October 19th, 2015 Newsletter Roundup

Through our weekly newsletter, we like to let you know about our upcoming events as well as a number of issues and campaigns that we think might be of interest to you. Let me know if you have any suggestions to include in future roundups. Email: [email protected]

And for the latest news items, be sure to like the BC Humanists on Facebook and follow @BCHumanist on Twitter.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions which appear in the newsletter and in this roundup of all the news which didn't fit within the newsletter are not necessarily shared by all or even most of the members and board of the BC Humanist Association.

This past Sunday, October 18, 2015, Gurmail Gill addressed 48 of us on the Tarksheel Cultural Society, a Canadian Humanist, Rationalist, Freethinkers' society within the Canadian Punjabi and Indian community.  Mr Gill's excellent talk detailed the issues his group addresses within his community. Those issues include tax money going to fund religious schools, charlatans using their victims' superstitions to extract money from them, wealth inequality, and separation of church and state. He was particularly critical of the Canadian federal government's false assertion that religious freedom does not include freedom from religion, pointing out that this policy denies equal rights to the 24% of Canadians who have no religion.

Upcoming Events

On Sunday, October 25, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, local feminist activist and the founder and Executive Director of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, Joyce Arthur will speak on the manufactured scandal created by a recent series of scurrilous "gotcha" videos from the Christian right in the US, falsely purporting to show that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts for medical research.

On Sunday, November 1, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will be showing a video of Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz, in a panel discussion at Harvard, speaking on the new book on which they have collaborated: Islam and the Future of Tolerance. Maajid is a former fundamentalist Islamist who is now working to reform Islam. 

On Sunday, November 8, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will have a presentation by Marylen Reid on The Therapeutic Value of Touch.

On Sunday, November 15, 2015, at the Oakridge Seniors Centre, we will have another presentation by Joyce Arthur on Polyglots and Linguistics - Why only about 3% of people manage to become fluent in more than 4 languages, while most of us have a big challenge with mastery of a second language.

See all upcoming events.

BCHA Book Club

The November book club selection is Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Dan Kahneman. The meeting will be on Tuesday, November 3, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we will decide on the selection for the February 2, 2016 meeting. There will be no January book club meeting.

The December book club selection is Waking Up by Sam Harris. The meeting will be on Tuesday, December 1, 2015 at 7pm at Goldis and Kirsten's home. At the beginning of that meeting, we will decide on the selection for the March 1, 2016 meeting. There will be no January 2016 book club meeting.


Doors open for our Vancouver meetings at the Oakridge Seniors Centre at 10:00 am for BYO coffee, tea, and socializing. Please help us welcome all attendees by introducing yourself and asking about themselves (if you are comfortable doing that). We want all attendees (and especially first-timers) to feel welcome and part of our Humanist community. At 10:30 am we start our presentation. The meetings take place at the Oakridge Seniors' Centre at the West side of the Oakridge Mall at 41st and Cambie. There is a Canada Line station which exits right into the mall.

Check the BCHA Vancouver Meetup page for more details on the meetings mentioned above and for what we have lined up into November and beyond. Also, please RSVP there, so that Meetup members have an idea of how many people usually attend these meetings. Please be aware that while we do our best to ensure that the scheduled programs go ahead as scheduled here, there are no guarantees and last minute changes may be necessary due to circumstances beyond our control.

More News


The most critical Canadian federal election in over a decade will take place on Monday, October 19, 2015.  To help you decide which party best reflects your wishlist of how the various issues facing Canadians should be dealt with, the CBC has come up with an online application: Vote Compass. After answering questions about your attitudes to a list of issues, the app ranks the parties running in the general election according to how well their platforms line up with your responses. The above video shows how this application was used in Australia's last federal election.


David McDonald of the Behind The Numbers blog analyses and rates the 4 main parties running in tomorrow's federal election against an alternative budget which would actually address the needs and desires of ordinary Canadians.  See how the platforms of the parties stack up against this progressive benchmark budget.


