History

Edinburgh Skeptics

Skeptics in the Pub in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Skeptics in the Pub was established by Ash Pryce in 2009 following a suggestion by Chris French and we’re proud to be the 5th Skeptics in the Pub established in the UK. Ash organised the first talks with help from Lloyd McAlpine but after a few months Lloyd’s work took him away from Edinburgh.

Our Skeptics in the Pub nights continue on the 3rd Thursday of every month.

Ethos and Mission

Our strapline is Science, Reason and Critical Thinking. We are also all about the evidence-base, and recent talks include topics like people’s use of the internet, and  the advertising industry, as well as traditional skeptical fare like parapsychology and alternative medicine.

Edinburgh Skeptics is not an Atheist society because atheism is a position and skepticism is a method. We do cover topics such as the teaching of creationism in schools and of course  many of our regulars are atheists or agnostics. Being explicitly not an atheist group makes us unusual among Skeptics’ societies (in the US in particular, Skepticism and Atheism seem to go hand in hand). Edinburgh is well served by groups with a more explicitly atheist remit such as the Humanists, and the various Secular Societies.

Skeptics on the Fringe

In 2010 Ash was joined by Alex Buque and Keir Liddle and the three of them formalised the group as Edinburgh Skeptics Society and organised the first season of Skeptics on the Fringe.

The centre piece of Skeptics on the Fringe each year is the season of Skeptics in the Pub style talks, a different one each night.  We  promote grass-roots speakers as well as popular and established speakers such as A C Grayling, Simon Singh, PZ Myers and Richard Wiseman. Our 2010 and 2011 fringe seasons featured  Devil’s Advocate a panel game devised by Ash Pryce and Keir Liddle.  Other events have included skeptical and historical walking tours of Edinburgh and events co-hosted with the Observatory.  Skeptics on the Fringe 2012 won Skeptic Magazine’s 2013 Ockham Award for Outreach and the 2013 season received a Four Star review from Three Weeks.

Ockham - Medium

The Skeptic Magazine’s 2013 Ockham Award for Outreach, won by Skeptics on the Fringe

The Science Festival

Since 2012 Edinburgh Skeptics have put on a short season of Skeptics in the Pub events at the Science Festival.

Discussion Group and other events

As well as the formal meetings in the pub, we have a monthly Discussion Group, a Pub Social, and we sometimes have a Pub Quiz team.  These are sociable ways to meet and join Ed Skeptics.  At various times we have also run a book group and cafe social,  and days out.  We would love to do so again and are looking for a volunteer to organise any or all of these on a regular basis.

Anti-Harassment Policy

Edinburgh Skeptics was one of the first Skeptics groups in the UK to have an Anti-Harassment policy, which can be summed up as “Respect People, Challenge Ideas”.  Additionally, we always try to ensure that there are both male and female Volunteers at every event. Several other Skeptics groups have since based their Anti-Harassment policy on ours.  The full policy can be read here.

The Committee and Volunteers – The New Generation(s)

Volunteer organisations are vulnerable when the first generation of organisers can no longer give their time. Ed Skeptics has survived three generations of leaders “retiring” because we try to ensure everyone who wants to be involved gets a chance to do something they are good at and enjoy.

The post-Fringe review session in September is a natural break point in our year and the main changes to the Committee have always taken place then. Helping with the Fringe is a great way to join in but you can get involved at any time.

See the Committee page for a full list of current and previous volunteers.