Past Meetings and Events

Past Meetings:

Programs in 2018

Sunday, March 25, 2018 “The Origins of Buddhism in South Asia” – Prof. Lars Fogelin, PhD.

Lars Fogelin studies the archaeology of Buddhism in South Asia. He also engages in broader research on the archaeology of religion, architecture and the application of the philosophy of science to archaeology.

February 25, 2018 – “Redefining Free Speech” – Mel Durchslag JD

Mel Durchslag examined how a free society can maintain   constitutional protection for free speech in light of escalating   incidents of hate speech. Many people were shocked and appalled about the demonstration that took place last August in Charlottesville, VA. To what extent are these demonstrations protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment?

January 28, 2018  –“Independent Politics” – Prof. Samara Klar, PhD 

Independent voters now form the largest proportion of the American electorate, yet they remain misunderstood. Klar shows that the combative tone of politics stigmatizes Democrats and Republicans, driving people with clear partisan preferences to publically identify as independent and avoid any political actions that could identify them as partisans

Programs in 2017

December 13 – Member cocktail party

December 10 –“Food Myths” presented by Dan Engeljohn, PhD

Everything you want to know what what is true and not true about what we eat. Dr. Engeljohn recently retired from serving in the Senior Executive Service at USDA in the policy office of the Department’s public health regulatory agency.

November 19 – “Privacy and Technology” Billy Peard, Atty ACLU-AZ

How technology affects our local police practices, virtual border security and national surveillance issues such as NSA work and internet tracking.

October 22 – “Civil War in Syria”  – Sandy McNabb, PhD

The latest update on what is happening in the war torn country

July 28 – Potluck supper (members only)

April 23 – “Hate Crimes” – Kent Burbank, MSW and Denis Provencher, PhD

The FBI defines hate crimes as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”  Hate crimes have existed for centuries but only in latter part of the 20th century has there been an effort on identifying Hate Crimes and passing laws that define bias-motivated acts as distinct crimes.  Laws are intended to deter bias-motivated violence. Why is a hate crime different from hate speech? Does hate speech incite hate crimes? What do the Federal and State agencies say about Hate Speech and Hate Crimes? Can bias-motivated speech become a hate crime? How does that happen?  Where is it happening and how to report it?

March 26 – “Climate Change Science and Policy Options” – Lockwood Carlson, PhD

Dr. Carlson will discuss climate changes in the last few hundred years and the key roles of the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration and its consequences on the global climate, regional variations, and on human society and habitability of the earth over the next few decades and centuries. He will consider the technological, economic and political issues, for both the US and the rest of the world, and the future outlook, focusing on some promising technologies and geopolitical trends.

March 22 – Cocktail Party (Members Only)

February 26 – “Citizens United”  – Jo Ann Ellison, Esq.

Citizens United v. The Federal Elections Commission is an important case involving the regulation of money in politics. In 2010, the Supreme Court struck down an important section of the bipartisan McCann-Feingold Act as unconstitutional. The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs but what did that mean?  Who were Citizens United?  What was the case really about?  Jo Ann Ellison will present the facts and you can make your own conclusions.

January 22 – “Public Education is a Public Trust” – Richard Gilman 

Richard Gilman discussed how Arizona has responded to the crisis in education. He draws upon the experience of educators, his own examination of schools and insights derived from mountains of data. More can be found on his website:

Programs in 2016

December 18 –“You’ve Got Personality” – Fran Berman

Fran Berman discussed personality styles and how they affect interaction with others. In an interactive program she presented the four basic personality styles, their strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes and the do’s and don’ts when interacting with each one.

November 13 – “What a Secular Humanist Wants Christians to Know” – Dr. Gil Shapiro

Dr. Gil Shapiro focused on how believers and non-believers manage beliefs and factual knowledge, or “How do we know what we know and what we don’t know?” Why is secular humanists’ reason-based thinking preferable for decision making, rather than believers’ faith-based thinking. He defined secularism, atheism, agnosticism and religion.

October 23 – “One Health” – Dr. Bonnie Buntain, DVM.

One Health is the interconnectedness of the health of people, domestic animals and wildlife, and our shared environment. There are fascinating and rapidly changing interactions among animals, humans and ecosystems resulting in positive changes and negative health challenges. Complex world changes that include human encroachment on animal habitats, more and faster global travel, displaced human and animal populations, globalization of the food supply, and microbial adaptation have allowed infectious diseases that were once found only among animals now become problems in humans. Even so, animal-human bonds and our commonality bring new discoveries, improving the health of all species. This talk explains how it’s all “One Health.”



