The Conference on World Affairs

As many of you former CU-students know, the CWA is a must-see, and that’s why I’m encouraging all who are in the area to try and drop by this week for some thought-provoking experiences…I know many of you are no longer in the area, but if you are… you should check it out! And, if you’re not, you should encourage some friends who are to check it out 🙂 I don’t know why, but I haven’t seen the schedules littered around campus as they normally are. That worries me. The CWA is such a special thing and should really be taken advantage of by all students… I just wish it weren’t midterms time for me so I could take advantage of discussing more “real-life” issues in the campus setting. What are other peoples’ thoughts on the CWA?

5 Responses to “The Conference on World Affairs

I miss the CWA.. I never seemed to make it to all the events I wanted to, but I’ve always appreciated the ones which I did attend.

If you have time, Teisha, you should go to these and report back about them, they look cool:

* 2104 Relinquishing Excellence: Closing the Door to Scientific Exchange Tuesday, 9:30-11
* 2702 The Daily Show: Fake News is the Real Story Tuesday, 3:30-5
* 3107 Will the Wiki Work (Free Online Encyclopedia) Weds, 9-10:30
* 3502 Nanobots: Who, What, Why, When, Where Weds, 1-2:30

I could go on and on.. so much neat stuff!

Paradoxdruid - April 4th, 2005 at 5:38 pm

I was able to make it to the news panel yesterday, or at least part of it. I had to come in a little late, and what I saw wasn’t that interesting. It seemed to be a lot of comments that were along the lines of the media doesn’t do a good job, though PBS and NPR are better, but still not good since they get a lot of funding from corporations. As I said, not that great, though I’d be interested to hear if anyone made it to the whole thing.

I actually left since there was another panel at the same time I was interested in, “The End of the Traditional Republican”. The panelists on this were pretty interesting to listen to, especially the two conservatives, who were more of the liberatarian, fiscal conservatives than seem to be dominating the party now. If Republicans are in power I would much rather have people like these ones. Molly Ivins was also on the panel, and I usually think she writes good columns, but I was pretty disappointed in her in person. I missed her opening statement, but when people were asking questions just about the only comments she made were jokes insulting Republicans. She also kept fidgeting with the microphone and knocking it over while other people were talking which was really distracting.

The problem with this panel was that it attracted a lot of the people who get up to ask questions that really are more speeches than questions. There was one guy that went one for so long that he was interrupted by the moderator twice and told to ask a question, which never happened since he just sat down after finishing his point. There were also a lot of people that seemed closed minded to any ideas from the conservatives. It was weird seeing a guy getting booed because he answered someone asking how he could support a party a opposed to abortion by saying he thought this was a very narrow view and emphasizing that he is pro-choice. He thinks that the anti-abortion stuff probably would never be more than a lot of rhetoric since there isn’t enough support to make drastic changes. I actually got a nasty look from a woman for applauding a conservative for saying that the elections will tend to weed out the extremists of both parties, and tend to leave the more reasonble people that can do good work.

Unfortunatly this year the CWA is taking place during a pretty busy week for me so I can’t make many panels, and as usual there are a lot of interesting ones taking place while I have class, though it seems like there were fewer ones that appealed to me this year than in the past. One thing that I did find kind of odd is that there seems to be fewer people with a science background than I’ve sometimes seen. One of the panels I want to see, “Returning the soul to Science” doesn’t even have a mainstream scientist on the panel. There’s a lawyer, a filmaker, a doctor, and a woman that from her biography seems to be focused on researching New Age type ideas.

mcmillan - April 6th, 2005 at 10:51 am

I actually went to a panel this morning (first one this year): “3102 Freedom of the Press,” partly because it had “Molly Ivins”: as well (and partly because it had “Roger Ebert”: , who is often very amusing). Of the four panelists, Molly Ivins by far was the largest Republican/conservative-basher (with much humor), so what you said above about her doesn’t surprise me.

Also, just about every panel with a good-sized audience has “a lot of the people who get up to ask questions that really are more speeches than questions” — our moderator specifically said right when question time was opened that people should only talk if they have a question, and if there is any statement part in it they should edit it our before talking. Of course, there were one or two who didn’t heed this warning and were interrupted by the moderator _and audience_ to get to their question… I personally feel that people should be allowed to give some kind of a statment or opinion and have the panelists respond to it. Why is that so terrible? Panelists have an agenda, why can’t the audience members too?

“There were also a lot of people that seemed closed minded to any ideas from the conservatives” — I actually heard a suggestion that the CWA should be held jointly in Colorado Springs, since Boulder is so liberally biased. But, the other problem this causes is people being too self-assured in the Boulder bubble: “He thinks that the anti-abortion stuff probably would never be more than a lot of rhetoric since there isn’t enough support to make drastic changes.” Unfortunately, I think there _is_ enough support and it really does scare me…

As for thinking that “the elections will tend to weed out the extremists of both parties, and … leave the more reasonble people that can do good work,” I think that extremists do do good work in their own way — extremists are necessary to make moderates moderate. If there were no extremes, debates would be rather pointless since everyone would more-or-less agree with each other. I think it’s very important for there to be individuals with different opinions to keep diversity alive and create a balanced playing field, instead of a flat one.

