Local Skeptics Groups – what should we be doing?

What are local skeptics groups for?

I’ve been pondering this on and off over the last 12 months as I’ve written emails and posted details about Skeptics on the Fringe on our website, gone to our monthly talks, failed to read the books for our book club, visited the city’s sites on our days out, hung out at our socials, tagged photos of friends and speakers in Facebook, written up meeting minutes, offered lifts, gone to hospitals, and drunk endless cups of tea, some of them laced with rum.

This question matters: if only four people turn up to that event is it a success or a failure? Well, if we are about mutual support and the people there deepened their friendships, then it was a success. If we are about outreach then it’s a failure. Is the Book Club a success? What about the Days Out? No way to decide, without a clear reason for doing them.

Here are some things a local Skeptics Society may be about, in my case Edinburgh Skeptics; it’s a personal list, some are better than others and I really hope your mileage varies because otherwise you are a creepy-stalker-person.

Support and personal growth

  • Friendship
  • Finding and hanging out with like-minded people
  • Deepening your knowledge on a geeky-nerdy subject that interests you
  • A safe environment for exploring alternatives to the mind-set of your family

Education, entertainment, public engagement

  • Informing people of issues they were not aware of
  • Challenging ideas that people don’t bother examining

Changing the world

  • Challenging dangerous or exploititive busienesses locally or nationally
  • Campaigning for public awareness – eg 10:23
  • Campaigning for policy change – eg the Humanists and Faith Schools

But can we do all these things equally well? And should we even try?

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