Skeptics in the Pub returns with more lively debate


If you like the idea of being in a room full of like-minded people, listening to different points of view and being able to rationally question the speaker – basically, the exact opposite of social media – then Skeptics in the Pub (SITP) is for you.

Bedford Skeptics in the Pub has been running for over 10 years and its current home is the North End Social Club on Roff Avenue. The Bedford group was started and is still run by, Bedfordshire Humanists because, says SITP’s Eamonn McGuinness, “it seemed like a good idea at the time” although there is no need to be a Humanist to attend.

If you’re immediately questioning the odd spelling of ‘skeptic’ then there’s a good reason for it. “Skeptic” is used to differentiate between Sceptics, which implies non-belief, and Skeptics, who want to see and hear the evidence relating to various points of view before they make their minds up.

Over the last decade, Bedford’s Skeptics group has invited a wealth of different speakers including Kryten from Red Dwarf (a.k.a. actor Robert Llewellyn) who spoke on electric cars, way before they became popular, Panorama’s John Sweeney (talking about his infamous encounter with Scientology), Imams, bishops, sex workers, police, ex-police, comedians, futurologists plus numerous academics and researchers.


Robert Llewlyn spoke at Bedford’s Skeptics in the Pub about electric vehicles

“Speakers have invited attendees to eat insects, legalise drugs, give up meat, save the planet and support fracking – although not at the same time, obviously,” said Eamonn.

“We’ve discussed whether you should set up home on Mars, get hypnotised, beware of lobbying, homeopathy, and academy schools, and explained the rise in the cost of living and the effects of income inequality.”

Asked who his dream SITP speakers would be, Eamonn says: “Fellow Humanists Brian Cox, Alice Roberts and Jim Al-Khalili.”

The format is very relaxed, with a guest speaking for about 30 minutes, a short break and then a chance to ask questions over a convivial drink or two.

Every month is different, but you’re always guaranteed a lively debate.

Meetings are generally on the third Thursday of each month at 7.30pm at the North End Social Club on Roff Avenue in Bedford. The latest information about upcoming meetings can be found on the SITP Bedford website here.

“The wonderful thing about Bedford Skeptics is that there is no membership, no entrance fee and no tickets required – just turn up,” said Eamonn.

“A bucket is handed round for entirely voluntary donations (the price of a drink is recommended), as people feel able to afford.

“Everyone is welcome to come along.”

If all of this has whet your Skeptical appetite, the next SITP Bedford meeting is on Thursday 16 February when Dr Kat Arney, who has fronted several of BBC Radio 4 science documentaries, will be presenting material from her book Rebel Cell: Cancer, Evolution and the Science of Life.

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