Well, that’s about it for my pseudo-rant… I’m also rather busy this week, but want to see a few more panelists before the CWA’s gone. Aside from the “panelists”: Ebert and Ivins, the “unabashed geek” was also recommended to me as a must/should-see “Andy Ihnatko”: (and “here are the panels he’s in”: ).

Teisha - April 6th, 2005 at 10:23 pm

“Also, just about every panel with a good-sized audience has “a lot of the people who get up to ask questions that really are more speeches than questions””
I agree that this is the case. And you’re right that the general ban on statements rather than questions probably restricts the discussion. I have noticed that the people who actually have a good point seem to be able to get away with it, it’s the people that just start rambling that get on my nerves.

As for the abortion comment, the panelist was making an arguement I had heard before that I think has some validity. Basically he thought that most people take abortion rights for granted and don’t even think about it when considering who they vote for (I’ll admit I’m in this category usually). But if the Republicans do make a big move like trying to overturn Roe v. Wade then it will wake a lot of people up and piss them off. The thing that scares me is that I think they could probably get away with gradual changes, until people are thinking it’s reasonable when someone says “since most abortions are illegal, why not have a complete ban to make things easier”.

” I think that extremists do do good work in their own way—extremists are necessary to make moderates moderate.” I’d agree with this, with some qualifications. I think it can be a danger when the extremists come to dominate from one side or the other. If this happens on just one side it can lead to weird unreasonable positions starting to be considered mainstream, and if both sides become too extremist with no moderates, it becomes impossible for any kind of compromise to occur. I think depending on the issues involved both of these situations are going on now, which was the context of the original comment.

After finishing one pseudo-rant, I’ll be starting another to talk about the panel I saw today that bugged me, the one I mentioned earlier “Returning the Soul to Sciene” I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, but not what I got. The entire panel were people that deal with the New Age type ideas and they pretty much focused on bashing science for not accepting them enough. It started off bad when the doctor on the panel (who I was hoping going in might represent mainstream science as a counter to the other people) talking about how new research showing different functions for glial cells in relation to neurons was an example how some of these ideas are supported. Considering that someone in the lab I work in is doing research involving glial cells I understood that this new research had absolutly nothing to do with what she was talking about.

It bugged me that the position all these people seemed to hold is that it was obvious that this stuff was true and it is science’s responsibility to research it as if the burden of proof was to disprove something is occuring. The filmaker on the panel actually said that the reason sceptics don’t see this is because they have negative ideas about the process, which prevents the supposed metaphysical events from occuring, then he added that sceptics not observing it actually would support the alternative viewpoint. He was joking about it supporting the viewpoint, but the rest was completly serious. The same guy also made a kind of odd comment, considering he was using quantum mechanics and string theory as examples of scientific ideas that could lend support to these alternative views. Early on he was trying to make the point that people who want to research this can’t get funding by comparing it to CERN and saying this is just for trying to find particles that are predicted to exist by mathemticians, as if he is completly clueless that this is the same kind of math that leads to the quantum effects he finds so interesting. I think this is just an example of how people don’t understand physics real well so it’s easy for them to lump it with other unexplained phenomena. I wish I had made this connection before the panel ended so I could have asked about this.

I suppose I should stop my rant, though I could go on for a while if I really wanted to. It’s too bad CWA hasn’t turned out that great for me this year, but there’s still one more day, maybe it can improve.

mcmillan - April 8th, 2005 at 12:01 am

“…it was obvious that this stuff was true and it is science’s responsibility to research it as if the burden of proof was to disprove something is occuring.”
This stand always seems rather illogical to me — it’s really _not_ “obvious” that it’s true or these people wouldn’t want attention from scientists to show that it’s _not_ true. Does that make any sense? And the whole fact that people think it’s scientists’ responsibility to take on their interests is just ridiculous as well… Science is unfortunately driven by funding and the market, not by needing to say “yup, you’re right, placebos do work.” However, if there’s money in that find, that’s a different story.

Anyway, I really don’t have much else to say, but thought your comment is well worth a good response… too bad I can’t muster one right now 🙂

Teisha - April 12th, 2005 at 12:20 am

Leave a Response (or trackback on your own site)

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Welcome to Paradoxdruid's Rants... a community based webblog. Feel free to snag an account and post.

Contributors Login


My first first-author paper!

Just wanted to share that my first first-author paper is now online! In the journal Stem Cells and Development, here’s my paper on “Roles of Integrins in Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Growth on Matrigel and Vitronectin.”

The Future of Scientific Publishing

Just read a fascinating (if lengthy) essay on disruptive technology and the future of scientific publishing. Well worth the read!


Just wanted to share’s Visual Guide to Deflation, which is quite explanatory.

All Things Stem Cell

Hey all Paradoxdruid readers! I recently started up a blog on stem cells that I’d love you all to take a look at:

Barely Literate: The Fermata

I participated in another Barely literate book review podcast, this time on Nicholson Baker’s “The Fermata”. Give it a listen!

Time for Change

Obama has outlined a strategy for America, in great depth. Read all about!

Free Rice

Okay, I’ll admit that it’s entirely possible that I am the last person to learn about this website*, but it’s really addictive. 


Site best viewed in Mozilla Firefox. Site CSS template by Andrea Pitschmann. Banner photo by photocase.