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Tricks of the Mind, March 30th

Illusion Eye Trick
It works for cats too...
Tricks of the Mind

Come and hear leading experts explain how our minds can distort and deceive, including how they often play a role in generating a wide range of paranormal experiences. Discussion will include magic, time distortion, hypnotism and past-life regression.

Presented by Centre for Inquiry UK and Conway Hall. Organized and introduced by Stephen Law.

Book signings and shop.

Saturday, 30th March 2013.

Venue: Conway Hall (main hall), 25 Red Lion Square, Holborn, WC1R 4RL London (nearest tube Holborn).

10.30am registration (speakers at 11-1, 2-4pm). Ends 4pm.

Tickets £10 on door (£5 student concession) (and from BHA website shortly)

Daniela Rudloff: Mental ‘Short-Cuts’ - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Can we trust our eyes? Why does a footballer’s performance usually drop right after they’ve been sold to a high-paying football club? What exactly is “anchoring”, and why are we doing it on dry land?

Daniela Rudloff will answer these and other questions by giving an introduction to some of the mental shortcuts and biases in our everyday thinking. In her talk she shows how these shortcuts are often useful and sometimes counterproductive, always pervasive and surprisingly difficult to avoid.

Daniela has always had a keen interest in critical thinking, cognitive psychology and the scientific method. After completing her PhD in Cognitive Psychology she now teaches at Leicester University, with a particular focus on research methods and statistics. Daniela has previously presented at Skeptics in the Pubs events and at the Skeptics on the Fringe.

Claudia Hammond: Time Warped 

We are obsessed with time, but why does it play so many tricks on us? Why does time slow down when you're afraid and speed up as you get older? Drawing on the latest research from the fields of psychology, neuroscience and biology, and using original research on the way memory shapes our understanding of time, the awarding-winning writer and broadcaster Claudia Hammond delves into the mysteries of time perception and how the mind creates a sense of time.

Claudia is an award-winning broadcaster, writer and psychology lecturer. She is the presenter of All in the Mind & Mind Changers on BBC Radio 4 and the Health Check on BBC World Service Radio every week and BBC World News TV every month. Claudia is a columnist for and the author of "Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception" and "Emotional Rollercoaster - a journey through the science of feelings" which won the Aoen Transmission Prize in February 2013. 

Martin S Taylor: More Lives Than One?

Martin S Taylor became interested in hypnosis when he was studying for a PhD at Imperial College, and soon became well known on the student circuit with his science based lecture-demonstration. At first he believed in the traditional view that hypnosis is a special induced state of mind, but discussions with friends and his experience with his own hypnotic subjects led him to subscribe to the 'social-compliance' view, namely that hypnosis is best explained by normal, well-understood psychological principles.

He now makes a living as a lecturer and consultant on hypnosis, talking and demonstrating at schools, universities, and anywhere else they'll pay him. It was at one of Martin's lectures that Derren Brown was inspired to take up his career, and Martin has worked with Derren on a number of recent television shows. Recently he has been working as a hypnosis consultant for Paramount Pictures, producing promotional videos for horror films.

In today’s talk, Martin will be examining the notion that hypnosis can be used to get people to remember past lives, a phenomenon taken by many as evidence of reincarnation.

Robert Teszka: Mind and Magic

Robert Teszka is a cognitive psychologist, magician, science promoter, and massive geek. He uses the techniques of misdirection to study the psychology of attention and awareness at Goldsmiths University, and has travelled internationally to give lectures on the surprising insights of cognitive psychology.

Mind and Magic is a talk about how our own minds deceive us as readily as any magician, and how magician's tricks can help us understand our minds a bit better. Expect a curated collection of demonstrations, experiments, and original research - and perhaps a magic trick or two - as Rob attempts to convince you that sometimes, you just can't trust your own mind.

