Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Plans to live-blog the Templeton-funded Darwin conference in Istanbul

Do I win the award for most lightning rods in a blog post title yet?

I mean, there's Turkey's ...uh... ...how shall I say... delicate relationship to Darwin and evolution (and atheism, *cough* not that that has anything to do with Darwin and evolution *cough*), there's the general distaste evolution advocates have for the Templeton Foundation and then there's Turkey's recent censorship of Blogger and Wordpress blogging platforms. Thrrreeee lightening rods, Ah Ha Ha!

But before I explain about the conference, how I will be live-blogging it and what on Darwin's entangled bank I was thinking about when I agreed to accept the Templeton Foundation's support for my participation, let's all just get this out of our systems first shall we?

In case you're wondering, yes I do love the They Might Be Giants cover, but this original* is pretty swingin' and I figured its existence might be news to a certain percentage of my readers.

With that obligatory Obnoxious AmericanTM preface to all blog posts with 'Istanbul' in the title out of the way, let's get down to business:

Starting at an undisclosed time later this week, from an undisclosed location in Istanbul (undisclosed presumably to keep Oktar's ilk away), I will be participating in the Darwin-200 Anniversary Conference. I've been invited give a short talk about The HMS Beagle Project during the final, public session, which follows a more exclusive two-day scientific symposium on the scientific, historical, cultural and religious implications of evolution including a 'critique' of intelligent design by a famous person (*rubs hands*) and panel discussions on "Evolution and Purpose" and "Public Understanding of Evolution in Turkey and Beyond".

What, my evolution peeps might be wondering, 'possessed' me to accept an invitation to a Templeton conference? Don't I know that "Templeton funds stealth religion, and the good work they support is a fa├žade to conceal their aims", paying "hefty bribes to get scientists to cross that line [between science and religion]"? Why yes, I do, but I figure if I can use up some of that money to get me to Turkey where I can do my fly-in-the-ointment thing, live-blog it and also proselytize a bit for the Beagle Project, a project that will promote science in general, evolution in particular, and a rational approach to solving our most pressing problems, well, then, that's a good appropriation of their money as far as I'm concerned.

Moreover, if Bernard d'Espagnat, who, on winning a Templeton Prize, didn't reject the prize but said:
I feel myself deeply in accordance with the Templeton Foundation's great, guiding idea that science does shed light [on spirituality]. In my view it does so mainly by rendering unbelievable an intellectual construction claiming to yield access to the ultimate ground of things with the sole use of the simple, somewhat trivial notions everybody has.

(via Darwin's Teapot)
...then I figure I'm in pretty good company.

Rationalizations safely behind me now, here are the details my impending coverage of the conference:

I've scheduled a post to go live here at approximately the same time I expect to start tweeting from Istanbul later this week. The post will consist mainly of an embedded twitter feed, but I will also try to update the post itself a few times during the conference with more substantive stuff.

I have to confess that - in a Rebel Girl kind of a way - I'm actually kind of excited to try my hand at tweeting and blogging from a place that has censored both evolution and blogging in the recent past. There are potential hazards. For example, if for some reason Blogger is still banned in Turkey (though Reporters Sans Frontieres says it was restored), this might not go as planned. I would think my tweets should still get through, though (unless Turkey suddenly bans twitter).

To stay in the loop, follow this blog's feed or follow me on twitter.

One last thing before I go, a little test of ye olde twitter widget:

Update Friday: Hmm, well it's working, but only if you have Flash (and not everyone does!) and formatting not great. Think I will use the html widget instead in the live-blog post.

*which itself is so similar to Irving Berlin's Puttin' on the Ritz (here's a classic performance by Fred Astaire), I'm not even sure 'original' is the right word


onscrn said...

How did you come across that song? I'm old to enough to remember it. Oddly, it has popped into my head at various times over the years, though I might wish never to have heard it. Definitely an unusual conference.

Glendon Mellow said...

Ooooo, this is gonna be exciting. Great opportunity!

Miriam Goldstein said...

EXTREEEME! Can't wait to read about your adventures!

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