern with humanity–the needs of human beings, the desires of human beings, and the importance of human experiences. For religious humanists, it is the human and the humane which must be the focus of our ethical attention.

People who have described themselves as religious humanists have existed from the beginning of the modern humanist movement. Of the thirty-four original signers of the first Humanist Manifesto, thirteen were Unitarian ministers, one was a liberal rabbi, and two were Ethical Culture leaders. Indeed, the very creation of the document was initiated by three of the Unitarian ministers. The presence of a religious strain in modern humanism is both undeniable and essential.

The functions of religion often cited by religious humanists include things like fulfilling the social needs of a group of people (such as moral education, shared holiday and commemorative celebrations, and the creation of a community) and satisfying the personal needs of individuals (such as the quest to discover meaning and purpose in life, means for dealing with tragedy and loss, and ideals to sustain us).

For religious humanists, meeting these needs is what religion is all about; when doctrine interferes with meeting those needs, then religion fails. This attitude which places action and results above doctrine and tradition meshes quite well with the more basic humanist principle that salvation and aid can only be sought in other human beings. Whatever our problems might be, we will only find the solution in our own efforts and should not wait for any gods or spirits to come and save us from our mistakes.

Some religious humanists go further than simply arguing that their humanism is religious in nature. According to them, meeting the aforementioned social and personal needs can only occur in the context of religion. The late Paul H. Beattie, one-time president of the Fellowship of Religious Humanists, wrote: “There is no better way to spread a set of ideas about how best to live, or to intensify commitment to such ideas, than by means of religious community.”

Thus, he and those like him have argued that a person has the choice of either not meeting those needs or of being part of a religion. Any means by which a person seeks to fulfill such needs is, by definition, religious in nature.

–Flo Wineriter

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September2012

A World Split Apart

Alexander Solzhenitsyn Addresses Harvard Class Day Afternoon Exercises

Thursday, June 8, 1978

Complete text of his address titled A World Split Apart


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Russell’s Teapot

Russell’s teapot, sometimes called the celestial teapot or cosmic teapot, is an analogy first coined by the philosopher Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) to illustrate that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon a person making scientifically unfalsifiable claims.

Russell’s Teapot


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Carl Sagan Day

Please join us this November as we honor Carl Sagan and celebrate the beauty and wonder of the cosmos he so eloquently described

Carl Sagan Day


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May 2012

We at the Humanist Society of Santa Barbara share the conviction that rational inquiry can provide the best foundation for human progress.

Humanist Society of Santa Barbara


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March 2012

Founded in 1995, the Utah Rivers Council is a grassroots non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation and stewardship of Utah’s rivers, sustainable clean water sources and natural ecosystems for both Utah’s people and wildlife.

Utah Rivers Council


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June 2012

Move to Amend

We the People
NOT
We the Corporations

Move to Amend


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January 2012

The Capital District Humanist Society provides a supportive community for exchanging ideas, heightening our knowledge of the world and ourselves, fostering moral and ethical growth, and promoting the principles of secular humanism.

Capital District Humanist Society


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February 2012

An architectural marvel and a case study in “green” design created by community generosity; we welcome you to the Natural History Museum of Utah at the Rio Tinto Center. Come check us out!

New Natural History Museum of Utah


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December 2012

The Universe in a Nutshell
Michio Kaku!

The Physics of Everything. Find out why his mother wished he would learn to play baseball and find a nice Japanese girl. What was the Big Bang and can it happen again? Are we really the exception? This video is 42 minutes long, so set aside enough time to watch it. I trust you will find it to be both entertaining and informative!

The Universe in a Nutshell


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Utah Coalition of Reason

The Utah Coalition of Reason is a resource for free-thinking Utahans uniting the various non-theistic organizations throughout the state. Humanists of Utah is a Board Member of The Utah Coalition of Reason is affiliated with United Coalition of Reason. If you have an open mind and are looking for ways to clarify your critical thinking skills, we hope you’ll find these resources helpful.

Utah Coalition of Reason


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April 2012

I know we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important is that the Universe is in us.

Many people feel small because they’re small and the Universe is big, but I feel big, because my atoms came from those stars.

Most Astounding Fact in the Universe


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Water Waste in Utah

April 2012

On March 8, Humanists of Utah hosted speaker Zach Frankel, founding director of the Utah Rivers Council. Frankel had some interesting and surprising information to share about the extent of water waste in Utah and the politics behind it. He is in a unique position to disseminate such information, due to his involvement with the Utah Rivers Council. What follows is a summary of the talk he gave.

Frankel first used a whiteboard to draw two pie graphs to illustrate how water is used in Utah. It turns out that 80% of the water used in Utah is for agriculture, with the remaining 20% for municipality and industrial use. After emphasizing that he is pro agriculture, he pointed out that water is used very inefficiently for agriculture, with around 8 gallons being diverted (i.e., wasted) for every 1 gallon that waters crops. He went on to say that, of the 20% of water used by municipality and industry in Utah, 75% is used outdoors, mostly for watering grass in the summertime. According to Frankel, the average amount of water used each day in Utah comes out to 305 gallons/person, which makes it the #1 state in the nation for highest per capita water usage.

Despite being among the driest states in the nation, Utah has the cheapest water rates of all the states, which accounts for the figures in the preceding paragraph, Frankel suggests. He went on to suggest that these incredibly cheap water rates are due to the fact that Utah uses property taxes to subsidize its water rates, which encourages water waste and requires that property owners who waste relatively little water help pay for the water that others waste extensively. He pointed out the irony of that setup in such a politically conservative state as Utah and of the fact that conservative members of the Utah legislature are in favor of maintaining the property tax subsidies, arguing that those subsidies and the low water rates they create do not lead to increased water usage. Along those lines, an article out from KUER on March 7th, titled “Water, Water Everywhere, but not a Drop to Drink,” described a Utah House attempt to earmark state General Fund money for a water project to divert the Colorado River to Washington County, in order to compensate for the incredible amount of water being used there.

The Utah Department of Natural Resources predicted that Utah will run out of water for municipal and industrial use by around 2017, or by around 2025 with a conservation rate of 25% total over a 50-year period of time (beginning in 2000), which amounts to a conservation rate of 0.5% per year. Frankel says that Utah actually will not be running out of water anytime soon, but highlighted the fact that significant damage to the environment could be incurred in an attempt to divert water from existing natural resources, such as the Bear River, to fuel continued high rates of water consumption. In order to get an idea of the disproportionately large amount of municipal and industrial water use in Washington County, he said that it uses more water and pays significantly less to do so than such large cities as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Seattle. In fact, St. George residents will use about 28,000 gallons of water per day in July, at a rate of just $1.11/gallon, which is much cheaper than that of the aforementioned cities and most others. When efforts were made to encourage water conservation in St. George and to stop a water project to divert water from Lake Powell to the city, a misinformation campaign was waged to convince residents that all outdoor plants would be prohibited and destroyed by the 90% conservation rate that would be necessary if the diversion failed to occur.

Frankel closed his talk by mentioning the environmental impacts of a few types of water projects and how to best conserve water at the individual level. First, a planned development in West Jordan would be fueled by a diversion from the Bear River, which would put the Salt Lake wetlands and all the wildlife they contain in danger. Building new dams, like the one proposed for the Green River, and other massive water projects are seen by politicians as more glorious than less expensive and less environmentally damaging endeavors, such as lining existing highly inefficient canals throughout croplands with concrete to greatly reduce water diversion. He said that the best way for citizens and industry to conserve water is to reduce outdoor water use, such as by only watering lawns before dawn and/or after dusk and by using a water schedule so as to not overwater and to only water when necessary (e.g., summertime). Finally, Frankel recommended everyone read the book Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner for more information about water use in the desert west.

–Jason Cooperrider

Uselessness of God

March 2012

On the evening of February 29th, I had the pleasure of attending a presentation given by renowned theoretical physicist and science explainer Brian Greene. The occasion was the annual Nature of Things lecture at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah. I have been a fan of Greene’s since 2003, when, as a first-year college student majoring in physics at The Ohio State University, I saw a PBS television special created and hosted by him called The Elegant Universe, which was based on his book by the same name. His other major books include The Fabric of the Cosmos, and The Hidden Reality. His presentation was a great introduction for a lay person to modern conceptual theories of physics and cosmology, including Dr. Greene’s trademark humor and some stunning visualizations.

The reason I am writing about this topic in this forum, aside from the fact that so many freethinkers/humanists/atheists/etc. have an appreciation and even a reverence for science, is that the topic of a divine creator of reality cropped up during the question and answer session that followed Dr. Greene’s presentation. A member of the audience asked Dr. Greene about how God fit into all this.

Dr. Green presented the argument that bringing God into the equation of reality really adds nothing to reality, but rather only serves to unnecessarily complicate matters. If science is capable of forming explanations about the universe and reality without introducing a concept of a deity, then why bother with such a concept at all? In other words, God is useless when trying to tell a story about how the universe came into being and what it is.

Dr. Greene did say a few things on the topic of God that I found disturbing, especially coming from a scientist. First he said that science has nothing to say about the existence of God. While this might be true when talking about a generic “God” that has nothing to do with the universe after having created it, the classic Deist view, it is not true of gods that are described by organized religions. Dr. Victor Stenger explains this idea very well in his book, God: The Failed Hypothesis. In fact, one of the greatest aspects of science is the ability to falsify claims that rely on empirical evidence to support them, either by finding contradictory empirical evidence or by not finding supporting evidence that necessarily follows from such a claim. So, contrary to what Dr. Greene said, science does often have something to say on the topic of God’s existence.

The other puzzling notion Dr. Greene mentioned was that we rely on faith in the power of mathematics when describing and making predictions about the universe. Unless he operates on a very different definition of faith than I do, the power of mathematics requires no faith whatsoever. In fact, it has been demonstrated time and again, from the geometric and trigonometric calculations made by the ancient Greeks to the complex orbital calculations that put spacecraft into accurate orbits and trajectories today. There is abundant evidence to support the power of mathematics to describe the universe and all that occurs within it, so there is no need to have faith in it.

–Jason Cooperrider

The State of Journalism in Utah

November 2012

Paul Rolly, political columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune, spoke on the subject The State Of Journalism And Its Relationship To The Political Climate Currently In Utah at our October general meeting. Rolly grew up in Salt Lake City and received a BS in political science and journalism from the University of Utah. He started at the Salt Lake Tribune in 1973 as copy boy and moved up the ladder over the years, reporting political, legislative, and business matters. He wrote a column with Joanne Wells for 13 years and has written a solo column since Wells retired.

Rolly discussed how newspapers are having a rough go of it now. He wishes the Trib and other papers had started charging for content on the internet 12 years ago in order to compete. Now the horse is out of the barn and papers must figure out other ways to make money, with many papers simply folding.

A component of this that he finds disturbing is that the right wing in Utah is gleefully watching newspapers fold. He spoke about the program “Red Meat Radio.” It’s hosted by two of the most conservative legislators in Utah. When a paper is in trouble or goes under, they play “Another One Bites the Dust” and are very happy about it. The reason is that they hate the press–it’s gotten to the point where there is an active movement among politicians to obstruct and hurt the press.

Rolly talked about HB477, which attempted to gut GRAMA, the law which gives the public access to government records: the secret passage of the bill through closed Republican caucuses, the backlash from the press and especially the public. Prior to that victory for the public and the press, fees charged to produce the government records were low and it was routine for government agencies to waive the charges. Now, however, exorbitant charges are demanded upfront. When an article in the Trib criticized the Utah Transit Authority for a $91,000 charge for records requested, lawyers from UTA actually tried to have the newspaper “sanctioned,” saying they were acting criminally by trying to intimidate a government official through a negative article.

Physical access to government officials is getting more difficult. Rolly described the access he had to government offices, including governors starting with Scott Matheson (Democrat), then Norm Bangerter (Republican). He had easy access to back offices and very genial relationships with those governors. However, when Mike Leavitt was elected, the first thing they did was build a fortress around the governor’s office and all the access shut down. Rolly has always had good relationships with press secretaries, but it’s very rare now that reporters can get one-on-one time with the governor. All responses come through the press secretary.

The press used to have a press table on the floor of the legislature and reporters could speak directly to legislators. They’ve done away with that now and members of the media must sit in the gallery with the public. If a reporter wants to talk to a legislator, they give a note to a security guard. If the legislator wants to talk to you, he or she will come out. If not, they won’t. They usually won’t talk to Rolly.

This all emanates from what he believes has become a one-party state (he did say it would be just as bad if Democrats had complete power). The Republicans can do a lot of things and they don’t care much about how they’re covered in the press. Most of the people in Utah are going to vote Republican anyway and legislators know they’re going to be reelected if they’re Republican. This is a real problem: “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely” is absolutely true. That’s the state we have now.

Objectivity and balance for Rolly now that he’s a columnist have gone out the window. He was a hard news reporter for 20 years and it took a long time for him to get the concept of looseness in his column. Now he’s bought into why it’s good to have opinion reporting as long as you’re honest. He doesn’t have to reveal sources. News reporters can’t use unnamed sources–Rolly uses them all the time. Because of that he has sources in highest areas of government because they can remain anonymous.

Rolly also deplored the gerrymandering that he says has devastated the state–making it as difficult as possible for Jim Matheson or any Democrat to get reelected. He doubts that a Democrat will win statewide office in his lifetime.

In the question and answer period following his talk, Rolly discussed his relationship with publisher Jack Gallivan which was very close. He told the story of how Gallivan helped save the Deseret News in the 1950s because he believed it was important to have newspaper competition, especially in Utah.

When asked about the Tribune’s endorsement for president, he said that the Trib publisher is a Republican who has a lot to say about the endorsements. If he decides they’ll endorse Romney, they will; however, Rolly believes he’s having second thoughts. The paper lost 5000 subscribers within a week when they endorsed Bush over Kerry. The publisher thought they would have lost more if they endorsed Kerry. He didn’t understand, which Mr. Gallivan always did, the relationship of the Salt Lake Tribune to its readers. It’s always been the alternative newspaper and has always been expected to be that voice, not only by Democrats but also Republicans. That endorsement made a lot of people distrust the Trib. The Trib is trusted even by many Republicans to cover many issues, including LDS news, more honestly than the Deseret News does.

–Susan Fox

HoU Sponsors Wild Science Exhibit at State Fair

September 2012

Humanists of Utah is sponsoring in part, the Wild Science exhibit at the Utah State Fair this year. It is an interactive display designed for children, but I had fun too! Here are some pictures. If you get to the Fair be sure to find the Pioneer Building and check it out!

HoU Banner outside the building

Contraption that moves small balls up and down, around and around

Making humongous soap bubbles is the most popular stop in the exhibit!

–Wayne Wilson

Sextravaganza

September 2012

On Saturday, September 15th, from 3:00 to 7:00 in the OSH Auditorium of the University of Utah campus, the secular student group at the University of Utah, SHIFT (Secular Humanism, Inquiry and Freethought), will be putting on a sex-positive event called Sextravaganza, which will center on three influential guest speakers exploring the differing views of religion and humanism on human sexuality. The keynote speaker at the event will be Dr. Darrel Ray, writer and speaker on leadership as well as religion and sex, author of The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture and Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality. Also speaking at the event will be Greta Christina, prominent atheist blogger, speaker, and author, who also writes about sex and has edited books pertaining to sexuality. Finally, the event will include Dr. Lisa Diamond, internationally known professor of sexuality from the Department of Psychology at the University of Utah. Each speaker will give a talk and answer questions from the audience afterward. Following the individual talks, the speakers will form a discussion panel to continue answering questions from the audience, playing off of each other’s expertise and personal experiences. To conclude the event, the speakers will be available to sign copies of their books, pose for photos, and interact with individual members of the audience. Each book will be sold for $15 (cash or check preferred, but cards will also be accepted) and the following titles will be available in paperback at the event:

Greta Christina’s Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless

Lisa Diamond’s Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women’s Love and Desire

Darrel Ray’s Sex & God: How Religion Distorts Sexuality and The God Virus: How Religion Infects Our Lives and Culture.