Freethinkers had a great time on the HOA#1 Tennis Patio. the club provided chicken, hot dogs and veggie burgers. About 60 people attended.

April 24 – Rational Reasoning – Dr. Ann Vernon

Do you ever wish other people would be more considerate, less demanding, and easier to tolerate?  Do you ever feel overwhelmed, stressed out, or frustrated?  Do you sometimes upset yourself by thinking the worst?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, come here Dr. Ann Vernon talk about how cognitive behavior therapies (CBT) can change your life for the better! 

Dr. Vernon has practiced CBT for many years in a private practice and currently trains psychologists and mental health practitioners in many parts of the world how to use the theory with people of all ages.  This is a “no nonsense” approach that helps people change the way they think in order to feel better, developing “emotional muscle” to handle the changes and challenges of everyday life.  For Freethinkers, she will present the “nuts and bolts” of CBT, using practical explanations and examples that will help those in attendance learn to apply these concepts in their own lives.

March 20 – Experiments at the Biosphere 2 and Climate Change – Victor Lim, Jr.

Biosphere 2 has been, and continues to be, where science lives. From the original communal experiments, through Columbia University’s experiments with carbon dioxide, to the current Landscape Evolution Observatory of the University of Arizona, science has been performed in various configurations and methodologies.

Our speaker is Victor Lim, Jr. MBA, MPA., an Interpretive Specialist with the University of Arizona. Listen to his presentation and learn what the scientists at Biosphere 2 are doing to learn more about the causes and solutions to climate change. This is your chance to have some of your questions about climate change answered: Have humans caused it? What can we do about it? What if we don’t?  

February 21 – Private Prisons  – Dianne Post J.D. 

Ms. Post says, Arizona has become a focus for the location of private, for-profit prisons. The state also has one of the highest expenditure rates for corrections. Are we getting what we paid for? Dianne Post addresses the history of for-profit prisons, the interconnections with issues of immigration and racial disparities, and the track record of for-profit prisons in terms of costs and services. She also addresses the policy, as well as legal and political issues surrounding the controversy.

February 12 – Religion Without God  – Rabbi Adam Chalom

Rabbi Adam Chalom is Dean for North America of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism.  Secular Humanistic Judaism is a cultural Jewish identity celebrated through a human-focused, non-theistic philosophy of life.

January 24 – “Income Inequality in the USA” -Dr. John E. Schwarz

John E. Schwarz is professor emeritus of political science at the University of Arizona in Tucson and senior distinguished fellow at Demos in New York (a based research and policy center that presents a liberal viewpoint on economic issues a focus on election reform, economic security, sustainability and alternative measures of economic progress). His books include: Common Credo: The Path Back to American Success; Freedom Reclaimed; Illusions of Opportunity; The Forgotten Americans;   America’s Hidden Success and The United States Congress in comparative perspective. he has also written for The Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the Financial Times, among others.

Programs in 2015

December 6 – “ISIL and the Middle East” Dr. Sandy McNabb

ISIL evolved out of Al Qaeda and the insurgency in Iraq. It has expanded its reach and savage tactics as it continues to appall and frighten the world. Most recently, ISIS destroyed a Russian plane in Egypt, blew up dozens of innocent people in South Beirut, and slaughtered almost 200 people in Paris. Dr. Sandy McNabb is next guest speaker for the SaddleBrooke Freethinkers. She will deliver a presentation in which she digs deep into ISIS’s objectives, its strategy, and its appealing recruitment techniques…by Fran Berman

November 22 –  Learn About Refugees and Immigrants in Tucson 

Daily, we hear heart-breaking stories of refugees and migrants leaving their homelands. The United Nations has helped refugees from 50 countries and speaking 45 languages settle in Tucson. Dr. Boyd and Madeline Bosma presented a program about one of these refugee communities, the Bhutanese citizens of Nepali descent. Joining them in the presentation were Mr. Jeffrey A Cornish, executive director of the International Rescue Committee, Tucson and Mr. Purna Budathoki, immediate past president of the Bhutanese Mutual Assistance Association. 

