Can science contribute to religious studies? Only to destroy it, think some atheistic scientists. “In reality, the only contribution that science can make to the ideas of religion is atheism,” announced Matthew Cobb and Jerry Coyne in a letter to Nature.1 Cobb and Coyne were taking issue with Nature’s editorial July 17 about John Templeton’s legacy.2 Though the editorial had stated that “This publication would turn away from religion in seeking explanations for how the world works, and believes that science is likely to go further in explaining human moral impulses than some religious people will welcome,” and “Thus it shares a degree of suspicion with many in the scientific community at any attempt by religiously driven organizations to fund science,” this was not enough for the correspondents, because at the end, Nature said, “critics’ total opposition to the Templeton Foundation’s unusual mix of science and spirituality is unwarranted.” Nothing short of total opposition was good enough for Cobb and Coyne. “Surely science is about finding material explanations of the world,” they asserted, drawing a comparison that spirituality is to religion as intelligent design is to creationism. “There is a fundamental conflict here, one that can never be reconciled until all religions cease making claims about the nature of reality.” In their view, science can study what makes people religious, but religious people have nothing to say about the external world. They made suggestions for scientific research projects of religion. “One could consider psychological studies of why humans are superstitious and believe impossible things, and comparative sociological studies of religion using materialist explanations of the rise and fall of the world’s belief systems.” Over at CERN in Switzerland, the search for the “God particle” is beginning with the commencement of the new Large Hadron Collider (LHC). The LHC sets a new record for energy in its particle collision capabilities. Scientists hope to catch the theoretical Higgs boson, a particle alleged to have emerged in the Big Bang that holds matter together. Peter Higgs, 79, who predicted the particle, will be very puzzled if it doesn’t exist. News Daily said that, as an atheist, he angrily rejects the designation “God particle” for his theoretical entity. Even the name of God seems to rub him the wrong way. It would be hard to find a religious person with as much antipathy for science as some scientific atheists have for religion. Evolution News reported that P. Z. Myers, author of the anti-creationist blog Pharyngula, wanted to desecrate the Eucharist in his latest hate campaign against all things religious. Commentator Michael Egnor pointed out that Christians typically grant free speech rights to such people, no matter how repellant their views, while Myers seeks to legally coerce those on the other side, such as Christian doctors unwilling to perform abortions, to violate their moral convictions. Some atheistic evolutionists are less bellicose, but just as stalwart. An example is David Sloan Wilson, who was interviewed for the River Cities Reader. His “Darwin Project” is out to convince everyone that evolutionary theory is the best explanation for all things natural. Whether there is anything outside of material nature, he was clear. Religion has a horizontal component and a vertical component, he said, but the vertical component (man’s relation to God) is “100% social construction.” In other words, the self-admitted atheist holds out no space for arguing about the possible existence of God. Rather than fight religion directly, though, Wilson tries to defuse concerns by stressing that most of religious activity involves the horizontal component, which he thinks evolutionary theory explains nicely. Wilson doesn’t use his atheism as a battering ram. He calls atheism a “stealth religion,” something to sneak into people’s minds while disarming them with illustrations of the explanatory elegance of evolution (see 12/21/2005). Whether the tactic be hardline or diplomatic, though, the results are the same: evolutionists view religion as an evil to be conquered by a “scientific” worldview that only admits atheism. Maybe science can study religion in a non-combative way. News Daily reported that the Dead Sea Scrolls are going online for the first time. Unreadable fragments are becoming decipherable thanks to NASA technology developed by a JPL retiree that can image previously unreadable fragments with spectral analysis. Bible Places Blog quoted a portion of a New York Times report. The most famous of the Dead Sea Scrolls was the complete Isaiah Scroll, copied well before Jesus was born, with its well-known and detailed Messianic prophecies such as those in Isaiah 9 and Isaiah 53. Lee Strobel recounts in the film The Case for Christ that the chance of one person fulfilling just 48 of the dozens of specific Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament is one chance in a trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion. Mathematics is, they say, the language of science.1. Matthew