Like all SHIFT meetings/events, this one will be free and open to the public. Parking will be available for free in the visitor parking lots just east of the Union building and just west of the Marriott Library. The BYU vs. UU football game will begin at 8:00, so it is highly recommended that you come early to improve your chances of getting a good parking spot. The doors to the auditorium will open at 2:30 and seating will be first-come-first-served. This event will be made possible partly thanks to generous donations made by the Secular Student Alliance and the Humanists of Utah. To help make future SHIFT events like this one possible, donations will be accepted and appreciated.

We hope you’ll join SHIFT for SEXTRAVAGANZA!!!

–Jason Cooperrider

President’s Message

September 2012

Our annual fall BBQ was again a success as we ate, drank and conversed in the comfort of member John Young’s backyard. We thank him for hosting the BBQ at his home and we thank his daughter Cindy and her husband Art King for their hard work setting up and doing the cooking on the grill. Plus I want to thank all the board members and regular members who brought lots of tasty side dishes. We’ve been meeting there under a couple of big old apple trees for four or five years now, and it has become quite an enjoyable send-off for our new season of events after the summer recess.

When I conversed with a few of you at the BBQ, about what was on the calendar I mentioned that we were working on a slight makeover of the chapter. I talked a little about some of the changes we are considering and some we have already approved. One change I said we were making was that we would no longer have a summer recess during June and July. The board concluded that we should remain active year round, and that there are plenty of things to do in June and July.

One of my thoughts about this makeover is that the Humanists of Utah should plan three types of activities: A lecture and educational events series (speakers, Darwin Day), socials (BBQ, December potluck, movie night, etc.) and advocacy (Homeless Youth Resource Center, Pride Festival).

Now that June and July are back on the calendar for planning events we can add a few new events and even move a few around to mix things up. Getting involved in the Pride Festival is a June event that I have already suggested in past President’s messages. So far, July has nothing planned.

One thing that might help us decide which activities to plan is a list I received from Evelin Damian at the last Utah Coalition of Reason board meeting. The list is called Secular Holidays by Season and it is a good place to start when looking for alternative events. These dates are now in our Calendar that can be found on the Events page on our website.

Next up is our movie night on September 13th for a showing of, Inherit the Wind. There will be free goodies and drinks along with my decadent popcorn. See you there

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

October 2012

I wish the spring and fall seasons weren’t so transitory. They are the times of the year I enjoy the most, mainly because the temperatures are mild and pleasant. Plus at this time of the year I am about ready to murder my first Hubbard squash. Exciting, don’t you think! Well, maybe not exciting, but definitely tasty.

While these dry mild days are enjoyable, what we really need is a lot of moisture for the next several months. The drought we’re going through is pretty severe and will get even worse if it isn’t a good water year coming up.

For the last few months I have been writing about our chapter’s make over and I need to continue in this message. I’m excited by the prospect that the changes will give our chapter a needed boost. But that excitement is tempered by the realization that these changes represent an increase in work hours to get everything done.

As we are moving ahead with our plan, reality tells us that we are going to need help form you, the membership, to volunteer some time to help with various events and projects. We need a few people to be board members, as we have lost a few in recent years and not all have been replaced. But I don’t want to scare you away with talk of board membership; even a few hours here and there can be enormously helpful. We hope to have some new committees going soon, so think about being on one or even just working for one. The three main committees will probably be, Advocacy, Special Events and a lecture series.

Working for our Advocacy Committee might include our project with The Homeless Youth Resource Center, or with our newest project to have a showing at next year’s Pride Festival. Our Special Events Committee will plan for Darwin Day, the Fall BBQ, and our December dinner social. And of course, the Lecture Series Committee will deal with speakers and perhaps a discussion group.

But like I mentioned above, we need help. Sadly, if we don’t, much of what is planned will have to be scaled back. Please contact any board member or call me (801-486-4209) if you can help.

I’m sorry I won’t be able to attend the October general meeting. My youngest Niece is getting married that day and family comes first.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

November 2012

The loss of life in the wake of this so called super storm named Sandy is tragic. As I write this message, the extent of the damage, injury, and loss of life caused by hurricane Sandy, has not been fully determined. In fact, on this Halloween evening the storm is still causing problems with continued rain and snow. We already know it will take a lot of time, work and many billions of dollars before the lives of those impacted by the storm return to anything resembling normal.

Humanists of Utah has donated to disaster relief in the past, and I think this is another one of those times when we should put together our contributions and send them through a humanist organization (most likely the AHA). There is no doubt that the relief organizations will be in need of donations to keep their operations going. The Board of Directors will determine an amount to give from our treasury and add it to any donations we receive from the membership.

Another reason I wanted to write about this big storm is because of the climate aspect. If you get on some of the internet “blogs” you find people arguing about whether the storm is an example of global warming or climate change. But one storm does not define a climate. Remembering the old saying, “Climate is what you expect, weather is what you get, is useful. As geographer I do worry some about climate change, but my feeling is that the seemingly endless arguing about climate change distracts us from dealing with the real problem, pollution. The question as to how much humans affect climate would become moot if we reduced pollutants by a significant percentage. Our societies allow far too much of our waste products to be dumped on the environment, mostly for the sake of the profit margin.

Sometimes when arguing on a blog, I get a little smart assed in my response by saying something like, “Its really quite simple. Clean air is healthy and GOOD for you, dirty air is BAD and unhealthy. Clean water is GOOD and good for you, dirty water is BAD and unhealthy. Is that so hard to understand?” The World Health Organization estimates that about 2 million people die prematurely due to air pollution each year. Isn’t that reason enough to clean up the air? I think it is.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

May 2012

The May meeting will be our last meeting before taking our annual summer break in June and July. This hiatus will also coincide with the remodeling of Eliot Hall at the Unitarian Church this summer. They have a target completion date of September 1st. While we hope they can keep to this schedule, but we worry that, as delays happen we are not sure the venue will be available for our September meeting. Therefore the Board of Directors has decided to make our September meeting a Movie night in the Student Union Building on the U of U campus. We haven’t decided what to watch yet, and are looking for suggestions. Something of general interest and under two hours please. Our August BBQ will not be affected or changed.

As we plan for the next year, we would love to hear from you to let us know what kind of speakers or specific speakers you would like to have at our general meetings. We would also like to know what activities to schedule in our effort to have social meet ups like we had at the new Museum of Natural History, at the University of Utah. Please give it some thought.

I have been thinking about changing my monthly message slightly by sectioning it off a little bit and adding some subtitles. One of the first sections would have to be something like, “Here comes the latest asinine actions of the Religious Right.” Too long, too messy? Maybe something shorter, like, “Stupidest actions from the Religious clowns,” (That’s not much shorter) or perhaps just, “idiots at work.” Got any suggestions?

I thought about this because there sure is plenty to report on lately. You may remember that in my March message I made mention of the effort to create laws to give “personhood” to embryos. That’s bad enough, but then recently there has been another proposed law to define pregnancy as beginning at the last day of a woman’s menses. Say What? That’s bogus from just about any way you look at it. But it really shows their stupidity in that they don’t even understand the basic biology of reproduction. I mean how does that work? You are pregnant the day your period ends before conception ever takes place? I know we try to be fair and civil toward these people, but they are freaking crazy folks and they deserve derision to the max! Pregnant before you conceive! It would be a lot funnier if they weren’t dead serious about this. By the way, this is all happening, if I remember correctly, in Tennessee. They haven’t progressed very much out there since they had the Scopes Trial, have they?

I don’t comment on the blogs much, but now and then an article in the paper or on an internet site will be one that is worth putting forth an opinion, a criticism or kudos. I don’t get into the back and forth that many bloggers get into, mostly because they often degrade into people calling each other names. Kind of that childish, “you’re an idiot” with the reply being, “I know you are, but what am I.” But recently when I posted a comment about evolution and creationism, one of the religious bloggers responded with that oh so irritating rhetoric and posturing that implies that we who are not religious lead such pitiful lives because we “don’t believe in anything,” and they tell us that they will pray for us. Well I didn’t bite on his comment because he hadn’t replied about what I actually said, only about me and my kind being pitiful. But if I were to rejoinder I think I might say that I was quite happy with my scientific knowledge and my life’s knowledge and experiences. I might also say that I prefer looking at existence the way Carl Sagan put it, when he said “We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.” I find that most satisfying and I find it amazing and exhilarating to be alive at a time when science and technology make it possible to learn and understand the nature of the universe from the infinitely small to the infinitely large.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

March 2012

“Personhood,” jeez folks, how many ways will the religious right use in their quest try to erode the rights of individuals in regards to our reproductive lives? I suppose the answer is, “every way they can find.” Year after year they pass or try to pass some legislation anywhere and everywhere possible that prohibits, restricts, or mandates some intrusion into our sex lives and our reproductive choices. “Personhood” of the fetus at the time of conception is one of their most recent efforts and another is to try to force women, seeking an abortion, to have intrusive procedures performed that are meant only to intimidate and humiliate. Not to mention the waste of time and resources these procedures represent that would be better used where actually needed. These people also work to make contraception options unavailable or hard to get. Additionally, they are having success restricting, even further, sex education. It is all quite maddening.

I was contemplating expanding on a couple of these specific items, when I began thinking, jokingly of course, of going with the trend. Maybe we should get on the band wagon and support having government control our sex lives.

So, If we are going to have government dictate that you carry any and all pregnancies to term, then we sure as hell should be willing control all the other aspects of our sex lives, so that we are able to say “You are only allowed to replace yourself,” that is, only two kids per couple. After that, mandatory sterilizations will be undertaken on everyone. Plus, let’s not forget that your sex life includes your sex education, which will naturally be nil to very little. And that education will be summed up perhaps this way: Avoid sex like the plague, until you are married, then, only to procreate. Procedure as follows: Under the covers, in the dark, no talking, man on top, get it over with quick.

Sorry folks but I just can’t help being a little snide these days. I’m really getting sick of these people. A good example is when we see a member of our dominate LDS religion in Utah dictating to the legislature. She is so powerful and feared by legislators that they give her a seat on the dais! Then some clown insults our intelligence by writing an op-ed stating there is no Mormon influence on the hill. But if we should dare oppose them they start whining about the “War on Religion.” But it is not a war on religion; it is a war against the attempts by the religious to destroy our secular society and the separation of church and state.

There are far too many of the religious who deny the need for or the very existence of a separation of church and state. They can’t understand that it is what insures that we can worship or not as we please.

Here is a thought for our Mormons neighbors or any other small religious group. If for the sake of argument, let’s say that the United Stated government in the early 1800s was a theocracy controlled by the Catholic religion. Do you think they would let a religion like Mormonism get off the ground or flourish? I don’t think so. The inquisition would be in full bloom. The only government that can insure freedom of religion is one that is neutral and favors none.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

June 2012

Last month I wrote that I was going to call part of my message something like “The Latest from Idiots.” Well this month there is much to choose from, but the United States conference of Catholic Bishops take the prize. And that is because these prize winners are now “investigating” the Girl Scouts. From the reports I have read this need to investigate stems from the fact that the Girl Scout organization publicly approved the membership of a transgendered individual in a Colorado Girl Scout troop.

The Catholic Church has always opposed any idea of reproductive freedom and has lately been stepping up its efforts against the more progressive nuns and catholic laity. It kind of baffles the mind to think of why they would spend time and resources on this “investigation,” which only highlights their pathetic effort to intimidate. While the nuns and Girl Scouts work in various efforts to assist and educate young women and the public in general, the Bishops are doing what…investigating? Pretty sad and at the same time quite infuriating.

The more I think about my message concerning idiots the more I get the feeling that maybe I need to include a similar blurb of a more “hopeful” nature. Reporting on something positive as an antidote to the reports about idiots taking actions that tend to make you “bristle up.” I’ll try to do that in the months to come so I don’t sound like I’m always whining.

On another subject, I have been contemplating how addicted we are to gadgets and screens. I certainly am, exemplified by the fact that I am sitting here in front of my computer screen composing this message, and to the right of the computer is a small T.V. that is sometimes on at the same time this computer is being used. Not to mention that in my pocket is my cell phone with a screen. But my addiction can’t hold a candle to the need for screens and gadgets by some in the general population. This was brought to mind recently when at an intersection I noticed that a woman was starting to walk out onto the crosswalk against the light. She caught herself soon enough to avoid trouble, but it was easy to see why she almost walked out into the traffic. She was walking along looking at her cell phone, (probably texting) and in addition was wearing ear phones. It’s pretty dumb to not be watching where you are going and not hearing what is going on when at a busy intersection.

Screens are essential these days, they entertain and educate and facilitate many function in modern society. An example of their superb usefulness has been the recent eclipse and also the transit of Venus across the Sun. Not only can you see images of these events, the images you can access are often of high quality and definition and you can see and watch these events whenever and as often as you wish.

Yet to me there is a worrisome aspect to screens when for example young people spend endless hours playing video games. It’s not that I worry so much about the content of these games as some people do, for me it is the large chunks of time wasted.

Well that’s about enough for this President’s message. Besides I want to go watch an episode of Star Trek on the big screen.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

July 2012

At the June Humanists of Utah Board meeting, I put forth the notion that our chapter needs a makeover. I think we need to become more relevant to the times, to young people, and a bit more activist. To start with we can upgrade our website and get more connected to the internet world and to likeminded groups. I also suggest that we do away with our summer recess and get involved with the Pride festivities. The Pride Festival is a win-win situation for us in that we can work for a cause we believe in (human rights issues) and make our chapter better known to the public at the same time. I also think that we should have another social in the summer inviting members of the Utah Coalition of Reason, which Humanists of Utah belongs to, together for a Freethinkers event.

We should also keep our involvement with the Homeless Youth Resource Center as one of our activist/charitable causes.

There were a lot of good ideas discussed at the board meeting and we will continue to sort through them in the months to come. The board of directors would also like to hear from the membership of Humanists of Utah as to what kind of events you prefer. We’re hopeful that we can find a good mix of desirable activities throughout the year. I am confident that we can achieve these goals of improving the chapter to make our schedule more appealing to all.

However, not everything is being changed. The schedule will still include our February Darwin Day celebration, our August BBQ, our December social, and a few speakers.

In my years on the board and as president we have always struggled with attracting new and especially younger people to get involved and become members. We have also struggled with making the chapter more “visible” to the public in general.

I believe that fostering and assisting the Utah Coalition of Reason to accomplish the goal to bring free thought groups together for common causes and socialization is one of the best ways to increase our visibility. The Utah Coalition of Reason exists because of the awareness that freethinker groups are diverse and somewhat fragmented and thus we should use UCoR to help us coordinate activities and share resources.

