Local Skeptics Groups – what should we be doing?

Ed Skeptics committee member, Ben Makin reflects on why we do what we do.

What are local skeptics groups for?

I’ve pondered this on and off over the last 12 months as I’ve written emails and updated our website, gone to talks, failed to read the book club book, gone on days out, hung out at socials, tagged photos in Facebook, written minutes and reviews, offered lifts, gone to hospitals, and drunk endless cups of tea some of them laced with rum, all in the name of skepticism.

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, this is a personal list, and I really hope your list would be different 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?