Cobb and Jerry Coyne, “Atheism could be science’s contribution to religion,” Nature 454, 1049 (28 August 2008) | doi:10.1038/4541049d.2. Editorial, “Templeton’s legacy,” Nature 454, 253-254 (17 July 2008) | doi:10.1038/454253b.Historians of science know, sadly, that the “warfare thesis” that science and religion are hopelessly at odds is a mistaken and indefensible myth propagated by a vocal minority of religion-hating dogmatists in the late 19th century (01/06/2008 commentary). Too bad leading scientists today haven’t learned their history. Remember that some communist prison guards converted when they saw how patiently Christians endured inhumane treatment. Jerry Coyne and P. Z. Myers are playing a useful role. Their rhetoric is so over the top, out of control, hateful and irrational, it makes great advertising for their opponents. Consider some of the gems Coyne has given us in the past.Coyne said evolution was useless (08/30/2006). He argues with his evo-devo opponents but oversimplifies natural selection (06/29/2005). He said his job was to fight creationism (10/05/2004) but even he was startled by the amount of vitriol Dawkins had against religion, calling him a fierce advocate of scientism (04/23/2003). Later, though, he teamed up with Dawkins to call creationism laughable (09/02/2005). Yet his own book on Speciation could not explain the origin of species (07/30/2004). He admitted that evolution is a “science of generalizations” with few specific “laws of evolution” (12/18/2007). He said “Like evolution itself, there are no general rules that apply to the origin of species” (11/13/2003). Most recently, he fought in the Dumb vs Dumber brawl between evolutionists while wearing a CISsy T-shirt (08/11/2008). Now he is backed into a corner trying to defend the claim that evolution is science, yet he has the gall to claim religion is superstition. This is the guy who was as shook up at the collapse of the Peppered Myth as a boy finding out that Santa Claus was his dad (07/05/2002).Yes, Jerry, keep talking. Bystanders are beginning to wonder. Meanwhile, CEH will silently continue citing infractions for impersonating a scientist (09/30/2007 commentary), and politely rapping the knuckles of those who filch from the smorgasbord of Christian presuppositions without paying the bill.(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0
Spectacles were Snapchat’s first wearable hardware, a pair of sunglasses fitted with dual cameras positioned at the hinges on either side of the glasses’ lenses. These cameras have an 115-degree field of view, and a light ring around the left lens lights up letting everyone know that you’re in the process of capturing a snap. Videos could then be shared on Snapchat.What made Spectacles the hottest wearables for people who probably don’t usually buy wearables was the limited release. As well as a New York superstore requiring a long queue for a maxim of 2 per person purchase, Spectacles were available through limited vending machines only installed for a day each, in a range of locations including the grand canyon. One Australian even paid for a return flight for a guy who brought him a pair from America. They’re not the highest tech product of the year, but they certainly had a certain cachet.Most promise but least success: Sleep techA good night’s sleep is a challenge for many of us with our busy, tech embedded lives of work, noise, and stress. The causes of poor sleep are complex and varied and include a myriad of environmental and physiological factors and it seems many intrepid entrepreneurs have spent the year trying to find ways to improve the world’s sleep.A glance at crowdfunding sites sees a plethora of smart sleep products (over 100 this year alone) on both the Indigogo and Kickstarter sites this year ranging from products to help you fall asleep to those to help you wake up in the morning.However, to really understand sleep problems there’s a need for rich sleep data of the medical grade accuracy which is difficult to obtain in traditional sleep laboratory conditions, relying on deep data collected over an extended period. You would hope that smart sleep devices with most investments would involve partnerships with academics and sleep researchers, but there’s little evidence that this is the case as the sleep tech devices can range from the intriguing to the bizarre.Perhaps the strangest example I came across this year, albeit not designed to improve slumber per se, is the Smarttress, a mattress designed to detect a cheating partner. It contains a “lover detection system” of vibration sensors and a “contact zones detector” that can send an alert to your mobile phone when your bed is being used in a “questionable way” which includes how fast the bed is moving.But wait, there’s been more this year including the Bedjet and — my favorite but one that makes me despair just a bit for humanity — the self-making bed. Watch the video and weep. That said, there’s still hope for sleep tech, in particular, I’m watching the slow but steady development of the Airing device, designed to disrupt