The Humanist Association of Toronto provides a focus of activities and discussion for Humanists in the Toronto area. Please note: HAT events are open to the public, and views expressed do not necessarily represent the official views of the Humanist Association of Toronto. For all public statements, educational events, media enquiries, please contact the webeditor, who will forward your enquiry to our Spokesperson.
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The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm
The Monthly Meeting the 2nd or 3rd Saturday at 1:30pm (TBD)
The Steering Committee meets 1st Wednesday, 7pm
The Book Group meets monthly.
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HAT EVENTS | GTA EVENTS | GTA NEWS | HUMANIST NEWS | HAT NEWSLETTER | ETHICAL ACTIONS | UNIV of TORONTO EVENTS

HAT Forum
Sat Aug 27th 2016
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic: Humanism and the HAT
Proposer: Jon Aldridge

Topic: Humanism and the HAT

--How do you understand Humanism?

--In what ways do you regard yourself as a Humanist?

--What beliefs or actions might preclude someone from being a Humanist?

--Is there a specific definition of Humanism as understood by the Humanist Association of Toronto?

--What can long-term members share with others about the HAT past and present?

--Does the HAT have ties to other Humanist organizations?

--What do you think of organizations which are not explicitly Humanist, such as corporations or religious groups? On what terms would you cooperate with them?

--What facets of public life might benefit from a more Humanistic approach?

HAT Forum
Sat Aug 20th 2016
11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic: Will Mankind's intelligence and technology be beneficial or disastrous in the long term?

Is humanity a danger to itself? Will we survive into the distant future?

What if anything is the greatest existential Threat to humanity? A.I? synthetic biology? Nuclear war? Disease/pandemic? climate change? Something Else? anything?

The Fermi Paradox is the idea that maybe we do not see evidence of other civilizations due to the fact they end up going extinct after a time.
Do you think our Intelligence, technology and Civilization are a hindrance or a help to our long term survival?

Some People have made the claim That it is not resources we lack but knowledge. In the "Character of physical Law" series of lectures Richard Feynman Laments our lack of Knowledge. He mentions the amount of energy in the ocean and points out it is unavailable to us, as we have no idea how to use it.

How many Cities equivalent to New York could we power if we knew how to harness all the energy of the ocean?

Ocean 80000 Twh per year

New York's years energy consumption for 2009: 60,000 Gwh

Is our ignorance a hindrance to our survival?

Mankind has been predicting doom for Millennial. The earliest written record is from Zoroastrianism in 500 BC claiming the world will end after 10 hundred winters.
We have survived much: The Last Glacial Period (Ice Age), Pandemics (The Black Death).
Are the current warnings of danger (A.I., Climate Change) just an ongoing part of human nature and culture?

HAT Forum
Sat Aug 13th 2016
10 a.m. to noon
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic:Epistemology; Proposer: Justin Otto


PLEASE NOTE TIME CHANGE FOR THE HAT FORUM FOR SATURDAY AUGUST 13th FOR THIS WEEK ONLY
to 10 a.m. - Noon
(Maintenance work at The 519)

Introductory Question
Describe a belief that you used to have, but changed your mind about.

Open-Mindedness
What do you think is a good way to think about open-mindedness?
Certainty

Can we ever know anything with 100% certainty?
Tree in the Forest

A much-repeated question: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"
Occam's Razor

All else held equal, an explanation which makes fewer assumptions is more likely to be true than ones that rely on many assumptions. But suppose someone was to say "The woman down the road is a witch; she did it". This explanation feels simple, but what is wrong with it?
Guess the Rule

I will give a sequence of 3 numbers, which obeys a rule that I have in mind. The goal is to guess what the rule is by giving me sequences of 3 numbers of your own chosing, and I will say whether or not they follow my rule. The sequence is: 2, 4, 8.
Let others take some guesses if you are familiar with the puzzle.
Terrorist-Camera Puzzle

