Skeptics In The Pub comes to Reading

If you live in or around Berkshire and you like your science, you’re going to like this. Next Tuesday, 15th February, we are launching a new monthly event in Reading. I’m very excited.

Skeptics In The Pub is an opportunity for people who are interested in science, scepticism, rationalism and critical thinking to socialise and to discuss matters of interest.

The meetings are free* and open to all, regardless of beliefs. Each month we have a talk from a visiting speaker, followed by a challenging Q&A session and general banter.

This new Reading event is the latest in a growing international network of Skeptics In The Pub groups. The original London group started in 1999 and now claims to be the largest regular pub meeting in the world, with around 200 people attending each month.

If you are not familiar with the term, a skeptic (the American spelling is deliberate) believes we should evaluate claims with the best tools we have; not intuition or ‘common sense’ as those can mislead us; not ideology, as that is often grounded in our own personal prejudices; but with empirical observation and a critical analysis of all the evidence.

I hope to return to this topic in more detail in a later post.

Our guest speakers will cover a very broad range of subjects, possibly including

  • Developments in science
  • Issues in science education, communication and funding
  • The evidence base supporting government policy, for example in such areas as health, the environment and social policy.
  • Issues relating to the law and human rights, particularly free speech.
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Belief in the paranormal
  • Conspiracy theories
  • Religion, religious freedom and religious privilege.
Our first guest is Australian comedian and ‘stand-up mathematician’ Matt Parker.

Did aliens help prehistoric Britons found the ancient Woolworth’s civilization? Matt will look at how seemingly incredible results can actually be meaningless random patterns. Matt Parker is a highly enthusiastic Mathematician whose life goal is to make people more excited about Maths. Using a range of presentations and hands-on activities, he communicates Maths in a very engaging and entertaining way. Matt talks about Mathematics for organisations including the Royal Institution and the BBC and he was the People’s Choice Award in the 2009 national Famelab competition. His favourite number is currently 496.

I’ve seen him perform several times, most recently this past weekend at #QEDcon in Manchester. To my mind he is the very best sort of stand-up; informative, thought-provoking and piss funny.

If you can get to Reading next Tuesday, do come along and get your frontal lobes tickled. 7:30pm at Copa, Kings Road, Reading. Subscribe for news of future meetings here.

* Sort of. We only ask for a small voluntary donation to cover expenses.

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