Archive for March, 2010

Doubling up for CWF

Monday, March 29th, 2010 | Foundation

Here at the Chris Worfolk Foundation, we’re really excited about the directions in which the charity is moving. Whether it is our widely success Humanist Community that the BBC recently covered or the national splash we’re making with our Enquiry Conference.

Our trustees are busy making a difference too whether it’s Gijsbert who has spent all day talking to the Yorkshire Post, myself speaking out against Catholic Care on BBC Radio last week or Richard being one of the first people to volunteer their time on to speakers networks, we’re out there trying to make a difference.

Of course the focus of our work is promoting humanism but rather making a direct difference in the communities we work with. This can be seen in the groups we’re involved with such as the Humanist Community and the Humanist Action Group. We’re a doing organisation, not a talking organisation. We want to enable people to get stuck in there and make a measurable difference.

I’m really proud of how everyone involved in the project is pulling together and I really believe that the foundation has a bright future ahead of it. As such I am announcing today that I am doubling my personal monthly donation to the foundation to continue it’s good work.

If, like me, you feel that support for humanists, atheists or whatever non-believers choose to label themselves as then now is the time to act and support our good work. Become a supporter and help us continue or valuable work that makes a direct difference to local communities.

Chris

Perspective looks at Islam

Sunday, March 14th, 2010 | Religion & Politics

With out speaker from the Muslim Debate Initiative having canceled us on the night before, a speaker from the Leeds Makkah Mosque kindly stepped in at the last minute to present the session on Islam. I found it a really good session, there were some excellent questions asked and interesting answers given.

Inside the Mind of an Animal

Sunday, March 14th, 2010 | Events

On Tuesday I gave a talk to Leeds Atheist Society on animal consciousness. I wasn’t sure how well it went at first but the feedback came back very positive, despite one of the dolphins the audience telling me he didn’t believe animals were in fact conscious.

March Humanist Community

Sunday, March 14th, 2010 | Events, Humanism

Last Sunday we saw the second Humanist Community meeting. It was a great success, things ran a lot smoother than last time (which I’m taking as a big victory and things ran very smoothly the first time to be honest), we matched our initial attendance which is always a challenge at a second meeting and the meal in the restaurant afterwards as excellent too. Roll on April!

Robin Ince in Leeds

Sunday, March 14th, 2010 | Humanism, Life

Last weekend Robin Ince was kind enough to stop by to give us a talk before doing a gig at The Library later that night. While I sometimes find his material a little hit and miss, live he is an excellent performer and I really enjoyed both the talk and the show.

HCoL Blog launches

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010 | Foundation

The Humanist Community of Leeds now has it’s own blog.

The new blog will cover some of the topics that we cover in meetings so if you miss a meeting you will be able to catch up on the topics that we covered. As the material grows we are also hopeful that it will become a usual resource for other humanists to look to for inspiration.

Re-examining Atkins

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010 | Science, Thoughts

One of the guys in my office has been doing the Atkins diet for a while now. This caused me to take a look at the research carried out on low-carbohydrate diets to see if there was any basis for the misery he is putting himself through.

Most people including myself just kind of wrote off the diet because the pseudo-scientific explanation behind it didn’t make much sense. However in 2004 the flagship BBC science documentary Horizon broadcast an episode showing it probably does work for reasons differing from those that Dr. Atkins actually claimed.

In fact, looking into the evidence for low-carbohydrate diets, while there is a huge mixed bag of results, the overall consensus seems to be that while more research is needed in the area, such diets are generally safe and are effective in weight loss.

Of course this isn’t to say that everyone should jump on Atkins. Diets are no replacement for basic healthy eating and well all know this. We’re all well aware the way to be healthy is to eat a balanced diet, treat yourself occasionally, hit all the major food groups and avoid eating prepared meals, fast food or generally anything that doesn’t require you to put some effort in preparing yourself, as much as possible. However, if you are going to diet, Atkins at least isn’t any worse than any other diet.

