O&I Statement of Purpose and Intent

I initiated Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds as a private critical thinker club in mid-2013. On September 22, 2015 I made it public as an open-to-all freethinker online forum and in-person gathering. In late 2017 I changed the forum for O&I posts and comments from a Facebook page to this blog.

Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds is a secular, humanist, free-thinker discussion group. There are no membership requirements and all are welcome. Meetings are held on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month from 7:00-9:00PM. Beginning January 9, 2018, meetings will take place at Douté Counseling Services, 500 W. Lanier Ave, (Hwy 54W), Magnolia Office Park, Suite 508, Fayetteville, GA 30214. See left sidebar for driving directions.

Discussion topics are drawn solely from the natural sciences, social sciences, philosophy, history, and cultural studies, including the sacred. Sacred topics have to do with the impact of sacred beliefs and behaviors on the well-being of the indivi…

Hamlet & Morality: Where The Buck Stops

Book Review
"The Question of Hamlet" by James Shapiro April 19, 2018 The New York Review of Books

This book relates to my past efforts on this blog and elsewhere arguing my hope for and the possibility of a global morality. See herehereherehere, and here. I’m not thinking of a moral system based on an absolute truth, rather a scientifically-derived provisional truth based on the most simple principles. Those being minimizing the harm we do as individuals and maximizing the wellbeing and flourishing of the groups we live in. This would include ideals for human ecology – norms and codes for our relationship to the planet and all its resources and other life forms. We are heading in that direction in the form of the conventions and protocols of the United Nations despite current resistance from autocratic and uber-nationalistic forces. Author and skeptic Michael Shermer and neuroscientist and author Sam Harris suggest ways of arriving at such a global morality in their respe…

Emotion Over Reason, Reason Over Emotion?

Suddenly seeing a snake in your path, followed by a fixed wide-eyed stare, muscle tenseness, increased heart rate, perhaps a jump backwards, are emotionally reflexive responses, not deliberative or reasoned choices and actions. There is little if any deliberative, choice-making reasoning occurring in this instance.

During the snake encounter emotion played a dominant role. Reasoning, as a reflection on the events that just happened, came second: “Yes, that was a snake, a poisonous one. Good thing I saw it when I did. To have stepped on it may have made it bite me. I might have died if it had.” Reasoning can also be a slower more deliberative post hoc rationalization of the emotions we experience and the emotion-driven actions we take: “So-and-so repulses me physically, visually. I have a bad feeling being in his/her presence. I will avoid this person because of this.”

These examples do not justify a now widely accepted conclusion that reasoning, in general and for the most often, is a…

Owl & Ibis Slideshows Now Available


Unpacking The Dark Mountain Project

At the February 13, 2018 Owl & Ibis meeting the various premises and arguments of the Dark Mountain Project were presented and discussed. The full PowerPoint slide presentation is available here: DMP O&I Slide Show. Or, for faster, easier downloading here's the slide show in nine parts:

Part IPart IIPart IIIPart IVPart VPart VIPart VIIPart VIIIPart IX

It was agreed that to better determine if the DMP premises are true and decide if its arguments are acceptable, more information was needed on current and projected future global conditions in these areas:
Economics Environmentalism The Humanities Politics The Natural Sciences and Technology The Social Sciences
Attendees chose Environmentalism, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences as the first areas to study, present to the group, and discuss. Economics, Politics and the Natural Sciences and Technology will be addressed after these.
If, as DMP insists, the narrative of human above-all-other-life predominance, and the…

A New, Better Story For Humankind Not Needed?

Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans Henry Farrell Boston Review January 16, 2018
Think we don’t need a new story to replace the current human-centric myth of civilization? That we are well-provided for by the ideologies and actions of those controlling the current global system’s politics, economics, religion, education, science and technology? That they and their ideas and efforts can adequately address any disaster that might arise; or that they and the rest of us can make clear-headed, well-reasoned course corrections as we progress toward the Enlightenment’s flourishing and perfection of persons and societies?
This essay (link) argues that the realities that society’s and the world’s powerful have created for us have impaired Humankind’s ability to reason and behave optimally. That the raw material of reasoning, factual evidence, is intentionally being distorted or ignored by the powerful. Their goal, I think, is to put the hopes and aspirations the Enlightenment genie provided back int…

New O&I Meeting Venue!

Happy New Year!

This year's first meeting will be on Jan 9, 2018 - "Twilight of American Sanity: A Psychiatrist Analyzes the Age of Trump" by Allen Frances, A Book Synopsis Presentation and Discussion led by John Cruickshank. See below for directions to the new O&I meeting location.

Thanks to the generosity of Jemal Douté, Owl & Ibis begins 2018 at a new location:

Douté Counseling Services
Magnolia Office Park
Suite 508
500 W Lanier Ave
Fayetteville, GA 30214

Attached is a map and a photo of the new location.

DRIVING DIRECTIONS: From W. Lanier Ave (Hwy 54W) in Fayetteville, take Lafayette Avenue, south. Go straight into the Magnolia Office Park lot, bear right toward the 501-508 block of suites. Suite 508 is the last office at the end.


The Inevitable Collapse of Modern Civilization?

Dear Friends,
At the Nov 28, 2017 Owl & Ibis - A Confluence of Minds meeting, “Enslavement of the Enlightened, Industrialized Self,” I opened discussion with the following handwritten note, a declaration of my bewilderment and concern:
“I don’t know if it’s me or Humankind but it seems we are going through a great moral unraveling; a collapse of all that has been ‘built’ that is virtuous and moral, all that has been intended to bring the greatest good to the greatest number of people. Take any area: politics, economics, religion, ethics, morality, virtue, nationalism, ecology....”
To many of us the presidential election of Donald Trump was a shock. We wondered how our society could elect such a crass and unqualified person to the most powerful office on Earth. Was it the U.S culture wars, the Democrats’ failure of working class whites? Or was their something larger and more troubling in current human affairs that was responsible - Humankind’s political proce…