Skeptics on the Fringe 2012 has been nominated for an Ockham award for Events / Campaigning from Skeptics magazine. We would like to think this is why
- Number of events: 46
- Number of Speakers: 22
- Number of Venues: 2
- Audience: 1,500 (approx.)
- Cost to the audience: 0
Skeptics on the Fringe will enter its fourth year in 2013 after a fantastic third outing on the Edinburgh International Fringe Festival stage in 2012.
This year saw us fill out our venue all but two or three nights of the festival, and bringing a host of varied speakers and topics to the world’s largest international arts festival. Speakers in 2012 included Richard Wiseman, Edzard Ernst, A C Grayling, Brooke Magnanti (blogger Belle de Jour), Deborah Hyde and Alom Shaha. We also introduced a number of grassroots speakers speaking for the first time at the fringe, many of whom have gone on to talk at a number of SitP groups around the country.
As well as our Fringe of Reason events we collaborated with Ash Pryce to present a series of events exposing the trickery used by psychics and mediums in convincing people they can talk to the dead, and offered festival-goers two walking tours of Edinburgh showcasing the cities scientific past and debunking its ghoulish legends as an alternative to the city’s (in)famous “ghost” tours.
About Skeptics on the Fringe
Skeptics on the Fringe is the longest-running and most varied festival of free Skepticism in the world. It exists to serve three broad principles:
1. As Skeptics we should try and reach audiences that don’t normally identify as Skeptics
We found we were introducing the concepts of Skepticisim and news about Skeptics in the Pub to a wider audience over the course of the past three years and particularly during 2012. Festival season in Edinburgh allows us to attract people who would never think of attending a named Skeptics in the Pub style event, which gives us the chance to show them what skepticism is about, why it is important and what can be done with it.
Our audience varied greatly from night to night depending on topics. Many people come in to see what’s going on because the topics are interesting and we are something a little bit different from the usual stand-up or student theatre on the Fringe. Each speaker attracted people interested in their particular topic, many of whom had not been to one of our events before, and each one attracted “returners” who’d enjoyed previous talks as well as “regulars” who attend througout the year. We always direct people to their local SitP groups at the end of our talks.
2. Our events should support the development and the growth of grassroots skepticism in the UK
We strive to strike a balance between “big name” speakers who are well known, and grassroots skeptics who are just starting to give talks. This is partly to keep the line-up fresh and new every year, but mainly becauase we feel 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. Over ther years it has been great to see speakers originally given a platform on the fringe being invited to give talks up and down the UK. In 2012 we enabled regulars to publish a review each event on our website which speakers can use in their publicity and to help other SitP groups make an informed decision about booking the same speakers locally.
3. The barrier for entry to Skeptical events should be as low as possible
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 interet in the topic.
No one profits from our Fringe events but Skepticism as a whole.