RET News August 2018 CE

Rationalists of East Tennessee Newsletter

August 2018


First Sunday Meeting

August 5         Sunday          10:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m.

Pellissippi State Community College, Goins Administration Building, Cafeteria Annex

“The Moral Molecule: The Source of Love and Prosperity,” a DVD presentation by Dr. Paul Zak from the Skeptics Society Distinguished Lecture Series

A revolution in the scientific study of good and evil, Dr. Paul Zak’s lecture, based on his book, The Moral Molecule, answers such questions as: Why do some people give freely while others are cold hearted? Why do some people cheat and steal while others you can trust with your life? Why are some husbands more faithful than others—and why do women tend to be more generous than men? Could the key to moral behavior lie with a single molecule? From the bucolic English countryside to the highlands of Papua, New Guinea, from labs in Switzerland to his campus in Southern California, Dr. Zak recounts his extraordinary stories and sets out, for the first time, his revolutionary theory of moral behavior.

Get Directions       


Skeptic Book Club

August 12         Sunday        2:004:00 p.m.                         

Books-A-Million, 8513 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919

The Truth About Animals: Stoned Sloths, Lovelorn Hippos, and Other Tales from the Wild Side of Wildlife by Lucy Cooke.

Humans have gone to the Moon and discovered the Higgs boson, but when it comes to understanding animals, we’ve still got a long way to go. Whether we’re seeing a viral video of romping baby pandas or a picture of penguins “holding hands,” it’s hard for us not to project our own values—innocence, fidelity, temperance, hard work—onto animals. So you’ve probably never considered if moose get drunk, penguins cheat on their mates, or worker ants lay about. They do—and thats just for starters. In The Truth About Animals, Lucy Cooke takes us on a worldwide journey to meet everyone from a Colombian hippo castrator to a Chinese panda porn peddler, all to lay bare the secret—and often hilarious—habits of the animal kingdom. Charming and at times downright weird, this modern bestiary is perfect for anyone who has ever suspected that virtue might be unnatural. (352 pages)


Third Sunday Special EventField Trip!

August 19           Sunday           10:30 a.m. 

Trip to Gray Fossil Site and Museum, 1212 Suncrest Drive, Gray, Tennessee 37615

We will meet at 10:30 a.m. at the Pellissippi State Community College parking lot and form into car pool groups. Along the way we will stop for a quick fast-food lunch. Expected arrival at Gray Fossil Museum is about 1:00 p.m.

The Gray Fossil Site and Museum, located at Hands-On Discovery Center, is a place where visitors can get up close and personal with an active fossil dig. Scientists believe the site was formed by an underground limestone cave that collapsed and created a sinkhole. This left a vast fossil deposit that dates back 5 million years. Hundreds of plant and animal fossils have been unearthed so far, including a saber tooth cat, alligator, tapir, rhinoceros, short-faced bear, red panda, and 16-ton mastodon. Visitors can learn more about this incredible discovery by touring the museum and dig site itself and enjoying interactive exhibits.

If we have at least 10 people, the group rate for the museum and discovery center is $8; otherwise, tickets are $10 each. With paid admission, you can add the Paleo Tour and/or Tesla Experience for a small extra charge. The Tesla Experience is a lightning and thunder exhibit. Activity level is not too strenuous, and wheelchairs can be accommodated.

The site is located between Kingsport and Johnson City, less than 100 miles from Knoxville. General directions: Interstate 81 north to Exit 57A, onto Interstate 26 south. Take Exit 13, Gray. Turn southwest and drive 1.8 miles. Located on the left. Free parking. Web site:



August 26          Sunday           1:00–3:30 p.m.

Discussion and Pot Luck                 Hosted by Bob Morris, 140 Greystone Drive, Oak Ridge 37830

“Where To Now?”

What is a sensible path for the country to take for the next couple of years? We have seen all kinds of unorthodox proclamations and behaviors from the White House; some of it is still dangling like the border wall, and some of it has gone forward like the tariffs. We can vote our conscience this next election, but what are other think-local and act-local things that we can do to make our corner of the country a little nicer and a bit friendlier? Not just gripes, but little helpful things that make us all think more and accuse less? Things that might help us be less tribal and more understanding.

For the discussion, please bring the usual pot luck, and Bob will provide some drinks and paper dinnerware. The driveway has a bit of an incline, so if you have strong legs, please park at the bottom so others have less of a climb.