Image credit maltesen flickr. Creative commons.


sam said…
I tried the illusion on my cat. He was less than impressed. Does this mean my kitty's eyes don't saccade?!
Rick Warden said…
So far, in defending Law's critical skills regarding central argument of The God Delusion, we have the following list of excuses, which is still growing day by day:

1. Law was not obligated to list and address Dawkins' six-point argument because fitting six summarized points onto one slide screen would be inconvenient (therefore the latter three points may be completely ignored).

2. Law did not need to include three premises out of six because they were unquestionably and obviously true points.

3. Law was only obligated to list and evaluate the premises that he personally felt were questionable, the rest he was justified in ignoring.

Anyone care to add any new excuses to the list? Or perhaps professor Law would care to comment himself?
Tim said…
Elbowing past the troll...

Out of the country this weekend and will miss this day. Will it be recorded? I'd be happy to pay for an audio or video recording in lieu of being there.
Stephen Law said…
Yes will be recorded I think. They will all be posted on the website - including here. When they are processed (can be a bit slow though).
Rick Warden said…
Elbowing past the truth.... it seems.

There are certain situations where the maxim holds true: silence equals consent.

I'll make a note of it for posterity.
Tim said…
Rick, your ongoing dispute with Stephen is none of my business. But I called you a troll because your comment on this post was proper troll behavior, having nothing to do with the post itself.

If you want to be an ambassador for Christ I humbly suggest you set a better example by showing some social manners. At least Jesus, in his arguments with opponents, knew when to let alone. I don't recall the gospels depict him chasing after the Pharisees saying "And another thing..."

Cordially yours etc.
Rick Warden said…

With all due respect, if some Christians were defending my opinion with the kind of excuses being offered in defense of Stephen Law, I would want to know about it ASAP and, for that matter, I would be interested in correcting mistakes. I gave Law the fair opportunity to do so out of courtesy.

BTW, Tim do you personally believe it is acceptable in a formal critique of a philosophical argument to ignore three of the six premises in the argument? Just curious.
imnotandrei said…
Rick Warden, on his own blog: "You should know better than top post off-topic comments."

Here, he blithely posts off-topic comments.

On his own blog: does not respond to questions frequently, a long-standing pattern.

Here, "silence equals consent".

One thing is consistent: on both blogs, he wraps himself in a cloak of "civility" and "courtesy" to justify doing whatever he wants.
Rick Warden said…
As noted under a previous post of basically the same title, the subject of atheist denial has everything to do with "tricks of the mind"

Stephen Law agreed to my point "Yes, blinded by sin."

Why don't we let Tim try and dispel all this talk of atheist denial and spiritual blindness and answer my question, the one Law is unwilling to no matter what post the question is posted under.
michael fugate said…
I am a little curious. How many people have you written to demanding satisfactory answers to your questions? Have you written to Pres. Obama about drone strikes? His lack of defense of DoMA? Just seems you must be frustrated quite often.
Rick Warden said…
>How many people have you written to demanding satisfactory answers to your questions?

- I don't demand answers from anyone. I do find it notable when certain people avoid certain questions. This phenomenon is especially curious at philosophy blogs.

Michael, perhaps you would be interested in answering a question:

Do you personally believe it is acceptable in a formal critique of a philosophical argument to ignore three of the six premises in the argument?
Martin said…
Comment from Alison (my wife) after attending the event: Excellent and mind stretching. Still trying to get to grips with time moving forward! Thoroughly enjoyable day, thank you.

I thought it was great value for money, and it was a personal pleasure for me to say 'hi' to Stephen in real life. Only the second real person off the internet I have ever met.
Stephen Law said…
Many thanks Martin - nice to meet Alison too. See you at the next one I hope...
Stephen Law said…
Rick - as I said before, you can sod off. I consider you a troll.
Rick Warden said…
>Still trying to get to grips with time moving forward!

- If you look into Alexander Vilenkin's work it might be helpful. He has written easy-to-follow books on the origin of time and the universe. He had written to me and explained the following:

"We do have cosmological models describing how the universe could be spontaneously created from literally nothing (no space, no time, no matter) as a result of a quantum fluctuation. An intriguing problem with such models is that the creation of the universe is described using the mathematical laws of physics, but it is not clear where these laws came from."



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