Skeptics in the Pub
Skeptics in the Pub (abbreviated SITP) is an informal social event designed to promote fellowship and social networking among skeptics, critical-thinkers, freethinkers, rationalists and other like-minded individuals. It provides an opportunity for skeptics to talk, share ideas and have fun in a casual atmosphere, and discuss whatever topical issues come to mind, while promoting skepticism, science, and rationality.
|Skeptics in the Pub|
Common logo of SITP events worldwide
|Genre||skepticism, rationalism, science, critical thinking, activism, and freethought|
|Location(s)||Various cities across the world|
|Founder||Scott Campbell (London)|
|Attendance||Variable, up to hundreds|
|Organized by||Various people and groups|
"Skeptics in the Pub" is not a protected term, anyone can set one up. There also is no formal procedure to organising an event; organisers can fill in activities as they see fit. There are, however, some common approaches across the world in hosting such events that make them more successful.
The usual format of meetings includes an invited speaker who gives a talk on a specific topic, followed by a question-and-answer session. Other meet-ups are informal socials, with no fixed agenda. The groups usually meet once a month at a public venue, most often a local pub. There are now more than 100 different "SitP" groups running around the world.
The earliest and longest-running event is the award-winning London meeting, established by Australian philosophy professor Scott Campbell in 1999. 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. The inaugural speaker was Wendy M. Grossman, the editor and founder of The Skeptic magazine, in February 1999; this first talk attracted 30 attendees. The London group claims to be the "World's largest regular pub meeting," with 200 to 400 people in attendance at each meeting.
Campbell ran the London group for three years while there on a teaching sabbatical, and was succeeded after his return to Australia by two sci-fi fans and skeptics, Robert Newman and Marc LaChappelle. Nick Pullar, who made a television appearance as "Convener of Skeptics in the Pub" on the BBC spoof show Shirley Ghostman, then led the group from 2003 to 2008. As of 2011, the London group was co-convened by Sid Rodrigues, who has co-organised events in several other cities around the world. This group has conducted experiments on the paranormal as part of James Randi's One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge and co-organised An Evening with James Randi & Friends.
Around the worldEdit
The ease of use of the internet, via social networking sites and content management systems, has led to more than 100 active chapters around the world, including more than 30 in the US and more than 40 in the UK. In 2009, D. J. Grothe described the rise of Skeptics in the Pub across cities in North America and elsewhere as a prominent example of "Skepticism 2.0". SITPs were often founded outside the realm of existing skeptical organisations (mostly centred around magazines), with some successful meetings growing out to become fully-fledged membership organisations.
"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.
Since 2010 Edinburgh Skeptics in the Pub has extended the Skeptics in the Pub concept over the whole Edinburgh International Festival Fringe, under the banner Skeptics on the Fringe and from 2012 done the same at the Edinburgh International Science Festival with the title At The Fringe of Reason. The Merseyside Skeptics Society and Greater Manchester Skeptics (forming North West Skeptical Events Ltd) hosted three two-day conferences, QED, in February 2011, March 2012 and April 2013. Glasgow Skeptics has also hosted two one-day conferences, as of July 2011.
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Over the past ten years, the London event has featured lectures by well-known scientists and skeptics. Rarely the guests are proponents of fringe or pseudoscientific views.[why?] Notable guests include:
- Simon Singh (No longer being sued by the British Chiropractic Association for criticising their activities in a column in The Guardian.)
- Victor Stenger (Author of God: The Failed Hypothesis)
- Jon Ronson (Documentary film-maker and author of The Men Who Stare at Goats)
- Phil Plait (Past-President of the James Randi Educational Foundation, author and blogger)
- David Colquhoun (Past holder of the A.J. Clark chair of Pharmacology at University College London and science/political blogger)
- Richard J. Evans (Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and an expert witness at the Irving v. Lipstadt libel case)
- S. Fred Singer (atmospheric physicist and AGW skeptic)
- Ben Goldacre (medical doctor and journalist, and the author of The Guardian newspaper's weekly Bad Science column)
- David Nutt (psychiatrist and neuropsychopharmacologist specialising in the research of drugs that affect the brain and conditions such as addiction, anxiety and sleep.)
- Mark Stevenson London-based British author, businessman, public speaker, futurologist and author of An Optimist's Tour of the Future.
- "Meet Sid Rodrigues". Meet the Skeptics Podcast. 13 April 2011.
- Michael Marshall, Simon Perry and Mark Pentler (20 February 2013). "Skeptics in the Pub Workshop (2011)". QED: Question, Explore Discover. North West Skeptical Events Ltd. Retrieved 11 July 2016.
- Owen Duffy (9 March 2010). "Out of the labs, into the pubs". BBC News. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
- "Skeptics in the Pub website".
- "Skeptics in the Pub - Google Maps". Retrieved 16 February 2012.
- Barber, Sonya (18 February 2008). "Best Communities/Best Website 2008". Time Out, London.
- Brown, Matt (19 February 2008). "Why Don't Creationists Just Shut Up?". The Londonist. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- Cox, Jennifer (21 September 2008). "Jennifer Cox signs up for...Skeptics In The Pub". The Metro.
- "About Us". London Skeptics in the Pub. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
- "Scott Campbell's Homepage". Archived from the original on 5 August 2016.
- Brown, Matt (9 June 2009). "The Big Smoke, London Social: Skeptics in the Pub". Time Out, London. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- Pullar, Nick (20 April 2005). "Shirley Ghostman and me". The Skeptic.
- Youens, Tony (21 April 2005). "Shirley Ghostman".
- Metzger, Richard (12 October 2008). "High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman". Boing Boing.
- Randi, James (3 June 2005). "A Preliminary Test for the JREF PRIZE is Completed". Swift. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
- Cohen, Jon (23 May 2008). "An Evening With James Randi & Friends". Skeptical Inquirer.
- "Preview Of The Amazing Meeting with James Randi on iTricks". The Amazing Show. 15 May 2008.
- Singh, Simon (23 April 2008). "Homeopathy - what a waste of time". The Times Online.
- Grothe, D.J. (November – December 2009). "Skepticism 2.0". Skeptical Inquirer Volume 33.6. Retrieved 14 July 2016.