• Edinburgh Skeptics

A guid new year tae ane and a’.

That’s the year over, for another year at least. 2018 is done and as we know, 2019 will only be 3 months long, with the new calendar changing to AB 0001 – or Anno Brexit year 1 in April.

So let’s look back over a full year of events and activities whilst we still have an internet.

January. We started the year in what we hoped was becoming our new venue (The Monkey Barrel) with my talk! I rambled on about the only subject I can claim to know more about than most: Are mobile phones out to kill you? (The answer is no by the way).

February. We had planned a big event in this month with the Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh but for various reasons it fell through.

March. Our main event saw us back in the Banshee Labyrinth. Unfortunately, the MB decided that their renovations were more important that giving us a free room. David Walsh of the Glasgow Centre for Population Health gave us many reasons why Glaswegians and longevity are not often heard in the same sentence.

April. Our Science Festival events. 8 nights over 2 weeks in the Banshee with speakers such as Dr Liz Irvine talking about The Evolution of Consciousness, to Dr Peter Barlow asking: Can We Ever Cure The Common Cold? On top of these events, we had former committee member Dr Stephen Makin talking about memory tests for the elderly. Especially in relation to a certain Mr D Trump of Washington, D.C.

May. How many podcasts on fake news have we listened to? Well, we brought you the boys from Not Another Fake News Cast to explain all about Fake News. I suspect their podcast is really all about Fake news. Making the podcast title, Fake News.

June. Instead of bringing people to skepticism, we tried to bring skepticism to the people at the annual Meadows Festival. We put up a gazebo and for a couple of days demonstrated dowsing, horoscopes, fake news, illusions and other frivolities. It is great fun and we’ve been really lucky with the weather. It seems not praying to Jesus/Vishnu/Allah/Krisha/Buddah/David Ike works really well. On top of this, we welcomed The World’s Greatest Magician - Dave Alnwick - as a PBH fund raiser.

July. Always quiet. Not much to do in July. Except organise a Fringe! We had a meeting for volunteers for the Fringe events and it is a rather stressful month getting everything organised. On top of that we hosted Dr Faye Skelton to talk about: When innocent becomes guilty - The psychology of false confessions. We did it though.

August. FREE SCIENCE! Sorry, have to shout that. We spent a month on the High Street shouting it at passers-by so it gets ingrained. 23 events over 23 nights. Organising speakers coming from Hungary, Czech Republic, Ireland, London, Devon, Bristol, Edinburgh, Leith and lots of other places. Ensure accommodation and support for them, making sure their slides are compatible, organising books for sale, corralling volunteers and queues, making sure the whole thing goes smoothly. It did.

September. Aaaand relax. Committee member Heather Pentler introduced a new talk for us, on The four Modern Horsemen of the Apocalypse. All about the end of the world.

October. The nights are starting to draw in and the weather turns colder but this month gave us our best night at Edinburgh Skeptics for many years. We packed out Frankenstein’s to see Richard Wiseman chew the fat with The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast and George Hrab. It was an amazing night and they certainly left with a great impression of Edinburgh, The Camera Obscura and our audience.

November. Our final monthly talk for 2018 was Sophie Goggins, Curator of Biomedical Science, National Museum of Scotland giving us a really niche but absolutely fascinating talk on Prosthetics: From Maker to User.

December. The last month of the year and one in which we don’t tend to do much. This year was no exception. Sadly, this year we have had to finish our monthly discussion ‘Underground’ event and the movie nights. But we’ve been putting in place some interesting projects for January. One is the new website which will go live on Jan 1st and the other is our Skepday Fact. Each day in 2019 we will bring you a fact from the world of skepticism. It may be a person, a place, a concept, a ‘woo’ anything. Watch out across social media or check the daily fact on the new website!

We also have our 500 (ish) event for January with Robin Ince, we’re really trying to nail down the RCPE again for March, we’ve got an amazing Science Festival Event planned, we’ll be at the Meadows again in June and of course, we have already applied for the First Post Brexit Fringe! On top of all that, we’ll bring you our monthly talks too.

Thank you all of you. Thank you to our speakers, our volunteers, our event attendees and even you people that just follow us on twitter or Facebook. You are all members of a great community; promoting skepticism, reason and critical thinking in Edinburgh and beyond. We do this for you (as well as getting to meet some amazingly talented people!) and to champion respectful and good natured, but robust and honest discussions about the world around us.

A guid new year tae ane and a’.

Sean Slater

Edinburgh Skeptics Vice Chair.

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