Where’s your nearest Cafe Scientifique?

Via Jim Lippard, here’s a nice, positive article on the Cafe Scientifique movement, which tries to make science informal and accessible to anyone. We’re doing it again tomorrow, in which I get to be the presenter and talk about “Why all the fuss about evolution?” I hope I don’t turn anyone off with my atheist schtick, in which I clean, fillet, fricassee, and eat a baby on stage.*

*Well, actually, looking at my talk, I don’t seem to actually mention atheism anywhere. I suspect that when the audience notices my horns and tail, though, they might ask about it—so I’ll come prepared for the Q&A with a baby in my pocket. Hey, how about if I cook it over a fire from a burning Bible?


  1. Dan S. says

    ” Hey, how about if I cook it over a fire from a burning Bible?”

    But wait ’til they see how you put the fire out after said baby is cooked . . .

  2. Soren says

    As long as the baby has been born it is OK – they don’t care much about humans once they’re born. Bring a vial containing an unimplanted embryo and extract stemcells from it – then you’ll get hammered!


  3. Claire says

    I don’t know if you saw this, but NY Times partly redeemed itself from those awful articles about the “controversy” by highlighting the Cafe Scientifique. They had a picture from the one in Denver. Decent article, I thought.

  4. says

    well, you could have a backup shtick at-the-ready, perhaps singing with a Tiny Tim voice “Tip-toe through the tentacles …”.

  5. Darkling says

    Bring a vial containing an unimplanted embryo and extract stemcells from it – then you’ll get hammered!

    Hmmm, just tell them it’s caviar….

  6. jimvj says

    Please (all video hobbyists or professionals), please videotape the CS talk(s) and the Q&A and post them on websites or newsgroups.

    We need a WWCS (World Wide ..)

  7. says

    I really want to try and start one of these, but I want to do it right! I want to get good speakers, and have a great venue. The venue is what I’m most stumped on. There should be beer. I don’t know how to do this without having money to begin with.

    I think the idea is brilliant.

  8. says

    It takes no money at all.

    I started by contacting my local scientists (that was easy, since I’m in the same building with them). I got a dozen people who volunteered to do a presentation, and I just made a list.

    Then I went around town. We’re a small place, so the selection is limited, but we have a coffeehouse and a bar. I went to them and asked if we could put on an informal event that would draw in a bunch of customers. They all said yes. They don’t charge you — getting people in brings in money.

    It helps to contact the PR person in the university near you. If the speakers are coming from that U, they’ll gladly help publicize it.

    Then I show up the day of the talk, set up a computer and video projector, and sit back and let the speakers do all the work.


    I do think the one thing you need is a large enough pool of willing, local speakers to keep it going. University professors are great that way, because they’re used to standing up in front of an audience and talking for an hour about esoteric stuff. The only difficult thing is making sure they don’t go wandering off over everyone’s heads.

  9. says

    This is great advice. I’m at a university, so that isn’t a problem, but around here, the bars and coffee shops are always full. I’m trying to figure out what I could offer to one of them that they don’t already have. But I guess I’ll never know until I just try, eh?

    Thanks for making it sound so simple!