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Invited Speaker Series 2012-13
Abstracts and biographies

Date: 09/10/2012
Speaker: Paul Zenon

Title: Mediums at large

Abstract 

Paul Zenon recently had a public run-in with alleged psychic Sally Morgan relating to implications that she may be cheating during her lucrative stage shows. In this talk he takes an irreverent look at contemporary stage psychics and mediums and their historical counterparts and methods. In keeping with the subject matter, this event is described as being ‘for entertainment purposes only’, taking advantage of the legal loophole which allows paranormal practitioners to ply the trade which Harry Houdini described as ‘the filthiest in the world’.

Biographies

Paul Zenon has long been one of the UK’s most recognisable magicians, with countless TV shows under his belt and numerous sell-out runs at festivals and appearances at corporate events in around forty countries. He was the UK pioneer of ‘street magic’, and has long been an outspoken critic of proponents of the ‘paranormal’. He is the author of three best-selling books and the founder of The Wonderbus, a Registered Charity which provides days out for older people.

 

Date: 23/10/2012
Speaker: Martin S Taylor

Title: Hypnotism without hypnosis

Abstract 

In 1981 when Martin S Taylor gave his first lecture-demonstration of hypnosis he assumed, like most people, that hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness. In the thirty years since then he has revised this opinion and he now believes that – on stage, at least – hypnosis is just a combination of suggestion, peer pressure and obedience.

Tonight he will be combining a thoroughly scientific debunking of the trance myth with anecdotes from his career, while illustrating them with video clips of his performances, and – who knows – maybe some live demonstrations on the audience.

All without using hypnosis, of course.

Biographies

Martin S Taylor has worked as a professional stage hypnotist for over twenty years, giving lecture demonstrations at universities and colleges and, most recently, in schools. He is also a skilled close-up magician. Find out more at http://www.hypnotism.co.uk/



Date: 06/11/2012
Speaker: Professor Edzard Ernst

Title: Why do people respond to ineffective treatments?

Abstract 

As a researcher who has spent the last two decades investigating alternative medicine, the above question has become an all too obvious one for me. Why, for instance, do so many patients and clinicians swear by homeopathy when it is quite clear that homeopathic remedies are pure placebos? In a nut-shell, the answer is that non-specific effects of a therapy can make even an ineffective treatment appear to be effective. If this is so, is it not helpful and humane to use such an ineffective treatment in clinical routine? In my view, the answer to this important question is NO, and in my lecture I will try to explain why.

Biographies

Professor Ernst qualified as a physician in Munich, Germany in 1976. In 1978 he completed his MD thesis and in 1985 his PhD. He was appointed Professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PMR) at Hannover Medical School (Germany) in 1989. Eighteen months later, he accepted the post of Head of the PMR Department at the University of Vienna (Austria). He came to the University of Exeter (UK) Postgraduate Medical School in October 1993 to establish the worldwide first Chair in Complementary Medicine. In 1996, he founded the Department of Complementary Medicine at this University’s Postgraduate Medical School and, in 2002, his unit became part of the new Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth.

Professor Ernst has ‘hands on’ experience of a range of complementary therapies, including herbal medicine, homoeopathy, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, acupuncture and autogenic training. He has contributed extensively to medical literature in several areas: Haemorheology, Angiology, PMR and Complementary/Alternative Medicine (CAM). In total he has published more than 1000 papers (>600 in CAM) in the peer -reviewed medical literature, about 500 primary research contributions and 48 books (translated into well over a dozen languages, including 1 science book of the year). He is founder/ Editor-in-Chief of two medical journals (FACT [‘Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies’] and ‘Perfusion’) and is on the editorial board of more than 20 medical journals. He is a regular reviewer for many publications including the Lancet, BMJ, JAMA,AIM and the Archives of Internal Medicine. His work has been awarded with 14 scientific prizes/awards and he was a Visiting Professor at Roy Coll Surgeons, Canada (1999) and at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles (2005). He served as an external examiner for the Universities of Berlin, Bombay, Derby, Dublin, Hannover, London, Manchester Metropolitan, Munich, Oxford, Sydney, Ulster, Zürich and others.

