Lord, surround me with
those who seek the truth
. . . and deliver me from
those who have found it.
William van Druten ("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.
The 15 member commission acts on matters relating to the framing and amending of the 1878 Duluth City Home Rule Charter. We meet every quarter on the second Wednesday of the month at the Duluth City Hall. I was appointed by the Honorable Sally L. Tarnowski, Chief Judge for Minnesota's Sixth Judicial District, for a four year term.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have conducted some research on "the effective and responsible use of humor for persuasion," such as in advertising, politics, and teaching. My dissertation developed theory about how and when humor could be expected to result in successful persuasion. Then it tested the 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 and the details are provided on this page.
Here is a detailed record of our family history compiled primarily by my uncle Ross Orville Lyttle in Burnaby, British Columbia. There are also the results from recent DNA analyses in which I have participated, yielding haplotypes typical of people from the Border Regions of Scotland.
In 1988, James Crawford Little of Dumfries, Scotland (affectionally known 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 Meikledale on the Scottish Borders. Today, I am the Secretary/Treasurer of the latest version of that organization: a 501(c)(7) nonprofit corporation registered in the State of Georgia.
Founded in 1988, the International Society for Humor Studies (ISHS) is a scholarly and professional organization dedicated to the advancement of humor research. Many of its members are professors in the arts, humanities, science, or social science but it also includes professionals in counseling, management, and nursing. The society publishes the quarterly academic journal Humor: International Journal of Humor Research [De Gruyter] and mounts annual international conferences. I have been a member since 1998.
Born in Pottstown, PA on November 16, 2009, Heather is now firmly at the center of my life. She is fluent in both English and Mandarin; is a citizen of both the USA and Canada; has visited Shanghai, Cancún, New Orleans, Toronto and London in Ontario, Vancouver and Victoria in British Columbia, and Alaska. She spent her 7th birthday singing along with the rest of us at a James Taylor concert in Duluth; sat courtside for our local Harlem Globetrotters game, after playing musical chairs with their mascot "Globey" in the pre-game show; built a small robot during Invention Camp at the Marshall School; participated in workshops at the 2018 Annual Gathering of Mensa in Indianapolis, and has acted in half a dozen plays at The Duluth Playhouse. She lives at "Menden Hill" with her parents, maternal grandparents, and Doug the kitten. She is a 3rd grade student at Duluth Edison Charter School who wants to work with animals when she grows up.
Our family home, built in 1994. It is named after Luther Mendenhall: lawyer, civil war fighter, Quaker from a family that hosted the underground railroad, and a key founding father of Duluth. His legacy was overshadowed by a divorce and re-marriage in the early 1900s.