the traditional treatment of sleep apnea. There’s hope for the struggling sleepless yet.Honorable mentions: CyanogenModMost innovative device of 2016: Mine Kafon DroneSmart products don’t always need to solve a big picture problem to be innovative, but sometimes it just happens that they do. One of the most interesting products I’ve encountered this year is the Mine Kafon Drone (MKD), a drone that flies over dangerous areas to map, detect and detonate land mines from a safe distance, doing work that previously ended the lives of many. It works autonomously and is equipped with three separate interchangeable robotic extensions.Honorable mentions: Pilot language translator, 2016 Cybathlon, artificial pancreas, CRISPRMost promising device of 2016: Google HomeAmazon Echo and Google Home are divided camps.There are as many reviews that favor Echo as favor Home, with others suggesting consumers buy both and see which they like more. When you look into the respective positives and negatives, it’s clear that people are divided on their primary purpose and household composition. For example, Echo is considered to have superior speakers for listening to music, and in regards to household composition, Echo enables a personal profile for each member while Home is limited to a single profile for the home, making it less appealing for families.What compels me to favor Google Home is not so much what it can do now (it is, after all, two years younger than Echo) but its future potential. It relates well to smart home connectivity, through relationships with Nest, SmartThings, Philips Hue, and IFTTT, with more to come which appeals to me.Further, Google is heavily invested in machine learning and AI with real world examples of their work not only in the home connectivity environment but partnerships with the UK National Health System through DeepMind and linguistics through google translate. I believe this kind of knowledge will have a flow on effect to other parts of the Google ecosphere, including Google Home.Honorable mentions: Mark Zuckerberg’s AI assistant Jarvis (for encouraging the uninitiated into home automation)Worst PR disasters: Demise of Revolv versus IoT smart device security breachesIn 2014 Nest acquired Revolv. Then in April 2016, Nest announced on its website that all Revolv Hub devices previously purchased and installed by customers would be permanently disabled and cease to operate the following month. Understandably, this led to extensive criticisms, given the $300 cost of the hardware, and that their customers had previously been assured of a “Lifetime Subscription.” It also set something of a warning precedent for future connected device creators, particularly those of longer life investment products like smart refrigerators and connected cars.The elephant in the room and the most apparent disaster of 2016 has been the security hacks that IoT connected devices have either fallen prey to or been a conduit for these hacks. This series of unfortunate incidents is cause alone for a name and blame outside the scope of this piece, and it can’t help casting something of a shadow over the beginning of 2017.Honorable mentions: Samsung Galaxy Note, GoPro Karma Internet of Things Makes it Easier to Steal You… Tags:#AI#Airing#Amazon Echo#AR#BedJet#connected home#crowdfunding#deepmind#drones#featured#Google Home#Mine Kafon Drone#Pokemon Go#Revolv#Samsung#sleep apnea#sleep tech#smart fridge#Snapchat#Spectacles#top Cate Lawrence How Myia Health’s Partnership with Mercy Virtua… Related Posts Follow the Puck It’s summertime July; the sun is shining and all of the sudden there are crowds of people outside in the sun, mobile phone in hand. They’re not in line for concerts tickets or a store opening, at a demonstration or taking selfies. Instead, they’re playing Pokemon Go, Niantic’s mobile low-fi Augmented Reality game that for a period took the world by storm. Suddenly it seemed to be everywhere, with $3.9 million to $4.9 million made on its first day of release, 20 million active users at its peak over summer and $600 million in revenue as of October 2016.But it wasn’t without controversy, the cartoon monsters appearing in a series of inappropriate places from funeral homes to war memorials. People’s screen obsession challenged their spatial awareness with an increase in accidents including two Pokemon chasers who fell off a 90ft cliff, and a car driver playing Pokemon Go who crashed into a police car.Suddenly its popularity waned as the nights got colder and the sun set earlier. It’s questionable whether Pokemon Go could be considered the poster child for AR taking the world by storm. But it’s not a complete disaster, as recently as November, Pokemon Go is estimated to have made with revenues in November at $2million per day, hardly spare change. It’s even been released on AppleWatch, keeping people in the game.Honorable mention: up to you….Best launch: Spectacles by Snapchat It’s been an interesting year for Intenet of Things (IoT) devices. I’d like to think that in 2017 we’ll be welcoming a carefully curated market of consumer tested, thoughtfully considered and security first enabled smart devices. However, the reality is that the most superficial of IoT connected devices aren’t going away anytime soon if 2016 is anything to go by.Here’s some of the hits and misses of the IoT devices of 2016:Biggest hype: Pokemon Go Why IoT Apps are Eating Device Interfaces