Well, enough about changes, I hope your summer is going well. Yesterday was the first day with measurable rain in 38 days, so the rain was welcome and refreshing and helped with the fires raging around the state. The rain was great for my garden and I’ll soon be enjoying the freshest tomatoes you can’t buy. But my zucchini plants have already taken over. If I don’t check and harvest then for a couple days the little things turn into torpedoes. Anybody need a Zucchini or two?

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

January 2012

My goodness here it is 2012, the year the latest bunch of doomsayers say we will all perish on the next winter solstice. Like all of the previous predictors of the end of the world, they will most likely be wrong. Some may ask “how can you be sure they will be wrong?” My answer is that their claims are not based on any knowledge like discovering an asteroid hurling toward earth. Those claims of doom rarely have any real science behind them. I strongly suspect that the earth will be here a year from now.

Occasionally I have expressed a desire to not be negative in my president’s message. At first, that was true for this month also, but I just can’t do it. There are a couple of thing in the front of my mind that I have to say something about.

First is the news that legislation authorizing indefinite detention of citizens was signed by the president. When I read about this I had to ask myself “What kind of country is it that allows this kind of law to go into effect?” This is a law that pretty much gives the government the ability to send you to a gulag or concentration camp. To then have no redress, no rights. This is not the United States I served in the Air Force for.

This has to be a violation of the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth amendments. These decrees, which deal with search and seizure, the right to a speedy trial, and other similar issues are fundamental to what this country is all about. Are we so inept at fighting terrorism that we must turn to destroying the very rights we claim to be protecting? The very words, “indefinite detention” are the exact opposite of “the right to a speedy trial.”

We can also take note that the media pretty much ignored this little item. This law is not a good start for the New Year.

The other thing that has been in the front of my mind is on a much smaller scale and local. It kind of made me chuckle in a black humored sort of way when I heard that a senior center, due to budget restraints, was cutting out most or all of the bread and some of the desserts. Additionally, the small portable CD player they used for exercise classes was broken and there weren’t funds to replace it. While I chuckled, I again asked myself, “what kind of country is this?” where we pamper the rich and a senior center has to go without. I realize that in the world of suffering these senior center items are pretty mild, but the contrast between rich and poor in these times is rather stark.

Before I finish I want to thank former board members Julie Mayhew and Karen Keller. Their time and efforts over the past several years is much appreciated. Again Thanks so much.

Donations for the Homeless Youth Center we collected at the December social were well received. The value was estimated to be over $600.00. Thanks everyone!

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

February 2012

I have often been heard to say that my humanism has its roots in science. I say that because in the end I understand that it was my interest in science that drew me away from religion. From the early age of about fifteen, I began asking questions that irritated the religious adults in my life. I remember asking someone in the Mormon bishopric, “If god created everything, then who created god?” This is the famous (infamous?) first cause question, which I think, can logically come to mind. The irritated response I received was that I shouldn’t ask those kinds of questions because they were unanswerable. I also remember there was some admonition about obedience and studying the scriptures.

As I have been thinking about science in my life, I wondered what it was in my youth that ignited my love of science. There are actually many, but the really big one occurred when I was my eleventh grade advanced biology and physiology class at a military school. The teacher had good resources. Suffice it to say, we had more than worms to dissect. Plus the teacher would dissect in class other larger animals he had access to. It was all quite fascinating. This is about the time when my “obedience” to nonsense was all but gone.

Obedience without doubt is a common thread with most religions. Here is another example I came across recently: “Independent thinking is not encouraged.” That statement from a religious publication, (not Mormon) stands in stark opposition to our humanist ideals which includes freethought as one of the paramount necessities. It is also necessary to advocate and defend science. Unfortunately quite often these days science needs to be defended. Defended from attacks by those who are working hard constantly, to put religious beliefs alongside real science in schools.

I am not interested in challenging anyone’s belief in god. People should always be free to believe whatever they wish. But when beliefs are turned into actions which we disagree with we must be willing to challenge efforts to, for instance, insert creationism into the science curricula in schools. Teaching students that the Grand Canyon was carved, virtually overnight by the Noah flood is nonsense and it most certainly is not science. Asserting that the earth is only several thousand years old rather than the 4.6 billion years it is estimated to be. It is unfortunate and frustrating that observable facts must be defended and at times it may feel like a waste of time to have to oppose nonsense that tries to call itself science. But we must continue to do so.

That’s enough about the conflict between science and religion. Our February Darwin Day will be our fifth, and we come together to celebrate Darwin’s birthday, his great contribution to science, and to celebrate science in general. So please join us for an informative evening and piece of birthday cake.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

December 2012

Flo Wineriter’s recent article in our newsletter advocating “Religious Humanism” was thought provoking. Those in the humanist/free thought community who wish to be considered religious humanists are free to do so; I think this stance is good for the humanist community in that it provides the fellowship aspect of our humanist philosophy. The Unitarian Church provides service for many of our humanist members who are also Unitarians.

I will readily admit that as someone who comes to humanism from a scientific point of view, I am a bit negligent in the fellowship area. But I’m happy to report that chapter member Elaine Ball has offered to work to change our lack of fellowship and make us a more, if you will, connected membership. And, as you may already know, Elaine is a certified humanist celebrant.

Reading Flo’s article reminded me of a lament I have sometimes, when these discussions about religion and humanism come about. I wish the discussion wasn’t so often about humanism as an alternative to religion. I know, I know, in many ways it IS the alternative to religion. Dogmatic religion, that is. I also know that we have to “Man the Ramparts” in many areas where religious fundamentalists seek to change secular society. Here I am going off on a rant about secular society, but I can’t help it. Whenever I bring up secular society or see it in print somewhere being vilified, I want to ask. “Why don’t you understand that our secular society is why everyone has the right to worship or not however they wish?” The marketplace of religion is open and free, as it should be. But a majority of religious people really do hate the idea of a secular society.

Well, enough of that stuff. I hope that you will join us at our December Social for (as I always say) a good meal and some good company.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

President’s Message

April 2012

This month it is necessary for me to get my message written early. Sitting here I remembered that the vernal equinox is in a few days on the 20th of March. I think I like this time of year the best, as it starts to warm up enough to get outside and crank up the garden. Nature is waking up and some of the early flowers will be blooming soon. Plus now is the time to get some of the hardy crops going. Last year was the first time in many years that I grew potatoes and was pleasantly reminded that even potatoes are much better when they have only been out of the ground for a couple of hours. I don’t want to bore you to death with garden talk, but it does lead into something I wanted to write about, namely sustainability and population.

In regards to sustainability, you would think that being frugal with resources would be second nature to a prudent, logical and rational mind. But sadly our human tendency is to use something until we use it up, or in the case of living organisms, until we push them to extinction. Whether from population pressure or the desire to make a profit, we use resources at frightening rates. Getting more involved in sustainability is a good thing to do and I plan to do more myself by trying to buy local and using some of the other “green” practices that are available to us. Sustainability is a broad subject and I think it would be interesting to have a speaker at one of our general meetings give a presentation on the subject.

As to population, when I was born in 1948, the population of the world was about 2.5 billion, and now it stands at 7.0 billion. It has nearly tripled in the 63 years that I have been around. I think over population is one of if not the most serious problems humanity is faced with. But the response we give to this problem is meager at best. I think we shrug it off partly because it is a very difficult problem and partly because people are more concerned with protecting a person’s right to have whatever size family they want. So we continue to add, at present, some 135 million people per year, while 56 million die.

Demographics and population statistics can be interesting and helpful in understanding how growth rates affect us. For instance, at present the world growth rate is 1.1 % which is down from a high around 2.2% in the mid-sixties. That looks pretty damn low, but you always have to remember that it is always growing. So with that 1.1% growth rate we get an increase of around 80 million per year. When you’re talking about a large number, like 7 billion, even a 1.1% growth rate represents a bunch of people.

It is quite understandable that a majority of people, world-wide, are busy surviving and not worrying about population growth. But I think it should be government policy to encourage its citizens to adopt the idea of only replacing their selves. In fact, it would be nice if population shrank a little, without doing it with wars and starvation. And wouldn’t it be nice to leave a little oil in the ground, a few trees standing, and a few fish in the seas, for the future and our grandchildren.

–Robert Lane
President, HoU

In Memoriam

Paul Kurtz

1925 ~ 2012

November2012

Humanists of Utah mourns the passing of the founder of the Council for Secular Humanism-and, indeed, of the secular humanist movement in America itself.

The meaning of life is what we choose to give it. Meaning grows out of human purposes alone. Nature provides us with an infinite range of opportunities, but it is only our vision and our actions that select and realize those that we desire. … Thus the good life is achieved, invented, fashioned in an active life of enterprise and endeavor. But whether or not an individual chooses to enter into the arena depends upon him alone. Those who do can find it energizing, exhilarating, full of triumph and satisfaction. In spite of failures, setbacks, suffering, and pain, life can be fun.

–“Exuberance: A Philosophy of Happiness”

Move to Amend

June 2012

“Congress: Corporate-controlled territory”

Ashley Sanders was the HoU speaker in May. She is a longtime activist from Salt Lake City who has worked predominantly on issues of corporate rule and climate justice. She spent the last year helping to organize the occupation of Washington, D.C. and working with the climate justice group Peaceful Uprising to stop fossil fuel extraction. She currently lives in Salt Lake, where she runs a chapter of Move to Amend and heads up a traveling street theater troupe to educate people on corporate power and democracy. She currently sits on Move to Amend’s National Executive Committee.

Ashley used as the basis for her presentation a talk by Molly Morgan: “Move to Amend: The History of Corporate Rule and What You Can Do to Reverse it.” She began by reviewing the beginnings of corporations in England and America, and reminding us that some of the wealthiest, most privileged people in the colonies wrote the U.S. Constitution. They created a system of government that is designed to protect property, not people. In fact, the proposed constitution brought a huge outpouring of opposition from the citizens when first revealed, and only after a lot of work was the constitution ratified–and only with the assurance that a Bill of Rights would be added to protect people from excesses by the government.

Control of corporations went to state legislatures where they would get the closest supervision by the people and there were explicit rules for corporations to follow; most importantly, in order to receive the profit-making privileges they sought, corporations had to represent a clear benefit for the public good.

State legislatures over the years increased corporate charter length while decreasing corporate liability and citizen authority over corporate structure, governance, production, and labor. In 1868 the 14th amendment was ratified, giving citizenship rights to all persons born or naturalized in the U.S. (the intended beneficiaries being the newly freed slaves). Corporations, in order to free themselves of accountability to the people, felt they needed to become entitled to the same rights as individuals. In a non-descript Supreme Court case, the justices declared unanimously that corporations are persons deserving the law’s protection. There was no public debate, no law passed in Congress–corporations simply received the status of persons thanks to the Supreme Court.

Over the years since, corporations have acquired rights by Supreme Court decisions. They gained search and seizure protection, freedom of the press and speech. In 1976 the court determined that money is equal to speech and since corporate “persons” have 1st amendment rights, they can contribute as much money as they want to political parties and candidates. Corporations have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages that individuals have.

The latest move was Citizens United v. FEC (2010), in which the current U.S. Supreme Court justices sided with the wealthy elite against the interests of the American people. Corporations can now spend unlimited money to buy our elections.

The campaign to end corporate personhood–Move to Amend–is “like applying a massive crowbar at the most pivotal point against a stuck door holding back democracy.”

Ashley spoke about this grass roots effort spreading across the U.S. She explained the rationale behind a low-key but steadily growing movement from the ground up–from the people. Surpassing the 7000+ signatures required to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot in Salt Lake City, local Move to Amend volunteers got over 11,000 signatures. The ultimate goals are national constitutional amendments that will abolish corporate personhood, establish that money is not speech, guarantee the right to vote and to participate, and to have our votes and participation count, and to protect local communities, their economies and democracies against control and domination by large corporations and other entities. She urged us to get involved.

The audience for Ashley’s talk was obviously very interested and concerned, asking many questions at the end of the presentation.

To read more go to Move to Amend.

–Susan Fox

In Memoriam

Lorille Miller

1925 ~ 2012

November 2012

Lorille Miller, one of Humanists of Utah’s founding members, died in October. Lorille was our official Historian for many years and one of the main reasons our chapter survived during its formative years.

Lorille was also a pillar of the First Unitarian Church, the Utah Democratic Party, and other local progressive endeavors.

Humanists of Utah extends our condolences to the Miller family.

Liberal Progress

February 2012

“….with liberty and justice for all.” U.S.Pledge of Allegiance.

The liberal social agenda is summarized in the final phrase of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance and it is marching forward successfully. I was born in 1924 and during my 87-years I have seen the spirit of liberalism enjoy many victories: Two Quakers elected president, Herbert Hoover and Richard Nixon; one president elected to four terms, FDR; a small businessman elected president, Harry Truman; a Catholic in the White House, JFK; a movie actor elected president, Ronald Regan; a Republican President opens relationship with a communist nation, Richard Nixon; a violator of our legal code forced to resign the presidency, Nixon; an accused violator of our moral code escapes impeachment, Bill Clinton; a black citizen overwhelming elected to our nation’s highest political office, Barack Obama; and currently a thrice married Catholic is endorsed by Protestant evangelicals as a presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich.

In my lifetime prohibition was tried and failed, young adults, those between 18 and 21 year of age were given the privilege of voting. Black citizens were recognized fully as individuals rather than only 3/5ths of a citizen. A black civil rights leader was honored with a monument on the grounds of our nation’s Capital, Martin Luther King.

An 8-hour work day and 5-day work week is instituted. Some financial income when out of work and/or retired, basic medical care and career opportunities are available for workers

With the lawful sale of contraceptives women have won the right to decide when to become mothers and the right to have an abortion before they have been pregnant for less than three months. They can have a career of their choice and enjoy increasing equality with males in all walks of life. They win elections to governorships, legislatures, Mayors, councilors; CEOs and become business owners. Women are political leaders in both parties and have had successful careers as Secretary of State. They are familiar faces as anchors on television newscasts and are respected journalists.

Interracial marriages are common, homosexuals of both sexes are accepted politically, publically, as business leaders and in the military, and have full citizen rights, tattoos and body piercing besides ear rings are readily available. Sexual pleasures are accepted as recreational activities. Citizens of all races, religions, and ethnicities can buy or rent a home anywhere they can afford.

Our nation races to help the victims of poverty and the victims of nature’s aberrations round the world. We rebuilt Europe after a devastating war and now financially support and host a worldwide forum, the UN, where nations can openly discuss their differences and seek peaceful solutions to serious problems. The United States evolves as the world’s leading power morally, economically, politically, and militarily.

All of these progressive actions have occurred in my lifetime!

Despite the opposition of conservatives the agenda of liberalism, “liberty and justice for all” continues to march ahead toward “a more perfect nation.”

–Flo Wineriter
This was submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune, but never published

As Humannists, Do We Have the Right to Judge Others?

May 2012

I’ve been pondering this question for some time now as I’m faced on an almost daily basis with a barrage of Facebook, email, and other electronic communications from and between a large group of family members who feel very differently than I do about many of the issues that face us today. For instance, I support gay marriage–they do not; I am a liberal–they’re deeply conservative; they are members of the predominant religion–I left it years ago. Yet, I see daily their Facebook posts and emails about their religion, gun rights, stopping gay marriage, raging against abortion, and ultra-conservative political views. I try very hard not to respond unless I see a blatant falsehood that can be corrected by possibly posting a link to a news article–or unless I simply can’t stop myself. But I’m always a little confused, if you will, about how to think about these people. I know that for the most part they’re decent people, but I find myself judging them harshly because of the very real harm their beliefs, turned to action, can do. Do I have that right?

