Scientific Thanksgiving, Jared Diamond, and a Good Night’s Sleep

Dear Wonderfest friend,

This Thursday, when hands clasp around the Thanksgiving table, I may not say it, but I’ll think it: I’m thankful for science. Clean water, electricity, anesthetics, and high-speed travel have made my life better than the sweetest dreams of any pre-20th-century monarch. The modern benefits of science are practically innumerable.


Beyond these material goods are psycho-social goods that go hand-in-hand with science: curiosity, democracy, the very concept of progress. And consider free speech. Not only does science thrive in — and therefore encourage — an atmosphere of intellectual freedom, science confirms the general utility of all forms of free speech. G.K. Chesterton put it this way:

The theory of free speech, that truth is so much larger and stranger and more many-sided than we know of, that it is very much better at all costs to hear every one’s account of it, is a theory which has been justified upon the whole by experiment, but which remains a very daring and even a very surprising theory. It is really one of the great discoveries of the modern time.

This Thanksgiving, I will express appreciation for the scientific outlook AND for the people who promote it. We, at Wonderfest, will do our part* in early December by presenting the insights of UCLA geographer Jared Diamond and UC Berkeley psychologist Matthew Walker.


On Tuesday, December 9, Wonderfest joins the Commonwealth Club in presenting An Evening with Jared Diamond in San Francisco’s Castro Theater. Diamond became well-known by writing The Third Chimpanzee, and then truly famous for his Guns, Germs, and Steel. At the Castro Theater event, Diamond will focus on the ideas in his latest book The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?


Three evenings later, on Friday, December 12, Wonderfest joins Oakland’s Chabot Space and Science Center in presenting Mysteries of the Sleeping Brain with Cal psychologist Matt Walker. Professor Walker has already spoken for a Wonderfest audience — in San Francisco. But his presentation was so good that we had to share the wealth with the East Bay. It truly was one of the outstanding presentations in Wonderfest’s 17-year history!

If/when your hands clasp in thanksgiving this Thursday, I hope you’ll keep science in mind.

Wondrous regards,

Tucker Hiatt
Founding Executive Director
* If you would like to do your part, too, won’t you consider helping Wonderfest to promote the scientific outlook? Here are three ways you can help: (1) Let AmazonSmile donate 0.5% of your purchase prices to Wonderfest whenever you shop via this special link; (2) Make a one-time Wonderfest donation here; (3) Make regular donations to the cause of science education and popularization by becoming a Wonderfest Patron. All Wonderfest donations are fully tax-deductible.