-Suppose that we have a city of 1,000,000 people. Assume that 10 of these people are terrorists, and the other 999,990 people are innocent citizens.-The mayor sets up some special cameras which are able to detect terrorists. Unfortunately, the accuracy rate isn't perfect.-When a terrorist walks in front of the camera, there is a 90% chance that the camera will correctly flag that person as a terrorist, and a 10% chance of marking them as innocent.-When an innocent citizen walks in front of a camera, it has a 99% chance of correctly marking them as innocent, and a 1% chance of mistakenly flagging them as a terrorist.
Suppose that someone walks in front of a camera, and it flags them as a terrorist. What is the probability that they are actually a terrorist? The answer may surprise you.

HAT Forum
Sat Aug 6th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic:Tipping
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

“Tipping” - giving someone money following the performance of a service, is a significant part of Canadian modern life. In a Cornell University study, Canada was found to have 27 tip-worthy service professions. This level varies widely worldwide from a high of 31 in the United States to lows of 4 in Japan and 0 in Iceland.

1.      What were the designed purposes of tipping? Are they being accomplished in the current system?
2.      How does the North American system of tipping benefit servers? Employers? Customers?
3.      What problems do you have with tipping? As a server? Customer? Employer?
4.      What experience do you have with tipping and service culture outside Canada?
5.      One researcher found a positive correlation between tipping prevalence and corruption in a multi-national study. How are tipping and bribery similar? How are they different?
6.      Using humanist values, can we formulate guidelines to tipping or is the whole tipping system fundamentally un-humanist?

HAT Forum
Sat July 23rd 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic:Humanist perspectives on modern Turkey
Proposer: Jon Aldridge

--How does the failed coup d'état in Turkey on 15-16 July 2016 affect the prospects for secular institutions and citizens in the country?

--To what extent does Turkey's human-rights record, for instance imprisonment of journalists and judges, functionally undermine the country's official status as a democracy?

--What motives could have pushed the coup plotters in to action?

--How might instability in Turkey impact upon military actions in Syria and Iraq and the on-going refugee crisis?

--In what ways could other countries, including Canada, conduct foreign relations with Turkey in order to support constitutional democracy?

HAT Forum
Sat July 16th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic:"Black Lives Matter"
Proposer: Gary Higgins

Background:
* At this year's Gay Pride parade in Toronto, Black Lives Matter was invited, but held a sit-in protesting the participation of police contingents. After 30 minutes, the Pride organizers signed an agreement accepting BLM's demands, and the parade continued. This has been controversial. The organizer who signed the agreement subsequently resigned and disclaims the authority to speak for the organization.
* In Dallas last week, at a Black Lives Matter protest, a black ex-reservist shot and killed 5 police officers and injured many others, both white and black.

Questions:
1. If you were black, would you be involved in confrontational behaviour? Would you pull back from these situations?
2. What role do cameras (cellphones, dashcams, bodycams) have in these events?
3. The (black) police chief in Dallas has appealed to African-Americans to apply to join the police force. Would hiring more African-Americans help the situation?
4. In Toronto "carding" has been controversial. Overall, has it been beneficial?
5. In your own life have you experienced racism or reverse racism? What strategies do you have for dealing with it?
6. Does the promotion of our ‘ chosen-ness ‘,, our individualism, our ‘ group identity ‘; e.g., nationalism, skin color, religion, sex, wealth & class; sometimes go beyond pride, and bordering on the exclusion of others?
7. What do you think about driving around with a gun?
8. Discuss these statements/slogans: "Black Lives Matter!" "Blue Lives Matter!"

