Mensa is the international high IQ society, providing a forum for intellectual and social exchange among its members. Activities include the exchange of ideas through lectures, discussions, journals, and special-interest groups as well as local, regional, national, and international gatherings (conferences). I am a Life Member of Mensa and currently serve as the Area Coordinator for the Duluth/Superior area in Northeastern Minnesota.
In an effort to build communities of public discourse and civility, the Society of Philosophers in America (SOPHIA) was incorporated in 1983. With members from within and beyond the academy, it brings the skills and techniques of philosophy to the public and the concerns of the public to philosophers. I have a degree in Philosophy from Wilfrid Laurier University (Waterloo, Canada) and am a proud member of this Society.
In the Spring of 1994, I began teaching at the post-secondary level. In the fall of 2001, I came to America with my newly minted Ph.D. in Organization Studies to teach at Long Island University, Penn State, and the University of Minnesota before retiring in 2016. These pages provide comprehensive details of my educational preparation and experience.
Speaking from time to time at academic conferences or to community groups. Humorous and informative talks on humor, comedians, religion, freethought, critical thinking, and teaching with the Harvard case method. Also occasionally acting as a Master of Ceremonies.
After America was attacked by religious zealots on September 11, 2001, Richard A. Zorger established the Church of Spiritual Humanism. Sure, the name is an oxymoron and the church accepts as clergy anyone who signs up on its webpage. However, its adherents are part of a sincere attempt to honor the awe we feel in response to Nature, the arts, and certain interpersonal relationships — without the supernatural elements that can lead to dogmatism and fanaticism. Which understanding of the word "spirit" could make sense of this idea?
In 1988, James Crawford Little of Dumfries, Scotland (affectionally referred to as "Dr. Johnnie") published the results of his family research in The Scottish Genealogist. In 1991, he was persuaded to start a society for those who might be descended from or otherwise interested in the ancient Clan Little of the Scottish Borders. Today, I am the Secretary-Treasurer of the Clan Little Society, Inc., a 501(c)(7) nonprofit corporation in the State of Georgia.
Founded in 1975, the American Humor Studies Association (AHSA) promotes scholarship on all aspects and periods of American humor through conferences, publications, and awards (often in association with the Mark Twain Society of America) and the general support of a community of dedicated humor scholars. I am a Life Member.
The Duluth Charter Commission acts on matters relating to framing and amending the 1878 Duluth City Home Rule Charter. It meets on the second Wednesday of every third month in the Duluth City Hall. I am a commissioner.
Scholars and students sometimes find it helpful to refer to my research and writing when preparing their own work. Here is an extensive list of academic journals and other sources that have cited my work.
The foundation certifies RAKtivists like myself and assigns us specific kindnesses to perform each month. You can sign up to participate too by clicking on the title above. Let's change hearts and minds, one at a time.
Heather was born in 2009 and is now firmly at the center of my life. A native speaker of both English and Mandarin, she has been in half a dozen plays at the Duluth Playhouse and participated in this year's Annual Gathering of Mensa. She is a 3rd grade student at Duluth Edison Charter School and is currently raising a kitten named "Doug."
Lord, surround me with those who
seek the truth—and deliver me
from those who've found it.
William van Druten (affectionately referred to as "Dr. Bill") is a psychiatrist in Duluth, MN who has treated people recovering from various forms of abuse by church leaders. In 1997, the Catholic Church took over his health clinic and asked him to sign an agreement to treat his clients according to the tenets of that religion. Instead, he founded Lake Superior Freethinkers: a registered 501(c)(3) Minnesota nonprofit corporation. It serves as a friendship group for non-theists. I have been involved since 2012 and currently serve as its Secretary.
Founded in 1988, the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) is a scholarly and professional organization dedicated to the advancement of humor research. Members include professors in the arts, humanities, science, and social sciences along with professionals in counseling, management, and nursing. The society publishes the academic journal Humor: International Journal of Humor Research [De Gruyter] and mounts annual international conferences. I have been a member since 1998.
I have conducted some research on "the effective and responsible use of humor for persuasion," such as in advertising, politics, and even therapy. My dissertation developed theory about how and when humor could be expected to result in successful persuasion. Then it tested that theory on more than 500 adults using Lockheed-Martin's ethics training methodology. Some of this research has been published or presented at academic conferences.
Here is a detailed record of our family history compiled primarily by my uncle Ross Orville Lyttle in Burnaby, British Columbia. There are also results from recent DNA analyses in which I have participated, yielding haplotypes typical of people from the Border Regions of Scotland.
Our family home, built in 1994, is named in honor of Luther Mendenhall. He was a lawyer, civil war soldier, profilic business leader, and a founding father of Duluth. Originally a Philadelphia area Quaker whose family hosted a stop on the underground railroad, he lost his social standing over a divorce and re-marriage in the early 1900s.