What is the responsibility of a Local Skeptical Group?

Some douche meeting DJ Grothe after NECSS.

I think the goal of these [local skeptical] groups – we shouldn’t kid ourselves.  They are not professional science education organizations.  A local skeptics group does not and should not be expected to teach the public science or critical thinking.  We don’t offer courses in science, we’re not scientists and professors and people schooled in pedagogy – not all of us.  Steve [Novella] of course is and there are a number in our midst who have that background, but most local skeptics groups, yes they do a kind of outreach, but what they also are and we should be unapologetic about this for gosh sakes, they are clubs for people of like minds.  They are groups where skeptics can get together and love on one another and enjoy each others’ company and have fun over a pint or ten.  So I think we should leave it to public education organizations to do the heavy lifting when it comes to public education and these [local] groups should be supportive of those ends.  In other words, these organizations should be science boosters and as they grow and mature maybe some of them, you know, achieve non-profit status, have membership programs, can hire folks or have experts who will volunteer – they can do more heavy lifting.  Like the New England Skeptical Society does, like NCAS in DC, like Bay Area Skeptics in the San Francisco Bay area has done.  A number of other groups as well.

- DJ Grothe speaking on “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe,” episode 279 at 57:10

I like DJ Grothe on a lot of levels and for a bunch of reasons.  One of the big things I appreciate about DJ is that I think he’s willing to say things that people in the skeptical community may disagree with him on.  For a leader of a flagship organization in the movement, he seems ready to make statements that challenge the people in those organizations.  I am glad DJ Grothe has his position in the JREF and in the skeptical movement.  This particular statement from DJ has come out at time when I’m a bit sensitive on these issues and it strikes a chord for me. … continue reading this entry.

What are YOU doing this weekend?

What are we doing?  Well… we were thinking about co-hosting the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism.  That’s right, Saturday is our second… I’d like to say annual, but last year we held it in September so… semi-annual – NECSS.  Last year was full of fantastic lectures, great panel discussions, a live show by the SGU, a concert by George Hrab, and Jamy Ian Swiss confounding us with magic tricks between just about every single discussion.  And this year?  It’s shaping up to be even better.  Why?  Let’s see… … continue reading this entry.

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