Jul 26 2012

I should just up and move to Edinburgh

Scotland seems to be a pretty cool place, and every year they have this Skeptics on the Fringe event, which looks awesome. Fabulous speakers and interesting topics…and here I am, trapped in the barren western wilderness of Minnesota this weekend.


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  1. 1

    Would you then be a true Scotsman?

  2. 2
    Stevarious, Public Health Problem

    Would you then be a true Scotsman?

    No, because there aren’t any.

  3. 3

    As long as he doesn’t put sugar in his porridge, he’d fit right in.

  4. 4
    'Tis Himself

    Do true Minnesotans put sugar in their porridge?

  5. 5

    Ooh, exciting! I’ll be visiting Edinburgh at the end of August. Maybe I’ll have a chance to peer in at one of the talks.

    Anyone from the area want to suggest can’t-miss stops while I’m in Scotland? I’ll be touring for about ten days.

  6. 6
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Interesting topics is right! I would love to see the talk about “The Natural History of the European Werewolf.” I hope they record them.

  7. 7

    Edinburgh is GORGEOUS. You could spend a few days there, easy. Just one of my favourite cities in the whole world.

    If you’re not claustrophobic, climb the Sir Walter Scott Monument: the staircase is so narrow that you have to turn sideways to get to the top. You also ought to visit Edinburgh’s Folly, and on the way there you can stop in and visit the crypt of David Hume and pay your respects.

  8. 8

    My good friend Mitt Romney says the best way to make friends in Scotland is to walk into a pub and loudly announce that you’re Anglo-Saxon just like them.

  9. 9

    If you’re not claustrophobic, climb the Sir Walter Scott Monument

    Urgh, I’m a bit claustrophobic, but I’m also one of those people who refuses to let a little thing like fear stop me from (at least trying) to have a good time :). Is there open space at the top? I could probably do it in that case. And the Folly looks awesome. I will add these to my list–thank you! It’s also good to know to plan a couple days in Edinburgh. I tend to gravitate toward natural wonders–though I do love a good museum or historical site.

  10. 10

    There is an open space at the top of the Scott monument, where you can take spectacular photos. But getting there will be a rough sled if you don’t like enclosed spaces: the last twenty stairs or so up are incredibly close. They actually warn you before you go up.

    You also have to, have to go to Edinburgh Castle, and most particularly the War Memorial, which literally brought tears to my eyes.

  11. 11

    True Scots try not to be around Edinburgh during the Festival, it’s just too exasperating trying to cope with all the damn tourists.

  12. 12

    You really should go to Edinburgh, it’s a brilliant city to visit.

  13. 13

    It also corresponds to the Tattoo, just in case your interested in precision marching. The Fringe is the largest performing arts festival in the world which means lots and lots of people. I had a fun one afternoon and a few beers with a fellow who presented himself as a besotted highlander, right down to the curmudgeonly Scottish cussedness. He looked the part, too, costumed as he was a la Ian Anderson (Jethro Tull). Maybe he was a true Scotsman, or maybe he was just a good actor. I’ll never know. Sadly, the locals seemed a bit weary of the whole thing.

  14. 14

    I used to chat with a woman who was doing a scholarship in Scotland. Edinburgh I think ? She said it was cold and rainy most of the time. sounds gloomy, and invigorating.

    Mitt “I’m just ‘w’ from Utah” Romney. If by some bizarre twist of fate he should win the election, I think I might see about the weather in Edinburgh personally. maybe that woman still lives there.

  15. 15

    To Form&Function
    The Edinburgh Festival is an amazing experience. The city buzzes with atmosphere. Book yourself in advance to about four or five Fringe shows spaced over the course of a single day and you’ll look back with exhilaration at the amazing time you’ll have. (Take care you check that the venues follow geographically in a sensible order as well as the times!)
    If you’re touring Scotland in a rented car the Isle of Skye and west coast are not to be missed. Stirling (Castle and Braveheart monument) and the Falkirk Wheel are worth a look and Glasgow is a great city to explore — Edinburgh’s counterpart.
    My favourite parts of Scotland are the most remote: the Ardnamurchan peninsula, the far northern tip. I’ve never forgotten renting a boat on Loch Shiel in midsummer some years ago — one of the biggest lakes in Scotland but very remote — and seeing only 3 other boats in the course of 6 hours!
    I hope you enjoy Scotland.