Some quotes to consider:
“ Tolerance is never sufficient,
Humanity must learn to love our differences “
-       Justin Trudeau, signing the guest book,  Auschwitz-birkenau state museum

“ So if you want to deal with this on the black side, you’ve got to teach your children to be respectful to the police, & you’ve got to teach your children that the real danger to them, 99 out of 100 times is other black kids who are going to kill them; that’s the way they’re gonna die”
-       Former new York city mayor Rudy Giulliani on the increasing violence between white cops and black citizens

"Never forget our common humanity “
-       Bertrand Russell

HAT Forum
Sat July 9th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic:"BREXIT: SOME SPECULATIONS (Bring your own)"
Proposer: Cornelia Laven


1. Why did the vote in the U.K. favour an exit out of the European union?

2. What is a worst-case scenario of the U.K. going it alone?

3. What is the best-case scenario of the U.K. going it alone?

4. What are the possible impacts on Canada?

HAT Forum
Sat June 25th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
OISE, 256 Bloor Street West Rm 8-201
Topic:"The Hounding of Vladimir Putin"
Proposer: Isobel Foot

Sometimes it seems the military class has to be constantly pushing for war with Russia. Constantly threatening.  One thing, it probably makes some people a lot of money!
In the Middle East, Russia is seen as the enemy when it supports the beleaguered Assad. We want him out - I’m not sure why it’s our business. In my opinion Putin has been sincere in trying to help that bleeding region.  We have a hard time to accept anything he does as good (e.g. dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons.
Now we’re being asked to build up NATO forces around Russia. The US and all are continually fomenting color revolutions and making war to challenge Russian influence.  They impose economic sanctions, rag about human rights.  Why? 

HAT Forum
Sat June 18th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room tba or 304
Topic:"What, if anything, is the Self"
Proposer:Moses Klein

We'll examine several philosophical conceptions about the Self. 
Do they make sense to us? 
How do we understand the Self? 
Is it a useful concept?
What implications does it have for our ethics? 
Has anything that you have learned changed your idea of the Self?

Some summary statements of philosophical positions for this Forum will be prepared.

Please Note that:
* The June 25th Forum is moved to OISE.
* The July 2nd Forum is cancelled.
* On July 9th we will return to 519.

HAT Forum
Sat June 11th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303 or 304
Topic:"Deep listening…. Reconciliation with inner self"
Proposer:Jody Perrin

       There are some responsibilities as a human being in circle of life in front of other people, nature, animals to have a better planet in communication with each other, yet the first step of achieving to these goals is deep listening to our inner self and it is a process of detachment of our being from any title outside that introduce us in our communications

1) Listening begins with taking notice or becoming aware of our own needs, feelings, thoughts, sensations and stories.
What are some of the ways we can listen to or become aware of ourselves?

2) Conversation involves us in listening to others.
Share some of your ways of listening to an other?

How can you show the other that you have listened and heard them?

HAT Forum
Sat June 4th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303 or 304
Topic: “The State Apology"
Facilitator: Moses Klein

Thinking about examples of political leaders who have, on behalf of their country, apologized for past actions.

1. What functions do or should such apologies serve?
2. When is a public apology appropriate? When is it not appropriate?
3. When are apologies enough? When are apologies not enough? What more needs to be done?
4. On May 18th, Justin Trudeau made two widely reported apologies in the House of Commons. At 3 PM he apologized for Canada turning away the Komagata Maru in 1914; at 6 PM he apologized for his role in the now-infamous altercation on the House floor. How are these two apologies different?

A few examples of public apologies to consider:
(a) Justin Trudeau’s apology for the Komagata Maru on May 18th.
(b) Stephen Harper’s 2008 apology for the residential schools.
(c) The 1988 apologies of Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney for the internment of Japanese-Americans and Japanese-Canadians respectively during WWII.
(d) Bill Clinton’s 1998 apology, during a visit to Africa, for the slave trade.
(e) Barack Obama’s 2009 apology for Jim Crow.
(f) David Cameron’s 2010 recognition of Bloody Sunday as “unjustified and unjustifiable”.
(g) Gordon Brown’s 2009 apology for the treatment of Alan Turing.
(h) Nestor Kirchner’s 2004 apology for Argentina’s Dirty War.
(i) F.W. de Klerk’s apology in 1996 to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for apartheid.
(j) Konrad Adenauer’s apology for the Holocaust.
(k) Shinzo Abe’s 2007 apology to comfort women.
(l) Kevin Rudd’s 2008 apology for the treatment of aboriginal people.
(m) John Paul II’s 1992 apology for the persecution of Galileo.