I’ve done some searching and reading, starting with Steven Lukes (http://newhumanist.org.uk/2016/moral-dilemmas) who states, “But we need to face a troubling question, rendered all the more insistent in a shrinking world in which multiculturalism and the politics of recognition flourish. Who are we to judge the practices and beliefs of other cultures? Who are we to apply our standards to the adherents of other moral and religious systems?” (italics added)

Lukes goes on into a relatively deep (and to me, disappointing) discussion and winds up with nothing concrete (please read the article–many of you, I’m sure, will come out with clearer answers than I did).

A portion of a chapter on the American Humanist Association website (http://www.americanhumanist.org/what_we_do/publications/Humanism_as_the_Next_Step/Chapter_6:_Applying_Humanism_to_Personal_Problems) was a little more useful:

“A humanist tries to look at problems in social relations from a characteristic perspective, that is, as problems in human happiness, problems in working out what will be best for the people concerned. There is no asking who is or is not right or wrong. As a practical person and as one who recognizes no immutable, hard-and-fast categories of good and evil, the interest is in workable solutions and happy relationships. There are not thoroughly good and thoroughly bad people, merely good and bad behavior; and behavior is likewise judged by its effect on oneself and on others. Situations are approached with confidence in, and openness toward, the people involved. The point of view of others is respected; humanists realize that those others have an equal right to their special slants. The aim is to be non-dogmatic, good humored, in a word, democratic.” … “They will refrain from laying down hard-and-fast rules as to how friends and relatives will or should act. They will try to understand rather than to judge. We can easily summarize this general approach to human relations. It is only by accepting people as they are and by trying to understand them that we can live with them successfully.”

I struggle to understand people whose views are so different than my own. Is there really “no asking who is right or wrong” if I believe that they are hurting people by voting against measures to ensure the rights of gays, by fighting any type of gun control and having many guns (even assault rifles) in their homes, going out of their way to fight against any form of environmental protections (dismissing environmentalists with scorn as “treehuggers), and on and on. How do I not judge them?

Yet, am I being unfair to them? They’re acting on what they’ve been taught over decades, with fears instilled by experiences, lack of education, and teachings of parents, and, according to some studies, they’re even “born that way” to a certain degree. I recognize that they see their views as being more positive for mankind and mine as contributing to the downfall of mankind.

I found no real answers in my reading. I’ll continue to strive to be friendly with my family members, try to look past their world views that, to me, are so disheartening and harmful, remember that I don’t have every answer, and attempt to open their minds in any small way that I can when opportunities arise. I’ll continue to follow my own path: “They knew no better, but I do not propose to follow the example of a barbarian because he was honestly a barbarian.” (Robert Ingersoll) But when their prejudices and biases become too blatant, I’m afraid I’ll be judging them.

If you have any thoughts or insights into this dilemma, I’m sure there’d be space in an upcoming newsletter for responses.

–Susan Fox

Journey to Humanism

Jason Cooperrider

December 2012

I am honored to have been invited to share the story of my journey to humanism with you here tonight. Before telling you about the journey to my current worldview, I’ll first describe what my current worldview is. I have chosen a variety of terms to help identify myself to others, so I would like to begin by explaining what I mean by each of those labels related to my worldview. Many of you will probably find that several of these labels help to identify you also, even if you haven’t necessarily thought of yourself in such terms before. I consider myself an atheist because I lack belief in any deity. Being an atheist means nothing more and nothing less, which is why there is such a variety of atheists out there. Most atheists do not claim to know with certainty that a deity does not exist, which is contrary to the view many people have of atheists. Atheists will say that the probability a deity does exist is small, which is why s/he has chosen not to believe in any given deity. It’s unfortunate that this term even exists, unlike aunicornist or aleprechaunist, but the vast majority of people do maintain belief in the existence of a deity, even though the evidence in support of it is on par with that for unicorns and leprechauns.

In addition to lacking belief in any deity, I also lack belief in the supernatural in general, thereby labeling myself as a naturalist. I only believe in what is supported by evidence of sufficient quantity and quality. In particular, I would label myself as an empiricist because I require such evidence to be empirical in nature, in that it can be measured and observed by the senses or instruments.

I consider myself a freethinker because I embrace freethinking in all aspects of life, such that I subscribe neither to faith nor dogma. I consider myself a skeptic because I critically evaluate available information before making a decision about whether to believe something, rather than blindly accepting the claims of others. I consider myself a secularist because, given my lack of belief in the existence of any deity, I consider it foolish to combine scriptures and rituals related to the belief in a deity with the governance of the people. Finally, and the reason I am here tonight, I consider myself a humanist because I don’t simply define myself with what I don’t believe, but also with what I do believe. I believe in humanism because I believe in dedicating my life to benefiting humanity, both at an individual level and as a whole. I think it is our duty to be the best species we can be and to help each other in doing so, sharing a common love for seeking the truth and developing a shared ethics.

Now I will tell you a bit about how I’ve developed this worldview over the course of my life and why it is important to me.

I was always a very curious child and remain that way now. To this day, several of my relatives who were close to me when I was a child tell me that I was always asking questions and eager to learn about the world around me. At an early age, sometime around 3 years old, this innate curiosity manifested itself in a love of science, which persists to this day and certainly always will. At age 6, my curiosity led me to ask my mother some difficult questions. Oddly, this happened when I came in to use the restroom after playing outside, such that I started interrogating my mother from behind the closed door of the bathroom while sitting on the toilet. Many profound thoughts have occurred to me while sitting on the toilet over the years and this was the earliest example of that that I can remember. In one go, I asked her if Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy were real. After some hesitation, she confirmed that they were not. I was not upset in realizing that I had been lied to up to that point, though I did somewhat lament having learned the truth.

By age 10, my interest in science had become more of an obsession, such that I already had plans to get at least one Ph. D. in a scientific field, at an age when most children don’t even know what a Ph. D. is. Because my mother raised me by herself and almost my entire childhood was funded by Welfare and Social Security, this was a difficult goal to set for myself, but I had no doubt that I would achieve it. In fact, it was because of those difficult conditions during my childhood that I chose to focus on my education, which paid off in the long run. Initially, my scientific obsession focused on chemistry, but morphed into physics by age 12 and persisted throughout high school and into the beginning of my college education. Part way through my second year of college, I was exposed to and fell in love with neuroscience, particularly the study of the human brain. This solidified when the professor of my first neuroscience course began the first day of class by saying that there are more possible connections between the cells of the human brain than there are stars in the known universe. That has led me to where I am today, having nearly completed a doctoral degree in neuroscience at the University of Utah, after having graduated from The Ohio State University with one bachelor of science degree in neuroscience and another in psychology.

Religion didn’t play a major role in my life until my grandmother convinced my mother to let her get me baptized in the Lutheran church to which my grandparents belonged. This happened right around the time when I questioned the existence of such fantastical beings as Santa Claus, but I did not extend such thinking to God, because everyone believed in God, including adults, and God’s existence was just a fact that everyone knew. As such a young child, I had no reasons I could think of to resist being brought into Christianity; to the contrary, I was excited at the prospect of becoming an official Christian, based on what I had been taught up to that point, which was that a Christian is simply the ideal person. Anyone who isn’t a Christian is inferior and possibly even evil. One of my grandmother’s major mistakes shortly thereafter was to buy me a children’s Bible, which contained many illustrations and child-friendly text describing some of the more interesting parts of the Bible, such as Noah’s Ark and the battle of David and Goliath. I think this was a mistake on her part because it caused me to view the Bible as a storybook–a work of fiction–rather than as a legitimate holy text inspired by the word of God.

My skeptical nature shined through even as a child, when I would ask adults questions about parts of the Bible and Christianity that didn’t make much sense to me or begged further explanation. My mother, a nondenominational Christian, was good about trying to answer my questions, but others, such as my grandmother, would tell me I just needed to have faith and quit asking so many annoying questions. A major event happened for me when I was 12 years old: much to my grandparent’s chagrin, after I complained to my mother about how much I disliked having to wake early on Sunday and spend so much time at the boring church service, she told me I no longer had to go to church with my grandparents if I didn’t want to. With mom’s permission secured, I stopped going immediately, and though my grandparents pushed the issue for a while and tried to force me to go, they eventually relented.

In junior high school, with religious indoctrination greatly reduced, I learned more about the methodology of science and about the power of science to answer interesting questions and to reveal knowledge of the physical world, allowing us to use that knowledge to accomplish great things. This led to me abandoning Christianity altogether part way through high school, realizing that there was just too much about it that did not make sense and was even contradictory to scientific knowledge. Initially, my Christianity gave way to a generic monotheism–a belief that “God” exists and interferes in the daily affairs of the universe, such as answering the prayers of the humans it had created–and I developed a very personal relationship with “God,” who was not plagued with the human flaws given to it by most of the world’s religions. Nowadays, I suppose this condition would be referred to as “spiritual but not religious,” or simply as “theist.” As long as I believed in “God,” everything was okay to my mother and grandmother (my grandfather died just before my first year of high school). I didn’t believe in their god anymore and couldn’t imagine how anyone could be so arrogant as to claim to know and understand “God” through any particular religion and to force their flawed religion on others. Therefore, at some point in high school, I refused to stand and recite the Pledge of Allegiance each morning, due to the fact that it contained “under God.” Once, when a substitute teacher in my AP Chemistry class insisted that I stand and recite the pledge, I said “under Einstein” instead of “under God,” and began saying “under science” thereafter. My belief in “God” went downhill from there.

I began questioning whether “God” even existed during my first year of college. As I learned more about the natural sciences and critical thinking, my grandmother’s dire prediction came true: higher education had led me to atheism, because I eventually realized this whole concept of “God” really isn’t necessary to understand reality and it even serves to unnecessarily complicate matters. In my grandmother’s eyes, the atheism factory known to some as university had worked its evil ways on me. Until I came to Utah for graduate school, I referred to myself as agnostic, because I admitted the fact that it was impossible to disprove the existence of a generic or deistic deity. One could only say that the existence of a deity is highly improbable. After hearing a talk by Victor Stenger, physicist and author of God: The Failed Hypothesis among other books on science and atheism, I became convinced that it is possible to disprove the existence of certain deities who are claimed to interact with the universe in some way. Contrary to what I believed before, absence of evidence actually is evidence of absence in some cases. Beyond that, I was convinced by University of Utah neuroscience professor Greg Clark that the probability that any deity exists is so small that it can honestly be stated as zero for all practical purposes. That is when I started considering myself simply an atheist.

My mother and my grandmother reacted differently to me officially labeling myself as atheist. Until I actually started referring to myself as an atheist, they both still maintained hope that I believed in “God.” It really sunk in for them when I told them I was going to appear on a local Christian television program as an atheist in November 2011 to discuss my views on atheistic morality. My grandmother reacted in extreme anger, telling me that she was no longer proud of me, that she hated atheists and was starting to feel that way about me, and that she was going to remove me from her will. My mother reacted with extreme fear, worrying that someone would shoot me during the television recording for making my atheism so public. Beyond such immediate concerns, my mother said she was very sad by the idea that we would not get to spend eternity together in Heaven, because my soul would be lost. My grandmother no longer reacts toward me in anger, but she still insists that I’ll eventually see the light and return to Christianity.

Beyond atheism, humanism is also an important part of my life. Because calling myself an atheist only describes one thing I lack belief in, I want a label that describes what I do believe in. I discovered in college that humanism does that quite nicely. Aside from whether a deity exists, humanism places great importance on science, reason, and benefiting humanity to help it reach its maximum potential. I’ll quickly mention that I embrace secular humanism particularly, because I think one of the ways humanity can reach its full potential is by completely rejecting religion from government (a first step in rejecting religion as a whole).

Because I developed this worldview and it is important to me in my never-ending quest for Truth, which I value greatly, I have become involved in a number of atheist/humanist groups both nationally and locally. I will focus on the local groups for the purpose of this talk. In May 2009, Elaine Ball and I cofounded the University of Utah student group SHIFT (Secular Humanism, Inquiry and Freethought) with a couple other students as a revamped version of a precursor group. I served as its president for a year after having served as vice-president under Elaine during the first semester of the group’s existence and I have served as its treasurer since January 2011. Our group has been quite successful over the years, with a large diversity of members and some really fantastic guest speaker events, featuring such accomplished figures as former United Nations representative Dr. Austin Dacey, Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Dan Barker, bloggers Greta Christina and Dr. Paul “PZ” Myers, and physicist Dr. Victor Stenger, to name a few. Because of these and other efforts to educate its members and the community about atheist/humanist issues, SHIFT has been recognized both at the university level, being chosen as student group of the month twice, and at the international level, receiving the Secular Student Alliance’s Best Educator Award in 2010.

In the summer of 2010, I joined the boards of two other incipient local groups–the Utah Freethought Society and the Utah Coalition of Reason. These groups serve two unique roles in the community and I have been proud to be part of them. Though I had been an active member of the Humanists of Utah since the summer of 2009, when Julie Mayhew first contacted me about SHIFT and invited me to the annual barbecue party, it wasn’t until December 2010 that I was elected to the board as secretary. It hasn’t been easy being involved with so many groups while simultaneously working on a Ph. D. (it’s been especially difficult this semester, because I’ve been teaching a course at the U and a course at Westminster), but it has been a highly rewarding experience, as I’ve learned a great deal and met many wonderful people. My fellow group members have become my family here, with my nearest relative living 1500 miles away. I have all the community I desire from these groups, which is why I have no need for religious involvement, regardless of whether I believe in a deity.

Thank you for listening to my story. I hope you found it both enlightening and entertaining. I welcome any questions you might have now or in the future.

–Jason Cooperrider

Human, Not Gay Rights

January 2012

Sometimes you just have to give credit where credit is due. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could have given some boilerplate remarks about the importance of human rights on International Human Rights Day in Geneva (12/8/12). She could have taken the opportunity to take some swipes at Iran or the Taliban.

But instead she gave a speech that made everyone sit up and notice:

”Today, I want to talk about the work we have left to do to protect one group of people whose human rights are still denied in too many parts of the world today. In many ways, they are an invisible minority.”

She was talking about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transcended people.

It was landmark because it made the very simple point that gay rights are part of human rights–an argument that sounds obvious but which has been repeatedly denied by countries around the world.

But the most interesting (and un-American) part of the speech was that she didn’t use her speech to set up the United States as any kind of beacon for human rights or get on a moral high horse. She acknowledged that the American record was ”far from perfect.” She didn’t use her bully pulpit to just trumpet the Obama administration’s own record–for example, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

She actually looked abroad for inspiration–to South Africa, Colombia, Mongolia, and India:

”To highlight one example, the Delhi High Court decriminalized homosexuality in India two years ago, writing, and I quote, ‘lf there is one tenet that can be said to be an underlying theme of the Indian constitution, it is inclusiveness.”’

That’s noteworthy. When foreign leaders decide they need to acknowledge inspiration from India in a speech, they don’t usually look to the Delhi High Court. Their speechwriters do a quick search on ”Famous Quotes from Mahatma Gandhi” instead.

By singling out the Delhi High Court judgment at a time when it is being challenged in lndia’s Supreme Court, the United States just raised its stature. Gay activists in India might bask in the sunshine of that unexpected plaudit, but they should also take a moment to learn something from her speech.

