Thursday 24 February 2011

Thoughts on setting up a Skeptics in the Pub.

A Blogpost by Chris Richardson

I attended QEDcon on the weekend of 5th/6th February 2011 and amongst the great and the good I was most impressed with the coming together of grass roots skeptics in particular the presentation of the Nightingale Collaboration by Alan Henness and a workshop hosted by Simon Perry (Leicester SitP) and Michael Marshall (Merseyside SitP) on how to set up a Skeptics in the Pub group.

The latter was a heartening affair for two reasons. Firstly the room was packed, and secondly when the question was asked “Who's thinking of setting up a SitP?” about a dozen hands went up. There was no formal presentation per se, just an hour long discussion of various ways and means to decide on venues, promote SitPs, where to get speakers etc. It seemed to go by so quickly but many valuable ideas were shared. There are noises on twitter as I write regarding

Thursday 17 February 2011

Scientists need to talk

A blogpost by Lucy Harper

I don’t need to explain to readers of this blog why science and evidence are so important, yet in the current economic climate so many research groups across the world are facing funding cuts. And why are scientists facing funding cuts? Put simply, because not enough people think science is important. And why don’t they think science is important? Because not enough scientists are telling them, in an accurate and measured way, how important it is.

However, last Monday (7 February) my email and twitter feed came alive! The Honorary General Secretary of SfAM (Dr Mark Fielder @markusmicrobius) had made a comment in an article which appeared on the front page of that day’s Guardian and as Communications Manager, it was my job to track the story’s coverage. The story, which many of you will have seen, was written by an excellent science correspondent, Alok Jha (@alokjha) and was about

Tuesday 15 February 2011

QED Blogpost and Podcast

A Blogpost by Patrick Redmond

I’m writing this blog piece about the QED conference a week after the event has finished. Although this means it lacks the immediacy of penning something straight away, it’s allowed me to reflect on the experience. During the opening speech we were invited by George Hrab to come up with suitable and amusing versions of what the acronym QED could stand for. Mine would be Quality Exceeded Dreams, not particularly funny but hey, sue me.

I’ve never been on a skeptical/science based conference before so I have no point of reference for comparison. The closest I can come up with from my own experience is that of the Skeptics in the Pub group I go to in Birmingham, as it happens though this isn’t too bad a starting point. QED was in many ways a Skeptics in the Pub but on a huge scale. This is in no way a denigration of the event; on the contrary I’m saying that

Wednesday 9 February 2011

A Year (or so) in Birmingham SitP

A Blogpost by Patrick Redmond

I’ve just realised that it’s been about a year since I first became aware of Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub. This coincides quite nicely with the calendar year (that is if you ignore the fact that it’s now February) and so I thought I’d do a bit of a review of 2010 and what we can look forward to in 2011.

The first I knew of the existence of the group was a Facebook page with people saying “lets do it” and “where shall we do it?” and no one actually doing it. That was until Adrian Bailey got things going and started booking events. Adrian is a man with so many fingers

Sunday 6 February 2011

Podcast Post – Mediums, Ghosts and Voices from the Past

A Blogpost by Patrick Redmond.  Listen to the podcast here.

It’s a bit of an eclectic podcast this week. The main interview is with Ben Pugh of the Falstaff Factor. This is a competition to find the UK’s up and coming medium through a series of trials and tests. It’s the kind of thing that would have many skeptics adopting the classic palm to face position so I was interested to hear what Ben had to say about the venture.

It’s a funny thing when I do this kind of interview, never having had any kind of “meedja” training, knowing the position and tone to take. I know who the main audience is going to be and so there is a temptation to play to that crowd and score sceptical points. To adopt a position of intellectual superiority and say things like “I believe you’ll find that you’re talking about the idiomotor effect”. But I think that’d make me a bit of a knob.

I’m not rehashing the “sceptics should be respectful in their dealings etc” debate; it’s just interesting to be in this position. Hopefully you’ll listen to the interview and see that Ben is no idiot and that the intentions of the Falstaff Factor (however misguided I might think them) are not evil. In fact Ben comes