In the eyes of the innocent

Sunday, March 7th, 2010 | Thoughts

I love Richard Dawkins. But sometimes I think he is a bit too nieve. Take for example the recent goings on on the RD.net Forum. A few weeks ago they announced that the forum was going to be replaced by a new system. A system which was “similar to a forum” but had some differences, most notably threads would be tagged instead of categorised and that all threads would be moderated.

They announced they would be leaving the forum operational for 30 days and then replacing it with the new system. However two days later the forum was locked down with a message from Richard saying the following…

Imagine that you, as a greatly liked and respected person, found yourself overnight subjected to personal vilification on an unprecedented scale, from anonymous commenters on a website. Suppose you found yourself described as an “utter twat” a “suppurating rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum. A suppurating rat’s rectum inside a dead skunk that’s been shoved up a week-old dead rhino’s twat.” Or suppose that somebody on the same website expressed a “sudden urge to ram a fistful of nails” down your throat. Also to “trip you up and kick you in the guts.” And imagine seeing your face described, again by an anonymous poster, as “a slack jawed turd in the mouth mug if ever I saw one.”

What do you have to do to earn vitriol like that? Eat a baby? Gas a trainload of harmless and defenceless people? Rape an altar boy? Tip an old lady out of her wheel chair and kick her in the teeth before running off with her handbag?

None of the above. What you have to do is write a letter like this…

You can find the entire thread here. Needless the say the letter that was written wasn’t in any way offensive – it was very pleasant and upbeat. But never the less it attracted widespread abuse from forum users. Here is why I think the reaction was nieve though…

Firstly, Richard’s first assumption is wrong. “What do you have to do to earn vitriol like that?” The answer actually is write a letter. Post a YouTube video. Visit /b. Basically anything on the internet attracts that kind of abuse, it saddens me that, that is the case but unfortunately that is how the internet is. Every time I post a YouTube video someone makes a stupid, inane and abusive comment, that’s life unfortunately.

Secondly I think it’s also a mistake to assume these comments are coming from people sympathetic to your cause. I suspect they didn’t. One possibility is they came from religious people just looking for any way to get to him but I suspect such comments actually came from general internet trolls who don’t really care about science, reason, debate or maybe even Dawkins, generally get off on the idea of annoying religious and non-religious people and just wanted to cause trouble. Basically imagine an even younger, more irriguous version of my friend Will.

I also suspect that it may be a nieve thought to think you can control and moderate the internet. I suspect a lot of the user base will be lost because people don’t like moderation because of the pressure it puts you under. However I could be wrong about this, only time will tell. At very least though you can see why this would annoy people.

Announcing Enquiry 2010 Conference

Friday, March 5th, 2010 | Foundation

This summer Birmingham, UK will play host to Enquiry 2010 Conference a national conference for atheists, humanists and sceptics on the topic of “atheism in the 21st century.” With three days of events, a dazzling array of speakers and all profits going to charity this is not an event to be missed!

Guest speakers include Professor A C Grayling, Professor Chris French, Andrew Copson, Maryam Namazie and many others plus more guests still to be confirmed. There will also be evening entertainment and plenty of opportunities to get to know other conference attendees throughout the weekend too.

Enquiry aims to to bring a greater level of understanding on contemporary issues but in addition to that all profits are going to the Foundation to support the work we do including the Humanist Action Group, Humanist Communities and our work to support student groups. We’ll also be presenting some brand new initiatives which will be unveiled at the conference!

The event will take place on the first weekend of June – Friday 4th to Sunday 6th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Birmingham. We very much hope you can join us there! Find out full details on the Enquiry 2010 Conference website.

Atheist Stock launches

Thursday, March 4th, 2010 | Foundation

After almost a year in development, we are pleased to announce the launch of Atheist Stock!

Atheist Stock is a stock photography website designed specifically for atheist, humanist and free thinking societies. On the site you can find a wide selection of high quality photographs to use in your advertising, websites and print material when designing creative for your group or society.

So whether you need a photo of groups at work and charity work to Conway Hall and Richard Dawkins, we have the image you need. They are all available as high quality – good enough to print – almost all at resolutions as good as you would find on professional stock photography websites.

Best of all, they are all available completely free to free thinking groups! Just contact us with information about your group and will we provide you access. So why not check out our collection!