Too often the fight for equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people gets bogged down in the same arguments.

We don’t need the West dictating its values to us. This is against our Indian values. It is illegal, immoral and against the Indian ethos, said the BJP’s senior leader, BP Singhal. Yoga guru Baba Ramdev claimed that it offended the ”structure of Indian value system, Indian culture and traditions.

Clinton took that issue head-on: ”Being gay is not a Western invention; it is a human reality. And protecting the human rights of all people, gay or straight, is not something that only Western governments do.”

But then she went further. She said that gay rights are human rights, and that you cannot do to gay people what you would not do to other humans. You cannot just hide behind the veil of culture, value systems or tradition. There cannot be a ”women exception” or a ”Dalit exception” or a ”gay exception” to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Then it is not universal at all.

Take women’s rights. Terrible things have been done to women in the name of cultural tradition:

”This is not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women, like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation. Some people still defend those practices as part of a cultural tradition. But violence toward women isn’t cultural; it is criminal.

It is not that honor killings do not happen, but it is harder to excuse them as just part of culture. But homosexuals still exist outside that circle of protection. A gay man can be hanged in Iran for being gay. Fifty-two men can be picked up in a boat party in Cairo and thrown into jail. Robert Mugabe can call homosexuals in his country ”pigs and dogs” with impunity. We are much readier to hold homosexuals to a different standard because we regard homosexuality as unnatural, not part of our culture.

Therefore, activists expend a lot of energy to make gay rights make sense in their cultural context. That makes sense. It is important for us to argue for something that looks like it is home- grown and not imported from New York or Amsterdam. It is vital for us to research and reclaim our own gay and lesbian history, as Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai did in their book Same-Sex Love in India. But while the fight for equal rights can and should be local, the issue is universal. As the declaration states:

”All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.”

Clinton showed in her speech that ultimately there must be a line in the sand before it turns into the quicksand of cultural relativism. Some things are just not negotiable. Otherwise, you slowly strip the ”universal” out of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to the detriment of us all. In Geneva she reminded us that whether you are fighting for gay rights in Washington, D.C. or at the Supreme Court in Delhi, it is actually not about gay rights at all. Because as long as you are fighting for gay rights, you are fighting for special rights.

This fight is actually about human rights. Period.

–Richard McMahan
CDHS Humanist, January 2011

Humanist History

November 2012

Flo Wineriter presented a brief history of humanism, our Utah Chapter, and humanist philosophy to the University of Utah Osher Luncheon Wednesday, October. 31. His talk included details of Rev. Ed Wilson, former Minister of the Salt Lake Unitarian Congregation, concerning his role in the founding of the American Humanist Association, Editor, and Publisher of the first Humanist Magazine in the U.S. and his leadership in the founding of our Utah Chapter. Following his talk Flo engaged in a lively 30-minute dialogue with an estimated audience of 40 adult Osher students

After the Question and Answer session several people talked with him individually including Dr. Dana Wilson, now a retired VA Hospital physician and the a son of Ed Wilson and was the reason Rev. Wilson retired to Salt Lake City. Friday Flo received a lengthy letter from Dr. Wilson saying how much he and his wife enjoyed his presentation and saying “Thanks for your kind words about Dad. He was a great guy and we miss him enormously.”

–Flo Wineriter

Healthcare Reform

July 2012

Optimism is rampant with the declaration by the Supreme Court that the Affordable Healthcare Act meets Constitutional muster. However, the devil is in the details.

Those of us working in the medical field are all abuzz with “meaningful use” which translated means Federal dollars. At issue is having a method of health are delivery that actually works. Consider laboratory data as an example. A value from a laboratory in Denver may or may not be equivalent to another measurement done in a San Francisco lab. There are a myriad of reasons for discrepancies. The simplest being units of measure. The Denver lab might report the test in milligrams per milliliter while the San Francisco operation uses grams per liter. Other possible differences include that one lab will analyze whole blood while another uses plasma (or serum) which is the liquid component of blood. Then differences are seen in testing done on various instruments from unique vendors or even different reagents. My life right now is applying a Rosetta Stone approach known as LOINC coding to lab data.

Perhaps even more important is patient identification and confidentiality. We all need to have control of our own personal medical records and be able to share them with professionals who are treating us. In May 2008 HoU member Lauren Florence, MD introduced us to HIIU (Healthcare Information Initiative of Utah) an organization dedicated to patient focused Health Care Reform. Dr. Jim McGauley is one the driving forces of this organization. He recently produced the following document detailing how to handle the privacy and confidential issues that are so important:

INTRODUCTION

The establishment of a uniform national healthcare information system that produces a Coordinated Medical Record for every patient in the country will do more to improve the quality and decrease the cost of healthcare than any other initiative.

A uniform information system is a single system that is used by every healthcare provider in the country. This uniform system will produce a Coordinated Medical Record for every patient. A Coordinated Medical Record is a single record that contains all of a patient’s clinical and financial healthcare information across space and time.

Skeptics will say this is an unattainable goal. However, for the sake of argument, if this is our goal, how would we go about establishing this national Coordinated Medical Record system.

CREDIT CARD SYSTEM MODEL

The industry model for a national Coordinated Medical Record system already exists. It is the credit card system.

The credit card system captures information from numerous disparate sites, merges and organizes the information in a coordinated record, keeps the information safe, and distributes it efficiently and cost effectively. This is exactly what the healthcare industry needs.

There are four basic principles that make the credit card system work: (1) the standard identification of every cardholder and merchant, (2) a uniform system for capturing information at every merchant site, (3) a first-tier data processing center for merging and organizing every cardholders’ data, and (4) the automated distribution of data throughout the system.

These same principles can be used to establish a uniform national healthcare information system that produces a privacy-protected Coordinated Medical Record for every person in the country.

(1) Standard Identification of Every Patient: It is impossible to accurately coordinate a patient’s medical record over space and time if healthcare providers use different identification numbers for the same patient, as is the case in the healthcare industry today.

(2) A Uniform System for Capturing Patient Information at Every Caresite: The most efficient way to merge, organize and coordinate a patient’s medical record over space and time is to start by capturing the information in a single standard system at every caresite.

(3) Using a First-Tier National Data Processing Company: The most efficient way to coordinate every patient’s healthcare record over space and time is to use a first-tier data processing company to house the Coordinated Records and to maintain the communication channels among all healthcare providers. The first-tier companies are IBM, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Services (formerly EDS), Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), and Perot Systems. Using any one of these companies will provide the system with the highest levels of security, privacy, confidentiality and scalability.

(4) Automated Distribution of Data: Incorporating automatic data communication rules within the software source code of the system will allow data to be automatically distributed throughout the healthcare industry according to patient-controlled rule sets, with minimal need for human intervention. This is one of the key features that makes the credit card system so cost effective.

In the Coordinated Medical Record system, all of the patient data that is generated at a caresite will be stored in the patient’s record at that site, and a copy of the information will automatically be sent to that patient’s Coordinated Record in the Data Center.

In addition to the database of Coordinated Records in the Data Center, there is a Routing Mechanism that contains patient-controlled Rules that automatically send any updates to a patient’s record to any other caregiver that the patient designates. For example, a patient may always want their primary care doctor, their cardiologist and their oncologist routinely updated with any changes to their record. The Routing Mechanism accomplishes this, and automatically synchronizes the data in the identical copies of the patient’s record that sit at each of the authorized caresites.

TECHNICAL

Object-Oriented Technology: The key technical feature of a nationally coordinated healthcare information system will be the use of Object-Oriented technology. This technology captures and stores every piece of information as a discrete Object.

Think of a text document where every word is an individual Object. The Objects have obviously been put together to produce this particular text document, but they can also be pulled out individually and merged with other Objects to produce a different document. Object-Oriented technology allows all of the data in the system to be segmented or merged in almost any combination.

Summary: Possibly the most important benefit of using Object-Oriented technology is the ability to automatically produce a Summary of the major aspects of every patient’s health care over space and time. The fact that every piece of data is captured and treated as a discrete Object allows the diagnoses, procedures and medications from all of the different caresites that a patient visits to be automatically merged and organized in a Summary sheet.

The ability to automatically produce a Summary sheet for every patient over space and time is the defining hallmark of a truly Coordinated Medical Record system.

The fact that each patient’s Summary document is automatically updated at every caresite makes it significantly different than the Coordination of Care Document (CCD) that is currently being discussed in the industry. The CCD relies on the personnel at every caresite to compulsively manually update the document.

Data Segmentation: Another benefit of Object-Oriented technology is its ability to segment all of the data in each patient’s record in such a way that the entire record, or only the portions of the record that are specifically needed for a particular encounter are made available as needed.

Statistics and Reports: A third benefit of Object-Oriented technology is its ability to link any of the disparate pieces of data from all of the individual Coordinated Medical Records in the system to produce industry-wide statistics and reports that are unique in the healthcare industry. Picture a database that contains every piece of clinical and financial information on every patient in the country. All of this data sits in discrete Object-Oriented packets which can be linked in almost any combination to produce any type of statistical analysis or report.

These statistics and reports will contain unique and comprehensive information for clearly documenting the quality and the cost of healthcare across the nation. They will easily document issues such as compliance, over-utilization, under-utilization, and fraud. They will revolutionize the medical research and medical literature industries.

SECURITY, PRIVACY & CONFIDENTIALITY

The idea of a Coordinated Medical Record system makes sense to most people. However, when contemplating such a system, almost everyone asks whether the privacy and confidentiality of the data in the system can be sufficiently protected.

To provide adequate assurances along these lines, the system must incorporate all of the usual methods of producing data and system security including data encryption, controlled access, and robust auditing mechanisms.

However, the two features that will provide the system with the highest levels of security, privacy and confidentiality are:

(1) the use of a first-tier data processing company, and

(2) giving every patient the primary control of their own record. This will include allowing every patient to have continuous access to the contents of their Coordinated Record, and the ability to correct any inaccuracies in the record as needed.

FEATURES

Standard Databases: The core of every healthcare record is the patient’s diagnoses, procedures and medications. In order to efficiently capture this data, the component of the Coordinated Medical Record system that is installed at every caresite should contain complete ICD-9(10), CPT, HCPCS, and NDC databases. They can also contain other databases such as SNOMED and LOINC as needed.

Using the system’s Object-Oriented technology and its automated data distribution feature, all of these databases can be updated remotely. For example, the transition from ICD-(9) to ICD-(10) can be done remotely, automatically and effortlessly for every caresite in the system.

Short Lists: In order to accommodate efficient data entry, a customized Short List of the most common diagnoses, procedures and medications should be generated for every caresite. With Object-Oriented technology, these Short Lists can easily be edited and revised as needed.

Templates: Each caresite system should include customized Templates for capturing specialized site-specific information. Template data should be captured as discrete Objects.

Electronic and Manual Prescriptions: Every caresite system should include the ability to generate electronic prescriptions. However, in order to accommodate any situation where e-prescribing is not possible, it should also include the ability to generate manual prescriptions that are digitally tagged so they can be subsequently entered into the electronic system at the pharmacy or by a subsequent procedural mechanism.

Medication Warning System: Every caresite system should include a Medication Warning component which brings up a warning of any potential adverse drug reactions at the time the prescription is entered into the system. This feature will be particularly effective since it is interacting in real-time with each patient’s uniquely comprehensive medical record.

Automated Referral Management: Using the system’s automated data distribution feature, basic Referral information will automatically be forwarded from one physician’s caresite to another. In addition, the Referral will automatically trigger the system to send the patient’s Coordinated Medical Record from the Data Center to the Referred physician, eliminating the need for any manual intervention in the Referral process.

Automated Billing: Every caresite system will automatically populate the billing component with the appropriate level of service and on-site procedure charges.

Insurance Management: Using the system’s Object-Oriented technology and its automated data distribution capability, the insurance information in every patient’s record will automatically be updated. As soon as verification of a change of insurance is received at any point in the system, it will be broadcast throughout the system and automatically update every copy of a patient’s medical record at every caresite where it exists — automatic data synchronization.

QUALITY IMPLICATIONS

A Coordinated Medical Record system will significantly decrease the incidences of misdiagnoses, inappropriate medications, duplicate tests, frequent emergency room visits, unnecessary hospitalizations, and fraud.

It is the coordination of each patient’s healthcare information over space and time, not simply the digitalization of the information (EMRs) that produces these benefits.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS

At least 30% of all healthcare dollars are currently being spent on the systems and services that move information throughout the healthcare industry. By contrast, the operating expenses of the credit card industry, which are essentially their cost of moving data, are less than 5%.

By using the same principles that make the credit card industry so cost-effective, a Coordinated Medical Record system can achieve the same financial benefits. It is the centralization of information, and particularly the automated distribution of data that are the underpinnings of the cost effectiveness of the systems.

In addition to the decreased operating expenses related to a Coordinated Medical Record system, here will also be significant savings related to the improvement in the quality of care.

The current cost to the healthcare industry of inappropriate medications is estimated to be about $200 billion a year, unnecessary emergency room visits $86 billion, unnecessary hospitalizations $25 billion, and fraud $100 billion. A national Coordinated Medical Record system will significantly reduce these unnecessary expenses. It is the coordination of both personal and

national aggregate clinical information that will provide the data to make these savings possible.

Statistics and Reports

Financial statistics and reports will document both the charges and the related payments for every clinical transaction. It is the Object-Oriented technology that allows every transaction to be efficiently tracked and documented. These financial statistics will provide uniquely comprehensive and detailed information for combating waste and abuse throughout the healthcare industry.

Insurance Profiles

The system generates a database which contains a comprehensive profile of every insurance carrier in the country. These profiles include the specific details of each carrier’s group categories and benefit packages, as well as charge vs. payment data. This information will make the internal functions of the insurance industry transparent.

CURRENT STATUS OF THE HEALTHCARE INFORMATION INDUSTRY

There are over 200 Electronic Medical Record systems (EMRs) on the market and they don’t communicate effectively with each other. There are about 38 Health Information Exchange systems (HIEs). These HIEs point to the data that sits in various EMRs, but do not coordinate the data. The two largest HIEs are owned by insurance companies.

Because of the way the EMRs and HIEs are designed, they will not be able to produce truly Coordinated Medical Records.

A NEW ENTITY IN THE HEALTHCARE INDUSTRY

A Coordinated Medical Record system will be an entirely new entity in the healthcare industry. Considering the power and the sensitivity of the information in the system, the organization that establishes and maintains the system must be completely neutral with regard to all of the players in the healthcare industry, controlled by none and beholden to none.

The sole focus of the organization will be to appropriately manage the flow of information throughout the healthcare industry, across all institutional boundaries.

BENEFICIARIES

The primary beneficiaries of the Coordinated Medical Record system will be patients and physicians, neither of whom have ever had access to comprehensive coordinated records.

Those who pay for healthcare, including patients, employers and government agencies, will see a documentable decrease in healthcare costs, with a concomitant documentable increase in the quality of care. This documentation will be provided by the neutral entity that establishes and maintains the system. The system will be ideal for newly forming Accountable Care Organizations.

Healthcare institutions that want to hold on to a fragmented legacy system will not benefit. However, if they participate in the Coordinated Medical Record system they will appreciate a significant decrease in their own operating expenses.

Insurance companies will no longer serve as care managers, resulting in a significant decrease in healthcare premiums. The Coordinated Medical Record system will automatically generate much better care management information than is currently available anywhere in the industry.