HAT Forum
Sat May 28th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303 or 304
Topic: “Do we need another Enlightenment?"
Proposer: Cecilia Rayo

Our political system is unable to respond to looming economic and environmental crises that present a clear and present danger to our way of life, and instead of thoughtful planning and responsible leadership we get demagoguery, posturing, and theatre.
Rational thought cannot prevail in the current social and media environment, where elections are won by appealing to voters’ hearts rather than their minds. The rapid-fire pace of modern politics, the hypnotic repetition of daily news items and even the multitude of visual sources of information all make it difficult for the voice of reason to be heard.

1. Do you agree with this view of modern politics? If you do so, why?

2. Do you think that the first Enlightenment was successful in its predicted outcome that the reasonable individuals could construct a new rational society predicated on liberty, equality and brotherhood? Explain your answer.

3. The public opinion battlefield is the hert not the head. Do you agree with this statement? Explain….

4. How do you think that we could restore sanity to the politics of this world?

HAT Forum
Sat May 21st 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 303
Topic: “Building Bridges? Humanism and Religion"
Proposer: Richard Dowsett

- Do you engage personally with religious people about faith issues, and if so how?

- How engaged do think the Humanist movement should be with organized religions?


- When, if ever, is it appropriate to ridicule religious beliefs?


- What religious practices or emotions should Humanism seek to replicate in a non-theistic context?


- One of Humanism's objectives is to foster human flourishing. Would it pose a dilemma for Humanists if it could 
be scientifically proven that people are happier and healthier if they have religious beliefs? 


HAT Forum
Sat May 7th 2016
11 a.m. To 1 pm
519 Church Street Room 304
Topic: “Ideas from other countries that you would like to see in Canada"
Proposer: Debora Jenkins

*The idea for this topic came from Michael Moore's recent film, Where to Invade Next, in which Moore goes to other countries in search of good ideas to bring back to the United States. The movie is not playing in Toronto anymore but you can watch Michael Moore discuss many of the ideas of the film on YouTube on the Stephen Colbert show and on Talks at Google.

1. What do you think of the following ideas mentioned in the film? 

Portugal: legalized possession of any and all drugs 15 years ago
Norway: all prison sentences capped at 21 years
Italy: mandatory 7 to 8 week paid vacations 
France: superior quality, healthy student lunches
Slovenia: free university
Rwanda: quotas for women in government
Iceland: quotas for women (and men) on boards in companies (40% for both genders)
Germany: a thriving middle class of well-paid workers
Finland: no homework

2. What ideas, be they cultural, political, social, edible, aesthetic, or economic, would you like to bring to Canada? From what countries? Why?

Off the top of my head, here are a few of mine:

Sweden: the Nordic Model for prostitution (already here but under threat)
Pittsburgh: beautiful, creative bike racks as public art
New Orleans: Beignets!
Washington DC: free museum admission
Paris: a strong sense of style and design
London: plentiful wrought iron fences and railings 
Most countries in the world: better social skills/closer family and community ties
Etc.

Yours?

4. What are the drawbacks to some of these ideas?

5. Why do we sometimes seem to be reluctant to adopt ideas from other places?

6. What Canadian ideas do you think other countries would benefit from?

7. Any ideas we don't want? Like the American political system :)
HAT meetings are free and open to members and the public. Call (416) 966-1361 for location information. ___________________________________________________
The Humanist Forum meets Saturday morning 11am-1pm.
The Monthly Meeting, is usually the second Saturday at 1:30pm; specifics should be found on this blog.
The Steering Committee meets the first Wednesday of each month, at 7pm.
The Book Group usually meets on the first Saturday afternoon of the month.