He has supervised ~50 MD or PhD theses and given about 600 invited lectures worldwide. He served on the ‘Medicines Commission’ of the British ‘Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’ (1994 – 2005) and on the ‘Scientific Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products’ of the ‘Irish Medicines Board’. He is patron of two British CAM organisations and honorary member of several dozen others. He has served as an expert witness to the UK High Court and the British General Medical Council. In 1999, he took British nationality. In 2000, he was got an entry in the “Who’s Who”. He writes [or wrote] regular columns for ‘The Guardian’ (2003-), The Chemist Druggist, The Pharmaceutical Journal, Independent Nurse Magazine, Münch Wed Wschr and Stern (Gesund Leben), SonntagsZeitung (Switzerland); currently, he writes three blogs: BMJ, Pulse and Guardian.

 

Date: 20/11/2012
Speaker: Dr Niall McCrae

Title: The moon and madness: Myth, metaphysics and science

Abstract 

Lunacy, the legendary notion of minds unhinged by the moon, continues to captivate the popular imagination. Although it violates the assumptions of modern science and psychiatry, such belief remains common among mental health workers. Furthermore, several studies have found a small, unexplained correlation between behaviour and the lunar cycle. Dr Niall McCrae presents a historical account of the lunacy concept, followed by discussion of hypothetical mechanisms and indications for further research.

Biographies

Niall McCrae PhD, MSc, RMN is a lecturer in mental health at King’s College London. His publications include several journal articles and book chapters on the social history of psychiatry and mental health care. His book The Moon and Madness (Imprint Academic, 2011) has been widely reviewed and he has also presented his research on this topic on the BBC Radio 4 series All in the Mind. Niall is currently writing a history of the mental hospitals in Britain, from nurses’ perspectives.

 

Date: 11/12/2012
Speaker: Deborah Hyde

Title: The natural historie of the European werewolf

Abstract 

The werewolf is a common horror motif, but what did people during the witch-hunt of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe really mean when they accused someone of ‘lycanthropy’? An evening discussing films, history and analysis, at which we will find out which is worse - man or beast?

Biographies

Deborah Hyde writes about why people believe in the malign macabre at jourdemayne.com. She is editor of The Skeptic.



Date: 08/01/2013
Speaker: Dr Jovan Byford

Title: Beyond belief: A critique of contemporary social psychology of conspiracy theories

Abstract 

Since the resurgence of public interest in conspiracy theories in the 1990s, there has been a flurry of studies looking at this phenomenon from a social psychological perspective. Much of this research has focused on identifying specific social and psychological factors that underpin the susceptibility of individuals to conspiracist thinking, and which might therefore help to explain the persistence of conspiracy theories in modern society.

In the talk I offer a methodological critique of this growing body of work, focusing in particular on the fact that, almost without exception, researchers have used questionnaires to assess the participants’ belief in, or endorsement of, conspiracy theories. Implicit in the choice of this particular methodology is a set of highly problematic assumptions about the nature of conspiracy theories, which researchers have been surprisingly reluctant to address or justify. Drawing on the material presented in my recent book Conspiracy Theories: A Critical Introduction, I argue that social psychological research must recognize that people engage with conspiracy theories in complex and diverse ways that cannot be reduced to a single and measurable dimension of judgment. More importantly, social psychologists must develop methodologies attentive to the argumentative nature of conspiracism as a form of ideological explanation, and its important communicative and interactional dimensions.

Biographies

Jovan Byford is Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Open University, UK. He is the author of four books, including Conspiracy Theories: Critical Introduction (2011) and Conspiracy Theory: Serbia vs The New World Order (in Serbian, 2006), as well as a number of articles and book chapters on conspiracy theories, antisemitism and Holocaust remembrance.

