Entering my last year at University, it struck me that I haven’t been active in any clubs or student organizations. OK, there was a brief stint with the German Club–we have an on again, off again relationship–but overall I’m not impressed with the student clubs here. Students for a Democratic Society is full of wackos who think wearing camo and lying dead in the middle of the library counts for a protest, Amnesty International is essentially dead, and all of the rest are things like “Women Engineers” and so forth. Not my bag, baby.
So I’m starting my own. I wanted to call it the Skeptic’s Society, but then it occurred to me that Michael Shermer had already thought of that, and he’s probably rather keen on the idea. So the new name is looking like Uncommon Sense.
Basically, the goal is to bring interesting lecturers to the university that students can actually understand and learn from. It hit me as I was checking the University calendar that all lectures at the University are organized by professors, for professors. The only people who could possibly care about the speakers we have are the incredibly small cadre of professors who invite them and their poor grad students.
I’m thinking TED for rednecks. Yeehaw, y’all.
So I need help. Any advice or ideas are more than welcome. I’ve already found a professor who seems willing to sponsor the club. We’re meeting in a week to brainstorm, and I’d like to come as prepared as possible. Ideas for speakers? What does it take to get someone to come to your part of the country and speak for a group of strangers?
A few ideas I’ve had: I want to bring in Mark Monmonier, most famously author of How to Lie With Maps. I’ve read his book a couple of times–it’s just so cool to me that something so mundane as a map, a tool we take for granted as being about as objective as anything, can be used as a tool of propaganda. I never thought of it that way.
I’d kill a puppy to get Alan Sokal, though. I want someone who can explain the relevance of quantum mechanics on our interpretation of reality. I get so darned frustrated at the postmodern quacks who cite quantum this and quantum that as evidence that you can’t Know Things and therefore all knowledge is socially constructed and equal. Sorry, I’m getting tangential.
Also, part of the club is that it needs to be social. What can a bunch of nerds get together and do? I’m thinking Bullshit Tuesdays, in that there be a weekly screening of P&T Bullshit or some documentary.