Super Typhoon Haiyan – Humanist Response via Foundation Beyond Belief

Typhoon-ravaged Philippine islands faced an unimaginably huge recovery effort that had barely begun Monday, as bloated bodies lay uncollected and uncounted in the streets and survivors pleaded for food, water and medicine.

The Foundation Beyond Belief  reports “the death toll from Super Typhoon Haiyan could reach 10,000according to officials in the Philippines. News from the region is filled with heart-wrenching stories of children torn from their parents’ arms, families hopelessly searching for lost loved ones, and bodies piling up as the region struggles to organize a response to the disaster.

The city of Tacloban was one of the hardest-hit places. Essential infrastructure has been destroyed, and crops were ruined. Food, water, and shelter are scarce. The area is in desperate need of medical supplies and electricity. Humanitarian aid cannot come too quickly.

As of Sunday afternoon, Foundation Beyond Belief’s Humanist Crisis Response program has raised more than $10,000 in support of CITIZENS’ DISASTER RESPONSE CENTER, a seasoned and effective community-based relief organization in the Philippines. 100 percent of all donations will be forwarded to CDRC throughout the course of the drive.”

Donations can be made through the Foundation Beyond Belief and other organizations.

FD Book Club – The Dragons of Eden

The FD book club selection for November is Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence by Carl Sagan. FD members will be meeting to discuss the book on 23 November.

Here’s a summary of the book from Wikipedia:

“The Dragons of Eden: Speculations on the Evolution of Human Intelligence is a Pulitzer Prize winning 1977 book by Carl Sagan. In it, he combines the fields of anthropology, evolutionary biology, psychology, and computer science to give a perspective of how human intelligence evolved.
One of the main issues featured in the book is the search for a quantitative way of measuring intelligence. Sagan shows that the brain to body mass ratio is an extremely good indicator, with humans having the highest and dolphins second. It does break down, however, at the extremely small end of the scale. Smaller creatures (ants in particular) place disproportionally high on the list.
Other topics mentioned include the evolution of the brain (with emphasis on the function of the neocortex in humans), the evolutionary purpose of sleep and dreams, demonstration of sign language abilities by chimps and the purpose of mankind’s innate fears and myths. The title “The Dragons of Eden” refers to man’s early struggle for survival in the face of predators, and how fear of reptiles may have led to cultural beliefs and myths about dragons and snakes.”

In the book, Sagan asks this – “after we returned to the savannahs and abandoned the trees, did we long for those great graceful leaps and ecstatic moments of weightlessness in the shafts of sunlight of the forest roof?”

Good news for science education

Via examiner.com

“In a victory for science education and the children of Texas, publishers are refusing to include creationism in science textbooks despite fierce pressure from conservative Christians.

The Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan watchdog, released a statement Thursday, Oct. 17, declaring “All 14 publishers are refusing to water down or compromise instruction on evolution and climate change in their proposed new high school biology textbooks.”

The following is from a press release issued by the Texas Freedom Network announcing the news:

Materials submitted to the Texas Education Agency and examined by the Texas Freedom Network and university scientists show that publishers are resisting pressure to undermine instruction on evolution in their proposed new high school biology textbooks for public schools.”

Read more.