Prof. Peter Boghossian: the “How do you know?” tour

peter-boghossianDuring June and July 2015, Professor Peter Boghossian is travelling Australia and New Zealand on the "How do you know?" tour.

Boghossian (pronounced "B'goshan") teaches critical thinking, the philosophy of education and moral reasoning at Portland State University in Oregon, US. He's a speaker for the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the Center for Inquiry and the Secular Student Alliance.

In 2013 he published a book, A Manual for Creating Atheists, which provides practical tips and techniques for atheists to use in personal conversations with religious believers to encourage them to think more critically about their faith. He's now putting the finishing touches on a phone app, Atheos, that will make these tips and techniques immediately available, anywhere, anytime.

Tour dates and locations

Working in collaboration with other freethought groups, we're organising events in every Australian capital city  (except Darwin), some regional locations and NZ.

Friday 12 June
Castlereagh Boutique Hotel
169 Castlereagh Street
Sydney, NSW
Sydney Atheists
For details and tickets, see here.
Friday 19 June
State Library Victoria
179 Latrobe St,
Melbourne, Victoria
Rationalist Society and City Bible Forum Melbourne
For tickets, click here.
Wednesday 17 June
Albion Hotel
41 Mollison St
Kyneton, Victoria
Central Victorian Atheists and Freethinkers
For details and tickets, click here.
Saturday 20 June
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
2 Invermay Road,
Inveresk, Tasmania
Launceston Skeptics
For details and tickets, click here
Wednesday 24 June
Eclipse Lecture Theatre
Level 4, Union House
University of Adelaide
Victoria Drive
Adelaide, South Australia
Reason Road
For details and tickets, see here
Saturday 27 June
Murdoch Lecture Theatre,
University of Western Australia
Cnr Stirling Hwy and Hackett Drive,
Crawley, Western Australia
WA Humanists
For details, see here
Thursday 2 July
Thought symposium: "How do you know?"
Queensland University of Technology
Room P421 Gardens Point
2 George St,
Brisbane, Queensland
Brisbane Skeptic Society
Rationalist Society of Australia
City Bible Forum Brisbane
For details and tickets, see here
Saturday 4 July
Hamilton Town Hall
38 Racecourse Road,
Hamilton, Queensland
Brisbane Skeptics
For details and registration, see here
Monday 6 July
Ainslie Football Club
52 Wakefield Street
Ainslie, ACT 2602
Canberra Humanists
For details and tickets, see here
Friday 10 July
Strattons Hotel
2nd Floor
249 Castlereagh Street
Sydney, NSW
Sydney Atheists
For tickets, see here
Wednesday 15 July
7pm to 9.30pm
The Banquet Room, Ground Floor,
Newcastle City Hall
290 King Street,
Newcastle, NSW
Human Rights Advocacy Australia
For details and tickets, see here.
Wednesday 22 July
Room B3, Owen G Glenn Building, Auckland University, Auckland
NZ Rationalists and Humanists
For details see here.

Peter Boghossian talking about Reason

Media during the tour

Thurs 21 MayAdam Reakes has fun with Peter Boghossian and Steve Marton of Sydney Atheists on The Herd Mentality podcast
Sunday 10 JuneLibby Gorr interviews Peter Boghossian on "Breaking through Dogmatism"
Friday 12 JuneJames Carleton interviews Peter Boghossian on "Reforming Prisoners, a crash course in moral reasoning"
Monday 15 JuneMidland Express: Critical Thinking, Peter Boghossian in Kyneton
Tuesday 16 JuneLiving National Treasure Philip Adams interviews Peter Boghossian on "Creating Atheists" and gives him a koala stamp.
Friday 19 JuneThe Bible Society's Eternity magazine reviews Peter's encounter with Richard Shumack at the State Library in Melbourne, and finds it 'hyper-rational'!
Tuesday 23 JuneIan Henschke from Adelaide ABC 891 interviews Peter on morning radio about critical thinking, schisms in liberalism, and faith.
Wednesday 24 JuneSteve Davis has fun with Peter on The Adelaide Show. Really worth setting aside an hour to listen to this funny, intelligent, engaging show. Not to be missed.
Wednesday 24 JuneAnnie Hastwell interviews Peter for The Wire.
Wednesday 24 JuneAngus Randall on radio 101.5FM interviews Peter on his book "A Manual for Creating Atheists".
Wednesday 24 JuneTory Shepherd mentions Peter's solution to radicalisation of extremists in The Advertiser: Stop feeding terrorists' delusions of grandeur
Saturday 27 JunePeter debates Critical Thinking and God with Dr Andrew Loke from the Perth City Bible Forum.
Thurs 9 July Peter talks to 2SER (Sydney Educational Radio) on "Deradicalising Extremists"
Sunday 19 July Graeme Hill of New Zealand's Radio Live talks with Peter Boghossian, advocate for critical thinking and atheism and Robert Gordon, director of Best Of Enemies.
Wednesday 22 JulyPeter joins Leighton Smith on NZ radio for a wide ranging discussion about critical thinking, atheism and finding common ground with ideological opponents.
Saturday 25 July"A Penny for your Thoughts" - Peter chats with Dean Beck on Joy FM radio
Sunday 26 JulyAnd a final bit of fun on Adam Reakes' Herd Mentality Podcast!

