Presenter: Thor Henrich

May, 2018

From the moment when we blink our eyes open in the morning, until we close them at night, our brain engages in a storm of neurological activity, preparing each of us for the myriad of decisions, conscious and unconscious, that will be needed for the day. Humans engage in both individual and social decision-making, hopefully reaching a some kind of homeostasis which is beneficial to the society at large, as well the individuals making it up.

Our increasingly complex, rapidly evolving, technological world has placed great pressures on society to make wise decisions. At present, many social ills are coalescing into dismal state of affairs, as the old religious, institutional, and educational traditions no longer seem adequate to solve our problems. Democracy itself is at risk.The Sierra Club advises that we ‘Think Globally, and Act Locally’. Yet from local to global, we are inundated with seemingly intractable problems. Locally we can think of: the opioid crisis,the lack of affordable housing, sewage ‘biosolids’, unemployment and homelessness, densification and overdevelopment, and the Colwood Crawl. Provincially there’s Kinder Morgan and the Pipeline, Site C dam, speculators, threats to biodiversity (orcas, salmon, herring, old growth forests), fracking and mining, and aboriginal issues. Globally we have climate change, overpopulation, income inequality, poverty and pollution, tyrannical governments, hacking and loss of privacy,and the threat of nuclear warfare. While some people act out of fear or greed, others are active in various populist causes: human rights, including women, aboriginal, LGBT, seniors, secular humanism; fair election practices conservation of biodiversity, care for the oceans, etc. So not all news is dismal.


How does a good Secular Humanist cope? What kind of discussions do we have to make?!

Thinking of our aims and aspirations, to seek the Truth and do what is best’ for mankind and the natural world, to use science and evidence-based decision making, and adhere to humanitarian
principles, what do we need to do at this moment in time?

What kinds of decision-making will be important to reach a new healthy steady state of affairs?

Where in our daily life do we seek information to guide our decision-miking towards a positive future? What can we do? What should we do?

Selected readings and sources of information:
1. Michael Lewis: The Undoing Project (decision making, behavioural psychology)
2. Oliver Sachs. The River of Consciousness (on thinking, creativity, human consciousness)
3. Sam Harris. The Moral Landscape How Science Can Determine Human Values
4. Jared Diamond. Collapse How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
5. Daniel Ellsberg. The Doomsday Machine (secrets of atomic warfare)
6. Bertrand Russell. Why I am Not a Christian
7. Al Gore. An Inconvenient Truth (global warming and solutions)
8. Magazines: FOCUS (local issues), Economist, NY Times, The Globe and Mail,The
Guardian, Sierra Club (environmental issues), Atlantic, & Harpers.
9. TV & Radio: Knowledge Network, Nature Specials, Democracy Now w/ Amy Goodman
10. Cartoons: Tom Tomorrow, Bizarro

Related Links:

7 Steps To Effective Decision Making:

Wikipedia definition: