First of all here is a brief description of skepticism (or scepticism in the UK, the K is used for parity online) reproduced with permission from Brian Dunning the writer and host of the excellent Skeptoid podcast.

What Is Skepticism? 

To quote Dr. Shermer: Skepticism is not a position; it's a process.

The popular misconception is that skeptics, or critical thinkers, are people who disbelieve things. And indeed, the common usage of the word skeptical supports this: "He was skeptical of the numbers in the spreadsheet", meaning he doubted their validity. To be skeptical, therefore, is to be negative about things and doubt or disbelieve them.

The true meaning of the word skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity. Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It's the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion.

It's thus inaccurate to say "Skeptics don't believe in ghosts." Some do. Many skeptics are deeply religious, and are satisfied with the reasoning process that led them there. Skeptics apply critical thinking to different aspects of their lives in their own individual way. Everyone is a skeptic to some degree.

Skepticism is, or should be, an extraordinarily powerful and positive influence on the world. Skepticism is not simply about "debunking" as is commonly charged. Skepticism is about redirecting attention, influence, and funding away from worthless superstitions and toward projects and ideas that are evidenced to be beneficial to humanity and to the world.

The scientific method is central to skepticism. The scientific method requires evidence, preferably derived from validated testing. Anecdotal evidence and personal testimonies generally don't meet the qualifications for scientific evidence, and thus won't often be accepted by a responsible skeptic; which often explains why skeptics get such a bad rap for being negative or disbelieving people. They're simply following the scientific method.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, particularly in claims that are far fetched or that violate physical laws. Skepticism is an essential, and meaningful, component of the search for truth.

Brian Dunning
Brian Dunning

© 2014 Skeptoid.com

References

1) Skeptoid: Critical Anaysis of Pop Phenomenum, http://skeptoid.com/skeptic.php (accessed 9th February 2014)

 

What then is Skeptics in the Pub?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Skeptics in the Pub is an informal social event designed to promote fellowship and social networking among skeptics, critical-thinkers, and other like-minded individuals. It provides an opportunity for skeptics and rationalists to talk, share ideas in a casual atmosphere, and discuss whatever topical issues come to mind. It allows participants to have fun while promoting skepticism, science, and rationality.


The usual format of meetings includes an invited speaker who gives a talk on a specific topic, followed by a question-and-answer session. Other meet-ups are informal socials, with no fixed agenda. The groups usually meet once a month at a public venue, most often a local pub. There are now more than 100 different "SitP" groups running around the world.