First, I love summer. A lot. Also, I love Minnesota Skeptics for scheduling tonight’s Drinking Skeptically…For Night People! so close to my house so that I could enjoy a lovely evening bicycle ride to and from the get-together.
I arrived at Fusion in uptown Minneapolis this evening around 9pm. I like this space – it is set up well for moving around and meeting new groups of people, and at 10pm they have a pretty snazzy happy hour. Unfortunately they also crank up the music at 10pm, which isn’t so good for conversation. But ah well, such is a night in a bar. Solution: Grab another drink and shout a little louder!
Tonight I ended up meeting a lot of new (to me) people. Hello new skeptical friends! I met a nurse, three engineers, a past member of the Secular Student Alliance, some Tim Minchin fans, some people who are pretty excited about going to The Amazing Meeting next week, and a whole mess of atheists (deconverted Catholic over there, former Hindu over there, raised Fundamentalist Christian in that corner, past altar boy in that one – the list went on and on!).
This evening was interesting because I met people who had different takes on alternative medicine, the science of belief, and our understanding and perception of reality than I do. I had a chance to engage in some debates and idea-sharing, but I was a little frustrated with myself at a few points because I kept wanting to fall back on arguments that had been made in presentations, blogs and podcasts by various well-known skeptics and scientists (Michael Shermer said this, on Science-Based Medicine they totally debunked that, etc.). At times it was a challenge to say and defend what *I* thought without falling back on an argument to authority.
I think that any time I’m not “preaching to the choir”, I find out how well I really understand a position and I learn how to make stronger arguments for the position that I’ve taken. Also, when there’s no shared experience or language (I’m sorry…Science-Based what?), I have to find different ways to communicate ideas. Dang it, this critical thinking stuff is hard!
Thanks for the kick in the pants, MN Skeptics. Nights like this evening remind me why I first became interested in the organized skeptical community, and why I keep coming to meetups!