China and America want the AI Prize Title: Who … Michael Usiagwu Being an entrepreneur is one of the quickest thoughts which comes to the mind of a young person when thinking about a career. However considering the risks and challenges which comes with starting a business — most are unprepared for this challenge. Many people believe that because someone else succeeded in being an entrepreneur — it simply means “I can also do this business, and succeed.” Do we take a critical look at the risk associated with being an entrepreneur?20% of small business fail in their first year, 30% of small business fail in their second year, and 50% of small businesses fail after five years in business. Finally, 70% of small business owners fail in their 10th year in business. Okay, I know, you have all seen these studies over and over — and yet — have you seriously considered the consequesnes?A quick review of 2011 business startups by the United State Department of Labour shows:4 percent made it to the second year3 percent made it to the third year9 percent made it to the fourth year3 percent made it to the fifth yearTo create a business that will strive and stand tall, you have to ask the killer questions yourself. Scientists are used to hypothesis-driven research where hypotheses are formed then experiments are designed and executed.The same approach applies in this context, using a good killer question to frame the hypothesis around the most likely reason a business will succeed even at the down times.What business “killer thoughts” should startups consider?Flexibility to InnovationsBusinesses take various trends from time to time, from the era of door-to-door marketing — and now to the stage of digitalization. Swift change response to these innovations is key for startups to consider when thinking of starting a business. Too often the CEO stands up at an annual meeting and says, “We need to be more innovative,” and then goes on to the next topic. For Startups, Innovation takes time, energy and money. You need some freedom and time to think and tinker around with new possibilities. You also need new skills and systems that support thinking and collaboration. Innovation is critical to the future, but it depends on the investment of today’s resources.Check out blockbuster failure to adapt to innovations and how it cost them a lot.Are you trying to be a Batman or Superwoman?Taking a perspective look into unknown territory is what establishing a business looks like. Expecting to see all just at that view will keep holding you back. As a business owner, you will be faced with many setbacks, so instead of taking all on yourself to solve alone, leverage on the brainpower of your employees and co-founders.It’s important to know the difference between collaboration and consensus when seeking opinions from employees and management. You’re not necessarily looking for the most popular opinion or the one that comes from your most senior employee. Instead, you’re looking to source as many opinions as possible before you decide for yourself.When you find yourself trying to be the Batman or Superwoman you are attempting to solve all problems yourself. Remember the great words from Hellen Keller “Alone we can do so little; together we can do much more.”Low Self EsteemYou may have low self-esteem when you don’t value yourself as much as you should. You tolerate unhealthy situations and people. You consistently accept low quality and failure.No one needs to settle for a dimmed existence due to a lacking sense of self-worth. Many business startups individuals can buy into thoughts that there is something wrong with them. Some feel that they, personally, are somehow inadequate, not good enough and not worthy of being a competitor. These negative thoughts will steal your will to win and compete; you will need confidence as you access all the good things that life has to offer.When you tolerate abuse (or misuse) it can cause you to fail to reach your full potential in life. For new business startups, having low self-esteem is a liability and can be a killer to your business. Work on your self-esteem issues, if you have them, before you try to start a business.Ignoring the BabyboomersOne major reason many startup to fail in their second and third year is due to lack of recognition of their first customers. Those customers are often the baby boomers who trusted even when they didn’t really have a reason believe in you and your business. Ignoring these customers people can kill your business. Maybe you are looking for the millennial or those you think may be more unique or snappy — but often the boomer will be your main customer. They may be the main people who can give a testimonial to your services. The boomers are also the ones that