Paula Apsell is arguably the most influential person in the area of science education when it comes to the country's general public. In addition to overseeing the production of NOVA documentaries and miniseries for television, she has directed the series' diversification into other media-most notably online, where NOVA is the most-visited site on PBS.org. NOVA can also be found in classrooms nationwide, where it is the most widely used video resource among high school science teachers.
In January 2005, Apsell introduced a NOVA spinoff in NOVA scienceNOW, a critically acclaimed science newsmagazine hosted formerly by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and now by New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. Other recent signature NOVA and Science Unit productions include "The Elegant Universe," "Origins," "Einstein's Big Idea," "Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial," "Making Stuff," and the large-format feature "Shackleton's Antarctic Adventure."
Today, NOVA is the most popular science series on American television and online. Under Apsell's leadership, NOVA has won every major broadcasting award, some many times over, including the Emmy, the Peabody, the AAAS Science Journalism Award, and the Gold Baton duPont-Columbia, as well as an Academy Award® nomination for "Special Effects." In 1998, the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation awarded NOVA its first-ever Public Service Award.
Dr. Steven Pinker is an experimental psychologist and one of the world’s foremost writers on language, mind, and human nature. Currently Harvard College Professor and Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, Pinker has also taught at Stanford and MIT. His research on visual cognition and the psychology of language has won prizes from the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Institution of Great Britain, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the American Psychological Association. He has also received seven honorary doctorates, several teaching awards at MIT and Harvard, and numerous prizes for his books The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, and The Blank Slate. He is Chair of the Usage Panel of the American Heritage Dictionary, and often writes for The New York Times, Time, and The New Republic. He has been named Humanist of the Year, Prospect magazine’s “The World’s Top 100 Public Intellectuals,” Foreign Policy’s “100 Global Thinkers,” and Time magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People in the World Today.”
Seth Andrews is a native of Oklahoma where he was raised in a devoutly Christian home, school and community. He said the "salvation prayer" at age 9, was a spokesperson for Youth For Christ and a student leader. He spent a decade in Christian radio, hosting the morning show for Tulsa's KXOJ 100.9FM and Clear Channel's LIVE 101.5FM (among others) before seguing out of radio to begin a career as a professional video producer.
Unsatisfied with answers provided by religion, Seth ultimately came to reject the indoctrination of his youth, choosing instead to "think" for himself. And in the hope of making the road to reason easier for others, he created an online community called The Thinking Atheist.
His videos, radio podcasts, blog and resource materials can be found at thethinkingatheist.com
His first book, Deconverted: A Journey from Religion to Reason, was published by Outskirts Press this year.
Aron Ra is one of the "YouTube atheists" and an advocate for rationalism in science classrooms. He grew up in an exclusively creationist environment where he felt like a lonely outcast just for understanding evolution, let alone accepting it. Being raised in a mostly-Mormon family encouraged him to explore other denominations and eventually non-Abrahamic spiritualism before rejecting faith-based beliefs altogether. He was drawn into activism when the Religious Right dominated his state's Board of Education, and began undermining education in history, health, science, and social studies. His videos often focus on evolution and the evidence indicating an interrelated tree of life. His series summarizing the 'Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism' and his subsequent series, 'Falsifying Phylogeny' (including the Phylogeny Challenge') have been mirrored, featured, referenced, and recommended by many professional scientists, secularists, and educators, and has attracted more than 60,000 subscribers to his YouTube channel.
Ed Buckner received his B.A. from Rice University in 1967 and his M. Ed. and Ph.D. from Georgia State University.
He has edited Freethought Press books by Massimo Pigliucci, Keith Parsons, Carol Faulkenberry, and Edwin Kagin. With his wife Diane, he co-edited freethinker and retired FBI agent Oliver G. Halle's Taking the Harder Right. With his son, Michael Edward Buckner, he co-edited Quotations That Support the Separation of Church and State (1995). He has written chapters in a number of books, as well as many reviews, essays, blog contributions, and letters to the editor, in the US, India, the UK, and elsewhere.
Now retired, Buckner has served as executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism (2001-2003) and as president of American Atheists (2008-2010).
In addition to writing, Buckner has debated and spoken all over the United States and in the United Kingdom about freethought and secular humanism, often about the Treaty of Tripoli and about secularism. Buckner and his son, Michael, wrote In Freedom We Trust: An Atheist Guide to Religious Liberty, published by Prometheus Books in December 2012.
