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President's Comments on This and That

By Keith R. Taylor

Hey, we are doing pretty good. Our attendance is up, our speakers informative and sparkling. If you haven't been to a meeting for a while, drop by and say hello. We have some wonderful things coming up. Remember the program is free even though we do suggest a five dollar donation. We wouldn't turn down more of course. Nor will we notice if you drop nothing in Ernie's hat.

We do skip meetings in December, July and August. It's awfully important that we do because our resident astrologer said that's when Pisces is on the cusp of Capricorn with Herkamker rising and Pluto (or is it Goofy?) is in the house of commons. We just can't take the chance.

Board of Directors' election coming up in November. Please give it some thought. If you'd like to run for position give me a call. Your chances of getting elected are overwhelming.

February ought to be extra special. That's when we will have a program aimed especially at the folks who need exposure to critical thinking the most-young people. Dr. Seth Asser, June's speaker, will put on a special magic show aimed especially at teenagers. If you have a teener or two in the family bring them along.

And thanks largely to Barbara Hemmingsen that will just be the beginning of our outreach program for youngsters. She suggested our participation in the San Diego and Imperial County Science and Engineering Fair held each April. The Fair allows professional societies to present awards for projects each deems worthy of honoring. The Board approved the idea of SDARI presenting an award for the best critical thinking project in both the Junior and Senior Divisions. See page 7 for more details.

We'll need help on this one folks. If you are interested, see page 1 on how to reach me. Along the same line the Board voted to institute a special membership fee for youngsters. Their annual dues would be $6.00 per year and that would be waived if the kid brought her science teacher.

Finances. Oh, how I hate to bring this up. I belong to several organizations, all need money, and when I send them some they need more. We are no different. SDARI's income and outgo hang in an uneasy balance with no room for extras. For example, now and then a great speaker is available but he charges. That's fair; the person does this for a living and it's a valuable service, but we have to be awfully circumspect in engaging one. One of our future speakers will have a fee and it's likely he'll be the only paid speaker for the year.

We intend to have an extensive mailing program to recruit more members. That would also tend to upset our income/outgo balance. Advertising might help attendance and bring in more members but it costs more money also.

You'll notice a special envelope in this issue. Your generous contribution will be greatly appreciated.

Getting things done. Critical thinking isn't always an easy sell. Astrology, therapeutic touch, faith healing, precognition, and all sorts of wowser things are touted by the media. The folks who ask "why" are generally left sitting, their question unanswered. Still, we can make a difference if we are alert.

For example, after we had engaged Dr. Seth Asser to talk on children dying because of religious neglect, I called Mark Sauer of the Union-Tribune. Mark is a tremendous investigative reporter and was our speaker a while back. Mark jumped on the story about Asser. The result was that a few days before his talk, the paper ran a big story on the doctor and even mentioned his forthcoming talk with us. The joint was filled for the June meeting. Asser said his organization to save kids picked up some members and I think we gained a few.

Another example would be the Kansas/evolution fiasco. As soon as the story broke I wrote a letter on behalf of SDARI to the Union-Tribune. I knew the odds were against it's being printed, and I was right; it never showed up. To copper on my bet I called Lionel VanDeerlin, a former speaker for our group, and alerted him to the story. I gave him some reference material from the Internet and referred him to SDARI plank owner, Elie Shneour. Elie contributed to and was a signatory of the amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in the 1986 Edwards vs. Aguillard Louisiana case declaring "religious science" a religion not a science. With a little help from Elie and me, Van wrote a great article-the only one critical of the Kansas school board decision printed in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Sometimes good things happen because of the friends we've made.