are often trusted with the reviews for the new customer. Ask the boomer for reviews about your services — they genuinely want to help you and will follow through with a recommendation. Use them for your major source in a referral campaign and thus helps your business to grow as quickly as possible. Nurturing these people will go have a lasting impact to keep your business in existence.Shrinking away from the wholesaler is one the riskiest move Dell made. This, in turn, led to a huge drop in their revenue and thus losing much to other competitors in the field.Overthinking of the Big SuccessHaving the mind of being a successful entrepreneur is good. However, overthinking of the big success is not. Some of the entrepreneurs who fail have been thinking of growing big and yet have put little action to work. Some become lost in thoughts of living a dream life. Putting your mind to reality and sticking to the work is what stands as the main challenge to most people. Overthinking your big success is also called “analysis paralysis” these days. The strategy needed to run a startup is often quite different from what needed when you get big. The bigger the business, the bigger the challenges. Why spend more time thinking of the big success? Keep transforming your thoughts into positive action. As an entrepreneur, you can’t overthink things — you must be making a decision and go with it and doing the actions.Power of ForesightThe immense uncertainty that today’s business startup face is something truly unique. We’ve been living with uncertainties forever. What’s new is structural uncertainty. It is structural because the long-term, irresistible forces now at work can explode the existing structure of your market space or your industry, putting all you have accomplished at risk — or drastically diminished.You need to translate your foresight into the analysis as to how your business can keep standing. Take cues from other business in your space and stay ahead in technology.Handling Negative CriticismCriticism is a natural part of the business. If no one is criticizing your business, then you are not doing the business correctly. As a business start-up, much of what ultimately happens is out of your direct control. However, look around and see if you can see what others don’t and anticipate the unexpected. As a startup you will find ways to influence outcomes that benefit those you serve.Sometimes critics can actually have valuable advice, even if they frame it in a rude way. You might not like to hear complaints, but they might help you improve your business.One great way a start-up can handle criticism is cross-selling or upselling. That one rude individual that doesn’t like this burger — doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t like another type of sandwiches available.Great leaders at this digital age still face negative criticism and still handle it with top-notch ideas without losing their heads. On a second look — criticism is good for business.Final ThoughtsOften times we think the cause of failures for startups is the borrowing of money, or lack of proper planning. We may think that failure is a lack of competitor analysis and inadequate demand for goods and services. This can be quite true, however, certain thoughts and doings which occurs in the mind of a startup entrepreneur are enough to kill the business.Just as the famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.” Reasons to Outsource General Counsel Services f… Related Posts How OKR’s Completely Transformed Our Culture Tags:#change thinking#Great thought leaders#startups#thoughts Michael Usiagwu is the CEO of Visible links Pro, a premium Digital Marketing Agency committed to seeing your brands/company and products gain the right visibility on the search engine. He can be reached via [email protected] Trends Driving the Loyalty Marketing Industry
Kris Aquino ‘pretty chill about becoming irrelevant’ Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa QC cops nab robbery gang leader, cohort Stronger peso trims PH debt value to P7.9 trillion Read Next MOST READ LATEST STORIES Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:35U.S. urges Japan, South Korea to share intel01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Reyes keeps door open for injured Romeo “I think we have a very good chance against Japan, I think we have a very good chance against Taiwan,” Reyes said during Gilas’ sendoff at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Pasig.But that’s not taking Gilas’ rivals lightly. In fact, Reyes cited several concerns that Gilas will have to deal with.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“The main difficulty in Japan is going to be the weather, it’s going to be cold and they have the advantage of familiarity and crowd support. So those are the things that we’re going to contend with,” Reyes said.“Secondly, if we decide to put Andray in the lineup, we would essentially have five practices with us before the match. Those are the negatives of the situation.” CPP denies ‘Ka Diego’ arrest caused ‘mass panic’ among S. Tagalog NPA Gilas Pilipinas pool. