Sunday 18 March 2012

A quick message for those that come to Birmingham SitP

What makes a good Skeptics in the Pub?  This is a question that, believe it or not, gets a lot of debate amongst SitP organisers. There’s a variety of potential factors that are believed to make a difference. These range from the location of the venue, the range of speakers on offer and the quality of the advertising. I don’t doubt that these things, difficult to quantify as they are, nonetheless have an effect. But last Wednesday at Deborah Hyde’s talk at the Birmingham SitP I had a bit of a revelation on this.

 The talk was a real pleasure for a number of reasons. For one she was wonderful to have as a guest. Great to talk to, mixed easily with the crowd and all through the failing projector episode she never flustered or panicked unlike my good self.  Also her talk was expertly prepared, flowed and was entertaining and informative. She conducted a mammoth Q and A with patience, humour and the confidence of somebody that really knows their subject. But that’s not all that struck me.

 On that Wednesday I’d had a horrible day and had arrived flustered and stressed. By the end of the night I’d got a big grin on my face and was feeling good. Deborah, like many speakers we have had, was struck not only by the size of crowd we get but the warmth and the interest. There is a definite good vibe in the room, if that doesn’t sound too hippyish. That’s when I had my moment of realisation.

By talking about choice of venue, speakers and all the other stuff we are in some ways missing the point. I don't doubt it makes a difference but what really matters is the people that turn up. I know that you can argue that without those things being right we wouldn’t get the people in the first place, but I don’t care. The good humour and friendly expectancy of the Birmingham crowd  is great. If it wasn’t I’m not sure, as organisers, we would be as motivated to get all that other stuff right in the first place. Just looking through my Facebook contacts there are so many people that I now count as friends that I’ve met there or at the socials in the last couple of years it’s remarkable.

This unusually unskeptical and somewhat schmaltzy blog post is therefore a long winded thank you to all the fantastic people that come to Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub. We really appreciate you and you’re great.

Patrick Redmond (@paddyrex) is one of the organisers of Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub.