Gold looks back at the first year of Skeptics in the Pub.
I had been listening to skeptical and science-based podcasts for about four years when I decided that I wanted to do something more than just listen. I’d heard about a lecture series that was held in a pub in London 10 years ago; when the series ended the gatherings kept going.
This was the start of Skeptics in the Pub. Since then the concept has steadily spread around the world. Just over a year ago I decided I’d give it a go here in New Zealand and it appears to have been quite successful. We now have well established groups that meet regularly in Auckland each month and Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin fortnightly.
In the first year we’ve had speakers, movie outings, video evenings, public awareness and outreach events and much beer. Christchurch has been particularly active with speakers and a monthly atheist-themed video evening. Dunedin people have also been very active and have attended some great science communication events from the University of Otago. They’ve also been to the movies together to watch Creation, been filmed for a high school project discussing parody religions, and handed out Psychic Bingo cards to the people paying to listen to someone pretending to talk to dead people.
The website (skepticsinthepub.net.nz) has been gathering members steadily and the forums and blogs are in regular use. New features are in the pipeline based on activities from the various groups and feedback from the site members. We should soon have a lending library where members can list the books they have to loan out and track who has them. We should also have a community-driven resources library that will allow members to post and tag links to online information so that when challenged we’ll hopefully be a few clicks away from evidence that supports the science.
I would like to thank the speakers we’ve had: Andy Lea, Gareth Renowden, Kylie Sturgess, Madeleine Hopkins, Matthew Dentith, Max Wallace, Richard Graham and Vicki Hyde.
I would also like to thank the organisers, past and present. While I may have kicked this thing off it would never have lasted without these people: Craig Shearer, James Sullivan, Jim Cheetham, Katie Brockie, Mike Kilpatrick, Nathan Grange, Toby Ricketts and Tom Neal.
Finally, I would like to thank the people that attend the meetups. Without you lot none of this would have been possible. Skeptics in the Pub is a social gathering and I applaud and encourage your participation. While there are organisers at the current groups these are titles given by the meetup.com site and these people have stepped forward to volunteer their time. I’m happy to extend this access to anyone that wants it. If there are any locations that don’t currently have meetups and there are people that would like them to happen I’m happy to set up a meetup.com group to get you started also. Feedback and discussion of this article: bit.ly/bb7fxv