Skeptical minds

Sara Kessell

Photo By hillary feeney

When most friends meet for a beer, they talk about their jobs, families or love lives. However Sara Kessell and about 30 Chicoans meet up on Thursday nights to discuss more complex issues, such as science and religion. Chico Skeptics in the Pub is a community group that unites skeptics, atheists, agnostics, secular humanists and scientific thinkers over a few good beers. Kessell, a Butte College student, president and founder of the group, helps guide the discussion. She says she enjoys getting together with others to challenge ideas about hot-button topics over a few drinks. Skeptics in the Pub will meet on April 8, 8 p.m., at Nash’s Restaurant, 1717 The Esplanade.

Where did Skeptics in the Pub start?

Skeptics in the Pub started as a lecture series in northern England. It kept growing in size, and eventually they ran out of pubs that were big enough.

What does skepticism mean?

In general, it is about examining claims. You examine what people tell you, what you read, and what you see, rather than taking people’s word for it.

Why does the group meet in a pub?

It is a lot easier to get someone to go somewhere they ordinarily go as opposed to a lecture hall. For us big geeks and philosophy people, it is really fun. It’s a good excuse to drink beer and argue.

How do you choose topics?

We will examine any claim from pseudoscience to literature and will respect people who bring ideas. But if someone brings a concept, then they’d better expect to be challenged by everyone.

Do people ever get heated during meetings?

Some people are incapable of separating themselves from their emotions. Some people can’t handle religious or anti-governmental discussions.

How does skepticism relate to religion?

The problem is that religion doesn’t hold up to investigations based on facts. There is a very serious contradiction for a person who lives the rest of his life by the scientific method and then goes to church on Sunday and listens to someone who doesn’t do the same.

Were you raised in a skeptical environment?

I was raised in an Evangelical Christian family and was involved with church leadership. When I got to the point of freely choosing, I chose not to follow that path. But I still grew up in it.

What changed your mind?

A lot of people get the same feeling from worship, meditation or whatever brings them peace. I have always been awed when I learned about a subject like how a complicated biological system works.