 

CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES
Date: 15/01/2013
Speaker: Dr Stephen Law

Title: The problem of evil and ‘Intellectual Black Holes’

Abstract 

We take a close look at how Theists respond to the evidential problem of evil - the problem, for them, of explaining why an all-powerful, all-good God would inflict so much suffering on sentient beings. Many explanations have been offered, many highly ingenious. We’ll explore a novel way of looking at these explanations, and at the way in which they contribute to the overall rational architecture of traditional Theism. To what extent are there parallels with the thinking of, e.g., conspiracy theories, Young Earth Creationism, and other ‘Intellectual Black Holes’?

Biographies

Stephen Law is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, Heythrop College, University of London, editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK, and author of popular philosophy books including The Philosophy Gym and Believing Bullshit.



Date: 29/01/2013
Speaker: Professor Adrian Furnham

Title: The psychology of conspiracy theories

Abstract 

This presentation includes consideration of why psychology has until recently neglected conspiracy theories as well as what conspiracists say about non-conspiracists. The results of three studies are presented along with some new ideas about the future.

Biographies

Adrian Furnham was educated at the London School of Economics where he obtained a distinction in an MSc Econ., and at Oxford University where he completed a doctorate (D.Phil) in 1981. He has subsequently earned a D.Sc (1991) and D.Litt (1995) degree. Previously a lecturer in Psychology at Pembroke College, Oxford, he has been Professor of Psychology at University College London since 1992. He has lectured widely abroad and held scholarships and visiting professorships at, amongst others, the University of New South Wales, the University of the West Indies, the University of Hong Kong and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.  He has also been a Visiting Professor of Management at Henley Management College. He has recently been made Adjunct Professor of Management at the Norwegian School of Management (2009)

He has written over 1000 scientific papers and 70 books including The Protestant Work Ethic (1990) Culture Shock (1994), The New Economic Mind (1995), Personality at Work (1994), The Myths of Management (1996), The Psychology of Behaviour at Work (1997), The Psychology of Money (1998), The Psychology of Culture Shock (2001)The Incompetent Manager (2003), The Dark Side of Behaviour at Work (2004), The People Business (2005) Personality and Intellectual Competence (2005) Management Mumbo-Jumbo (2006) Head and Heart Management (2007) The Psychology of Physical Attraction (2007) The Body Beautiful (2007) Personality and Intelligence at Work (2008) Management Intelligence (2008) Dim Sum Management (2008) The Economic Socialisation of Children (2008) 50 Psychology Ideas you really need to know (2009) The Elephant in the Boardroom: The Psychology of Leadership Derailment (2010) People Management in Turbulent Times (2009) The Psychology of Personnel Selection (2010) Body Language in Business  (2010) Bad Apples (2011) Leadership: everything you want to know (2011) People Management in a Downturn (2011) The Talented Manager (2012). Many have been translated into foreign languages including Chinese, French, German,
Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Professor Furnham is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and is among the most productive psychologists in the world. He is on the editorial board of a number of international journals, as well as the past elected President of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences. He is also a founder director of Applied Behavioural Research Associates (ABRA), a psychological consultancy. He has been a consultant to over 30 major international companies, with particular interests in top team development, management change performance management systems, psychometric testing and leadership derailment. He speaks regularly at academic and business conferences and is noted for his motivational speaking.

He is also a newspaper columnist previously at the Financial Times, now at the Sunday Times. He wrote regularly for the Daily Telegraph and is a regular contributor to national and international radio and television stations including the BBC, CNN, and ITV.  More details in the latest ‘Who’s Who’.

Since 2007 he has been nominated by HR magazine as one of the 20 Most Influential People in HR. He was nominated to the 7th most influencial thinker in 2011. He speaks regularly at academic, business and training conferences around the world being well known as approachable, well-informed and entertaining. He also runs in-house workshops for various blue-chip companies.

