|By Jeanine DeNoma|
This issue of the newsletter is long overdue. Please accept an apology from your overworked editor. I have just completed several months working two jobs in addition to the normal stuff like assisting with our family business (in our busiest season ever) and volunteering with our local rural fire and rescue. So here's the punch: Consider helping out. Clip and mail me articles of interest from your local paper, favorite news magazine, or off-beat publication. I use most as Pro Factoids, but even if a submission is not written up, it goes into a file for possible future reference. Don't assume that someone else has sent me the article. Read an exceptionally good book other skeptics might enjoy? Submit a book review. If you're particularly interested in a topic, research it and submit an article. Or, if you have a background in a field of interest to skeptics, enlighten us with an article.
This issue of Pro Facto launches a new publication policy. We will no longer try to coordinate publication with our programs. Notification of coming events will be mailed separately-watch for those astro-yellow postcards (or check our web site). This change eliminates problems such as occurred with our spring issue when the US Post Office lost the newsletters. Only after I began inquiring did they find the misplaced bag in Seattle! This policy change will also ease any fallout from technical problems such as computer failures and DocuTech breakdowns.
With so much elapsed time since our last issue, there is a lot of news to report. The biggest news item, of course, was the Kansas Board of Education's August 11 decision to remove evolution (as well as parts of geology, astronomy, and any other science that shows the universe to be older than 6,000 or 10,000 years) from the state's science standards. This ruling generated lots of interest in our fall lectures by Dr. Eugenie Scott, turning her visit into a major event for O4R. Over 500 people total turned out for Dr. Scott's lectures, held at Oregon State University and the University of Oregon. I met faculty members from all of the major state universities, including Portland State University, Southern Oregon University in Ashland, and Western Oregon University in Monmouth.
Both evening lectures followed a full day of campus seminars where Dr. Scott met with faculty and students. About 40 future math and science teachers turned out for a seminar in the OSU Department of Math and Science Education. And in Eugene, nearly 60 practicing teachers came to an "after work" seminar. The anthropology departments at both OSU and UO hosted seminars, as Dr. Scott is a physical anthropologist. Reports from these lectures will appear in coming issues. Oregonians for Rationality was fortunate to have arranged Dr. Scott's visit to Oregon prior to the Kansas ruling because it generated speaking requests for her all over the country as the scientific community stopped and took notice of creationists activities.
In late October, Eric Krieg of the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking alerted O4R that Dennis Lee's 47-city tour to demonstrate his "free energy" machine would be stopping in Portland and Eugene. Lee mixes pseudoscience, Christian fundamentalism, and conspiracy theory with his sales pitch to sell his machine or dealerships to market it. A few O4R engineers went out to see Lee's four-hour show and were able to briefly test Lee's machine. They will be reporting their observations in a coming issue.
Also around this time, O4R co-sponsored a talk in Ashland by Dr. Victor Stenger, physicist from the University of Hawaii. Stenger presented a talk at the Portland humanist symposium on November 6, then went on to Ashland at the request of O4R member Ted Clay to participate in a discussion on evidence for and against an anthropomorphic universe. While on campus Stenger also presented seminars and met with faculty. Ted will bring us up to date on that event in a coming issue.
In this issue, we present a report from O4R member Dr. Bill Hoth who, back in June, presented us with an interesting talk titled "Did you mean what you meant." We bring you more of Phil Pennington's "statements that give clues" about common misunderstandings of basic scientific and numerical concepts. And we also include a number of excellent articles from the newsletters of other local skeptics organizations around the country.
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