Presentation went well; thanks to all who gave last minute feedback

Just a short note just now to say the presentation this AM went well. In the immediate aftermath I have had several colleagues say that they were non-believers as well, with one in particular saying that she and her husband quite going to church after their religious parents died, and had only gone to appease them in the first place: classic "social believers."

More later this evening.

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Comment by tom arcaro on September 1, 2009 at 2:58pm
Also, I am rewriting this post on social believers and will attempt to have it published as an op-ed.
Comment by tom arcaro on September 1, 2009 at 2:51pm
Martin, Here is the link to the social believers blog post:

I have much addition comment to add to this, but not in a form I can send just now.
Comment by Martin Allen on August 29, 2009 at 12:01am
Congratulations on the presentation. Sounds like there was a lot of positive feedback from colleagues. Could you provide a link to the "social believers" blog? I'd be very interested to read that, though on my skim through past entries, couldn't find it. The book proposal sounds exciting too.
Comment by Rikka on August 28, 2009 at 2:20pm
I already am. Loving this weather....
Comment by tom arcaro on August 28, 2009 at 4:41am
No, I am now in Alamance 216-A. When are you back on campus?
Comment by Rikka on August 27, 2009 at 10:16pm
Oooh, good luck with the book. Glad to hear things went well. I'm not surprised that many people gave positive feedback; the profs at Elon are mostly pretty cool people.

Is your office still in the same building even though it got moved?
Comment by tom arcaro on August 27, 2009 at 4:07pm
More on the presentation this AM.

Although there were well over a dozen faculty members who had a sabbatical last year, I was one of four who were asked to present their research at our annual planning week "faculty research" showcase. A nice, minor honor to be selected, though there may have been many others who declined before they got to me.

Traditionally these presentations are low key affairs, though they do tend to mimic the tone and structure of a professional presentation at an academic conference. The attendance is typically decent, and at my presentation (I was the second of two in my room) there were about 50 people; the room was very near SRO. Interestingly, all of the senior administrators were there, from the president down to various deans.

Yes, I did experience some pre-talk jitters.

The presentation itself was very well received. I was told afterwards by several colleagues that I did a "great job" and "I was taking notes". In presentations I always have a fear that I might come off as babbling, and it was nice to hear that it appears to be not so in this instance.

As you saw in the draft of the Powerpoint presentation, I only presented the barest outline of the actual data. This, of course, is inherently frustrating because there is always a mismatch between content and time frame. I could have gone on for 90 minutes (instead of the 30 allocated) and still not touched on some of meatier findings.

The best news of the day comes from the fact that I think I educated more than a few people. When I talked about the laws against holding public office if you are a non-believer and the fact that "In God We Trust" and "under God" are Cold War artifacts, I saw many people look surprised and even shocked.

When I presented my term "social believers" and used the analogy from the gay community that there are some "social heterosexuals", I feel that this term resonated with many listeners. In fact I talked with three separate colleagues since the presentation who each mentioned the term and said they they or someone they knew fit this term exactly. I have a blog entry on social believers and my immediate plan is to buff it up a bit and see if I can get it published as an op-ed piece.

In the immediate aftermath I had several people, younger colleagues, come up and thank me and tell their stories. Of particular interest was a political science professor who was keen to talk to me about the huge voting block atheists potentially have. Walking back to my office and at a small social affair a bit later I had many colleagues give me very positive feedback.

In short, no bad/negative backlash/response as yet from anyone at any level. I did not expect any, and was not surprised. Though Elon is in the Bible Belt, my colleagues come from all over the US and are, as a whole, quite progressive.

I am working with a colleague in the school of communications here on a book proposal on this topic, and he said that the session energized him about our project.

So, I am glad that the presentation is behind me, and am more committed than even to find more and more ways to make public the results of the survey and, hopefully, contribute at least in some small way to the destigmatization of atheism.
Comment by Louis Davout on August 27, 2009 at 1:42pm
Glad to hear it.
Comment by JayBarti on August 27, 2009 at 11:34am
Congratulations on the successful presentation Tom, I can't wait to hear more about it (though apparently I have to).



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