Like Noel Coward, he believes work is more fun than fun and considers himself to be a well-adjusted workaholic. He rides a bicycle to work (as he has always done) very early in the morning and does not have a mobile phone. Adrian enjoys writing popular articles, travelling to exotic countries, consulting on real-life problems, arguing at dinner parties and going to the theatre. He hopes never to retire.

 

Date: 05/02/2013
Speaker: Dr David V Barrett

Title: When religions fall apart: Fragmentation and choices

Abstract 

When a religious founder dies, it’s often a crisis point for the religion. When a very heterodox American sect – Sabbatarian, millenarian, British-Israelite and much more – went mainstream 10 years after its founder’s death in 1986, hundreds of ministers and tens of thousands of members walked out and founded new movements with the old beliefs – which themselves kept fragmenting until 15 years later there were over 400 offshoot movements.

Religion is a collective expression of individually-held beliefs; social trends ultimately stem from personal choices. In the study of religion, Sociology and Psychology meet and interact. David V Barrett outlines his model of what can happen to religions when their founders die, including traumatic succession battles and schisms, with a host of factors affecting the outcome. He explores cognitive dissonance when beliefs and harsh reality clash, such as when the new leader’s authority conflicts with the founder’s authority, but the authority of both comes from God. And with a new development of rational choice theory, he analyses why people choose to belong to one group over another.

Biographies

A former teacher, intelligence officer and journalist, Dr David V Barrett has been a freelance writer specialising in new religious movements and secret societies for 20 years. He gained his PhD in Sociology of Religion from the London School of Economics in 2009. His book, The Fragmentation of a Sect, based on his doctoral thesis on schisms in the Worldwide Church of God, is published by Oxford University Press in January 2013.

 

Date: 19/02/2013
Speaker: Will Storr

Title: The Hero Maker

Abstract 

For years, journalist Will Storr has been writing about people with strange beliefs: demon hunters, UFO spotters, homeopaths and a couple who swore they've met the Yeti in some woods outside Ipswich. One afternoon, he was sitting at a Creationist lecture in the far north of Australia when he asked himself a question that he couldn't even begin to answer. Why don't facts work? The people that he had met, in his ten years of reporting, were often not stupid. Many were demonstrably intelligent. So why didn't superior information fail to replace the inferior? Why did logic fail?

The answer was to lead him on a journey which is recounted in his new book: The Heretics: Adventures with the Enemies of Science (Picador, 2013). Along with a spectacular cast of characters - including climate sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton and controversial historian David Irving - and some of the planet's most celebrated experts in brains and thinking, Storr finds his answer in what he calls 'The Hero Maker': the collection of neural illusions by which we understand the world to be a narrative struggle which we are at the centre of. We populate this narrative with heroes and with villains, and we flatter ourselves that we the most important character in it. We are not agents of reason, but storytellers.

Biographies

Will Storr is an award winning journalist and a novelist. For more information, please see: www.willstorr.com



CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES
Date: 05/03/2013
Speaker: Mary Langridge

Title: Is nature really “red in tooth and claw” or is there room for kindness in the struggle for existence?

Abstract 

Explaining social behaviours such as cooperation and altruism is one of the greatest challenges facing the biological and social sciences. Darwin’s theory of natural selection provides an excellent framework within which to examine theories across the disciplines. This talk will lead you through the basic theories in this area, explaining how benefits to our relatives, our reputation and our self-concept lead us to perform bizarrely altruistic acts; from giving money to charity, to donating blood or laying down our life for others - acts which appear to be detrimental to our own reproductive success. Mary will present her research which seeks to examine the link between religiosity and altruism and why this might occur.

Biographies

Mary Langridge is an Associate Lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, co-founder of Psychology in the Pub Sheffield and a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her research aims to unify theories across economics, biology and psychology in order to understand cooperation, costly punishment and how our moral and religious values influence our decisions.



