• http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.com/ Michael Meadon

    Jacques – I think you’re missing the point entirely. SITP isn’t a “group” with goals, or meetings or any need for USP. SITP is a social gathering, the point of which is entirely social. Sure, there are, as it were, positive externalities like networking, the exchange of ideas, etc. But none of these are the point. The thing atheists / skeptics etc. generally miss most about going to church (and I’m one of them) is the social aspect. SITP is a very successful attempt to capture something like the community aspect other groups have. (Not to point too fine a point on it: I met my fiancée at the Joburg SITP). The fact that SITP has been so popular worldwide – it started in the states, and his big in the UK and Aus – suggests it addresses some kind of need. So, basically, I think you were dissapointed because you expected too much. It’s about meeting like minded people, drinking a few beers, and having fun. Not about developing a Strategy for Furthering the Cause…

    Very disappointing re racism though.

    • http://synapses.co.za Jacques

      Michael, this one has a speaker introducing a topic, and at least part of the evening revolves around debating/discussing what that speaker had to say. That takes it out of the realm of the purely social, structurally. So perhaps, then, this isn’t a typical SITP group, I don’t know.

      But if it is mostly (supposed to be) about meeting like-minded people, I stand by what I said – these people were in general not like-minded – agreement on one issue (skepticism) doesn’t and shouldn’t make up for other sorts of non-like-mindedness.

  • http://ionian-enchantment.blogspot.com/ Michael Meadon

    Hmmm… that does sound a bit different to what other SA SITPs are like. (Though similar things happen in the states occasionally). Whether there is a speaker or not though, I still think the point of SITP should be, primarily, to have fun. Now, as in any social gathering, there are going to be people that don’t get along. And some people will be, well, useless. But, speaking personally, I’ve enjoyed meeting fellow skeptics. There were some I didn’t like. (Counterbalanced by the one I’m in love with….)

    Anyway. Go again, but frame it as “fun” and see what happens…

  • Bryan Gruneberg

    Hi Jacques

    Awesome. I think you make some great points about the last meet-up. Im the blond guy that was “ranting” about CapeTalk a little. Im an undergrad student @ UCT, and I’ve joined the AAS guys, so I’m sure we’ll meet in the real world again at some point. Im very keen to chat to you about these things – if you are interested.

    Retrospectively I think I agree with most of what you are saying. It is a pitty you never raised any of these points at the time. I think that would have been very valuable. As a matter of interest, was there a reason for not interjecting at the time? I dont mean to be accusatory at all – Im just trying to gauge how “open” to actual skeptical analysis the group itself is.

    I think moving forward – the group should really be focused on being a social group. People that get together once a month to “shoot-the-sh###” – with an explicit acceptance of a skeptical attitude towards whatever topics bubble up.

    I couldnt agree more with Michael’s comment above (“The thing atheists / skeptics etc. generally miss most about going to church (and I’m one of them) is the social aspect. SITP is a very successful attempt to capture something like the community aspect other groups have”). Churches and religious organisations traditionally seem to provide a kinda of thread that weaves us together socially. Now, there are surely other ways of increasing social cohesion (sports clubs, chess clubs, book clubs etc), but because those are focused groups, one might find that it is not easy to speak about things such as “God”, “Medicine”, etc… without inadvertently entering into a discussion with a religious zealot (or the medical equivalent) who is not really interested in discussion so much as conversion. With a “club” such as SITP – one goes in knowing that people will be critical of ideas – and open to discussion.

    Something I totally agree with however, is your critique of the “Skeptical Nomenclature Pissing Contest” that invariably arises. Any group such as SITP needs to have some way of dealing with that inevitability. Something I find valuable in that regard is having smart people kick off discussions – or raising their points of view in an almost “academic” way (granted, Im biased in that direction). The thing that struck me the most from Tauriq’s talk was the part about solidarity, although this ended up not really being spoken about. It is a pitty – because that was probably the most interesting and important part.

    Anyhow – I hope we get to interact in some other forum at some stage, if you wont be at any more SITP meet-ups. I will definitely raise some of these points if the meeting goes off in a “lets start a committee to do XYZ” direction again. 😉


    • http://synapses.co.za Jacques

      Bryan, thanks for visiting. I didn’t interject at the time mostly because while it wasn’t my scene, others seemed to be enjoying themselves, and they weren’t doing any harm. My points above are making the case that people are using their energies sub-optimally, rather than that they are wasting their time. Also, the sort of conversation I’d want to have would have required a far more conducive space – it was simply too noisy, and the arrangement of persons too diffuse, to have a serious discussion. If I had raised these concerns, I trust that there would have been some engagement, and further trust that people like you will take these issues up if that seems appropriate at some future point.

      No doubt we’ll meet at some AAS event (or another), and in the meanwhile, I agree with you (and Michael) that there seems to be a need for social groups who have these sorts of interest in common. It is, however, peculiar that the need for such a social grouping presumes that skeptics sometimes (mostly?) hang out in circles where skeptical concerns can’t be openly discussed – what are you folk doing there, anyway?