I was skeptical of the Good Thinking Society’s £500 award for Skeptics in the Pub group that is being judged at QEDcon this year. Announced on their website yesterday, the Society said
If you can come up with an idea that requires this sort of funding you’re in with a chance. All you need to do is submit a short proposal (max 200 words) to us here at Good Thinking. We’ll then select our favourites and those chosen will be asked to pitch their proposals to a panel at QED. Ideas could cover almost anything: skeptical activism, improving your particular SitP group, providing a resource to support all SitP groups and so on. The proposer will be grilled by both the panel and the audience. At the end, the panel will decide on the winner and they will walk away with £500 to use for the proposal.
Think Dragon’s Den, but in a less confrontational, more supportive way (Unicorn’s Lair? Kitten’s Krib?). Ideas could cover almost anything: skeptical activism, improving your particular SitP group, providing a resource to support all SitP groups and so on.
Some people have taken the ‘Dragon’s Den’ description literally, and have ignored the mention of ‘a less confrontational, more supportive way’. One friend of mine commented
Making SITP groups compete with each other for cash in reality TV style competitions is not the way to build a thriving, cooperative network.
What is being missed here is that the Good Thinking Society offer these sorts of grants outside of the QEDcon through their website all of the time – this is simply the Society using the popular QEDcon to engage with the sorts of people they can help, and offering a breakout event where people can share and showcase their ideas.
As another of my friends commented
£500 could buy plenty of grass roots skepto-goodness. I can’t imagine anyone having actual objections to the idea
£500 is a lot of money for groups who typically ask audience members for a £2 donation on the door, but as I mentioned in my blog post about the Golden Duck Awards last year, what works for one Skeptics in the Pub group doesn’t work for others, and not all Skeptics in the Pub groups have the same missions or intentions. I think that offering £500 for a SitP group is a great idea that could offer a group the chance to do something they’ve been wanting to do but haven’t managed because of funding, but I also understand that many groups might see it as not for them, but it’s these sorts of differences between groups that make Skeptics in the Pub groups so great, it’s this individuality that will be celebrated at QEDcon, and it’s the new ideas being brought to the table and shared in the Good Thinking Society session that will help people make their groups grow.
So, if you have an idea and you could use the funding then head over to The Good Thinking Society website now and make a submission. It could be good.