Date: 12/03/2013
Speaker: Professor Elizabeth Valentine

Title: Academic psychology and psychical research between the wars

Abstract 

This talk describes the involvement of six senior academic psychologists with the well-known amateur psychical researcher Harry Price, in the inter-war years. William McDougall and William Brown attended and assisted at a number of séances in his National Laboratory of Psychical Research. Jack Flugel, Cyril Burt, Alec Mace and Francis Aveling were members of his University of London Council for Psychical Investigation and supported psychical research in various ways. Why did these psychologists collaborate with someone the Economist described as “a rogue, a falsifier, and a manufacturer of evidence”? I will discuss personal, metaphysical and socio-historical factors and suggest that the main reason for their mutual attraction was their common engagement in a delicate balancing act between courting popular appeal on the one hand and the assertion of scientific expertise and authority on the other. This can be seen as typical boundary work at a transitional stage in the development of psychology as a discipline.

Biographies

Elizabeth Valentine is Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London and Honorary Senior Research Associate at University College London. Her main interests are in cognitive psychology and the philosophy and history of psychology. She is the author of many theoretical and empirical articles, and of Conceptual Issues in Psychology (London: Routledge, 1992) and Beatrice Edgell: Pioneer Woman Psychologist (New York: Nova, 2006). A volume of collected papers on the philosophy and history of psychology is in preparation, to be published by Psychology Press in their World Library of Psychologists series.



CANCELLED DUE TO UNFORESEEN CIRCUMSTANCES
Date: 19/03/2013
Speaker: Rosie Waterhouse

Title: The Satanic ritual abuse myth, false memories and weird beliefs: Anatomy of a 20-year investigation

Abstract 

Lurid tales of children being sexually abused, of animals being ritually slaughtered and babies being bred for sacrifice, in bizarre black magic ceremonies, by cults of devil worshipping Satanists first surfaced in America in the early 1980s. The allegations of what became known as Satanic ritual abuse soon spread to Britain, Australia and New Zealand in the late 1980s and early 1990s. At the same time, belief in this apparently new and especially depraved form of child abuse was reinforced and said to be corroborated by another new phenomenon, or fashion, in the field of adult psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry – the recovered memory movement. On conference circuits and in literature, this movement, led by both medically qualified professionals and untrained therapists, promoted the theory that adults can be helped to recover long-buried “repressed” memories of childhood sexual abuse, in some cases Satanic ritual abuse, and that as a consequence of that abuse those patients suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder.

This talk explores the origins and spread of the myth of Satanic ritual abuse. As early as 1994 a UK government-funded investigation concluded there was no evidence Satanic ritual abuse existed. Yet despite the continuing absence of evidence, anywhere in the world, a minority of child care professionals, including police officers and social workers, and adult psychotherapists, psychologists  and psychiatrists, persist in the belief that Satanic ritual abuse exists. Conferences are still being held around the world.

This talk will chart the progress of my ongoing investigation over 22 years which has examined allegations of the Satanic ritual abuse of children and asked ‘where’s the evidence’? In the course of the investigation I explored the controversy over the extreme and polarised recovered-versus-false memory debate – still one of the most divisive issues in adult psychotherapy, psychology and psychiatry today. As an illustration of the damage caused by zealots who believed in Satanic ritual abuse and in their ability to “help” a patient recover the memories, I will relate the tragic story of the life and untimely death of Carol Felstead, alias Myers.

Finally, this talk will explore how the myth of Satanic ritual abuse can be considered in the context of the field of anomalistic psychology, the wonderful whacky world of weird beliefs, for example how people can come to believe they have been abducted by aliens.  Some of these UFO “experiencers” also believe they were also victims of Satanic ritual abuse. Part of the purpose of my research, ultimately for a PhD by Prior Publication, is to try to understand how and why people can come to believe bizarre, appalling, weird things happened in the total absence of evidence.

Biographies

Rosie Waterhouse is Director of the MA in Investigative Journalism at City University London and a freelance journalist with extensive experience as an investigative reporter, having worked for five national newspapers and as a TV reporter.

She has twice been a member of the Sunday Times Insight team, she worked for The Independent and Independent on Sunday, where she was investigations editor, and for BBC Newsnight, where she contributed to a BAFTA award-winning film on BSE.