WHY TRY

The difficulty of establishing a national Coordinated Medical Record system cannot be underestimated. However, it is hard for anyone to stand up and say that such a system is a bad idea. And, it can be demonstrated that such a system will actually do more to both improve the quality and decrease the cost of healthcare than any other initiative.

–Jim McGauley, MD
Wayne Wilson

Expanding Humanism

January 2012

More and more people are seeing that atheism is not enough. Indeed, to be atheist is to say nothing of how we live and how we approach life. Where humanism succeeds is that it offers a view of the world and the philosophy necessary for action, and more people are finding this appealing. These people point to the growing number of humanists–those who seek to live an ethical, socially responsible life without belief in the supernatural. “We are humanist because it is a term that describes what we believe not what we don’t believe.”

From Free Mind, vol. 55 #4 Winter 2011 An AHA membership publication.

–Flo Wineriter

Does Evolution Make Big Changes?

February 2012

Humanists of Utah were treated to a fascinating discussion of evolution by Dr. Alan R. Rogers, professor of anthropology and biology at the University of Utah, who spoke on “Does Evolution Make Big Changes” at our January general meeting. His presentation included some of the questions raised by evolution skeptics and how those questions have been answered.

The U.S. population is next to last in the world (just above Turkey) in believing that human beings as we know them developed from earlier species of animals–only forty percent of Americans believe this fact. Dr. Rogers said he could assume that students in his classes were doing the homework and taking the tests, and that sixty percent of them didn’t believe a word he said. However, studies between 1985 and 2010 show there is a growing belief that no god was involved in the creation of man.

Evolution non-believers question the evidence of any big changes. They say there are no intermediate fossils of similar organisms and that species should show traces of common descent (DNA). Dr. Rogers went on to show how, in one example, recent intermediate fossil finds have proven that over millions of years land mammals evolved to be whales, including going from no motion of the tail to the tail becoming more important and feet less important, thus walking to swimming. The whole process took about ten million years. The first intermediate fossils were found in Pakistan in the early 1980s. Scientists had to be looking in the right place and in rocks of just the right age to find these fossils.

Other examples of evolution proven by intermediate fossils are birds evolving from dinosaurs, tetrapods evolving from fish, and in one specific instance, the evolution of the eyes of the flatfish from both sides of the head to one side of the head.

Progressive creationism claims that only similar organisms share ancestors; however, evolution proves that all organisms share ancestors. Dr. Rogers then went to discuss “transposons,” the fascinating “junk DNA” or “jumping genes” that are good for nothing but that copy themselves and insert themselves into random spots in DNA. They’re never lost without a trace. Each of the transposons is shared by all the descendants after the original insertion and only by these descendants. An example: deer and cows share transposons with humpback and beaked whales–they have a common ancestor.

A lively question-and-answer period at the end of the meeting brought up questions about the beginning of life on earth, evolution of drug-resistant bacteria which change so rapidly that drug companies have nearly given up on developing new antibiotics–they can’t recoup their costs before the bacteria has become resistant to the new drug, and more.

Dr. Rogers has been teaching evolution at the university level since 1980. He recently published the book “The Evidence for Evolution,” about which Dr. Steven Pinker of Harvard University says: “Alan Rogers addresses the political controversy over the theory of evolution (there’s no longer any scientific controversy) in the best scientific spirit: with evidence and logic. For anyone with an open mind, a curiosity about the natural world, and a desire to see controversies settled with evidence rather than rhetoric, this is an invaluable contribution and a fascinating read.”

–Susan Fox

DaVinci, The Leonardo, and Critical Thinking

Dr. Joe Andrade, science advisor for The Leonardo Museum in Salt Lake City, was the speaker for our well-attended Darwin Day celebration meeting in February. Dr. Andrade explained that one of the missions of The Leonardo is to stimulate critical thinking. He said the museum is for adults and for kids “who respond to being treated like adults,” and encouraged the Humanists of Utah to plan an activity to see the facility. The current exhibit, “This Light of Ours,” looks at the civil rights movement through the eyes of the photographers who documented it.

Dr. Andrade’s presentation was informal, touching on multiple topics and interests. He was enthusiastic about the amount of information available to us on the internet, sharing the websites of the Darwin Centre in Wales, the Natural History Museum in London, Leonardo3.net, and Universal Leonardo (universalleonardo.org). Suggested reading included “Leonardo” by Martin Kemp.

Dr. Andrade has a website, icurious.org, with lots of information about Leonardo Da Vinci, including PDFs, videos, etc. Some of the insights he shared: It’s believed by scholars that up to two-thirds of Da Vinci’s work is not accounted for. He had an insatiable curiosity, but also a terrible reputation for not finishing jobs. He had no respect for religions, ideologies, bibles, etc. He was illegitimate and therefore wasn’t allowed to attend school, being apprenticed out instead. His writings are voluminous and sometimes amusing–a shopping list written in the margin of a serious work. He wrote in his famous “mirror” writing (from right to left) probably because he was left-handed and wouldn’t smear ink that way

Dr. Andrade clarified that there is no “Da Vinci Code,” as imagined in the recent book and movie, but there is a Da Vinci code in his technical drawings. He shared with us a small model of one of Da Vinci’s inventions–actually the first self-propelled vehicle! One of Da Vinci’s many occupations was as a designer of theater sets; the vehicle was used as a stage prop in theaters and was spring-powered. The founders of Leonardo3.net have many models available of Da Vinci’s inventions, some of which they’ve been able to recreate by having unraveled the “code” in his technical drawings.

After the presentation, Dr. Andrade stayed to answer questions and visit with HoU members.

On his website Dr. Andrade says, “My current interest and concern is that the belief systems and structures imposed by traditional Abrahamic religions make their ‘true believers’ much less accepting of knowledge and education–in all spheres–and thus less capable of functioning as responsible, informed, educated, and rational citizens. Strong ‘believers’ tend to be susceptible to scams, pyramid schemes, propaganda, advertisements, charlatans, TV evangelists, charismatic talk-show hosts, pundits, and ‘prophets.’ My goal is simply to encourage/facilitate more intrinsic curiosity, questioning, and thinking.”

–Susan Fox

Central Government

March 2012

I thought our nations experiment with a weak central government and strong state theocracies ended June 17, 1788 when New Hampshire was the ninth state to ratify the new United States Constitution establishing a strong central secular government with the power to coin money, regulate commerce, and form a federal military force among other federal governing powers.

I also thought these principles were reinforced when the northern states won the vicious civil war in April 1865.

Now more than 200 years later many congressmen, senators, governors and state legislatures are still trying to reverse the decision made by delegates at the 1787 Constitutional Convention and go back to strong theocratic state governments controlling the power to coin money, control commerce, immigration, and other national operations as well as granting religions strong influence in civil affairs.

Will the Tea Party and Libertarians ever admit the Articles of Confederation were abolished and the North won the Civil War?

–Flo Wineriter
This was originally submitted to the Salt Lake Tribune, but never published.

Celebrating Diversity

January 2012

The basic humanist statement of belief clearly and plainly exemplifies our devotion to respecting and celebrating the diversity of human beliefs, human practices and human life-styles.

Humanists trace their views to the ancient Greek philosopher Protagoras and his dictum, “Man is the measure of all things.” The preciousness and dignity of the individual is a central humanist value. We work closely with people from a wide spectrum of faiths and philosophies for civil liberties, a healthy ecology, and social justice.

Humanism is a worldview which believes that reason and science are the best ways to understand the world around us, and that dignity and compassion should be the basis for how we act toward one another. Humanism recognizes the moral and ethical values of all religions, and every race. We respect all adult sexual preferences whether genetically determined or chosen by personal preference. We encourage every human to develop the courage of their convictions, to study moral and ethical issues, to question and to defend their conclusions vigorously but develop the willingness to change when new evidence is convincing and to celebrate the diversity of opinions arrived at by critical thinking.

We recognize the brave men and women who have spearheaded the historical events that have dramatically changed society. Changes that gave women the right to vote, the right to decide when to have a child, the women who demanded that children be free of religious indoctrination in the public classroom and that the wall of separation be maintained between religion and government.

We celebrate those who demanded civil rights for all in our diverse society, who removed children from assembly lines, gave us the 8-hour work day and the right to receive adequate compensation for our human labor.

We celebrate the diversities of the human mind and the variety of acceptable life styles those minds have developed.

Like the diverse colors of a rainbow that exist separately but blend together in a glorious array of beauty, we celebrate our human individuality, and our independent beliefs that blend together to make our community a glorious array of beauty. Humanism believes that our very existence depends upon the web of life and that our place in nature must be in harmony with all of life.

Humanist ethics, based on love and compassion for humankind and nature, place responsibility on humans for shaping our destiny and the future direction of the world.

We recognize the moral dilemmas and the need to be very careful in every moral decision because every decision and action has a consequence. We find spirituality in using our intelligence and creativity to leave the world a better place than we found it.

–Flo Wineriter

September 2012

by Lisa Miller

Homeless Youth Resource Center

As humanists we extend helping hands to challenged communities both from a general compassion as well as empathy for the other human beings currently sharing this planet with us. We reach outward due to our understanding of the complex makeup of life, the many impacts and influences that swirl and combine and re-composite a person’s life in directions undreamed of. There is rarely an “if only” single-point answer to point to as a cause or a cure for a person’s circumstances. We understand our joint humanity and that others’ suffering is not something to be dismissed as simply “their problem”. The humanists of Utah have adopted the Salt Lake City Homeless Youth Resource Center as a cause we want to support, hopefully providing some kind of positive impact in some important individual lives – individuals who deserve so much more than to be throwaways in our society.

When I dropped by the center to drop off the donations collected at our August picnic, I admit to feeling a bit anxious. I expected to encounter something along the lines of simmering resentment or anger, as well as facing my own guilt of privilege. In fact, it was the opposite (well besides dealing with my own continued and unreconciled sadness over inequity and privilege and chance…). When we pulled in to the parking lot, there were probably 10-15 young men standing around outside. Overall it was more an air of camaraderie – a group combined searching out that basic and universal need as a social creature. (Undoubtedly there is even more at play, creating a group of safety and survival). One young man jumped to open the door for us, with the most charming smile. Another young man asked if we had any bags left that he could help us carry in. Inside was the same casual air and the staff employees were easy-going and very enthusiastic in their acceptance of our donations – regardless of whether we hit or missed in our attempt to meet their current needs. One sad point in the picture was a lonely, very tall young man, eating a plate of stew at the counter, shoulders hunched over and inward as though so very defeated… but the sadness was mitigated by knowing that he was THERE, getting a warm meal, surrounded by people, at least for a few moments out of his day.

The Youth Resource Center provides a place where the youth on the street can get a meal, take a shower, do laundry, meet and talk. The center has also added resources to help the youth in finding jobs and/or more permanent shelter. On a given day between 60 and 85 youth stop by to use the resources. In a 2011 Task Force report, it was estimated that there are close to 800 homeless youth (ages 15-22) in the Salt Lake Valley. The most common cause (over 40%) for homelessness among our youth is as a result of being kicked out of their own homes for identifying as gay/lesbian/transgender. This is followed by teens leaving abusive home situations, teens whose families are homeless, and teens who have “aged out” of the foster care system with nowhere to go. We have very limited shelter resources for the youth: the adult shelter is often a dangerous or an untrusted place for youth. There is a transitional house with around 7 spots for young women. And the parent Volunteers of America group is working on getting a transitional home for young men (see their website www.voaut.org to donate to this effort).

Through your kind donations we delivered a good amount of food, clothing, and hygiene items. Thank you for effort and outreach. It was a very positive event for me to be able to interact with the people at the center. I hope you can take a little of that glow away with you too. We will be collecting again for the Resource Center at our December Town Meeting.

–Lisa Miller

October 2012

by Lisa Miller

Humanism Is Alive and Well

Sometimes I find myself wondering if the words humanism or humanist have meaning in the world today. I’m used to seeing self-identification in the larger community as skeptics, or atheists, or freethinkers. But it seems rare to ever hear an identification as a humanist. So it was a happy surprise when I recently became aware of a trend: a trend of people identifying themselves as humanists and advocating a philosophy of humanism as the goal for a more positive, more rewarding life and community.

The specific situation was around a highly emotional and disturbing battle over the definition of, and approaches to solving, sexual harassment in our skeptic communities. (I won’t air my thoughts on that issue in this article though). For those on the side of testifying, explaining, suggesting, revealing problems of sexual harassment in the skeptic community, the returning answer was many, many months of horrific backlash, landfills of angry words, physical and violent threats, and basic cyber terrorism.

During this, a woman from Skepchick.org started a series of interviews with visible male leaders in the community to get their targeted comments on the issue. In these statements, I noticed that “humanism” and “humanist” were proudly called out as a moral base and achievement. I was far on the edge of all of the ugliness, but even the little bit that touched me left me deeply depressed about humanity and being a woman in the skeptic, non-religious community. But the attachment to humanism as part of the rhetoric was an extra sweet find, especially because the values of humanism are deeply personal to me. And alright! Humanism is apparently alive and well. Alive and well among this era’s leaders and thinkers. That’s a wonderful thing.

Reading through the interviews/comments, the end summary seems to be an exact equivalence of humanist/humanism and human being. Which is the whole point. And really, how can we as human beings NOT identify with the goals that put our humanity front and center? So I report to you: humanism is vital and critical. You are in the right place.

A few of the quotes from interviews with Surly Amy (Amy Davis Roth) of Skepchicks:

If you threaten violence against someone you disagree with, then you are not a critical thinker. You are not a skeptic. And you are most certainly not a decent human being. (Phil Plait, astronomer and author)

People who make statements filled with hatred and threatening or calling for acts of violence have no place in the humanist or skeptical movements. I am not sure what it makes these people, but a person can’t make such statements and claim to be a humanist or rationalist. You just can’t. (Barry Karr, the Executive Director of CSI and Skeptical Inquirer Magazine)

This movement (not merely the community of heretics, but the movement) is about lessening the power of religion, superstition, and credulous thinking because we want to live in a world guided by facts, science, and reason, because (and here’s the part I might lose some of you) we want to live in a world that maximizes human happiness, morality, freedom of thought and expression, and equality. Atheism and skepticism for their own sakes are not “causes.” They are not, in and of themselves, worthy of a movement. But we pursue these goals because we know they will bring about a society in which we are more free and equal, and in turn we will be more fulfilled and enriched as a result. (Paul Fidalgo, the Communications Director for the Center For Inquiry)

–Lisa Miller
Your Local Skepchick

November 2012

by Lisa Miller

Humanist Halloween

This month, in honor of Halloween, Utah humanists answer: what is something that is your fright monster, something you are keeping a wary eye on, some shadow in the forest that you hope wont materialize?