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/ Smart SportsNational team coach Chot Reyes is confident about Gilas Pilipinas’ chances heading into its Fiba World Cup qualifying matches against Japan and Chinese Taipei later this month.The Philippines, which is aiming to book a return trip to the World Cup after its historic stint three years ago in Spain, faces Japan on Nov. 24 in Tokyo before hosting Taipei three days later at Smart Araneta Coliseum.ADVERTISEMENT Japan ex-PM Nakasone who boosted ties with US dies at 101 Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Naturalized big man Andray Blatche has yet to join Gilas, though, the former NBA veteran is expected to arrive in Manila late Saturday night.“The difference is that Chinese Taipei has been together for a much, much, much longer time than this team has. They have played with Quincy David since 2012 so that’s five years already and counting so they are very familiar,” Reyes said.“Same thing with Japan, Ira Brown is a resident import in the Japanese league.”Gilas leaves for Tokyo, Japan on Tuesday.ADVERTISEMENT Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View comments
MIAMI — Nathan Eovaldi pitched so poorly he got booed on the road.Pouncing on their former teammate, the Miami Marlins scored a franchise record eight first-inning runs June 16 and beat the New York Yankees 12-2 to complete a two-game sweep.Disgruntled Yankees fans were plentiful at Marlins Park, and Eovaldi heard a chorus of jeers as he trudged to the dugout, gone from the game before the first inning ended.“I was just keeping a whole lot of balls up in the zone,” Eovaldi said. “I was looking forward to this start, and I felt good getting ready today. It’s very frustrating.”Giancarlo Stanton hit a three-run homer in the fifth, his 24th, which leads the majors. “You’ve got to keep throwing punches,” Stanton said.The Marlins totaled nine hits in the first, including seven in a row after lead-off batter Dee Gordon grounded out. Marcell Ozuna hit a 99-mph fastball for a bases-loaded single to drive in the first two runs, and Adeiny Hechavarria hit a two-run triple. Derek Dietrich had the first and last hits in the inning, including an RBI triple that ended Eovaldi’s night.“They hit some balls hard,” Yankees Manager Joe Girardi said. “He was finding the middle, and his split was up, and that’s bad combination.”Eovaldi (5-2) was charged with all eight runs in two-thirds of an inning, the shortest start of his career. His ERA rose from 4.13 to 5.12, and he fell to 6-15 at Marlins Park. The Marlins’ batting average against Eovaldi in the inning was .818.“That was great,” Stanton said. “I don’t think I’ve done that — eight runs in the first.” He hadn’t. The Marlins’ previous record for runs in a first inning was seven, done five times.Alex Rodriguez, back in his hometown for two nights, did not play and remained five hits shy of 3,000.Stanton’s opposite-field homer off the upper-deck facade came against Chris Martin to make the score 11-0.“The game was out of hand already, but it put the icing on the cake,” Stanton said. He has nine homers and 18 RBIs this month.Gordon, who leads the majors in hits, went 3-for-5 and scored twice. The Marlins totaled 16 hits.“A great offensive approach throughout the game,” Manager Dan Jennings said. “It’s a lot of fun when you’re able to put together something like that.”David Phelps (4-3) allowed two runs in seven innings. He and Eovaldi swapped teams when they were part of a five-player trade in December.Miami’s run total was a season high. New York gave up a double-figure total for the third time in the past 11 games.The Marlins went 5-1 on their homestand, outscoring opponents 30-9. The Yankees went 1-4 on their trip and were outscored 37-15.“We have not pitched well. We haven’t swung the bats,” Girardi said. “Hopefully going home will be good medicine for us.”The Yankees were playing in Miami for the first time since 2009. The teams now go to New York for a two-game series beginning June 17.(STEVEN WINE, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shares
Mark Rovner and I have been working on a little project – maybe it will turn into a book. We test-drove some of the content at the Nonprofit Technology Conference, and the NTC conference attendees were brilliant and contributed much to our thought process! The session was received warmly enough that we were asked to type up a little summary for the NTEN newsletter. I wanted to share that (it’s below), as well as the official blog for this topic. We welcome thoughts, comments, additions — any input at all!Here’s what we said:The NTC in New Orleans was full of fantastic, sparkly, shiny new technology tools. And then there was our session. No winsome widgets, no witty Twittering, no Dopplr-found Doppelgangers.And that was the point.Which is this: What makes technology tools great is not the technology. It’s the people behind them. Successful technology is about bonds, not wires. It’s human connections that matter. “Social media” is about “social” more than it’s