Chew on This

Chew on This is an Indiana Humanities program designed to use the power of food and drink as a convener and catalyst for conversation. We'll host several Quantum Leap-inspired "dinner parties" throughout 2017 and 2018 to inspire thoughtful discussion on a number of engaging topics.

“Cogito ergo sum.” Rene Decartes’ dictum “I think, therefore I am” is one of the most recognizable dictums in Western philosophy. It’s one of many attempts—by philosophers, by psychologists, by artists, by scientists—to distill the tricky, slippery idea of the self. And now, in the era of big data, it’s getting even more complicated. Perhaps, in the 21st century, we need a new phrase: “I click, therefore I am.”

The advent of powerful computers means it’s possible to track and analyze so many human behaviors—what we read and say online, where we drive or walk, what we purchase, who we talk to, and more. The possibilities are exciting—better targeting healthcare interventions to the people and places that need them most, uncovering evidence of a criminal conspiracy and preventing it before it happens, even the serendipitous delight of a great suggestion for what to read next on your Amazon page or Twitter feed. But there is no shortage of concerns about privacy and consent, about ownership and profit from our personal data. There’s also the disconcerting idea that while we think about ourselves one way—I keep up with current events, I consider all points of view, I get enough steps every day—big data reveals something else entirely—I read a lot of celebrity news, everyone in my newsfeed votes the same way, I need to get off the couch.

Join Indiana Humanities on Tuesday, February 20 as we ask the question “Are We Our Data?” during a special Quantum Leap-themed Chew on This. Sign up for one of six locations around the state, where you’ll share a meal and a fun yet in-depth conversation with other curious Hoosiers. Each table will be led by an expert facilitator, someone who grapples with questions about the incredible opportunities (and maybe scary possibilities) afforded by big data. Your ticket price includes your meal and an unforgettably rich experience.

Facilitators include:



Previous events

Chew on This: Are You Sure? | May 9, 2017 | Statewide

How do we know if something is true? What counts as evidence? How we answer these questions as individuals and as a society affects the choices we make—everything from how we read the news and vote, to how we choose the foods we eat and make healthcare decisions, to how our leaders set policy for the economy, the environment and more.

Those are some of the questions we explored at seven sites around the state, while we shared a meal and had a fun yet in-depth conversation with other curious Hoosiers. Each table was led by an expert facilitator, someone who grapples with questions about evidence, truth and validity every day. Locations included Bloomington, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Muncie and the Region. Special thanks to Yelp for partnering on this event.

Facilitators and restaurants included:

  • Jane Ellery, Wellness Management, Ball State University

  • Jonathan Elmer, English, and William Hetrick, Neuroscience, Indiana University

  • Mel Fox, Indiana State Museum and Central Indiana Science Outreach

  • David Hoppe, Writer and Editor

  • Jason Kelly, IUPUI Arts & Humanities Institute

  • Stephen J. Ruberg, Advanced Analytics & Global Statistical Sciences, Eli Lilly and Company

  • Winni Sullivan, Religious Studies, and Elaine Monaghan, Media Studies, Indiana University

  • Deanna Wooley, IPFW Department of History