You are here

Scientists and Psychics: Why Competent Scientists Become Completely Incompetent When Testing Psychics

Primary tabs

Monday, October 13, 2014 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Nationally-known magician and skeptic, Dr. Ray Hyman, will speak Monday, October 13th, 7-9 PM at ScienceWorks’ SciTheater to demonstrate how smart scientists can go badly astray when confronted with psychic claims. ScienceWorks is located at 1500 E. Main St. in Ashland.

Since the 18th Century, every decade has witnessed the spectacle of one or more prominent scientists testing and endorsing a psychic claim. As a cognitive psychologist, Ray Hyman finds it fascinating to study the workings of mind by examining thinking at its best and at its worst. He focuses on scientists who both succeeded in their chosen field of science and lost their way when evaluating psychic assertions. His talk will use the example of 19th Century pioneer of astrophysics, Karl Zoellner, who wandered astray in a spirit world. Zoellner’s story not only helps us understand how other smart people have been deceived, but enables us to better understand both the wonders of human cognition and its limitations.

Ray Hyman is an author, magician, emeritus Professor of psychology at University of Oregon, and Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). Ray is also the creator of the Skeptic’s Toolbox and companion workshop. As an expert in the study of deception and self-deception, he received CSI’s In Praise of Reason award, its highest honor, and is given to those rare individuals who have made truly outstanding contributions to the promotion of science and the defense of reason. Previous recipients include such stellar scientists and communicators as Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, and Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann.

He is an expert in the study of deception and self-deception and has dedicated most of his professional career to the study of why people come to believe strange things, how they can be fooled, and how some people set out to fool them. He has published books, book chapters, and over 200 articles that critically evaluate studies of the paranormal and related domains. As an expert in magic and mentalism, Ray is an accomplished inventor of magical effects and routines who is highly respected by other practicing magicians.

Students free, others $10 at the door.