Skeptics in the Pub is about getting people to come together and to have a relaxed and enjoyable evening while listening to talks given in a friendly manner on a wide range of topics, the idea being that we all prefer to be in a pub than a lecture theatre.

So what is it with the skepticism? It doesn't mean we disbelieve everything, just our viewpoints are based on evidence and hence the desire for talks in pubs to gain a greater understanding of the world. We also like to believe, whatever you believe, that you would feel welcome at such talks with your own views and to relax and listen to others.

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 Upcoming events

Tamasin Cave

When?
Tuesday, February 23 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Tamasin Cave

What's the talk about?

Tamasin Cave will talk about the UK's £2bn lobbying industry and the tactics they use to bend government to their will: how lobbyists' build relationships with government; their manipulation of the media; the way that they use academics, scientists, think tanks, front groups and others to spread their messages; and their attacks on opposition groups. She will talk about how the private healthcare industry has lobbied to open up the NHS to more private operators - and how schools are going the same way; how energy companies have hired a small army of lobbyists to persuade government and local communities to support fracking; how the 'revolving door' works to support the arms industry; and more. 

Tamasin is a writer, campaigner and commentator. Her new book, A Quiet Word: Lobbying, Crony Capitalism and Broken Politics in Britain, co-authored by Andy Rowell, shines a light into one of the darkest and least-understood corners of our political culture: the UK's £2 billion commercial lobbying industry. She is a director of Spinwatch, which investigates corporate PR and lobbying, as well as government spin. Since 2007, she has also led the campaign for transparency regulations for lobbyists.

Robin Taylor

When?
Tuesday, March 29 2016 at 7:00PM

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Where?

20a Portugal Place
CB5 8AF

Who?
Robin Taylor

What's the talk about?

There are still those who practice witchcraft in the modern world, either as solitary individuals or in groups known as covens. Wicca, a tradition founded last century in which I practice in a group context, has aspects of witchcraft, ritual magic, and initiatory mystery religion.


Wiccan groups maintain cohesion by orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy: everyone takes part in the same ritual and engages with the mythology of that ritual, but none can prescribe an interpretation to another, and there is no actual requirement to believe anything, which fits in very well with a sceptical viewpoint in a largely post-religious world. Witches see active yet fluid ritual engagement with mythology as a way of cultivating and merging reason, imagination and action. 

Common themes in the practice of witchcraft are being careful what you wish for and looking at the consequence of intentions and actions, and deftly steering the web of the world with a light touch while being responsive to its structure. This overlaps with the habits of mind required to move to a more sustainable society.

This justification would not have worked in the past, when there was wide belief in the direct efficacy of magic both for good and ill, and in the actual existence of supernatural entities. The talk will cover what is known of witchcraft from the period of the Greek magical papyri and before, the survival of the magical tradition in the middle ages under Christianity and Islam, the persecution of witches in the time of Matthew Hopkins and the English Civil War, and the more open adoption of the title of witch in the last century.

Robin Taylor is Vice-President of the Pagan Federation, and practices Wicca with occasional excursions into Heathenry and Druidry.