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Sugar House Journal

How To Meet Over Meetup

Oct 08, 2015 13h39 ● By Bryan Scott

Photo credit by Steven Suggs

By Elizabeth Suggs

Fiddler’s Elbow played host to a Meetup group for like-minded skeptics on Thursday, Sept. 5.  

Meetup is the world’s largest network of groups, with over 212,000 groups in 180 different countries. The groups differ on the individual’s needs, with many groups similar to another. 

The skeptics group asks what it means to be skeptic and how skeptical can they be when concerned with conversation?

“We define skepticism as an evidence-based approach to claims. Responsible skeptics accept or reject claims on the basis of evidence, and remain open to reconsideration should new evidence emerge,” according to Skeptics page on the Meetup website. 

“We’re here every second Tuesday of the month,” President Michael Shermer said. “But we’re usually out on the patio.”

Due to its size, a painting group had taken the patio.

Skylar Walker, Sugar House resident, was asked to attend a skeptic group Meetup at a friend’s request. Prior to the invitation, Walker wasn’t aware of the Meetup site.

“To have to sit around and talk about being skeptic is self-congratulatory,” Walker said. “I have no interest in that. The painting group looked more fun.” 

He thought it highly unlikely he’d join another Skeptics Meetup, but would consider a different group in a different situation. 

“What are they gonna tell me?” Walker said. “Are they going to talk about what’s wrong with religion? With government? Skeptics have a wide net.” 

For skeptics, Walker thought it best to be part of online chat groups, or different Tedtalks. The pressure being in a situation based around conversation, according to Walker, made the conversation “artificial.” 

“Board games and yoga makes sense. That’s an activity,” Walker said. “Whatever conversation happens is organic. Not the focus.” 

However, Walker admitted those part of the skeptics group were likable. 

“The group was nice,” Walker said. “I don’t think I would object to knowing any of them.” 

Meetup activities include dancing, yoga, board games and much more. Every weekend board game Meetups happen somewhere in Salt Lake. While some have distinct locations, others change depending on the ease and access of the group members. Some game examples include Settlers of Catan, Seven Wonders and Small World.  

“I’ve met quite a few friends through Meetup,” Kevin Michaelis, a previous Utah resident, said. “It gives people a comfortable way to get to know each other, doing something they enjoy.” 

Before moving from Utah, Michaelis hosted a larger board game Meetup group. When played at his house, multiple tables and games were used. Those who participated often had their own sets of games, despite the readily available ones already offered. 

“I use it because board gamers organize events through it,” Kory West, avid board gamer, said. “The board gamers are a pretty niche group. More mainstream groups are now using Meetup as an event planning tool.” 

Like many other groups online, Meetup offers multiple board gaming groups. 

“After being in Meetup for seven years,” West said, “I can tell you that I have made many close friends.” 

Like West, Thomas Morello, another Meetup member, met many of his like-minded friends through Meetup’s website. 

“The Meetups are fun,” Morello said. “When I moved to Salt Lake I knew I could find people with similar interests if I went to a Meetup group.”