More than 135,000 of them, about one-third of the population of Bhutan, were forcibly exiled in 1991-92 to refugee camps in Nepal and India. Ironically, the small Himalayan country of Bhutan is famous for its mountain mystique. Its unique national goal is “Gross National Happiness.” After 20 years of suffering in deplorable refugee camps, about 600 of these refugees were finally allowed to come to a new life in Tucson, complete college degrees, and become American citizens.

October 25 – Pot Luck Brunch with music by PaulJo Mar

April 26 – A Secular Perspective on End Of Life Issues 

Dr. Gil Shapiro discussed how and why secular and religious views about life and living are different and how these differences create opposing opinions on death and dying. Notes for the lecture are available in the “POSTS” section and clicking on Dr Shapiro’s April 26 talk. 

March 22 – Meeting to discuss the future programming of SaddleBrooke Freethinkers

Synopsis of the meeting is available in the “POSTS” section and clicking on the “Synopsis of March 22, 2015 meeting”

February 22 – National K-12 Educational Core Curriculum, Misunderstandings and Politicization

Dr. John Dossey discussed the history of achievement standards in school mathematics, their relationship to assessments and the national controversy over Common Core State Standards for mathematics.

Dr. Dossey has been involved in setting standards for mathematics at the state, national and international levels since the 1980’s.  He has authored or coauthored over 100 textbooks and research reports focusing on international comparison of student achievement, undergraduate curriculum in mathematics and mathematical modeling.  He is a past president of the National Council of Mathematics Teachers and has served on numerous advisory committees for the College Board, National Science Foundation and National Research Council.  Dr. John Dossey retired from Illinois State University as Distinguished Professor of Mathematics. Notes on Common Core are available in the “POSTS” section and clicking on the topic.

January 25 – Panel on Gay-Lesbian Issues to include marriage, equality, discrimination, adoption and family values.

Gays, Lesbians, and Allies at Saddlebrooke (GLAAS) sponsored the panel discussion based on their mission statement:  “Using the power of community and camaraderie to celebrate the lives of gay, lesbian, and straight people and their relationships.”   Panel members will be: Barbara Atwood, professor of Law at the University of AZ, Paula Aboud, former AZ state senator, Bob Jackson, Clifton Leatherwood, past president of GLAAS and Jo Ann Ellison, attorney and president of GLAAS.

The primary purpose of GLAAS is to provide a safe space where allies, i.e., straight people who have friends and family who are gay and lesbian and or who recognize the importance and value of diversity, reach out to gay and lesbian residents of SaddleBrooke.  In these exciting times, gays and lesbians are becoming main stream in our society and the value of diversity has been recognized by a majority of people. The existence of GLAAS shows that SaddleBrooke wants to be relevant and part of the conversation about life in America.

January 11 – Pot Luck Brunch and Social

Programs in 2014

December 7 The Aging Human Brain and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease  Research Lalitha Madhavan, MD PhD

Dr. Madhavan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurology at the U of A, and directs a research program that broadly centers on Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.  The ultimate goal is to use this research to develop rational therapeutic strategies to tackle aging and age-related neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.

November 16 The Issue of Church and State Separation – Mel Durchslag JD

SaddleBrooke resident, Mel Durschlag, will offer an overview on the current state of affairs in the federal courts and a brief historical perspective. Zenaido Quintana, Board Chair of the Secular Coalition of Arizona (SCA), will provide a review of the organizations efforts in the most recent session of the Arizona legislature and insights into the upcoming 2015 session. The SCA opposes bills and legislative activities that privilege religious groups in conflict with US Constitutional Law. In particular, where this intrusion marginalizes religious minorities or nonbelievers. SCA’s goal is to ensure Arizona public policy is free of religious intrusion.

October 26  The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Dr. Neil West

Dr. Neil West will discuss “The Road to Increased Efficiency of Affordable Health Care in the 21st Century.”

Dr. West has practiced over 35 years as a pediatrician and has worked extensively with many aspects of the US Health Care system. He has served as a consultant to Medicare, Medicaid and Insurance Companies and has recently focused on quality pay for perform programs and building effective physician practices for improving efficiency, pharmaceutical ordering practices and protocols.

According to Dr. West, “There are amazing things happening to flatten the trajectory on health care costs and changing environment of groups. I will point out how those changes were stimulated by the Affordable HealthCare Act (ACA). If you look at Medicare 1965 to the present, it is a lot different than when it started. I will mention some of the things happening locally, like the merger of Banner and the University HealthCare Systems. The Wisconsin Collaborative is a marvelous experiment in improving healthcare for the entire state through shared data.”

