Thursday 18 November 2010

Middle Class, Middle Aged, Rationally Minded, Educated, White Gentlemen in the Pub (MCMARMEWGitP)

Middle Class, Middle Aged, Rationally Minded, Educated, White Gentlemen in the Pub (MCMARMEWGitP) is a popular movement that seems to be picking up a head of steam. Branches are popping up all over the country. I myself even started one in Winchester with my sceptical comrade from the Hampshire Skeptics Society, Dave Hughes, and it’s going from strength to strength.

Each month we invite a fellow MCMARMEWG to the pub to tell us how clever we all are for not believing in silly superstitions.

We have made a couple of exceptions, we did once invite a female speaker, and we’ve even had a speaker of Asian descent called Simon Singh, who gave a very good talk, but he’s obviously not like the rest of them.

So we are quite clearly not an elitist or racist organisation, anyone is welcome to attend. The fact that we have an almost exclusively white audience is sadly just a simple manifestation of the fact that black and Asian people tend to be more superstitious than, and not quite as clever as us.


In the light of last week’s ruling on Paul Chambers' appeal at Doncaster Crown Court, I feel obliged to point out that the above text is of course ironic. Hopefully though you will have found the rhetoric suitably uncomfortable.

It’s a topic that I have brought up on twitter before, shortly after attending this years Amazing Honkyfest where I couldn’t help noticing that our audience was far from an accurate representation of the population at large.

Alom Shaha raised the issue again yesterday in the Guardian, and I believe he is right to do so.

By attending Skeptics in the Pub my friends and family do not see me rejecting my culture, my heritage and my values. Most of the people I know are fairly indifferent to the fact that I get together with a bunch of friends for a drink and a rational discussion on religion, the paranormal or pseudoscience. There are therefore no real consequences for me in attending these meetings and events. This may well not be the case for many Black and Asian people.

Even though the doors of our pubs may be open, we cannot just expect everyone to turn up unencumbered by the beliefs of their family and friends. If Skeptics in the Pub is not the medium for reaching everyone, we need to think what other mediums we should also be promoting in addition to SitP.

Saying that we have a non exclusive open door policy, sadly is not enough.


LR said...

This topic seems to bounce around Atheist groups about once a month and having seen it a few times now I have a couple of comments and suggestions.

- we're very good at stating "it's a problem" can we now try and come up with solutions?

- failing that can we at least progress the debate from hand wringing to actual discussion of the problem?

- Have we actually looked at why we struggle to come up with solutions, could it be that we have no cultural reference points amongst those we want to recruit and so fail to recruit them because we are not relevant to them?

- We want to recruit them but do they want to be recruited, what do we offer?

- If the impact of joining us is to be cut off from their family or otherwise impoverished is it right to be trying to recruit people?

- why are we recruiting people? We're not trying to make sure they can join us in Heaven (or Hell) so is it so that we can salve our collective concious that we're multicultural and not bigoted?

- If we do want to recruit people I think we should learn from those who already do pretty well: other religions. Talks in schools might help (all schools). Setting up secular help groups etc in poor areas where we can actually help, soup kitchens, day care I'm sure there's a ton we can do

Jourdemayne said...

When I chaired the Central London Humanists, we used to have a few apostate muslim regulars. It was a relief valve for them, and their 'dirty little secret'.

In some communities, marriage and other social relationships are still very hard to form without a religious declaration. I've heard of this even among the young, so it's not disappearing over time.

Carmen said...

I'm Asian and a woman I'd be happy to hire my services out as an ethnic minority to places such as Winchester, or other rural areas which do not have a high diversity range. For a good price, I'll even wear a salwar kameez and bindi, and will happily comment on the quality and authenticity of the curry at SitCH.

I even accept Paypal.

rks said...

i'm an ageing atheist. When young I knew my opinions would make my mum and some other relatives sad. So I didn't say much. ALSO: humans like to form groups based on semi-arbitrary criteria. Language use is an obvious one, with languages full of obscure rules that distinguish those born and bred from foreigners. And of course we love to say "We are the group that believes X". Of course to be a good group identifier then X needs to be something that no reasonable person can believe, and which is incompatible with what other nearby groups believe. Tolerance seems appropriate. Female education is the best cure. [Primary school education should perhaps be required to be mixed, not religious.]

Jourdemayne said...

Carmen - that's an ace idea. Can I be your agent?

caroline panico said...

Some people in minority groups may just have better things or more pressing things to be concerned about? I don’t say this as something I know, I’m just wondering. Plus, a bunch of white middle class dudes in a pub isn’t the best selling point for a night out in anyone’s book. Just because I am some weird pervert who enjoys that sort of thing doesn’t mean everyone is ; ) you need more hot women, (and buff men) fronting your campaigns. Where’s the naked skeps? Where’s the sex at all?

More young people don't come to Skeps or don’t get involved with skeps because you’re / we're a bunch geeks who don’t talk in a language they understand PLUS there’s no 'happy hour' or drugs available (if there is a Skeptical dealer, can someone hook me up?) that and young people are still working out what they do or don't believe in.
This is an absolutely serious request, if you want someone to work to get more young people involved, get me a stall at Glasto this year and I will work my butt off to spread the word. Mr Eavis should add us to the stall list in the name of balance. I will need a ticket to get in obviously…. This would be a step in the right direction to DOING SOMETHING rather than lamenting and umming and ahhhing about what shall we dooooo pass me my slippers dear rubbish.

PS what WOULD a sceptical dealer look like?

Neuroskeptic said...

This kind of thing always makes me a bit uncomfortable.

"We need more women and minorities!"

OK, but do they need you?

Alice said...

I'm a female, if white and from a middle-class family, and I co-founded Cardiff Skeptics. Oh, as well as set up the Facebook group for Welsh skeptics generally, which budded off into now 4 Welsh SITPs. Does that help?

I can't say I ever thought about my gender or race or background when learning about SITP. I just thought it sounded very interesting, and Crispian invited me along and made it possible for me to come, and I enjoyed it. About as straightforward and uncomplicated as could be.

Just in case that helps!

Oh, and you can have me as a speaker any time after Christmas!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what you're talking about. I'm neither white nor middle class. You must be talking about those Westminster imposters.
Please remove that copyrighted image before Paramount send you a cease and desist order.