Skeptics on the Fringe is now in its fourth year, making it the longest-running and most varied festival of free Skepticism in the world. SotF runs for the three weeks of the Edinburgh International Arts Festival in August, presenting different events daily.
In these three weeks, Edinburgh Skeptics put on the equivalent of nearly two years events. Simply for the reward of spreading the word about skepticism and reaching out to new audiences.
SotF exists to serve three broad principles:
- Reaching audiences that don’t normally identify as Skeptics
Festival season in Edinburgh helps us attract people who would never think of attending a named Skeptics in the Pub style event, and our audience varied greatly from night to night depending on topics, and each one attracted “returners” who’d enjoyed previous talks as well as “regulars” who attend throughout the year. We always direct people to their local SitP groups at the end of our talks.
- Supporting grassroots skepticism
We strive to strike a balance between “big name” speakers who are well known, and grassroots skeptics who are just starting to give talks because we have found offering grassroots speakers the option to speak at a large sceptical event boosts their profile and increases the pool of speakers UK SitP groups can draw upon. Speakers can use our website reviews in their publicity and they help other SitP groups make informed decisions about booking the same speakers locally.
- Lowering the barrier for entry
All Skeptics on the Fringe events are free and always have been, and as long as there is a SotF there will be a free element to our festival. All someone needs to attend our events is an enquiring mind or interest in the topic. No one profits from our Fringe events but Skepticism as a whole.
Skeptics on the Fringe has been shortlisted twice for UK Skeptic Magazine’s Ockham Award for Events and Outreach.
Skeptics on the Fringe 2013
This year we take the broad theme of luck, and some of our shows will consider probability, superstition, the psychological biases towards the idea of good or bad luck, and so on.
We aim for the best speakers in UK skepticism and science, so talks will also cover a wide range of other topics such as history and politics which benefit from an evidence-based approach but which are outside the usual skeptical line-up.
Our speakers are a mix of the stars of the skeptical world, academics and specialists, and grassroots speakers from local Skeptics in the Pub societies.
In 2013 we will produce a brochure of Scientific and Skeptical shows in the Festival. This aligns with our long-term ambition to create a Science and Skepticism Hub on the Fringe (a kind of European Dragon*Con if you like but not run for profit).