QI ‘elf’ certain to be a big draw for skeptics

W41202H13-PubSkeptic''Pub Skeptics. John Richards, who is launching a Worthing Chapter of the Skeptics in the Pub Movement at St Pauls Art Centre, Worthing.
W41202H13-PubSkeptic''Pub Skeptics. John Richards, who is launching a Worthing Chapter of the Skeptics in the Pub Movement at St Pauls Art Centre, Worthing.

THERE’S no doubt about it, a new group uniting skeptics in their uncertainty will definitely be launched in Worthing next week.

John Richards, from East Preston, is the founder of the Worthing Chapter of Pub Skeptics, the latest branch of a movement described as ‘the first home of drinking and critical thinking’.

Ironically, the inaugural meeting will be held not in a pub, but in a former church where faith, rather than skepticism, flourished.

John, of The Street, a retired science teacher and inventor who now writes books, decided to set up a local group as the nearest to this area are in Horsham, Brighton, Lewes or Winchester.

“There are 200,000 people in the Worthing and Littlehampton area whose skeptical needs are not being met.

“Skeptics in the Pub is for people with a questioning mind – it’s for the audience of QI, people who find information entertaining. It’s usually humorous, too, leavened with comedy.”

The first meeting is on Thursday, October 24, in the St Paul’s Centre, Chapel Road, Worthing, at 8pm, when Stevyn Colgan, one of the QI elves who help to produce material for the quirky BBC show, and creates the on-screen drawings for the programme, will be speaking on ‘The Skeptical Bobby’.

Stevyn, who also co-writes QI’s sister show, The Museum of Curiosity, for BBC Radio 4, is a former member of the Metropolitan Police problem solving unit, which developed creative and innovative approaches to issues that did not respond to traditional policing methods.

There will be a licensed bar, with bottled beers supplied by a Sussex brewery.

“It’s not been lost on me that there’s a meeting of skeptics in a former church,” said John. “But this is not skepticism about religion, it’s about any issue that comes up. It’s not specifically anti-religion, it’s anti-gullibility.”

Members of the neighbouring skeptics chapters have been invited to the meeting, which is open to anyone with an open mind, or even a closed one willing to be eased ajar.

Future meetings are likely to be held on the third or fourth Thursday of each month at St Paul’s and more information can be found on the Worthing chapters website, http://www.worthing.skepticsinthepub.org

John’s hoping for a good turnout for the launch. “You meet in a pub, you receive a presentation by a guest speaker on an item of interest – it could be of a supernatural nature, like ghosts or an issue like fracking – then you drink beer and ask questions. What’s not to like?

“It’s drinking, it’s interesting, it’s entertaining.”

Skeptics in the Pub was started in London in 1999 by a doctor in London, and has since spread across the UK and overseas, through most of Europe, in Africa, north and south America and Australia.