about “media”. If you missed our session, we summed it up in the title: The Seven Things Everyone Wants: What Freud and Buddha Understood (and We’re Forgetting) about Online Outreach. Some very human principles make or break the success of absolutely everything you do online. These are the kind of truths Buddha or Freud – explorers of the deepest recesses of the human mind — talked about. To achieve true marketing “enlightenment,” you need to tap into fundamental human needs with your technology – rather than hoping technology can inspire alone. You may think this sounds a bit like Maslow – and it is – but with a twist: Maslow was uncovering human needs; We are showing how his and other deep needs can be employed to foster a more humane world. There are at least seven of these fundamental needs, and that’s what we covered in our session. We threw out a need, and the folks in the session talked about how they’d met it through online communications. (Hat tip to Britt Bravo for capturing the examples so well in her blog.) There are other human needs – we’d like to add simplicity and humor to the list of seven – but this was a start.Here is a taste of our discussion. But the conversation is far from over. Please help us continue it – we’re headed toward a book of some kind, we hope. Talk to us at our official blog for the topic.PLEASE: Don’t just read this article, tell us your story.Need 1: To be SEEN and HEARDMaking someone feel seen and heard is the most powerful thing any of us can do with online communications. On the other hand, not listening is the root of most problems, personal (just ask your partner!) and professional (just ask your co-workers!).Examples of great listening:•Teen Health Talk engages youth to talk about health issues rather than lectures at them.•Oxfam has used Flickr petitions successfully in several campaigns. Two of their staff members recently returned from Darfur and are putting together a video to raise awareness about it. They are collecting questions from supporters to include. The bottom line: See to be seen, hear to be heard.Need 2: To be CONNECTED to someone or somethingPeople are sociable creatures, and they want to find other people that share their interests. That’s what fuels Facebook or Twitter or any number of examples. In fact, one could argue that connecting people to each other is the highest and best use of technology.Examples of great connecting:•BeliefNet has prayer circles where people can share prayers for specific people.•March of Dimes’ Share Your Stories allows families of babies in the NICU to share stories. The bottom line: Engage by connecting to what your audience (NOT YOU) wants to hear.Need 3: To be part of something GREATER THAN THEMSELVESWe need to lay out the grand, inspirational vision of our cause. We should show how together we can leave the world a better place.Examples of vision:•18Seconds.org shows the cumulative effect of everyone changing their light bulbs to CFLs.•The MoveOn “endorse a thon” for Barack Obama is only the latest in a long line of creative, uplifting and inspiring efforts.Need 4: To have HOPE for the futureForget doom and gloom, finger-wagging campaigns. People hate them.Example of hopeful messaging:•Earth: The Sequel has been up for 2 weeks and has received 15,000 views.•The Yes We Can Obama video. The bottom line: Ix-nay on the apocalypse. Persuade through inspirationNeed 5: To have the security of TRUSTPeople are starved for a sense of trust. That’s why we glom on to authentic messengers. Examples of authenticity:•76% of givers according to Cone say they are influenced by friends and family. SixDegrees allows people to create widgets that feature a photo of themselves and 250 characters of text about why they support a particular cause.•The Packard Kid Connection site helps kids get ready to go to the hospital. It builds trust because it looks like Club Penguin (Club Penguin is a social network for children), and it has videos of children explaining how things work at the hospital. The bottom line: Cut the crap. Your authenticity is everything.Need 6: To be of SERVICEThe #1 reason people stop giving to a nonprofit is that they feel like they are being treated like an ATM machine. They want to help, but they also want to be of service and to have different ways of serving. That need is not being fulfilled if all they hear is the unimaginative drumbeat of dollars. If you are reading this, you already understand – and embody – the deep need to be useful and of service.Need 7: To want HAPPINESS for self and othersThe core of Buddhism is that everyone wants happiness and to be free from suffering. The more you want happiness for others, the better it is for you, and them.We wrapped up the session with the following happy dance. Remember, it’s about people. People who want to be happy in this world.
