Posted by: Ticktock | September 11, 2009

Skeptics In The… Park!

There seems to be a revolution brewing in the skeptic subculture, parents who want to foster a “family-friendly” science-based community.

It seems that skepticism jumped an age gap in the last decade from scholarly elders smoking pipes in a dusty room to a more modern cabal of young college-aged activists mixing it up and drinking pints in the pub. While both have their place in the community, those of us who are happily shackled with children and domestic obligations are trying to find a way to socialize that doesn’t involve a night of keg stands.

The recent Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe, recorded live at Dragoncon, touched on a simple way to approach this issue. Why not have Skeptic’s in the Park (instead of pub)? We could meet at a museum, have a family appropriate speaker, or just gather together and host a play date for the kids.

August 087

Many of the leaders in skepticism have children:  Steven Novella, Phil Plait, David Gorski, Brian Dunning, etc. They know how hard it is to be an activist, a blogger, a podcaster, and to regularly attend all the conventions and pub meet-ups. Dr. Novella even suggested that he would be willing to give a tour of one of the local science museums in New England. It would be a mini-revolution to see more of these leaders make time for those of us raising the next generation.

Already, the amazing Heidi Anderson is attempting to pull together a family meet-up in Washington D.C., where we can all attend a concert by science proponents They Might Be Giants. If you’re interested, you can send her a message via her blog. We’re even trying to include the Center For Inquiry, with the hope of focusing the theme of the event on “ghost hunting”.

Eventually, I’ll get something together in my own city. One problem that plagues families is that we are perpetually tired and consistently over-scheduled; my family is no exception to that rule. But if skeptical families can get organized and find the motivation to regularly meet, we would be better for it. What do you think?




  1. Skeptics in the Park – love it! I really believe we’re getting there. There’s been a veritable explosion of our on-line presence (thanks to you and others). Can face-to-face meetings of family-encumbered folks be far off? B/t/w, I just got tix to see TMG in Chicago w/my family. I’m gonna post on FB to see if other Chicagoland skeptical families want to make an event of it. Thanks for the idea.

  2. I set ours up a few weeks ago which Elyse blogged about on Skepchick. She called it the first ever, which I don’t think it is, but it certainly is the first ever on meetup it seems 🙂

    We are having our first meetup tomorrow!

    Three families are going to make it. It’s been really fun to see what kinds of parents we have attracted so far.

  3. Oh and Svetlana, it’s in Chicagoland, up north!

  4. I think it’s great! Gone are the days when a kid’s friends are determined mainly by the neighborhood. Now, common interest like sports, scouting etc seem to determine who a kid is friends with.

    Which is why it’s so important for like minded parents to find each other! There comes a point where our children’s friends will matter as much or more than our own influence. All the better if we’ve steered them into friendship with other little critical thinkers!

  5. Totally!

  6. We’re working on this in Atlanta right now as well. Slowly, but bit by bit I think we’re coming together with a time and place. I wouldn’t think it would be that hard to get the adults to commit to a few games of frisbee…

  7. I love the idea of skeptics in the park. I’m in the, what feels like a difficult, situation of being a recently-skeptic dad married to a still-christian mom… I’ve given up several of my very precious not-at-work hours with the kids by no longer doing church with the family (though with 3 kids not many weeks go by that SOMEBODY isn’t sick/tired/grumpy/rather hang with dad), so the prospect of ditching them for a few more to go to a pub doesn’t really work for me (especially since I don’t drink).

    Other alternatives I could see working for other skeptic parent get togethers would be something like ImagineIt! (here in Atlanta) or the Strong’s Museum of Play (in Rochester, NY). The children’s play museums could be a place where parents can be hanging out with their kids (who can be learning/playing/doing) AND having conversations with other parents… but not be terrorizing the dinosaurs at Fernbank.

  8. […] New Site We’ve taken the first steps to organizing as skeptics and parents. We’ve written about  regularly meeting. A few of us have dipped our toes in the water. Now, I’m hoping […]

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