Science, art and a sprinkling of fairy dust

Tag: Playgroup Festival

Question everything even this

Skeptics in the Pub is a fantastic organisation that, as the name suggests, is a group for those who enjoy discussion and sharing beverages with others of a skeptical nature. It aims to promote and foster the use of reason and science to further lifekind, while drinking beer.

The lovely Tim, who runs Brighton Skeptics, came along to the Forest of Thoughts at Playgroup Festival, to stimulate debate based on a series of questions he’d devised that we lovingly calligraphed onto paper doilies. I suspect this may be the first time that Skeptics in the Pub has utilised doilies as a communication medium. Should you feel like a debate tonight, here are just a few of Tim’s questions:

If man evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?
Science has been wrong many times before, how do we know it’s right now?
Why are people always criticising homeopathy if it’s only sugar pills? Surely it’s harmless?
How are the UK libel laws potentially damaging the public’s health?
Is ecstasy really as safe as riding a horse?
Is glass really a liquid?
If there’s no such thing as psychic powers, how do I sometimes know who’s on the phone?
Do I really have free will?
Isn’t the earth only warming up due to sunspot activity?
Why do clever people sometimes believe stupid things?

He offered the light of insight to people who stumbled into the forest blinded by preconceptions in a charming but ruthlessly skeptical way. And we loved him for it.

If you like the idea of stimulating your grey matter and engaging in some critical thinking, get down to The Caroline of Brunswick on  8th September to see Tabitha Innocent from  Sense About Science talk about the Ask for the Evidence campaign and some of the mythbusting and evidence hunting work Sense About Science has done.

Sense for Science exists to challenge many misleading claims about scientific and medical evidence. This autumn they are launching a public campaign, ‘Ask for Evidence’, to bring about wider, more lasting change. When people come across dubious scientific claims, they want someone to go to with their questions. The campaign will encourage everyone to take up claims they think are misleading, both by reporting dodgy science claims and by getting involved in tackling claims themselves, to help stop the spread of misinformation in public discussion.

Entry to Skeptics in the Pub (Brighton) costs a mere £2 to cover speaker expenses, and is on a first-come, first-served basis. If you can’t live with that level of uncertainty, advance tickets are available @ £2 + 5-p P&P from the venue’s website and include a voucher for £2 off any main meal in the pub on the day of the event.

And if you’re not Brighton-based, never fear. There are local Skeptics in the Pub groups across the UK.

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Spliff Richard at FoT

Spliff Richard won the Hammer and Tongue Poetry Slam at Forest of Thoughts. Tom Hume captured him on video. Go with the flow…

Children of the revolution

Without Playgroup Festival, the Forest of Thoughts would have remained a thicket in my head. However, the lovely Playgroup team asked me to put together a cabaret tent and it spiralled from there. 140 performers and crew, 200 vintage photographs (thanks, mum), assorted bizarre props and many, many, many hours work later, the idea had turned from a bag of tiny acorns into, well, a Forest of Thoughts.

The entire Playgroup Festival was magical, with incredible decor (so good that I’ll be posting separately about the amazing team who created it) festival-goers dressed as woodland creatures, silly games, incredible walkabout performers, and delicious food and drink (again, more on the individuals behind that in a later post).

And that’s before we even get onto the utterly inspired musical line-up featuring the hottest new acts. This is not hyperbole. Having known the Playgroup team for a year, I’ve already seen several of their featured artists go on to become massively succesful. Quite how the team are so good at A&R, I don’t know – I used to work in the music industry and had an effortless knack for loving and supporting bands who went on to have a staggering lack of success. As such, I think anyone who’s a good A&R must have been dipped in fairy dust that gave them magical powers.

But, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. As such, the above video from Latest TV is worth about 1000,000 words. Watch it and judge the festival for yourself (it’s particularly lovely to see the amazing NGP Security get the praise they deserve. If you’re arranging an event and need security, NGP are by far the best I’ve ever worked with and I’ve heard rave reviews of them from many seasoned promoters.)

Playgroup Festival tickets are now on sale, and if you get in quick, you can take advantage of the Early Early Bird price of £65 (plus booking fee) – but buy now. I have it on good authority that the 100 tickets are moving at an extremely rapid pace so you’ll miss out if you don’t act now.