Namazie was born in Tehran but left with her family in 1980 after the 1979 Iranian Revolution was suppressed by the Islamic movement. She has worked as the executive director of the International Federation of Iranian Refugees, and is spokesperson for the One Law for All Campaign against Sharia law in Britain. The campaign is opposed to faith based laws and promotes citizenship rights and one secular law for all. She is also Spokesperson of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain which aims to break the taboo that comes with renouncing Islam and to oppose apostasy laws and political Islam.
Moreover, she is a National Secular Society Honorary Associate and the NSS' 2005 Secularist of the Year award winner; Spokesperson of Equal Rights Now - Organisation against Women's Discrimination in Iran; and Central Committee member of the Worker-communist Party of Iran. She is involved with Iran Solidarity, which she founded, and the International Committee against Stoning among other activities. She was selected one of the top 45 women of the year 2007 by Elle Quebec.
She has spoken at numerous conferences and written many articles on women's rights issues, violence against women, political Islam, and secularism - some of which have been translated into various languages.
Presently, she lives in the United Kingdom.
David Niose is the president of the Secular Coalition for America, an advocacy group for non-theistic viewpoints in the United States. From 2009 to 2012 he also served as president of the American Humanist Association.
Niose advocates for an identity-oriented approach to secular activism to raise awareness of the secular demographic in American society.
David, an attorney, developed and implemented a legal strategy that emphasizes the concept of equal rights and nondiscrimination rather than the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause in cases protecting religious minorities.
He has appeared on national and local media outlets speaking on behalf of the American Humanist Association and humanism, among other topics. His TV appearances include MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC, and The Daily Buzz and he has written for numerous media outlets, including Psychology Today, Newsday, The Huffington Post, Lawyer’s Weekly publications, Humanist magazine, and Progressive Populist.
Niose is the author of Nonbeliever Nation: The Rise of Secular Americans, published by Palgrave Macmillan in July 2012.
Rebecca Hale, a resident of Colorado Springs, CO, was elected president of the American Humanist Association in January of this year. Hale has been an advocate for secularism and humanism for many years as co-owner of EvolveFISH.com, the largest online store of freethought merchandise. She is also the co-founder of the Freethinkers of Colorado Springs, a local affiliate of the American Humanist Association, and serves on its board of directors. She is a Humanist Celebrant certified by the Humanist Society of the American Humanist Association. As AHA president, Hale hopes to help raise public awareness and acceptance of humanism, advancing the AHA's agenda of supporting public policy based on reason and science. Hale is the 20th president, and the 4th woman, to serve in the organization’s history. She presides over the current AHA board of directors, which is comprised of six women and six men.
Edwina Rogers joined the Secular Coalition for America as the executive director in May 2012. She boasts two decades of experience on Capitol Hill as a lobbyist and attorney, including roles as general counsel for several high profile politicians. Rogers has extensive experience as a public policy expert and has worked for two presidents and four senators. In her most recent role as executive director of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative, she organized a coalition that included major employers, consumer groups, labor unions and health care providers, and successfully implemented the Patient Centered Medical Home model around the country.
A singer-song writer from Melbourne, completed a Bachelor of Applied Music at Box Hill Institute in 2010. She co-wrote'Chemistry' with DJ Carl Cox, Dave Carbone & Josh Abrahams. The track spent 2 weeks at #1 on the beatport techno charts Nov 2011.
Shelley's first solo CD,is An Atheist Album . It contains her thoughts on religion & related themes, through the prism of her secular humanism. Click on the video to the right to see an example of her work.
Shelley will be performing at our picnic Monday.
J. Anderson Thomson, Jr., MD (Andy), is a Trustee of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science and a staff psychiatrist for Counseling and Psychological Services at the University of Virginia Student Health Center, as well as the University of Virginia's Institute for Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy. Thomson also has his own private practice, and is a forensic psychiatrist for Region Ten Community Services. Thomson acquired his B.A. from Duke University in 1970, he acquired his M.D. from the University of Virginia in 1974, and he did his adult psychiatry training at the University of Virginia from 1974 to 1977.