  • Corporate World is my scary monster. Mitt Romney/republican/corporate manipulation of the election-stealing it in Ohio, Florida, Virginia and North Carolina maybe Colorado, Nevada and other points – scares me breathless.
  • Long term, my greatest fear is that Western civilization will be led by the United States back into another dark age, an era of superstition and persecution. This tendency toward ignorance and oversimplification that overcame the classical world is still alive and well. The more intellectually deficient and morally simplistic a religion is the faster it seems to grow. Without better education, hope for the future will be lost. I don’t mean more money per student. That is an attractive over-simplification in itself. Every individual in a successful democracy must have a good knowledge of human history, a firm understanding of science and the ability to think clearly and communicate. Sporting competition between schools at every level should be eliminated and athletics in our schools should be encouraged for its health benefits. Focus must be returned to academics with an emphasis on civics or in my view we will lose our democracy.
  • I will mention two fright monsters among many. The first is all the money in politics. We won’t solve any of the other fright monsters until we fix this one with a Constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United opinion, which declared corporations people and political contributions free speech. Free speech, of course, is protected by the constitution. Politicians will do the bidding of their big donors–corporations and individuals alike–and there goes our democracy and here comes a plutocracy. The second fright monster is climate change. While more and more people are accepting the reality of climate change and humankind’s complicity in causing it, too many influential corporations and individuals–the big political donors–are deniers, so nothing gets done. I’m truly frightened.
  • For me the most frightening thing is the growing tendency by people in general and our “leaders” in particular to place more value in opinion than on observable facts. How can evolution, global warming, and women’s rights to control their own bodies be legislated, denied, restricted because our elected leaders place more credence to their own personal beliefs than to physically verifiable evidence? This is a dangerous trend that has been discussed off and on in the Utah Humanist, but with the current election cycle it appears that we are not headed in the right direction.
  • With the election so close at hand, my fears are all centered on a Republican win. In a recent article on the Huffington Post website, Daniel Ellsberg, who does NOT support Obama, said that nevertheless a Romney/Ryan win would be “much worse, even catastrophically worse, on a number of…important issues: attacking Iran, Supreme Court appointments, the economy, women’s reproductive rights, health coverage, safety net, climate change, green energy, the environment. “That’s what I fear–the loss of so many hard-fought gains in so many areas. I know many people personally who are voting for Romney on two issues: “he’s against abortion and gay marriage. ” Other issues simply don’t matter to them. Once again, voting by religious beliefs instead of critical thinking may have catastrophic consequences for us all.
  • My big fear is republicans winning control of congress, the senate, and the presidency! Now that will be a nightmare.
  • One big scary shadow for me is the possibility of abortion being made illegal. Its a shadow that is gaining substance and form, too close to emerging from shadow and roaring over us in terror. I am somewhat terrified at the threat of women being yanked back to days when husband hunting is the only viable pursuit, where our human-ness and sexuality is something to fear, and our place is defined for us. Because make no mistake, the abortion issue is a linchpin of female (aka human) self-determination.

That’s a pretty good Halloween scare set!

For next month:

What is something youve done or experienced that you are really proud of? Let’s celebrate and cheer ourselves.

Send your thoughts to Lisa at HumanistsofUtah.org for the next newsletter.

–Lisa Miller

May 2012

by Lisa Miller

Out Loud

I put forward the question in last month’s newsletter: “what is something you wish you could say, but haven’t been able to say, for whatever reason?” This question has gotten me thinking a lot about voices and expression and being human.

Think of all the things that go unsaid. Things not said that you wish could be said, because not saying it leaves a piece of you unknown to others and renders you a little invisible and slightly absent from life. At a minimal level are those things left unsaid from not wanting to make others uncomfortable or not wanting to rock the boat, being unsure about where you’ll be left in your circle of relationships if they’re said: your true opinions about the political candidates, the laws being passed, even opinions about movies or how to proceed on a work project. Sometimes there are much bigger things you hold back from your family or friends, for example differences on religious views, so as to keep relationships open. But in the not saying, you are hiding your authenticity and the relationship is cobbled on dreams.

The very first thing that came to mind for me as something I wished I could say? I found a surprising something inside that wanted expression. I wanted to be able to shout – SHOUT – to the world: “Don’t F*** with me”!! I want to declare my inherent belief in myself that says I will not be taken advantage of, I will not lie down, I am charging into life and negotiating my own needs. Crucially, I want to use forceful, uncompromising language to do it. And you know what? That led immediately to the concern that I couldn’t actually say such a thing in our newsletter. I don’t really know where the line of offense would be, or maybe just good taste, especially in an official representation of our group, from one of it’s elected board members. But changing the words changes the message. And then, funnily enough, I’m back again in a place of not being able to say, for whatever reason, what I wish I could say.

I wish I could tell my brother that I am a purposely moral, passionate, whole, fully happy, fully human, human being. I wish I could tell him that life is an adventure to embrace and his way of guilt and failures and not good enoughs and mountains of shoulds doesn’t have to be. I know that every person must pursue their own path, but I can’t even share the idea as I hold to hopes of keeping some semblance of a relationship and being able to spend time together, even though the unacknowledged elephant is squeezing us out of the room and our time together feels like a game of pretend.

I think of the millions of things that go unsaid, the many silenced voices out there in the world and in this country, largely because of fear. Fear of harm or hurt or loss, usually in a very vulnerable population: abuse victims, marginalized populations, people in totalitarian states. And the not saying renders the person less than themselves, living a shadow life.

I think about how a person is only truly human if they can express themselves: expressions of ideas, thoughts, desires, needs. And if this is being human, what is our responsibility as humanists in this? Speak up yourself, as a start. Speak up for others when they can’t speak up, though we must be particularly careful not to impose our voice on theirs. Work for a world of greater expression. Build a world of non-silence.

There are plenty of people saying things that are ugly and horrible, it is obvious and all around us. But it occurs to me that one excellent way to combat this side of ‘expression’ is when they aren’t able to silence others; and the many are able to speak out and show the ugliness for what it is. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. And the things you wish you could say? Give it some thought. Maybe they can be said after all.

–Lisa Miller

March 2012

by Lisa Miller

Favorite Time of Day:

Many thanks to all of you for sending in your thoughts after such short notice and making this article possible! This month the humanists chime in on their favorite time of day. Our group seems to be overwhelmingly morning people. And I have to say, this compilation is so very life affirming! I love our group so much! This month’s contributions makes me want to go on a round-robin and spend mornings with our friends.

  • My favorite time of day is breakfast, after I’ve stretched and exercised and I sit down to eat and read the paper.
  • My favorite time of the day is morning. It usually starts with a brisk 20-25 minute walk, then home for a shower, and then the rest of the morning sitting and reading while enjoying instrumental jazz and a hot mug of coffee. Ah, retirement.
  • Morning. My eyes are less tired from reading. I am more receptive.
  • Morning, early, moonset over the Sangre de Cristo mountains, then coffee in bed with husband, two Scotties and cat. A humanist’s heaven.
  • My favorite time of the day is first thing in the morning. I am virtually always the first person in my family up and so I have the whole house to myself. The coffee pot is on a timer so my first cup is ready as I take the time to prepare for my day and look at the news on the internet and read the Tribune. Traditionally I have always done my best thinking in shower where many of my best ideas have been born; this is my excuse for taking a long time enjoying the hot water.
  • I have no favorite. I like that I am alive by chance and so any time I think about it is the right time of day.
  • My favorite time of the day is early morning, 5:30 until 8:00. This is the time I feel most energetic and creative. I’m rested and my juices are flowing as I make reminder notes and plan my day’s activities.
  • My favorite time of day is late morning, like around 9:00 or a little later. I like how the light looks then and how it still feels fresh and full of all kinds of possibilities, like potential energy of a day waiting to be discovered and unwrapped. Also, it’s past that too crisp (for me) shady morning time.
  • I don’t really have a favorite time of day. However I do have memories of very special moments that seem in retrospect to be the product of a unique time and place. One is the very early morning sunrises I saw as a young man working my first job as a farm worker in northern Utah. Summer sunrises came very early and long before the sun would clear the tops of the Wasatch Mountains the sky would be flooded with light and any clouds would catch all the colors of a sunset and fling them brightly down over the fields in which I worked. Salmon pink and glowing golds were mine alone to see. The rest of the world lay sleeping still in their beds and time stretched out not so much with promise or with purpose but with chance and the beauty of nature’s profligacy.

The Conversation for March:

Who is someone that you find inspiring?

Send your thoughts to Lisa at HumanistsofUtah.org for next month’s newsletter.

–Lisa Miller

June 2012

by Lisa Miller

Say It Out Loud

Our community members answer “Is there something you wish you could say to someone, or to the world at large, that you haven’t been able to say for whatever reason?”

  • Sometimes it is not just saying something but actually being listened to. Ten plus years ago or so I took my maturing daughters to the doctor and made a speech that while I did not want to encourage promiscuity nor discourage communications with their parents I knew that sexual activity is a personal choice. I continued saying that their physical health was more important to me than their having to get parental permission to visit the doctor with women’s health issues. The next day in the lunch room I talked about my trip to my coworkers; nobody said anything and there were looks of amazement around the table. I finished my lunch and left and heard one say “he doesn’t seem to understand the importance of spiritual health.” Looking at those same people today they have three children who have conceived out of wedlock and several more people who have married very young. One of these is already divorced and barely 25 years old.
  • I was thrilled to see atheists organizations put an entry into the Utah Pride Parade on Sunday, June 3rd. I wish the Humanists of Utah had an entry. Let’s work for this next year. Could we get one in the July 4th parade in Provo or the 24th of July in SLC? I would be glad to organize it if the organization was supportive.
  • There are many things rolling around in my head that have remained unsaid because nobody is listening anyway. #1 (for now): the debate over polygamy always seems to miss what I consider to be the main point. Obviously child (and wife) abuse are important things to consider, but we do have laws against these activities. When a man intentionally marries several or many women with the plan of having many children he is affording himself an unearned access to the gene pool. Historically such access was dubiously achieved through conquest and most successful kings, emperors and raiders in general have had many offspring as attested by documented aberrations in current European genetic markers. With the contemporary importance of upper population limits do we really want to stand back and allow barely educated religious fanatics, fundamentalists and cultists to usurp a larger than “natural” genetic legacy. Whether or not someone (anyone) has sex with many women is of no concern to me and calling themselves married to these women is similarly unimportant in my eyes. But batching out 15 or 20 versions of themselves is disgusting and unfair to others who have more concern and consideration for the earth and the rights of their fellow citizens.
  • To the world at large, I would say: “Don’t worry so much, because nothing ultimately matters anyway. What doesn’t decay with the universe will be rendered meaningless by endless time.”
  • There is something I’ve wanted to say for years but have been too worried about what might happen if I did so. Here goes: God, as it is conceived by the major religions, is supposed to be a superior being. Why would god care if people believed in it? What kind of disgusting god would want to be prayed to or worshiped? What kind of god would want some of it’s adherents to kill other of its creations for not believing in it in the same fashion as they believe? What kind of god makes wagers with the devil? What kind of god tests peoples’ faith by telling one of them to sacrifice his own son? What kind of people think this so-called god is “good”? What kind of god answers a few people’s prayers but destroys thousands of others who are praying their heads off as the waters close over them, the mud smashes into them, the volcano incinerates them, etc., etc.? How can people be so egotistical as to think there is a god who watches over them, but ignores millions of others? There! I feel better!
  • After reading an article about how the Catholic Bishops are “investigating” the Girl Scouts because of some reproductive BS issue, I just want to scream! I WANT TO SCREAM, KEEP YOUR FUCKING ASININE RELIGION OUT OF MY/OUR LIVES. But of course as president of HoU I must maintain a civil tongue.
    I want to say: having access to medically safe abortion services is a critical human rights issue. This issue is crucial to women being able to lead lives of equality and opportunity and health. Which in turn is crucial to a stable and healthy society. All you Ruthuglicans with your diversionary tactics and doublespeak, trying to block and take away decent, civilized care at every turn: STOP IT, STOP IT, STOP IT!

Thanks everyone for another brilliant conversation with the humanists!

The Conversation for June:

What is one of the big issues facing humanists in our country for the near future?

Send your responses to Lisa (at) humanisitsofutah.org

–Lisa Miller

July 2012

by Lisa Miller

Humanist Matters

This month our community members answer: “What is one of the big issues facing humanists in our country for the near future?”

  • The thing that worries me most is the volume of public discourse. When everyone SHOUTS it becomes impossible to hear what anyone says. The need for respectful discourse has never been greater.
  • One of the biggest issues facing humanists is that we sometimes have so much compassion that we do not speak up or stand up, because we are worried we might offend someone or hurt their feelings. If we would take a moment we would not necessarily respond with a “personal” attack, like some of the situations we are placed in.
  • A recent article in The Nation reveals that this county still has about 46% of the population who are “creationists” when it comes to understanding the principles of evolution, and this figure has not changed in decades. This shows a basic failure in our educational system to instill even the basic ideas of the scientific method and critical thinking in students. We cannot begin to solve the problems of environmental degradation and sustainability that the world faces if we don’t instill basic facts in our students, who will become our future leaders. Humanists need to actively support public education and ensure that critical information is provided to all students and not watered down with unnecessary clutter and false ideologies (such as creationism) which have crept into education due to the influence of religious dogma.
  • A recent public survey revealed that an atheist is the least likely person to win a presidential election in the United States. This fact says to me that our biggest challenge is developing a public relations program that will change the perception of Humanism. Militant Atheism will not win the hearts and minds of anyone. Concern for improving the human condition in every aspect of life is the best strategy for changing the perception of humanism. We need to promote the ideals of relief from fear, the attainment of happiness, healthiness, and knowledge. Positive goals will gain more friends for Humanism than simply shouting “there is no god.”
  • There are so many issues it will be hard to pick just one. I’ll pick separation between church and state. A faith in the new scientific method, a respect for learning and hope for a better life in the future were some of the things that characterized our 19th century forbearers. The failure of our education system, a renaissance of superstition and fuzzy thinking and a senseless paranoia about our future threaten to return us to a medieval sensibility characterized by suspicion, fear and ultimately the worst kind of intolerance for Atheism, Agnosticism and free thinking.
  • Acceptance of humanism as a philosophy of reason and as an alternative to faith-based religion. The more people who adopt a scientific (evidence and reason) approach to life instead of a religious (faith and prayer) approach, the better our society will be in terms of virtually everything. Rational decisions based on the evidence! Now there’s a novel approach.
  • The thing gnawing at me lately is how so many of the gains we’ve made for a more equitable and healthy society are being threatened and endangered by the religious right and/or GOP. I have a sense of needing to dig in and fight just to hold onto things we’ve already fought for. Of course, this is not a new thing in the world.

Thanks everyone! I’m so proud to be a fellow humanist with you. The world needs you.

What do you do during times of big personal change? Both as a life philosophy and as coping strategies in general.

Send your responses to lisa (at) humanistsofutah.org for inclusion in the August newsletter.

–Lisa Miller

February 2012

by Lisa Miller

Uniquely OursThis month we’re talking about something we would like to be able to do that is not in general mainstream. Of course, our humanists outdo themselves with their ideas and dreams once again!