The economy has been sluggish for over a year, but the financial crisis on September 15, 2008, shook consumer confidence and set off another round of corporate layoffs. Recent numbers show that unemployment is at its highest since 1994. Many of our clients have been asking, “What does this mean for our online fundraising program?”It’s a great question—and one that we couldn’t find a good answer to, so we decided to do our own analysis. We looked at online giving for five nonprofit clients during September and October, including Easter Seals, Habitat for Humanity International, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Oxfam America, and The Wilderness Society. To control for external factors such as online fundraising campaigns, we compared online ‘white mail’ – unsolicited gifts via the organization’s main donate page. We looked September and October of 2008, and compared those results to the same two months in 2007.Our analysis showed:The amount raised during this period was 34% greater in September of 2008 than in September of 2007. But when comparing October of 2007 to October of 2008, the amount raised increased by only 5%.The number of gifts went up by more than 15% in both September and October of 2008, as compared to September and October of 2007. Despite the economy and the possible distraction of the election, a significantly larger number of donors gave in these two months in 2008 than they did in 2007.However, the average gift size appeared to drop off in October of 2008 as compared to October of 2007. This may be a sign of the weakening economy, as many donors continue to give online but in smaller amounts.Overall, the news is good; despite both the financial crisis and the elections, nonprofit online fundraising grew in both of these months as compared to the previous year.Why has online fundraising continued to grow while many other forms of fundraising have declined in the current economic climate?Nonprofit direct marketing was on the decline even before September 2008. Many nonprofits saw lower-than-average growth rates starting in 2006, with a more severe slowdown occurring in Q2 of 2007, according to the Target Analytics Index of National Fundraising Performance. Nonetheless, online fundraising has continued to grow for most nonprofits, as seen in the most recent e-Nonprofit Benchmarks Study published by M+R and N-TEN, which found that online fundraising grew by 19% from 2006 to 2007.Online donors tend to be younger and more affluent than direct mail donors, as found in the 2006 donorCentrics Internet Giving Benchmarks Analysis. This may account for the steadier online returns, as younger donors – with more disposable income, less significant savings invested in retirement portfolios, and so on – may feel less vulnerable to the volatile market and thus may not be adjusting their giving to reflect the downturn.Despite the relatively good news for online donations, we have to warn nonprofits not to get complacent about online fundraising. Many economic analysts predict the current economic crisis will continue to worsen before it gets better. And the fact that growth was slower in October of 2008 may be a sign of things to come.What are other nonprofits doing to stay the course? One M+R client recently tested two versions of a special appeal: One simply stated the need for funds for many reasons, but did not make mention of global financial crisis. The other appeal led with a brief sentence stating that the current global financial crisis has made the need even greater. Both email messages had identical open rates, but the email with the mention of the financial crisis received 20% fewer click-throughs, and a 12% lower response rate than the email that did not. The lesson learned? Reminding your constituents of the current economic crisis, even when it is topical and strengthens your case for giving, does not make donors more likely to give, and may actually turn them away from giving.For this reason, in order to maximize your online fundraising results in a time of economic uncertainty, we recommend keeping your message focused on your mission and on the compelling reasons to give to your nonprofit. We’ve found that focusing on the basics continues to yield the best results. Using urgency, making a compelling case for giving, and even throwing a premium into the mix can all help boost returns.Nonetheless, nonprofits may want to lower their expectations for end of year fundraising. This is a time of year when donors traditionally make larger gifts, but given the decline in average gifts across the past two months, it is possible that many donors will continue to make their gifts online but will scale back the dollar amounts.We’d like to thank the five nonprofits who generously shared their data for this study: Easter Seals, Habitat for Humanity International, National MS Society, Oxfam America, and The Wilderness Society.ABOUT M+R STRATEGIC SERVICESM+R is dedicated to helping our clients advance their missions in order to bring about positive change. We do this by helping organizations and campaigns we believe in develop smart and effective strategies, hone their messages, mobilize their members, build grassroots support, raise money, and communicate effectively with the media, the public and decision-makers, both online and offline. www.mrss.com