Kia ora:

In the days after the 2011 Rugby World cup, we still have the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, the Rena oil spill and soon the elections. Last month’s meeting on ‘the Philosophy of Politics’ was avidly discussed with a strong suggestion from Peter Clemerson that we need to seriously explore the growing rich/poor divide. It was on September 17 that Occupy Wall St began. Please make contact if you would like to work on this issue in 2012.

2011 Public Seminar:

Dr Nikki Turner Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre has sadly had a family bereavement and is unable to be present, however her colleague Helen Petousis-Harris will come in her stead.

Sunday 30 October 1.30 pm to 3.30 pm

in the Mezzanine Floor meeting room, Wellington Central Library

ImmunisationHelen Petousis-Harris

Research Director of the Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC)

Helen is a scientist in molecular medicine who works as Research Director of the Immunisation Centre. Her PhD is on factors associated with vaccine reatogenicity, and she recently co-wrote a chapter on immunisation scares for a book called The Sky is Falling! A Colourful History of Media Panics.

After the seminar we will conclude the day with an early evening meal together.


2011 AGM

Saturday 29 October 2:30 pm at Mark Fletcher’s home

28 Meadowbank Road, Belmont, Lower Hutt

Please contact Mark, Tel: (04) 565 1185, if you need transport. Are you interested in joining the Council?


November monthly meeting: Monday 7 November

Open to the public – All interested people are welcome – bring a friend

Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University

The Better Angles of Our Nature – Why violence has declined

Published October 2011

See Steven Pinker outlines the arguments contained in his latest book

Refreshments and nibbles provided

Come, learn, and share your views

Venue for meeting: Turnbull House, Bowen Street, Wellington.

We meet from 7.30 pm until 9.00 pm

Michael Shermer, editor of Skeptic has already read this 800 page book twice and deems it the most important science book he has ever read. He says on his Facebook page “read it.” The phrase “the better angels of our nature” is a quote from the closing of Abraham Lincoln’s inaugural address in 1861. Pinker’s interest was aroused when he saw graphs of homicide rates in Britain going back to the 14th century showing that rates have decreased between 30 and 100 fold.

In an interview in New Scientist, 15 Oct 11, with Ferris Jabr, Pinker suggests that “trade and exchange make other people more valuable alive than dead”. Feminism is another reason – as women are empowered, violence declines. Pinker says that he wants to remind us that modernity for all its problems has brought us many gifts. Foremost is one rarely appreciated, a reduction in overall violence. Thanks to modern technology we can show you Steven Pinker talking just a short time ago about the major themes in his new book.

This is an important meeting don’t miss it. Some have been surprised by Pinker’s material, others impressed by his presentation. All report to being transfixed or totally engrossed and those that had other ideas before found his presentation convincing.


· Radio Access:

Humanist Outlook, 10.30 am, 783 kHz Wellington, on Saturday 12 November, & 10 December.

Humanist Outlook is broadcast at 10:30 am on Access Radio, Wellington, 783 kHz, every fourth Saturday.

If you are outside the Wellington area, go to www.accessradio.org.nz to listen or to download as a pod cast after the event.

· December meeting:

Bryan Bruce, author of Jesus The Cold Case and director of the TV documentary Jesus The Cold Case: DECEMBER MEETING: Monday 5 December.

Advance notice: Bryan has indicated that he should be able to speak at our final meeting for 2011. Bryan’s documentary has been nominated for the 2011 Aotearoa Film and Television Awards, and we are fortunate that he would like to talk to us. We can enjoy a celebratory end of year supper.

· Rapture Party:

A pleasant evening was shared for this event on the premise that as the proverb says “laughter is the best medicine”. Mark Twain also said that “Laughter is the greatest weapon we have and we, as humans use it the least”. After the previous prediction of 21 May 2011, there was a report of a Johannes Coetzee in South Africa who spent thousands endorsing Camping’s prediction and then assembled with 80 other “believers” at the Devonshire Hotel in Johannesburg to await the Rapture. When, as we expected the world continued, all who gathered were left with a huge Hotel bill. Laughter can defuse ridiculous claims which can delude many.

· 2011 AGM:

Saturday 29 October 2.30 pm at Mark Fletcher’s home:

28 Meadowbank Drive, Belmont Lower Hutt

Please contact Mark, 04 565 1185, if you need transport. Are you interested in joining the Council?

· Gisborne Lunar Society:

Meet with fellow freethinkers and nonbelievers every Sunday at 11am. Contact Dr John Marks, 06 867 9768 or Kevin Hyde, 06 868 5253.

· New Zealand Humanist magazine:

Issue 160, August 2011, has now been posted to members. This issue contains a range of interesting articles that include: “Atheism”; “Humanism in New Zealand”; “Living without religion”; “Prayers in Council meetings”; “The state of Humanism in Nepal” and “Superstitious and religious phenomena in Nepal”; “The four horsemen of the new enlightenment – Sagan, Dawkins, Harris and Dennett”; “Humanism and ethics”; and “Children’s ethics course”. If you believe that you should have received a copy but have not, please contact the editor.

“The Four Horsemen” at the 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne 13-15 April 2012 – see www.atheistconvention.org.au . Ticket sales will open on Thursday 1 September.

· Quotable Quote:

“Extend a hand whether or not you know it shall be grasped. Find patience in the breath of life. Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean. Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations”. Ryunosuke Satoro, a Japanese poet