Belfast Skeptics in the Pub – Event Two: 6th November

So, our first event was last week and, in our eyes at least, it was a big success. We met some great people, Phil took a few cool photos and Alana whipped our her cryptozoology quiz – much to the delight of all attendees! We’ve learned from that experience, and as well as some of the suggestions that were made (add them in the comments if you have more feedback) we know that you want more structure and more definition. We’ll be taking specific topics and inviting people to speak on them, as a springboard for further discussion and debate. Organising those events will take a little time (Got something you’d like to speak about? Email us!) so until then, we’ve an excellent guest speaker lined up to talk to us.

David Meade, local mindreader extraordinaire, will be treating us to a very special talk and demonstration. In the talk, David will explain his path to becoming a professional mindreader. He will chart the path that led him to believe in psychic ability and the subsequent experiences that made him realise that it was an addictive and intoxicating scam.  He will read minds and recreate psychic phenomenon, while also revealing some of the techniques employed by fraudulent mediums (or is that media?). You can read a newspaper article about him here and watch him in action in the pilot to his forthcoming series on the BBC here.

Let us know if you’ll be there on the Facebook Event Page.

Date: Saturday 6th November

Time: 5.30pm Changed from the original 6pm

Location: Upstairs in McElhatton’s pub (otherwise known as The Front Page) on Union Street [map]. Don’t worry we’ll have signs, or just ask at the bar.

We’re excited about this — Hope to see you there.

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.
  • 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?

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.

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.

“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.