Thomson has published papers on a variety of issues, including racism, narcissistic personality disorder, forensic psychiatry, depression and PTSD, and has written psychobiographical essays on Lee Harvey Oswald and Robert E. Lee. He is most noted for his work on evolutionary psychology, as well as for his exploration of the cognitive and evolutionary basis of religious belief, as presented in his latest book entitled Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith. Dr. Thomson has been a featured speaker at several atheist conferences including American Atheists 2009 and Atheist Alliance International 2009 for which he spoke about his theories on the cognitive origins of religious belief. In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman, Thomson stated, "There is a massive, irreconcilable conflict between science and religion. Religion was humanity's original cosmology, biology and anthropology. It provided explanations for the origin of the world, life and humans. Science now gives us increasingly complete explanations for those big three."
CJ was born in Sydney, Australia. I guess this makes him an Aussie. Although, with Dutch-East Indies grandparents on one side, and a family that traces its heritage back to the first white settlers on his mothers' side, CJ's identity was influenced not only by meat pies, kangaroos, and holden cars, but simultaneously by clogs, windmills, dikes, and people that place far too many vowels next to each other in a single word.
CJ relocated to the idyllic Indonesian island of Bali. On the evening of October 12, 2005 - CJ witnessed the devastating aftermath of twin suicide bombs on Bali's Jimbaran beach, a renowned seafood location for tourists. This event propelled CJ to take action, and today he is the rising voice of today's new atheists. Dedicated to warning his fellow humans about the dangers of religious doctrine. And street side curries.
God Hates You. Hate Him Back was released in November 2009, and has consistently enjoyed the #1 spot on Amazon for religious criticism, and religious humor.
Jesus Lied. He Was Only Human is his latest release. A book that completely and comprehensively debunks the Christian faith. Significantly, unlike other books in this genre,
CJ never loses sight of his funny.
Johnny is unique. The more we learn about him, the harder it becomes to write a profile. Perhaps the easiest way is to us the words of people who have worked with him. "Jon is one of those extraordinary people who can see the future long before others. When I first met him almost 20 years ago, he had an idea for creating something called 'massively multiplayer video games' that would be played over something called the Internet. Of course history has proved that he was right—and the company he founded is now one of the market leaders with 250+ employees and a market value exceeding a quarter billion dollars." (The company was acquired by Warner Brothers in 2010 and makes Asheron's Call, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and The Lord of the Rings Online.) Previously, Johnny set a Guinness World Record through his secular art project, Soulburners, and ran the official website and social media outreach for the atheist Hollywood feature film, The Ledge. He is an award-winning public speaker. His current project is the soon to be launched Secular Connect, a $1 million joint project of the Richard Dawkins Foundation and Michael Lewis Foundation, which will list all the world's secular groups and events, and do a whole lot more. Johnny will give us a sneak peek of the system. See SecularConnect.org.
Gregory Paul is an American freelance researcher, author and illustrator who works in paleontology, and more recently has examined sociology and theology. He is best known for his work and research ontheropod dinosaurs and his detailed illustrations, both live and skeletal. Professionally investigating and restoring dinosaurs for three decades, Paul received an on-screen credit as dinosaur specialist on Jurassic Park and Discovery Channel's When Dinosaurs Roamed America and Dinosaur Planet. He is the author and illustrator of Predatory Dinosaurs of the World, The Complete Illustrated Guide to Dinosaur Skeletons, Dinosaurs of the Air, The Princeton Field Guide To Dinosaurs, Gregory S. Paul's Dinosaur Coffee Table Book and editor of The Scientific American Book of Dinosaurs. Paul's recent research on the interactions of religion and society has received international press and media coverage
Dr. Guillermo Paz-y-Mino-C is a biology faculty member at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, author of a dozen scientific studies on patterns of acceptance of evolution among highly educated audiences. His work on the incompatibility hypothesis 'science versus supernatural causation' has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Standard Times, New England
Science Public Series Evolution, Secular World Magazine, and in his educational website Evolution Literacy. Dr. Paz-y-Mino-C has published more than one hundred editorials about science and the environment and organized international discussions for scholars about the future of science education. He recently participated as keynote speaker at the World Evolution
Summit in the Galapagos with his studies on science, pseudo-science and the public's perception of reality.
Ellery Schempp is an accomplished physicist and is also famous for being the primary student involved in the landmark 1963 United States Supreme Court case of Abington School District v. Schempp which declared that required public-school-sanctioned Bible readings were unconstitutional.
On November 26, 1956, Ellery staged a protest against the school requirement that each student read 10 Bible passages and the Lord's Prayer each day during homeroom. Instead, Ellery brought a copy of the Qur'an and read from that. For this, he was sent to the Principal's office. With the help of his father, Edward Schempp, and the American Civil Liberties Union, they sued the Abington School district over their policy of mandatory Bible readings.
