Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

March 2010 – written by Dave Buck



Next month: No roundtable first Sunday of April because of Spring

Break and Easter Break.



Many members expressed interest in hiking, biking, nature walks etc…

You outdoor types should consider signing up for the overnight

backpacking trip to Linville Gorge, NC. Hidden deep in the heart of

the Pisgah National Forest in the western mountains of North Carolina,

spectacular Linville Gorge can be rightfully called the Grand Canyon

of the East.


Dates for the campout are March 26-27. You will need to carry your own

food, water, camping supplies (tent, sleeping bag, extra clothes etc.)

If interested please contact:  Jason Haberman at 865-483-5370 or

terynjay@yahoo.com and indicate that you're a member of RET.




Saturday, March 6th – GOING AWAY PARTY FOR McCAFFREY’s

Time/location: 6pm, Phil and Sharron King’s home

What to bring: a dish of food or snack to share.


John and Patty gave much to RET during these past few years. John

served as President of our group, and Patty coordinated our Dinner

Club. And their daughter, Clarabelle, was born into the RET family and

literally has grown up in our midst. We owe much to their

conscientious efforts to help RET to grow, and they will be missed



Directions to Phil's and Sharron's home:

- On Interstate 40 about 8 miles west of Knoxville, Cedar Bluff exit (Exit 378)

- North on Cedar Bluff Road, go about a mile to Gulf Park Drive

   (Look for big Catholic Church is on your right, Lutheran Church on

your left)

- LEFT onto Gulf Park Drive, go about three-quarters of a mile.

-RIGHT onto Venice Road. Proceed to stop sign at Sanders Road.

- Continue on Venice Road about 1/4 mile. House on left hand side.

1109 Venice Road, (865) 690-7687    (basketball goal down the hill at

back of driveway).


Sunday, March 7th - Roundtable

Topic: Computer Crimes and Internet threats     .

Time/location: 10:30 - 12:30, Pellissippi State, Goins Bldg., Cafeteria Annex


Our discussant will be Detective Jim Watson of the Knox County

Sheriff's Department. Detective Watson will provide an overview of the

types of crimes committed with computers, detection of the crimes, and

safety ideas. Come early for coffee and treats and socializing of



Sunday, March 14th - Skeptic Book Club

Book:  What Intelligence Tests Miss: Psychology of Rational Thought,

by Keith E. Stanovich

Time and location: 4:00 to 6:00pm, Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 8029

Kingston Pike.

Discussant: Melissa Brenneman


Critics of intelligence tests—writers such as Robert Sternberg, Howard

Gardner, and Daniel Goleman—have argued in recent years that these

tests neglect important qualities such as emotion, empathy, and

interpersonal skills. However, such critiques imply that though

intelligence tests may miss certain key noncognitive areas, they

encompass most of what is important in the cognitive domain. In this

book, Keith E. Stanovich challenges this widely held assumption.

Stanovich shows that IQ tests (or their proxies, such as the SAT) are

radically incomplete as measures of cognitive functioning. They fail

to assess traits that most people associate with “good thinking,”

skills such as judgment and decision making. Such cognitive skills are

crucial to real-world behavior, affecting the way we plan, evaluate

critical evidence, judge risks and probabilities, and make effective

decisions. IQ tests fail to assess these skills of rational thought,

even though they are measurable cognitive processes. Rational thought

is just as important as intelligence, Stanovich argues, and it should

be valued as highly as the abilities currently measured on

intelligence tests.


Sunday, March 21st  - Roundtable

Topic: Wisdom of Crowds, or Angry Anonymous Mob

Time/location: 10:30 - 12:30, Pellissippi State, Goins Bldg., Cafeteria Annex

Discussant: U.T. Law Professor Glenn Reynolds,


Internationally known author of the "Instapundit" blog, Dr. Reynolds

will discuss the up- and down-sides of social media.


Sunday, March 28 – Reflections Group (potluck dinner)

Topic: Hospice and Final Exit:  Similarities and Differences

Location: home of Schera Chadwick & Ted Lollis, 9219 George Williams

Road, Knoxville 37922

Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm.   Call 865.690.8742 for detailed directions


Both of these philosophies and the institutions which have arisen to

support them deal with humane approaches to the end-of-life period;

however they differ in some significant ways.


Although many hospice programs allow team members to assure dying

patients that it is "ok to let go", they are prohibited from taking

any steps to hasten the natural process.  Final Exit Network (which

evolved from the earlier Hemlock Society) takes a more pro-active

stance by allowing their "guides" to counsel patients on methodologies

and supplies, but not to actively assist due to legal complications.


Both organizations fully recognize the end-of-life period as one which

commands the dignity of and respect for the patient be upheld till the

end. But what existential questions do their different approaches