AV Debate Follow-up

Thanks to everyone who came along and enjoyed the debate and post-debate discussion on the AV referendum, we’re extremely pleased with the turnout, and appreciate our two speakers taking the time to prepare their arguments and spend the evening with us. Michael has a run-down of the speakers’ points.

I’ve attached the audio for from the debate, beginning with Stephen Glenn’s for argument, then to Brian Wilson who is against AV, followed by questions from the floor.
The audio isn’t perfect, though I’ve done my best to increase the volume where necessary so hopefully it is audible and at a more-or-less standard volume throughout.

You can listen here using the SoundCloud player or download the MP3 file using the arrow on the right of the player.

Political Innovation Camp

Political Innovatin logoSlugger O’Toole Political Innovation unconference takes place this Saturday in Belfast.

Firstly, an unconference is participant-driven conference centred around a theme or purpose. In short, anyone can talk about any topic. In this case, the focus is Northern Ireland politics.

Our talk will be based on “Rational thought in politics and media in Northern Ireland”, and we hope to encourage discussion through this.
The event is free to attend and anyone interested should definitely come along and engage in what will likely be a great event. Also; free lunch.

The current proposed talks are listed here.
Register to attend here.

All info is on the website: PoliticalInnovation.org.

Follow Political Innovation on Twitter: PIcamp.

Use the hashtag #picamp.

Join the Facebook Group

Join the Mailing List

We’d like to take this time to mention our mailing list which we will be using to notify everyone of our events, or anything special that comes up. Naturally, we will keep these to a minimum and of course nothing spammy, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

We’re currently planning a few things at the minute: details of our next event will be posted here in the next few days, we will be talking at the Political Innovation event on 20th November in Belfast (it’s free, get your tickets) — More info to follow.

If you have any suggestions for future speakers please do let us know by email or as a comment below.

If you would like to write for the blog on any topics of Skepticism then just us know and we’d be happy to chat with you and have you on board.

Stay tuned.

Scrapbook

We’ve created a place over on Tumblr to archive various bits of news, humour and other points of view that we find — Facebook/Twitter are all very well, but (Facebook in particular) is difficult to archive — and I do like the idea of posterity. These things we do and say on the internet are profound and our kids must see them etc.

And so I bring you the Belfast Skeptics Scrapbook. All things are to be taken seriously and lightheartedly. These are simply a collection of ideas. A myriad of thoughts.

Please offer any quotes, comics, sketches, videos, articles or anything else completely rediculous — just use the “submit” button at the top of the page.

score one for jesus

tim minchin quote

burden of proof ricky gervais

Event Number One: Great Success

Thank you to everyone who was in the Duke of York on Tuesday evening for our first of many monthly events. Hopefully you’ll all agree that it was particularly successful, a mix of engaging conversations relating to what we’re all sceptical of and individual areas of interest.

It certainly felt like the beginnings of something great, a great mix of people of varying ages, backgrounds and Skepticisms. Thanks also to the Queens Humanist Society for changing their venue for their weekly meeting.

On passing around a pen and paper we gathered a few ideas for future discussions:

  • Climate change
  • How people make decisions when faced with uncertainty (eg: Medical statistics, politicians, the Daily Mail.
  • quiz.worldofuncertainty.org
  • Climate change (Linked with Atlantis)
  • Creationism and aliens
  • Alt medicine, misunderstanding the scientific method
  • Campbell-Steiner (schools)
  • Autism issues and general disabilities
  • Jan de Vries and prominent pushers of bullshit
  • The alleged quality of audio recordings (Vinyl-CD-MP3)
  • The fallacy of 1080p video on a small device
  • The fallacy of equality in education
  • Liberté, fraternité, egalité
  • Lack of understanding of logical fallacies
  • Refusal to accept evidence over anecdotes (Why anecdotes have such power)
  • Legal requirement for worship in state-sponsored schools
  • Accepted myths in psychology

Hopefully we’ll manage to cover these and a number of other topics at future events.

We’re in the process of deciding on a day for the next event as it sees that for many, a Tuesday doesn’t suit. Would a Saturday afternoon suit in the same venue?

Please leave comments with any suggestions you have. We will keep the format generally loose, with a quiz/game or two (Logical Fallacy Charades anyone?) as well as one or two topics to base the main discussion around.

