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. Meetings take place at Douté Counseling Services, 500 W. Lanier Ave, (Hwy 54W), Magnolia Office Park, Suite 508, Fayetteville, GA 30214. See the left sidebar (click on the three horizontal bar icon at upper left) 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 t…

The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part II of II

Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818) by Caspar David Friedrich At the December 11, 2018 meeting of Owl & Ibis yours truly presented Part II of II of The Evolution of Western Individualism, "Individualism in the 20th and 21st Centuries, A Closer Look." A PDF of the evening's slideshow is here.
This presentation was Part II of II of The Evolution of Western Individualism. The following handouts were given at the meeting – Handout 1, Handout 2. As always, comments and questions about the presentation, slideshow and handouts are welcome. Topics covered during the presentation included:
Recap of Part I Collectivism as a Reactionary Force Measuring Individualism/Collectivism by Geert Hofstede The Historical Spread of Individualism Beyond the West Objectivism by Ayn Rand Individualism in the U.S. The Modern Rise of Individualism Outside the West Neoliberalism & Individualism by Noam Chomsky Closing Thoughts    Individualism-Group Equilibrium    Individualism and Morality Individualis…

Enlightenment Lost: A Faustian Exchange of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity for Self Glorification and Material Convenience

Tech C.E.O.s Are In Love With Their Principal Doomsayer [Yuval Harari] by Nellie Bowles The New York Times November 9, 2018
How Silicon Valley is Erasing Your Individuality by Franklin Foer The Washington Post September 8, 2017
Imagine observing a group of chimpanzees in the woodlands of western Tanzania. One day, an otherwise ordinary member of the group decides he will affix wildflowers to the hair on his head and rub a red ochre paste on his face. Imagine further that he, so adorned, then swaggers among his fellows gesturing to his new appearance and pointing at and laughing disdainfully at his group mates. Finally, imagine that this same chimp begins taking overt and deceitful actions to get what the others consider a disproportionate share of food that the group has hunted or found. 

Three Questions 1. What do you think Mr. Special’s group mates will think of him, and what consequences might he face for such behavior? His fellows might ignore his appearance or find it amusing. Then again, the…

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The U.S. Peace Corps and Social Development in Africa

(Peace Corps Logos, Old and New)
The United States Peace Corps and Social Development in Africa A paper read at the University of Ghana, Legon, Department of Sociology April 29, 1990 by James E. Lassiter

DOCUMENTARY: No Room in the Inn by Pam Dewey

No Room in the Inn by Pam Dewey
"Attempting to severely limit immigration to America is a hot-button issue in the political debates of the 21st century. Yet the plaque on the Statue of Liberty has extended a warm invitation to the tired, poor, wretched, huddled masses to find refuge in America for well over a century. Has the view expressed by Lady Liberty somehow changed in recent years? No Room in the Inn is a docucommentary I created that explores the long history of her offer. The political debates over immigration in the Trump Era are nothing new. You may be surprised at what the man or woman in the street thought about immigration and refugees in the 19th and 20th Centuries, including Jewish refugees from the Holocaust of World War II." - Pam Dewey

The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part I of II

A sincere thank you to those who attended O&I on Tuesday, October 23, 2018 for my presentation, The Evolution of Western Individualism, Part I, ”From the East African Rift to Silicon Valley.” For those who missed it a PowerPoint version is here. A PDF copy of the slideshow is here.

A key part of the meeting was an individualism-collectivism measure and an accompanying graph I developed. This may be seen below (click on image) or downloaded in higher resolution as an Excel spreadsheet here. Any comments or questions you may have about the slideshow or the measure and graph are welcome.

Regrettably, I ran over my allotted time presenting Part I and did not allow enough opportunity for discussion. I will be sure to allow plenty of discussion time during Part II, “Individualism in the 20th and 21st Centuries – A Closer Look.”
O&I CALENDAR November 13 – No Meeting November 27 – No Meeting
Dec 11 - Individualism, Part II by Jim Lassiter Dec 25 – No Meeting
Jan 08 – Little Known Facts About …

My Sources of News and Information

I am sometimes asked what sources I use for news and information. In addition to electronic and paper books and a free local weekly newspaper tossed in my driveway every Wednesday (awful opinion page, great crossword puzzle), I read mostly online sources. Some of them I subscribe to at reasonable rates. The following are my main sources for news, articles, commentary, essays, and other information. Very often in reading something I'll explore an embedded link to an additional source. But these are my day-to-day places. If you know and use others you think I might be interested in, please put them and their links in a comment. Thanks!
NEWS New York Times Washington Post PBS News Hour The Guardian BBC CNN Atlanta Journal Constitution Al Jazeera Sky News Deutsche Welle
ARTICLES, ESSAYS, COMMENTARY American Association for the Advancement of Science Academia ACLU Aeon Arts & Letters Daily Atlantic, The Alternet Brain Pickings Cato Institute Center for Individualism Chronicle of Higher E…

Evangelicalism and Politics in the U.S.

This from the Owl & Ibis – A Confluence of Minds “Statement of Purpose and Intent:”
“Respectful of the rights of its members to hold personal beliefs of their choosing, Owl and Ibis, as a learning endeavor, is interested in all civilizations, societies, cultural traditions, and belief systems but professes to none. It holds in high esteem secular-scientific thinking yet is committed to ideological pluralism and tolerance regarding all other modes of thought and inquiry. At the same time, Owl & Ibis participants will critically assess and when necessary challenge the beliefs and values of persons and groups in terms of the harm they may do or the purported benefit they provide to specific persons, peoples, and Humankind as a whole.”

In this spirit O&I offers and endorses the following, a documentary video from author and videographer, Pam Dewey. An introductory note from Ms. Dewey follows.


Part IV, the latest installment of my Strange Brew YouTube series, “Wrapping We…