Freethought Forum TV, Wednesdays, 6:307:30 p.m.

FFTV, a community access television program in conjunction with the Atheist Society of Knoxville, can be seen in the Knoxville area on Comcast channel 12, WOW channel 6, Charter channel 193, and AT&T U-verse channel 99 and wherever the internet reaches at Our program may be seen by viewers of all ages and engages those who might otherwise never know about alternatives to religious world views. FFTV invites you to host or co-host a program or suggest a topic you wish to be presented. Contact “Faithless” Forrest with your ideas.

FFTV Gains Social Media Followers

FFTV is gaining visibility, based on its Facebook page membership. From July through December 2017, there were around 80 Facebook members. Since January 2018, that number has climbed to 129. While it is not possible to count how many viewers FFTV reaches each week, the increase in social media participation is noteworthy.

You Can Help the Secular Coalition for America

The Secular Coalition for America, along with other secular organizations, is spearheading an ongoing effort to get more “nones” to go to the polls and vote their values. As part of that effort, Aleta Ledendecker has volunteered to be a team leader.

Although this will be a long-term effort, beyond just the mid-terms, the main push currently is September to November. SCA will be going to events to be visible as secular voters and putting in effort to register new voters. If you want to join this effort, there are three things to do now:

  1. Go to <> to register as a volunteer. The name of the group is “Secular America Votes—Tennessee.”
  2. Email Aleta at <> to let her know that you did so.
  3. Let her know your t-shirt size so you can be added to the order for team t-shirts.
    In late August, Aleta will be organizing training and events for those of you who agree to be part of this important work. 

    Support RET Through Amazon

    If you buy merchandise from Amazon, you can help support RET. Just go to and select Support—Rationalists of East Tennessee.


    Opinion Column. Would you like to share an opinion? Send it to us (, and it will be considered for publication.


    RET Skeptic Book ClubBooks List

    Rationalists of East Tennessee Website

    Information about the workings of RET is available online to members. Minutes of Board of Directors meetings are at There is also a forum for member postings:

    RET Meetup 
    Rationalists of East Tennessee is now on Meetup.coman online social networking site that allows people to find others who share common interests. Join in: 

    News of Members
    Please contact us ( if you have relevant news about RET members that they agree to share.


    Other Area Secular Activities                              

    Atheist Society of Knoxville, Tuesdays, 5:30 p.m., Black Horse Pub and Brewery, Western Plaza Shopping Center, 4429 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919. Conversation, food, and drink. ASK is sponsoring a major fundraiser called Ending Hunger, which aims to raise $5000 and put 20,000 meals into Knoxville area food pantries. To donate to the ASK initiative, go to

    East Tennessee Chapter, Freedom from Religion Foundation, Wednesday, September 19, 5:30 p.m. Third Wednesday of alternate months, Earth Fare, Turkey Creek, Knoxville.

    Sunday Assembly Knoxville (Live Better, Help Often, Wonder More). 
    The International, 940 Blackstock Avenue, Knoxville 37921. For activities, go to the Sunday Assembly website and click on “Events Calendar.” Other Sunday Assembly sites: Facebook, Meetup, Email.


    What Are You Reading?

    We invite you to share articles, books, films, etc., you’ve experienced recently. Just send a brief summary to This month’s recommendation is from Logan Mulford.

    Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean. This book is an explosive exposé of the man who devoted his career to shackling democracy—and succeeded. Libertarian billionaires are using their wealth to drastically curtail the U.S. democratic process, disempowering ordinary citizens whilst entrenching the influence of corporations as never before. In Democracy in Chains, award-winning historian Nancy MacLean reveals how the ideas of Nobel Prize winning political economist James McGill Buchanan have been used to undermine the power of voters in a country whose Constitution is founded on the principle “We the people.” Now, with Mike Pence as Vice President, this chilling movement has a loyalist in the White House, as well supporters in the House, the Senate, a majority of state governments, and the courts. Democracy in Chains is a timely and important book, which should be read by anybody interested in the future of democracy.


    Copyright © 2018 {Rationalists of East Tennessee, Inc.}. All rights reserved. Please request use of any material at contact below.
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    Edited by Donna Watson and Sharron King:
    Opinions expressed are those of authors and/or editors and are not necessarily the opinions of RET.