Humanists4Science: Biannual report 2009/2010
Annual report: Nov 2008 to Oct 2010
Vision: "A world in which important decisions are made by applying the scientific method to evidence rather than according to superstition."
Mission: "To promote, within the humanist community, the application of the scientific method to issues of concern to broader society."
The group was created under the name ‘BHA Science Group’ in 2007. In 2008 we formalised the structure and created a committee. We changed the name at the request of the BHA in 2009 but remain affiliated to the BHA.
During the last two years the group has operated mainly as a discussion shop – though it has made some efforts in support of its mission.
Membership of the group is open to anyone without formality. A committee was elected in 2009 has held monthly audioconferences to advance its work. It also uses its own private Yahoo group: http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/Humanists4ScienceManagement/.
The group has adopted a simple constitution and now operates a bank account.
The online Discussion Group (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/humanists4science/)
During the year there were 923 messages to this group – about 9 per week. A wide variety of topics were discussed, though issues related to religion were certainly the most numerous. The Yahoo group has not been used to develop formal positions in this period.
Outreach to the humanist movement
Our original blog (bhascience.blogspot.com) had become dominated by Tom Rees’ work on the sociology of religion. We therefore agreed to recognise this and converted it into Tom’s blog Epiphenomenon which has since become very successful.
We created a blog http://humanists4science.blogspot.com aka www.humanists4science.org.uk as a way of reaching out to other humanists. So far there have been 50 posts mainly concerning the sociology of religion and humanism, the relation of science to public policy and the overlap between science and philosophy.
The chairman had had letters published in Newsline and the Freethinker and Tom Rees has contributed to New Humanist. Members of the group have contributed to online fora run by other humanist bodies including the BHA Forum and ThinkHumanism. Recent activity on the BHA Forum has produced some interest in H4S.
Members of the group have addressed local humanist groups in
Cardiff, the Chilterns, the Cottswolds, Dorset, Essex, Hastings, North London, North Yorkshire, Southampton and West London. Feedback has been extremely positive. They have also attended and contributed to events run by various humanist bodies including the BHA, HASSNERS, Center For Inquiry UK and CEMB (Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain).
Outreach to the public
Our main channel to the general public is the H4S blog (humanists4science.blogspot.com/) which we started in January 2009.
The chairman had had a letter published in New Scientist. The Guardian had also published his 500 word response to an article by Madeline Bunting.
Tom Rees’ article on the sociology of religion (http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/pdf/2009-17.pdf) was published in 2009. After publicity by H4S he has been interviewed on the BBC’s Thinking Allowed and had been invited to contribute to New Humanist and to provide a regular column to Free Inquiry.
During 2009 the group met officers of the Cheltenham Science Festival with a view to taking a stall jointly with the BHA. Due to organizational difficulties the stall was eventually run by the BHA alone - H4S helped to man the stall.
In 2011 we will continue to offer speakers to local groups and promote H4S by posting to other humanist fora.
David Flint, Chairman
On behalf of the Committee.
6 December 2010.