March 23 Global Warming in the Southwest – Dr. Dianna Liverman PhD

Dr. Liverman is distinguished Professor of Geography and Development and Director of the University of Arizona Institute of the Environment. She is a distinguished environmental scientist with numerous publications dealing with global warming, and sustainable climate choices. We are fortunate to have Dr. Liverman speak to us on a very timely subject of interest to everyone on the fragile planet earth.

February 23 Pot Luck Brunch and Social 

January 26 The Egyptian Uprising During the Arab Spring of 2011- Sandy McNabb PhD

Dr. Sandy McNabb, a retired professor, Internet Technologist and Telecommunications   executive will give a talk titled: “Myths and Misconceptions about the Egyptian Uprising” 10:30am Sunday, January 26th at the HOA#1 Activity Center.

Dr. McNabb moved to Egypt in 2004 to study Arabic and was recruited into technology projects across Egypt. She was present in Egypt during the 2011 uprising and will present valuable personal insights.

Programs in 2013

December 15 Dr. Ann Vernon Discusses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Link to Presentation:  REASONS TO BE RATIONAL

Dr.Vernon is President of the Albert Ellis Institute in New York and former director of the Midwest Center for Rational Emotive Therapy (RET).

According to Shakespeare, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”   This quote is the foundation of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).REBT&CBT are powerful self-help approaches that can help people gain control over their lives by learning how to challenge distorted thinking that results in self-defeating behaviors and unhealthy emotions.  By learning to think more rationally, people generally feel more empowered and in charge of their lives. Behavioral therapists maintain that it isn’t life’s events that cause us to feel angry, depressed, anxious, frustrated, and so forth—but rather, what we think about life events that  influences how we feel. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

November 24, Dr. Lockwood Carlson Speaks on “Science and Technology”

Dr Carlson is a professor of theoretical physics and has conducted research on electrodynamics of black holes. He is currently a Professor and Chairman of the Technological Leadership Institute at the University of Minnesota where he teaches technology management. Dr. Carlson retired as a Corporate Scientist for the 3 M Corporation, but continues to serve as a consultant for energy technology on several corporate and academic boards.

October 27 SaddleBrooke Freethinkers Begins Tenth Year of Fellowship With a Pot Luck Social and Speaker, Dr, Michael Morris.

As many of us return from summer travels, it is time for the Free Thinkers to renew old Acquaintances and find new friendships at a pot luck brunch. Dr. Richard Morris, who will discuss “Critical Thinking: main blocks we all face when analyzing a problem, how to jump the hurdles and solve problems quickly using the five minute method”.

May 26—Pot luck brunch. Cynthia Chevally director of the Tri-Community Food Bank discusses the program.
April 28 Earth Day
Recognized  environmental scientist Dr. James Gentile will speak on  the world wide problem of  global warming and  US science policy.
March 24–Tom Flood “Surgical Volunteers International”
February 24--AZ state Senator Paula Aboud – “Women Ignited Now, (WIN) a Response to Legislative Attacks on Women”

Programs in 2012

December 16   Thom Lewis, “Art Education—It’s Not a Frill” Opening Minds Through the Arts (OMA)
November 25 —Gil Shapiro   “Faith, The Greatest Imposter”
May 27 Purple Mountain Institute-“Mindfulness” by Dr.Terri Davis and Dana Ferris, PhD
April 22–“What you need to know legally and medically about preparing for the end of life” by JoAnn Ellison and Barbara Starrett.
March 25 –Hospice Coordinator, Marianne Schloss,  “Letting Go of a Loved One in Hospice”
February 26
January 22–   Dr. Lockwood CarlsoSeptember 23—Sunset Picnic in Catalina State Park  (catered by Jason’s Delin “The Immortality of the Soul”

Programs in 2011

December 18  Drumming – Jean Robinson
November 27 and October 23  Dr. Ann Vernon and Matt Schoenley

Small group discussions of  “Where do you fit on the continuum of religiosity? How do your thoughts meld with our Mission Statement?Zenaido Quintana from the newly formed Secular Coalition For Arizona

September 25     Welcome Back!!  Pot luck

Programs in 2011-10

Marianne Schloss, Hospice Coordinator   “Understanding the end of life issues, before the crisis”

“Understanding white privilege, as a way to discuss race issues in America” by Ann Vernon and Carolyn Badger

“The Da Vinci Code” by a woman Unitarian minister