Again, thanks for coming, we thoroughly enjoyed chatting and look forward to more!

belfast skeptics in the pub first meeting

First Event: What to Expect?

skeptical cat

At our inaugural event this evening we hope to introduce ourselves and to simply cover the basics:

What is Skepticism, what it means to be sceptical and the importance of being so?
What you want to get out of the group, and what we hope to achieve through the group?
What you are sceptical of and what areas would you like discussed in the future?
What do you accept without evidence? What superstitions do you uphold?
Are you sceptical of Skepticism?

The structure will be very loose,  so feel free to say what’s on your mind and we will listen to what everyone has to say in regards future meet-ups and events.

See you in the pub!

Duke of York, Belfast from 7pm. [map]

What is Skepticism?

skep·ti·cism
[skep-tuh-siz-uhm]
–noun
1. skeptical attitude or temper; doubt.
2. doubt or unbelief with regard to a religion, esp. Christianity.
3. ( initial capital letter ) the doctrines or opinions of philosophical Skeptics; universal doubt.
[dictionary.com]

n.
1. A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind; dubiety. See synonyms at uncertainty.
2. Philosophy.
1. The ancient school of Pyrrho of Elis that stressed the uncertainty of our beliefs in order to oppose dogmatism.
2. The doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible, either in a particular domain or in general.
3. A methodology based on an assumption of doubt with the aim of acquiring approximate or relative certainty.
3. Doubt or disbelief of religious tenets.
[Answers.com]

“Contemporary skepticism (or scepticism) is loosely used to denote any questioning attitude, or some degree of doubt regarding claims that are elsewhere taken for granted.” [wikipedia]

Skeptics groups, having adopted the American spelling, have sprung up across the world, bringing together people who are interested in discussing the issues which surround blind faith, dubious claims, and ideas of reality versus that which we are told to believe. Simply put, the Skeptics in the Pub group is a gathering of critical thinkers, those with an interest in science, who think logically, don’t take anything at face-value, and generally prefer “facts” being backed up with reputable evidence without dubious claims purporting to be so.

The premise of the group is to meet like-minded individuals and discuss these ideas and prevalent issues in current news and media, as well as a range of general topics and commonly accepted ideas and norms.

Skepticism is a state of mind, relating to having a questioning and doubtful mind; looking at evidence before deciding.

Skeptics are not simply debunkers, automatically ruling out the existence of the paranormal, the extraterrestrial, or the supernatural. Instead, a skeptic reserves judgment until the evidence is gathered. If the clues points to a mundane explanation, skeptics will accept that conclusion. If the available evidence suggests an extraordinary phenomenon, skeptics will accept that conclusion as well. The difference is in the strength of the evidence required. The more unusual a claim is, the more challenging to accepted science, the more skeptics will demand that the supporting evidence be extensive, thoroughly documented, and objectively verifiable. — K.O. Myers.

Further definitions will be discussed in future posts.

Skepticism covers a range of topics including: [list after the fold] Continue reading “What is Skepticism?”

First Meet-up: 12th Oct 2010

Date: Tues 12th October 2010
Venue: Duke of York, Belfast [map]
Time: 7pm

This is our first event! We’re welcoming anyone who would like to spend an evening amongst other skeptical thinkers, discussing whatever comes up and playing awkward social games. Come prepared to discuss topics in the realm of science, culture and life in general. Also, we’d love to hear from people who want to get involved in running BSitP and who have ideas for future events. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Register your attendance (so that we have an idea of numbers) on Facebook.

The blog will be updated with plenty of info beforehand so keep a close eye here.

Welcome

questionSkeptics 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, as well as having fun while promoting skepticism, science, and rationality. [Wikipedia]

Belfast Skeptics in the Pub aims to be the springboard for a group of people looking to further the cause of skepticism in Belfast. Drawing inspiration from groups in Dublin, America and Britain we aim to be an informal forum for the dissemination of science based evidence to fight the tide of misinformation in our society today. As well as the pub-based discussions, we may have other events. Plus we’ll hang out and have some fun at the same time!

Join the Facebook Group, and follow us on Twitter.

We’re currently planning our first meeting, leave any comments and suggestions you may have.