  • I would like to become a great belly dancer, but since I am in my 70s it’s not likely to happen; too bad there’s no after life.
  • I have always been a person who enjoys solitude. As such, living on a lighthouse always seemed appealing. Sadly there are no longer any manned lighthouses; technology has taken over. From what I understand, people can buy lighthouses but that’s not quite the same thing to me. As a second choice, an expedition to the Antarctic would be fine, although you would have others there with you. If there were personality problems, that would take away the charm.
  • I would like to sit in the dugout at Busch Stadium and watch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals play-if it were a playoff game that would be icing on the cake. World Series game? Might simply be too much!
  • I’d settle for run-of-the-mill adventures such as going to the Galapagos Islands or up the Amazon. I can think of hundreds of places/times I’d like to have been in the past (knowing, of course, that they ended safely)…rafting down the Colorado with John Wesley Powell, exploring with Lewis and Clark, sitting in on the drafting of the U.S. Constitution (to put to rest all those “Christian Nation” arguments), etc. I’ll have to settle for armchair exploring and adventures!
  • I would like to upload my consciousness into a computer that would greatly augment my cognitive abilities and allow me to manifest myself in any number of machines or entities remotely linked to that computer, especially to nano scale entities/machines. In doing so, I would not only improve myself beyond measure, but would also make the world a better place according to my worldview.
  • I’d really like to know that when I can no longer do the things that need to be done each day, to enjoy food and music that I would be able to say to someone, “I’m ready to go. Please give me the pills.” And I could just die peacefully and quietly the way our dogs have died when they have been old and in pain. (I’m 91 and not expecting to want this for at least another ten years–but it would be comforting to know that the opportunity would be there.
  • I would like to continuously celebrate my humanity by greeting each day with curious wonder and joyous anticipation of discovery. And then share my simple daily adventures and astonishment with others.

The Conversation for February

What is your favorite time of day and why?

Send your thoughts to Lisa atHumanistsofUtah.org for next month’s newsletter.

–Lisa Miller

December 2012

by Lisa Miller

Celebrating Humanists of Utah

What is something you’ve done or enjoyed that you’re especially proud of? Enjoy these beautiful stories our members have graciously shared this month.

  • II always think of this when I think of being proud: I know a family that’s so religious they don’t use the words “pride” or “proud” as they believe even saying you’re proud of your child for something they’ve done is not being humble. I learned about this from their teenage daughter who bragged to me about it. That said, I’m proud of the person my daughter has grown to be. She is strong, has a mind of her own and uses it well. When she was in her early 20s she put together a presentation for the local city council to encourage them to create a dog park, got on their agenda, and made the presentation herself. She doesn’t just care, she acts. I also do feel some pride for having the courage to leave the church I’d grown up in. It’s caused alienation from my family but I wouldn’t go back.
  • As I read this question, the one word that instantly popped into my mind was “De-Baptism”. Like most humanist organizations, Humanists of Idaho faces the uphill challenge of promoting public awareness and dispelling the false claims often levied against us. How do we get people to notice us and take a second look; discover who we are and what we are about? One of the better ways we have found to get information out and meet people is to have a booth at local fairs. Our favorite is the Hyde Park Street Fair, which we have participated in for many years. It was in 2011 at Hyde Park that we decided to print and hand out, free of charge, De-Baptism certificates to anyone who wanted one. We were surprised by the enormous popularity of these certificates. One visitor suggested that we should have a ritual to go along with the certificates and make it “official”. In answer, I donned my blue Celebrant robe and performed dozens of De-Baptisms right in front of the booth. I used a handmade fan of pink card stock to fan off the effects of holy waters. Photos were taken, and one even made it into Freethought Today. Each De-Baptism was a crowd stopper. The number of visitors increased dramatically, as did sign-ups for our newsletter. And there was one very unexpected benefit. On the table, next to our literature and sales offerings, stood a jar labeled “Charitable Donations”, followed by a list of organizations we support. The attention created by the De-Baptisms more than doubled charitable donations over previous years. People filled the jar as they asked who we were, what we do, and mostly what the colorful ritual was about. Sometimes it is the simple things that make the greatest difference.
  • About eighteen years ago, I told Humanists of Utah about some ongoing research I was doing that would, I hoped, eventually lead to a book. Some members actually remember what I said and have asked me periodically how the book is coming. I can now tell them that the book is scheduled for publication next March. It’s a detailed examination of the Book of Mormon and what the book tells us about its origin. I’m tentatively scheduled to speak about it to Humanists of Utah soon after its publication.
  • In 1991, I made a friend on the first day of first grade, in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We were six years old. From then until the fourth grade, we were inseparable at school we played together, we ate lunch together, we begged our teachers to let us sit next to each other, and we always stood up for each other. When we were nine years old, my parents separated and my Dad moved to Utah, where his family was from. My mom, siblings, and I worked hard to get our house ready to sell, then we all moved to Utah as well. As soon as I found out I was leaving the state, and my best friend, I did everything I could to ensure we would never forget one another. We exchanged addresses and promises, called each other every day, and made our parents understand how much we meant to each other. I am proud to say that we are still friends to this day…that before chat rooms, e-mail, or Facebook, a couple of little nine-year-olds stayed in touch by writing letters and calling each other every Sunday for years.
  • From a personal standpoint hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and back was a notable high point in my life. I wasn’t able to do it in one day like many of the more physically fit people I know; My wife and I needed to spend the night at the Phantom Ranch to rest up for the hike up to the rim the following day. During the four days we spent at the canyon we stayed the first night in one of the beautiful old cabins on the South Rim before hiking down to the bottom and we also stayed in the El Tovar lodge on our last night. The whole experience was a trip backwards in time to a nostalgic era of Western exploration and early tourism which, in combination with the personal achievement of the big hike, forms a memory that I will always cherish.
  • One of the things I am most proud of doing is assisting with the forming and the incorporation of Humanists of Utah. More than 20 years ago one of the founders of the American Humanist Association, Unitarian Minister Edwin Wilson, retired to Salt Lake City to be near his son, a physician at the Veterans Hospital. We developed a close friendship and he suggested organizing a local chapter of humanists. I eventually attended the Humanist Institute in New York, was certified as a Humanist Councilor, served as chapter president for many years and served on two national boards of the AHA. Nothing else in my life has been more fulfilling and satisfying.
  • What I’d like to share with everyone is the fact that with some effort, it’s possible to recover and even improve lung capacity after having smoked cigarettes for many years. I’m 66, stopped smoking when I was 52 and, last summer, hiked the very steep Rattlesnake Trail in Wellsville Canyon. It was a grueling 4 hours up and an even more grueling 3.5 hours down. The fronts of my thighs were sore for days, but I did it!
  • A couple of years ago I was disconcerted to learn that a friend of 35+ years was rapidly dying. I wrote to his wife for details and in the message said, “if there is anything I can do…” She responded that there was nothing to be done but she was disconcerted that their young adult son was very angry that everyone wanted to know if there was anything that they could do when the reality of the situation was that nothing could be done. I thought about it for a day or three and ended up writing a letter to my friend to say goodbye. I included anecdotes and memories but mostly I guess the message to him was that I loved him and would miss him but that I will never forget him as long as I live. I then contacted some mutual friends from around the country and explained the situation and encouraged them to send their goodbyes too. Many did. I heard back from his wife that he was deeply touched by the outpouring of love from the gang. She read them all to him shortly before he died and again at his memorial services a couple of weeks later. I did something similar when another friend more recently died. It really makes me feel good during the difficult times. I strongly encourage anyone who has a dying friend to do something similar.
  • After finishing college (at an in-state school), I took a job in Maryland, 2000 miles away from home. There were many days of tearful loneliness and struggles, but when I finally got on top of my lost-ness it was the launching pad to the best sort of life I ever could have wished for: adventure, discovery, friendships, conquered challenges, passions, serenity and soaring spirit. The leaps off the cliffs are the most rewarding.

Merry Solstice Season everyone!

–Lisa Miller

August 2012

by Lisa Miller

Humanist Perspectives on Change

This month our community members answer: “What do you do during times of big personal change? Both as a life philosophy and as coping strategies in general.”

  • As the saying goes, the only people who like change are busy cashiers and wet babies. We find change disorienting, creating within us an anxiety similar to culture shock, the unease visitors to an alien land feel because of the absence of the familiar cues they took for granted back home. With an established routine, we don’t have to think! And thinking is hard work. Change can be the means to your goals, not a barrier to them. Both fight and flight are reactions to perceiving change as a threat. But if we can change our perceptions, we can avoid those reactions. An old proverb goes, “Every change brings an opportunity.” In other words, we must learn to see change as a means of achieving our goals, not a barrier preventing us from reaching them. Another way of expressing the same thought is: A change in my external circumstances provides me with an opportunity to grow as a human being. The greater the change is, the greater and faster I can grow. If we can perceive change along these lines, we will find it exciting and energizing, rather than depressing and debilitating. Yet this restructuring of our perspective on change can take some time. In fact, coping with change follows the same steps as the grieving process. The steps are shock and denial that the old routine must be left behind, then anger that change is inevitable, then despair and a longing for the old ways, eventually replaced by acceptance of the new and a brighter view of the future. Everyone works through this process; for some, the transition is lightning fast, for others painfully slow.
  • Changes in my life. Many times I feel like I am a lot like Malachi Constant from Kurt Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan , the recipient of blind luck. I look around and I have so much and I wonder what I did to deserve everything. There have been times of utter despair at unexpected large changes but somehow things work themselves out. And it is not that I have not worked hard for things that I want or believe in, I have. Several times in my personal and work life I have looked around and seen that I was exactly where I wanted to be. Then I usually made the mistake of saying that out loud, “this is right where I want to be and I can continue indefinitely.” That is when external forces moved in and stir things up. A coworker has her status set to what the definitive response to this question might be: “Don’t take life too seriously, nobody gets out of it alive.”
  • Keep on keeping on? As an Atheist I can never hand my problems off to an invisible but benevolent big brother. But it is possible to have faith in the natural abilities of the human being. Not all of us cope well with adversity, but we are each the result of over 3 billion years of evolution. Think about it. For over 3 billion years a myriad series of lives have been lived and a template carefully crafted resulting in your current configuration as a human being. In some sense you are as immortal as any religious fantasy could imagine. Things change and we are confronted with challenges that we are not prepared for; our behavior which worked well in the tribe of our ancestors seems inadequate to the modern tasks we face. But this is all we have and all that any generation has had. The luck of the draw will always leave some of us with greater challenges but we can have confidence in a system which has functioned successfully for far longer than any religious system. Keep on keeping on? It works for me.
  • My son and his wife have an interesting way to keep problems and life changes in perspective. They ask “Is it a third world problem or a first world problem?” Third world problems are akin to those challenging the people of Afghanistan, or Central Africa. First world problems are the problems we have in the United States. Is someone shooting at you and your family? Is your house being bombed? Has a tsunami flooded your city and carried off your loved ones? No? Well maybe it isn’t all that bad.
  • When I am confronted with dramatic changes my first inclination is to think about the events and causes that brought about the changes. I contemplate my role in those changes, what I controlled and what was beyond my control. I seek the counsel of friends who have faced similar changes and often seek a study group of people wrestling with similar situations. I then consider the possible results and decide what results I would prefer and the steps necessary to create those desires.

Thank you for your very thoughtful contributions this month. I am neck deep in my current personal growth changes and will be using your thoughts as a personal flotation device. Thanks everyone!

–Lisa Miller

April 2012

by Lisa Miller

Inspirational Humanity

This month we are sharing a look at people who inspire us.

  • The person who still inspires me is a University of Utah philosophy professor I had many years ago and who died several years ago. He was Sterling McMurrin, who apparently had a photographic memory or something close to it since he would lecture without a note. He was very knowledgeable and invariably interesting and civil. He received every honor the U could bestow, hosted a TV talk show, served as U.S. Secretary of Education, and even lectured at a Humanists of Utah meeting once.
  • Flo Wineriter is my hero. I want to be just like him when (if?) I grow up.
  • I have always admired Martin Luther King. His devotion to the Civil Rights movement was an inspiration to many of the Civil Rights leaders, then and afterward, moves me. He didn’t single-handedly set the wheels in motion, others started before him, but he galvanized the movement and spurred many others on. Like many great people through out history, he had flaws, but this does not diminish his accomplishments nor the accomplishments of those who helped him and followed after him. Taylor Branch’s trilogy (Parting the Waters, Pillar of Fire, and At Canaan’s Edge) about the Civil Rights era concentrating on the King years is a great way to gain knowledge of this man and his struggles for the rights of African Americans and, ultimately, of us all.
  • A person who inspires me is Hillary Clinton. She has to play her role in the midst of horrible antagonism, disrespect, and dismissal. Yet she stands unmoved by all that, showing up sure of herself, smart, competent, advocating loudly and consistently for the rights of women and children across the globe. She stands strong in a world dominated by men, many of whom likely wish she would just go away. And she does it by being completely and uniquely herself and without giving into the usual basic entry requirements into that high-powered male world of being at least some degree of “decorative”. She inspires me to be strong. She inspires me to be me.

The Conversation for April:

Is there something you wish you could say to someone or to the world at large, that you have not been able to say for whatever reason?

Send your thoughts to Lisa at HumanistsofUtah.org for next month’s newsletter.

–Lisa Miller

In Memoriam

Brian Barnard, Esq.

1945 ~ 2012

The freethought community was shocked this month by the untimely death of attorney Brian Barnard. There have been numerous articles and tributes recalling his many accomplishments including the separation of state issues of the 10 Commandment monuments in the public square, Christian crosses on public land, etc. He also represented homeless people, women’s’ rights issues, Native Americans, prisoners, etc.

What has not been mentioned elsewhere is that Barnard was a member of Humanists of Utah. In fact he was one people who drafted our original articles of incorporation!

Humanists of Utah offers sincere condolences to his family and friends. We appreciate what he did for us, the general freethought community, and for everyone.

Humanists of Utah

2012 Business Meeting

Elections

 

Our annual business meeting will be held at Eliot Hall in the First Unitarian Church (569 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City) at 6:30 PM on Thursday, December 13, 2012. Dinner will be provided. We will have a short business meeting and then an open mike.

 

Please mark the ballot below and mail it in the included envelope. Note that we have room for one or two more people on the Board; please consider nominating yourself. For households with more than one member, a ballot is included for each member. Please put all household ballots in the same envelope for mailing. Ballots must be postmarked no later than December 15, 2012 in order to be counted.

 

Election results will be announced in the January Newsletter.

 

¨  Robert Lane for President

Bob was born and raised in Utah. . He loves both science and science fiction.

He has two children, Nicole and Eric, from a previous marriage. He has spent the past 20+ years with his “sweetheart” Amy O’Connor.

Bob has served on the Board since 2001 and is running for his fourth term as President.

¨  Robert Mayhew for Board Member

Bob has been influenced by writers whose names are; Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury, Clark, Wells, Verne, Orwell, Vonnegut, Vidal, etc.

He met and married Julie. She and her mother, Alice Jensen, introduced him to Unitarian Universalism and that led, inevitably to humanism.

He is seeking his third term on the Board. The Vice President duties will be assumed by Susan Fox in a minor reorganization.

 

 

¨  Jason Cooperrider for Secretary

Jason is a Ph.D. candidate in the Interdepartmental Program in Neuroscience at the University of Utah, where he has been since August 2008, when he moved to Utah from Ohio for graduate school. His research involves the neurobiology of autism and the neural basis of exceptional abilities. He co-founded the student group SHIFT (Secular Humanism, Inquiry and Freethought) at the University of Utah in May 2009, and served as its vice-president from then through December 2009 and as its president from January 2010 through December 2010. He also serves as the secretary and founding board member of the Utah Freethought Society, and as a founding board member of the Utah Coalition of Reason. He has been an active member of the Humanists of Utah since August 2009

¨  Leona Blackbird for Treasurer

Leona is a computer programmer for Meteorological Solutions, Inc. which she is also a part owner of the business. Their business is to help companies manage harmful pollution which makes the world a better place for all of us to live. She is seeking her third elected term.

  ¨  Write in. You can nominate yourself or suggest someone from our membership

 

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