Skeptics in the Pub

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Skeptics in the Pub is an informal social event designed to promote fellowship and social networking among skeptics, critical-thinkers, and other like-minded individuals. It provides an opportunity for skeptics and rationalists to talk, share ideas in a casual, relaxed atmosphere, and discuss whatever topical issues come to mind. But most importantly, it's about having fun while promoting skepticism, science, and rationality.

The usual format is that a speaker is invited to give a talk on a specific topic, which is followed by a question-and-answer session. Other meet-ups are informal socials, with no fixed agenda.

The group has conducted experiments on the paranormal as part of James Randi's million-dollar challenge,[1] and co-organized the UK's largest skeptical event, An Evening with James Randi & Friends.[2][3][4]

History[edit]

The group's earliest and longest-running event is the award-winning[5] London meeting, established by Dr. Scott Campbell in 1999.[6][7][8] Campbell based the idea around Philosophy in the Pub and Science in the Pub, two groups which had been running in Australia for some time.[9] The inaugural speaker was the editor and founder of The Skeptic magazine, Wendy M. Grossman in February 1999.

Campbell ran the London group for three years while on a teaching sabbatical in London, but the group was succeeded after his returned to Oz by two sci-fi fans and skeptics, Robert Newman and Marc LaChappelle, then from 2003 - 2008 by Nick Pullar, who has made a television appearance as "Convener of Skeptics in the Pub" on the infamous BBC spoof show Shirley Ghostman. The group is now organised and chaired by Sid Rodrigues, who has co-organised events in several other cities around the world.[10] The ease of use of the internet via social networking sites and content management systems has led to over fifty active satellite chapters around the world, including over forty in the USA, and about fifteen in the UK.

Skeptics in the Pub would later serve as the template for other skeptical, rationalist, and atheist meet-ups around the globe, including The James Randi Educational Foundation's "The Amazing Meeting", Drinking Skeptically, The Brights, and the British Humanist Association social gatherings.

Alom Shaha, writing in The Guardian, argues that Skeptics in the Pub is a case of skeptics only "preaching to the converted". He argues that such activity is a waste, and that skeptics should do more to spread their message where it is needed and could prove influential, in places such as schools.[11] However, a few bloggers have come out in defence of SitP in light of Shaha's comments, with the basic retort being "that's not what SitP is for".[12] Indeed, its primary aim is to be a social event for people with similar interests who are looking to learn more about topics such as MMR and UFO hoaxes, not a cult that needs to spread its message around.

Some past speakers[edit]

London[edit]

  • Rev. Brian Austin (a creationist pastor)
  • Mark Bennett of The Aetherius Society (founded by an Englishman named George King in 1954 who claimed contact with advanced intelligences from other planets within the Solar System)
  • Prof. Richard J. Evans (author of the book The Third Reich in Power and expert witness in the David Irving libel trial)
  • Prof. Steve Fuller (sociologist in the University of Warwick and intelligent design proponent who testified at the Kitzmiller trial in Dover, PA)[13]
  • Dr. Phil Plait (creator of the Bad Astronomy website)[14][15]
  • Nick Pope (former Ministry of Defence bureaucrat charged with receiving UFO sighting reports)
  • Prof. Victor J. Stenger (author of NY Times Best-seller God: The Failed Hypothesis)[16]
  • Dr. Simon Singh (writer & physicist - unsuccessfuly sued for libel by 'Spine Wizards')[17][18][19]

(Taken from the archives at their website)[20]

Boston[edit]

  • Marc Abrahams (Editor of The Annals of Improbable Research)
  • Science blogger "Mike the Mad Biologist"
  • Patty Pieniadz, an ex-Scientologist who left, after over 27 years
  • Dr. Shulamit Moed, Scientist with CERN’s doomsday device, the Large Hadron Collider[21]

(According to their website)[22]


See also[edit]

External links[edit]

These two links should enable anyone to find a local group to participate in or argue with:

References[edit]

  1. http://www.randi.org/jr/060305be.html#6 A Preliminary Test for the JREF PRIZE is Completed
  2. http://www.csicop.org/specialarticles/randi-and-friends.html An Evening With James Randi & Friends,
  3. http://itricks.com/randishow/?p=23 Notable mention by James Randi on iTricks
  4. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article3798760.ece Homeopathy - what a waste of time
  5. http://www.timeout.com/london/features/4273/5.html Time Out London - Best Communities/Best Website 2008
  6. http://londonist.com/2008/02/why_dont_creati.php The Londonist Article
  7. http://network.nature.com/london/news/Q&A/2008/02/19/skeptics-in-a-pub Nature Interview
  8. http://network.nature.com/blogs/user/bron/2007/10/17/a-post-a-day-wednesday Nature Review - by Bronwen Dekker, Assistant Editor at Nature Protocols
  9. http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/philosophy/people/scott.campbell
  10. http://www.csicop.org/si/show/skepticism_2.0/
  11. The Guardian - Skeptics: It's time to stop preaching to the converted
  12. The Thought Stash - What is wrong with Skeptics in the Pub?
  13. http://www.lablit.com/article/139/ Into the lion's den: Steve Fuller at 'Skeptics In The Pub'
  14. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/04/23/europe-days-4-and-5-and-going-home/ Europe: Days 4 and 5, and going home
  15. http://network.nature.com/london/news/blog/matt/2008/04/22/more-skeptics-than-you-could-shake-a-crystal-pendant-at More skeptics than you could shake a crystal pendant at - Nature
  16. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/14/AR2007091402501_3.html In Europe and U.S., Nonbelievers Are Increasingly Vocal - Washington Post
  17. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/article6879284.ece England’s libel laws don’t just gag me, they blindfold you
  18. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article3798760.ece Homeopathy - what a waste of time
  19. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8621880.stm
  20. http://www.skeptic.org.uk/pub/archive/index.php
  21. http://network.nature.com/hubs/boston/blog/2009/06/30/skeptics-reel-em-in
  22. http://bostonskeptics.com/