The book: A Manual for Creating Atheists

For thousands of years, the faithful have honed proselytizing strategies and talked people into believing the truth of one holy book or another. Indeed, the faithful often view converting others as an obligation of their faith—and are trained from an early age to spread their unique brand of religion. As a counter to this tried-and-true tradition of religious evangelism, A Manual for Creating Atheists (Pitchstone Publishing, November 2013) offers the first-ever guide not for talking people into faith—but for talking them out of it.

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]"Peter Boghossian's techniques of friendly persuasion are not mine, and maybe I’d be more effective if they were. They are undoubtedly very persuasive—and very much needed"[/quote]

           Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion

Drawing on the tools he has developed and used for more than twenty years as a philosopher and educator, Peter Boghossian teaches the reader how to engage the faithful in conversations that will help them value reason and rationality, cast doubt on their religious beliefs, mistrust their faith, abandon superstition and irrationality, and ultimately embrace reason. Says Boghossian, “There are entire organizations, a massive corpus of literature, about how to talk someone into a faith tradition. Catholics, Mormons, you name it. There’s nothing about how to talk someone out of a faith tradition and into reason and rationality. And that’s what the book is about. It’s about how to turn these engagements from pester into opportunity. The book gives people specific tools to talk people out of their faith and into reason.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]
"If I started reading A Manual for Creating Atheists as a Christian I would have been an atheist by the time I finished it. Peter Boghossian's book is the perfect companion to Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion. They should be bundled like an atheist software package to reprogram minds into employing reason instead of faith, science instead of superstition."

Michael Shermer, from the foreword to A Manual for Creating Atheists

While acknowledging the important role authors such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens have played in exposing the fraudulent nature and dangers of religion, Boghossian argues that the conversation must be moved forward to attack what rests at the foundation of all religions: unquestioned faith. “By undermining faith one is able to undermine almost all religions simultaneously, and it may be easier to help someone to abandon their faith than it is to separate them from their religion. My aim is to target faith, not religion.”

Just as many religions send out their followers to convert the masses to their systems of belief, Boghossian sees the front lines as the countless one-on-one interactions that occur every day across the globe: “My goal is literally to create a generation of Street Epistemologists, people equipped with an array of dialectical and clinical tools, to go out into the streets, wherever the faithful are found and in every interaction to help them come to reason and shed superstition and faith. That’s my goal. Literally to create a legion of people that will stop the tide of irrationality.” In the United States alone, he estimates “a standing ‘army’ of more than half a million potential Street Epistemologists ready to be empowered, given the tools, and informally deployed to deliver millions of micro-inoculations (of reason) to the populace on a daily basis.”

[quote align="center" color="#999999"]

“If we want to live in a world that is safer and more rational for all, then this is the guidebook we have been waiting for. Relying on extensive experience and a deep concern for humanity,  Peter Boghossian has produced a game changer … a how-to manual to take to the trenches of everyday life where minds are won and lost in the struggle between reason and madness.”


Guy Harrison, author of 50 Simple Questions for Every Christian

Despite the book’s provocative title, Boghossian stresses that creating atheists is not his ultimate goal, “What’s important is that we create people who lead thoughtful and examined lives. What’s important is that we create people that have reliable methods to discern make-believe land from reality.” He concludes, “The way I look at it is, what would the world look like on the basis of reason and evidence. They’d be willing to reconsider their beliefs. They’d formulate public policy on the basis of reason and evidence. I think the world would be more sane, less irrational, less subject to superstition. I think that our sciences would advance tremendously. I think it would move us in the direction of where we want to be as a society.”

The phone app: Atheos

Atheos Cave Level 3Atheos is a mobile app that offers a sequential system of compassionate dialogue training to help people become more thoughtful and less dogmatic about their beliefs.

It offers approximately 1,000 unique dialogue options that cover a wide range of theistic claims (supernatural, ontological, fundamentalist, prayers, miracles, “deepities” etc.)

Gameplay makes the app entertaining and repeatable, and the search function makes all content readily accessible.

Ultimately, Atheos is a comprehensive training tool and resource for atheists and skeptics, and thoughtful believers who have faith in the supernatural. It’s a tool for helping believers begin to question their faith in thoughtful ways.

All the more reason.

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