As a freelance journalist, Rosie has contributed articles to publications including The Guardian's G2 section, the New Statesman, the Daily Mail, and The Oldie.

She has most recently written a series of articles in Private Eye on the 'Satanic Panic'. Her freelance television work includes a spell as a research consultant on a BBC Real Story documentary on the Rochdale Satanic abuse controversy. Earlier documentaries include a Channel 4 Dispatches investigation into allegations of fraud at Red Star and a BBC Bristol investigation into allegations of bribery by Westland Helicopters to win contracts in Saudi Arabia.

Rosie has been researching the myth of Satanic Ritual Abuse and the controversy over false versus recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse for more than 20 years and her published work on these issues forms the basis of her PhD by Prior Publication, due for submission in January 2014.



Date: 20/03/2013
Speaker: Elizabeth Loftus

Title: Memory Matters
Free but ticketed. Tickets have now sold out. The talk will be recorded and made available afterwards.

Jointly hosted by the APRU and CFI UK. Held in the Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre in the Whitehead Building (note different to LG01, our normal venue) at Goldsmiths, University of London, SE14 6NW.

Abstract 

People sometimes remember things that never happened, and my research explores how and why this happens. Sometimes the errors in memory are relatively small, as when people remember details of recent events differently than they really occurred. Sometimes the errors are large, as when people are led to remember entire events that did not occur to them, which we call “rich false memories.” People can be led to falsely believe that they have had familiar experiences, but also implausible ones. They can even be led to believe that they did things that would have been impossible. They can be led to falsely believe that they had experiences that would have been rather emotional or traumatic had they actually happened. False memories, like true ones, also have consequences for people, affecting later thoughts, intentions, and behaviors. False memories look very much like true ones – in terms of behavioural characteristics, emotionality, and neural signatures. Finally, false memories can linger for quite some time, just as true memories do.

Biography

Elizabeth Loftus is Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Irvine. She holds faculty positions in three departments (Psychology & Social Behavior; Criminology, Law & Society; and Cognitive Sciences), and in the School of Law. Since receiving her Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University, she has published 22 books (including the award winning Eyewitness Testimony) and 500 scientific articles. Loftus's research of the last 30 years has focused on the malleability of human memory. She has been recognized for this research with six honorary doctorates (from universities in the U.S., Norway, the Netherlands, Israel, and Britain), and election to the National Academy of Sciences. She is past president of the Association for Psychological Science. Perhaps one of the most unusual signs of recognition appeared in the Review of General Psychology, which identified the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century. Not surprisingly Freud, Skinner, and Piaget were at the top of that list. Loftus was #58, and the top ranked woman on the list.

Memory Matters: a talk by Elizabeth Loftus

The APRU and CFI UK are pleased to announce a jointly hosted talk by world-renowned Psychologist Professor Elizabeth Loftus on 20 March‌ 2013. Entitled "Memory Matters", the talk will explore the science of cognitive errors, false memories and the human consequences of inaccurate recollection. Full details can be found here. Similar to the other talks in the APRU Invited Speaker Series, the talk is free but ticketed. Tickets have now sold out. The talk will be recorded and made available afterwards.

Abstract 

People sometimes remember things that never happened, and my research explores how and why this happens. Sometimes the errors in memory are relatively small, as when people remember details of recent events differently than they really occurred. Sometimes the errors are large, as when people are led to remember entire events that did not occur to them, which we call “rich false memories.” People can be led to falsely believe that they have had familiar experiences, but also implausible ones. They can even be led to believe that they did things that would have been impossible. They can be led to falsely believe that they had experiences that would have been rather emotional or traumatic had they actually happened. False memories, like true ones, also have consequences for people, affecting later thoughts, intentions, and behaviours. False memories look very much like true ones – in terms of behavioural characteristics, emotionality, and neural signatures. Finally, false memories can linger for quite some time, just as true memories do.



Content last modified: 09 Apr 2013

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