It's now less than a month to go before the Global Atheist Convention, and I thought it might be useful to go through the list of speakers and give a bit of a rundown on who's who before we all get there.
There's a good mix of presenters and it looks like it's going to be an amazing weekend (Randi not included),
but looking through the list of guests, there are plenty of big names
that everyone knows, as well as quite a few lesser known players.
I'm going to see how far through the list I can get at a comfortable
pace, providing background info and links to interesting media etc for
each of the speakers. My hope is that, by the time the GAC comes around,
it may be a bit of a resource for those who want to know a bit more
about the people they've paid to see.
For this first post, I'm going to breeze through the big names. These
are the people that were probably the draw-cards for most of the
The Selfish Gene. Since then, he has written no less than nine books, with a general progression from hard science (The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker),
through books combining detailed and complex scientific notions with an
almost poetic style, by which the most complicated of theories can
fairly easily be understood by the lay-audience (Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow),
to his more recent books, which focus on evolutionary theory and those
who are working against evolutionary theory and science in general; most
notably fundamentalist religious adherents (The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth).
Dawkins' website, richarddawkins.net,
is pretty much essential reading for 'the atheist in the know'. With
one of the best 'scientific atheism' forums around, as well as regular
updates on what Dawkins is up to, and a news feed that seems to pretty
much capture all of the most essential atheistic items across the world.
If you haven't been, go and check it out. You'll find yourself with
hours upon hours of articles, videos, interviews, news and much much
Recently, Dawkins has been producing a steady stream of documentaries
(well, he's actually been doing it for quite some time, but he's been
doing it much more lately), most notably the Four Horesmen round table discussion with fellow 'New Atheists' Sam harris, Christopher Hitchens and Dan Dennett; The Root of all Evil in which Dawkins takes on religious fundamentalism, The Enemies of Reason where Dawkins dives into the world of alternative medicine, psychics and psuedoscience in general; and The Genius of Charles Darwin which is Dawkins' homage to Darwin and his world changing theory of evolution.
Find out more about Richard Dawkins at richarddawkins.net
Paul Zachary Myers is another biologist, who specialised in Evolutionary
Development (Evo Devo). He is the author of one of the most popular
science blogs (that was carefully worded so as not to upset Phil Plait).
His blog is Pharyngula
(pronounced: far-eng you-lah), on which he mixes peer reviewed science
blogging with his own blend of humorous, caustic, informative and
PZ is known to be able to crash any online poll by directing his blog
readers (pharyngulites) there. One of my favourite PZ moments, was crackergate (see link for a detailed rundown of the full crackergate events), where PZ, in reaction to a story of catholic craziness vowed to abuse eucharist crackers
to demonstrate the silliness of believing that a palestinian zombie can
manifest in a small piece of bread and be eaten by followers as form of
cannibalistic worship. Lots of religious people reacted with
pronounced zeal, and it all ended up rather messy, literally.
To find out more about PZ, visit his blog, Pharyngula at: scienceblogs.com/pharyngula
Animal Liberation, as well as the often controversial nature of his work and public appearances.
Singer is a proponent of a utilitarian system of ethics and approaches
difficult ethical situations with an objective, rational and careful
style, making his positions sometimes uncomfortable or confronting, but
very difficult to flaw.
On a personal note, Singer has had quite a profound influence on my life. I received a copy of 'The Ethics of What we Eat' for Newtonmas
in 2008 and adopted a Vegan lifestyle in mid January as a result. Since
then I have continued to have a strong interest in secular systems of
ethics, a subject of continuing interest for me.
You can find out more about Peter Singer by following the various links from his wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Singer, or checking out his homepage
on the Princeton University site. (due to the diverse nature of his
work, I find that the wikipedia links lead you to a greater range of his
works, from early essays to a video of him cooking Dhal!
Originally posted by Critical Mass