Over several years, Ellery, his father, and later his younger siblings Roger and Donna continued to fight this policy in the courts. The Schempps were Unitarian Universalists, a theologically liberal religious community. The case was eventually decided in Ellery's favor by the Supreme Court in 1963, five years after he had graduated from high school.
We are thrilled to have Ellery with us as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of this landmark court decision.
Ayanna Watson is the founder of Black Atheists of America, Inc. (BAAm). BAAm is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bridging the gap between atheism and the black community.
The organization has been successful in bringing together black atheists and combating the common misconception of solidarity among black atheists. With BAAm, Watson has also brought light to some of the issues that discourage black atheists from being active in both the atheist and black communities.
Ultimately with BAAm, Watson seeks to build a stronger and more diverse atheist community. She hopes that her efforts will provide for a society where one can embrace the label
“atheist,” without the fear of being ostracized by family, friends and members of their community. She envisions a world where individuals embrace critical thinking in lieu of faith.
LaDonna was born and raised in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex under strong Pentecostal indoctrination. While homeless in Dallas as a young child, she experienced the crucial needs of
the homeless community; sparking a desire to help others. She began volunteering at the early age of seven and has continued to dedicate her life to the service of others.
She was first exposed to the world outside her evangelical bubble at the age of 24 and soon came to realize she had been misinformed. As her doubts grew, and her eyes were further
opened, she soon adopted a humanist worldview and embraced her Atheism.
LaDonna continued to volunteer for many of the religious organizations that helped her along the way as a child. But as an atheist, she felt compelled to hide a part of herself and did not
feel complete in the works she provided. She, along with three others, founded DFW Atheists Helping the Homeless in 2012. A place where she not only fulfilled a sense of duty to the
homeless, but could feel good about her works as well. LaDonna is so pleased to offer like-minded people the same volunteer opportunities for which she had so longed.
Wolf Blitzer interviews Rebecca while her son, Anders entertains everyone with the microphone.
Neil has served as the Development Director of the Secular Student Alliance since early 2013.
Prior to joining the Secular Student Alliance, Neil litigated commercial disputes, conducted intellectual property transactions, and drafted scientific expert witness testimony. A member of the Indiana, Ohio, and United States Patent Bar, Neil holds degrees in Information Systems (cum laude from Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business) and law (summa cum laude from Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law).
Raised fundamentalist Christian, Neil was active in Campus Crusade for Christ at Ohio State. Following law school, Neil solicited book recommendations from his atheist and fundamentalist friends so he could critically re-examine the faith of his childhood. After considering the best arguments the leading sides had to offer, he abandoned Christianity as not only unproven but affirmatively contrary to the evidence.
An avid board gamer, Neil previously served as the Assistant Director of the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund, a leading gaming charity.
Richard Haynes (Brother Richard) is a writer and public speaker living in Atlanta, Georgia. He was raised in a nonreligious home, but as a teenage runaway, he had a "born again" religious experience. Almost immediately, Richard became an evangelist and personally led hundreds of individuals to Christ. Richard went on to receive a degree in Biblical Studies, and became an associate minister in a 12,000-member Atlanta mega-church.
In 1993, a couple of months after the birth of his eldest daughter, Richard, and his wife Angela, made the agonizing decision to leave their church which was engulfed with scandal. Terrified and unemployed, they began their long and arduous journey to rationality and nontheism.
Richard is now secularly ordained and has dedicated himself to building nontheist communities, and encouraging others to "come out" of the atheist closet. He is President of Atheist Nexus International, Inc., the world’s largest coalition of nontheists and nontheist communities, and maintains the blog "Brother Richard's Life Without Faith" at Patheos.com.
Richard's topic for the convention will be: "Thank God America is a Secular Nation!"
An evolutionary psychologist, Elisabeth has been involved with the Richard Dawkins Foundation since its inception. Her innovative ideas include the OUT Campaign, Non-Believers Giving Aid, the science vignettes, the Four Horsemen and other DVDs, and bringing childcare to national conferences. She has worked to create an atmosphere of cooperation within the secular movement, bringing Richard and other speakers to conferences and university campuses across the US and Canada. Elisabeth has published in the popular press on matters ranging from science to women’s issues. USA Today listed her as one of the prominent women in the Freethought community. Through her leadership, RDF-US will continue to influence and expand the ideas and values of secularism on a global level.. She obtained her PhD in psychology at the University of St Andrews.