  16. 16

    I live in Edinburgh, nice and sunny-ish today. Not rainy or damp at all.

    I genuinely had a tourist on Princes Street stop me a week ago, point at the castle, and ask “what’s that thing up there, fella?” It made my day.

    Would be great if you were to show your be-whiskered face around these parts PZ! A recommendable pub is Jekyll & Hyde on Hanover Street – a bit of a squish but the atmosphere is great.

  17. 17

    You should up and move here PZ, or visit us at least. :-) We’d give you a platform and Edskeptics folks would be queueing to provide board and lodgings (porridge and haggis are strictly optional).

    Sorry about the website – it threw a hissy fit yesterday (turned shy as a result of the link-love maybe) and the ISP are doing upgrades. Timing sucks, eh. Do try the link again, everyone.

    Sadly, we’re not recording the talks; any skeptics in the Edinburgh area with Skilz in Soundz shoud get in touch.

    Thanks again.

    Ben Makin
    Web-mistress, edinburghskeptics.co.uk/fringe

  18. 18
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Umm…what the heck is porridge?
    I’ve heard of it, but never seen it. Is it something like grits meets oatmeal by way of cream of wheat?

  19. 19

    Tony: porridge is broadly the same as what Americans call oatmeal, though the actual way of preparing it varies from village to village. Apparently some Scots crofters used to make it in a drawer, let it go hard, and cut slices of it to eat. An acquaintance of mine tried this to save money as a student, and became, for a while, Britain’s last recorded case of scurvy.

    (Would it be massively inappropriate to parenthetically plug my Edinburgh Fringe play In a Handbag, Darkly to fellow Pharyngulans here? It’s not much to do with atheism or skepticism, but it does have a clueless vicar in it.)

  20. 20
    Matt Penfold

    Umm…what the heck is porridge?

    True Scotsman will tell you it should be made with pinhead oatmeal, but to make that properly takes ages (True Scotsman leave it cooking overnight) so most people used rolled oats, and cook them with milk, water or a combination of both for about 5 mins until creamy. True Scotsman will also tell you that only salt should be added, but most people will serve it with milk and either sugar or golden syrup. Others will add bananas, dried fruit etc, but they are idiots.

  21. 21


    I hope you enjoy Scotland.

    Thanks for all the recommendations! It is much appreciated. Thanks to yours and robertmatthews’ help I’m getting really excited about visiting Edinburgh now. Our trip’s not planned much at all yet aside from the flight dates, but the thought is to take train from London to Edinburgh, hang out there a few days, then rent a car to see some more out of the way places. The Isle of Sky is high on my list.

  22. 22
    Matt Penfold

    …but the thought is to take train from London to Edinburgh…

    If at all possible try and book your train ticker in advance. Fares are much cheaper if booked in advanced, especially if you can do so more than a week before travel and are happy to travel only on specific trains.

  23. 23


    Scotland’s definitely worth a visit, and your plans sound good.

    If you plan on going to the Isle of Skye, I strongly recommend going by train from Glasgow – it’s surprisingly low-cost and breath-takingly beautiful. You then take the ferry to the southern tip of Skye and catch a bus to Portree. Skye’s busses are not that frequent but the timetables are online and you are on holiday and every day’s an adventure, right?

    It’s worth it for the train though; we did the trip there and back from Glasgow in a single day once just for the scenery.

    http://www.seat61.com/WestHighlandLine.htm – this site suggests you do it from London, but I’m not sure I would. The pricing from Glasgow to the ferry-port in Malaig is much more affordable.

  24. 24
    Timothy (TRiG)

    Seat61 is pretty definitive when it comes to rail travel. It is the authoritative resource.


    I know a couple in Edinburgh Sceptics who are involved in planning these events. They have a presentation on alt med which I’d love to see.


  25. 25

    Do true Minnesotans put sugar in their porridge?

    No. They can’t deal with foods and spices as savoury as that.

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