National Day of Action Rally

Please join us on November 4, 2015 for a Day of Action and Solidarity for the right to die with dignity in Canada. Our collective voices must be heard by both provincial and federal levels of government as we urge all of our legislators to commit to upholding the spirit and letter of the Carter decision for the right to die with dignity.

Date: November 4th 2015
Time: 12:00-1:30 PM
Venue: Vancouver Art Gallery
Address: 750 Hornby St., Vancouver 
RSVP: Renee [email protected] or Sue [email protected]
More Information: Follow the link.


Famous Vancouver musician and atheist, Elizabeth Fischer (no relation) ended her life with assisted suicide in Switzerland due to the lack of compassionate legislation to permit this in Canada.


For those who still think that climate change is some kind of conspiracy and that humans can't possibly change the climate, here is a brilliant video from National Geographic showing Bill Nye explain the 5 things you need to know. Please consider this when you decide for whom you are going to vote tomorrow. 


"I see pitchforks!" is the theme of an excellent article in Politico magazine addressed to his fellow 0.01%-ers by billionaire entrepreneur, early investor in Amazon.com, and founder of several hugely successful companies Nick Hanauer. He points out that unfettered growth of wealth inequality will ultimately negatively impact the lives of everyone, including the super-rich.  He advocates a return the the policies of FD Roosevelt which demonstrated that well-regulated capitalism with a healthy mix of public works leads to much better economic outcomes for everyone than does the failed Reagan experiment.


Al Jazeera English program The Listening Post reports on the bomb blast against a peace protest in Turkey followed by (mainly failed) government efforts to suppress reporting on it, and (at 12:28 into the video) on the problem with oil money in media coverage of the Canadian election including reports of commentators such as Rex Murphy taking money from the oil industry in exchange for favourable stories about their operations.


Here is an interesting article from The Underground Bunker, Tony Ortega's website which provides help to those trying to escape Scientology. The article provides some more reasons why some European countries no longer allow Scientology to operate within their jurisdictions and why it is high time the rest of the world follows suit. 


The outrageous case of Andy Hall, threatened with prison by the Thai government for exposing slave labour conditions at National Fruit Company's operations there, still has not been resolved. Please sign the petition if you have not already done so. 


Neuroscientists have discovered that inhibiting a certain area of the brain with transcranial magnetic stimulation can reduce a patient's religiosity and tendencies toward bigotry. Finally, a faint glimmer of hope for a cure for religiosity has emerged. It is interesting that the same brain region regulates bigotry and religiosity.


The TCS potential cure for religiosity development came too late for the unfortunate children of this couple who went a bit overboard with that whole "spare the rod and spoil the child" thing. Next time we are tempted to admire all the ways in which Pope Frances has paid lip service to making the Catholic Church a bit more progressive, let's not forget that he is on board with treating demon possession and exorcisms as real things. As long as that is the case, we can expect more atrocities like this from people who are proudly "pro-life" as long as that life isn't born yet. 


Tesla's latest software upgrade for its Model S sedans implements an autopilot feature which pretty much (but not yet completely reliably) drives the car for you. It still has some problems with ambiguous lane markings and Tesla recommends you keep a hand on the wheel just in case, but in normal driving situations, it does everything for you, including parking. This is yet another big step forward to a future where car accidents will be as rare as plane crashes. 


There is a petition on Change.org demanding that President Obama consent to an independent investigation of the deadly bombing of Kunduz Hospital operated by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Afghanistan.


Phillosophy Dinners are starting up again, sponsored by Glen Brauer. The next topic is The Basic Income Movement, which is also the topic of an upcoming BCHA Sunday Meeting on November 22, 2015. Anyone interested in taking part in Philosophy Dinners must sign up and pay the small fee ($5) in advance via Meetup since there a limited number of physical seats (and their format involves no more than 6 people to a table in order to keep the groups small). Glen is also co-ordinator of psychology dinners, and calopia, your one-stop shopping site for worthwhile causes. 


Via Why evolution is true by Dr. Jerry A. Coyne, a funny poke at the ever faithful Templeton Foundation.

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