Who we are what what we do
The Edinburgh Skeptics Society was founded in 2009 to promote science, reason and critical thinking in Edinburgh and beyond.
We are very loosely part of a world-wide community which takes a science- and evidence-based approach to a variety of issues. You can find locally established Skeptics in the Pub groups putting on talks and events all over the world, and there are many Skeptical podcasts and even more Skeptical bloggers and people on twitter.
Skepticism is not an organised movement (the collective noun should probably be “an argument of Skeptics”) but groups do keep in touch and do sometimes work together, and this collaboration is made much easier by the internet.
Skeptics’ societies, bloggers and pod-casters have emerged from the grass-roots; there is no centrally organised, centrally funded Skeptics organisation in the UK.
We are a not-for-profit association led by a small committee and entirely powered by volunteers and donations from the community.
We organise events, talks and performances aimed at the skeptical community in Edinburgh throughout the year, and co-ordinate a full programme of talks and shows during the Edinburgh Festival and the Edinburgh International Science Festival.
Our motto Respect People, Challenge Ideas underpins everything we do; it is why people at our events form friendships despite holding different opinions.
We are proud to draw on the tradition of critical thinking and skepticism embodied by Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment
All our events are open and welcoming, so if it's your first time attending one, feel free to come and say hello to any of our volunteers and we will happily answer any questions and introduce you to others.
Edinburgh Skeptics is an inclusive group which is supportive of all aspects of diversity including gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability and neurodiversity among our audiences, volunteers, committee members and speakers.
If you feel we’ve not lived up to this please drop us an email or mention it to a volunteer or committee member and we will do our best to find out what happened and address your concerns.
Q. How do you choose your speakers and topics?
A. We are always seeking out new speakers as well as promoting established ones, so if you have a skeptical topic you’d like to talk about for 10 minutes or an hour, drop us an email. We don’t pay our speakers but we cover travel expenses and provide accommodation, and of course we can buy you a drink! See our Speakers' Charter for more details.
If there is a topic you’d like to find out more about, let us know, and we’ll look for a speaker or make it the subject of one of our discussion groups.
Q. How can I get involved?
A. Have a look at our Volunteers' Charter and see if this is something that interests you. We are always looking for volunteers, especially at the Fringe in August. Make yourself known to one of the committee or contact us on Social media. Alternatively, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Why do you spell "Skeptics" the American way?
A. Because historically "Skepticism" as movement started in the United States, spurred on by particular issues faced there such as creationism being taught in schools, maintaining the separation of church and state, and so on. Although Skepticism is not an organised movement, that usage has come to help distinguish Skepticism as a movement from scepticism as an approach to understanding problems.
We capitalise Skeptics when we are referring to people who self-identify as part of the Skeptical movement, and we capitalise Skepticism to acknowledge that Skepticism is a community and not just an attitude of mind or a method of finding out about the world, though it is certainly both of those things too.
The water is slightly muddied with regard to climate change – “Skeptics” accept that the evidence shows climate change is due to human factors while “climate sceptics” reject his idea.
Q. So are you militant atheists?
Edinburgh Skeptics Society is not an atheist group, we do not actively promote atheism as a focus of our work. However skepticism is a method that we would argue tends towards being atheistic or agnostic about claims of god(s) and we will defend atheism as a coherent and respectable position. We also have close ties with Secular and Humanist groups in the city. Many atheists are not Skeptics, but most Skeptics are atheists. It’s true that most of our regulars are atheists or agnostics, but this is separate from their involvement with Edinburgh Skeptics.