This is the website/blog of Philosopher Stephen Law. Stephen is Provost of Centre for Inquiry UK, Reader in philosophy at Heythrop College, University of London, and editor of the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK. He has published several books (see sidebar). For school talks and media email: think-AT-royalinstitutephilosophy.org
Sunday, April 19, 2015
CFI UK EVENT: Event Title: Searching for Satan: Miscarriages of memory, fractured families and Satanic panics
Centre for Inquiry UK and Anomalistic Psychology
research Unit, Goldsmiths present:
Searching for Satan: Miscarriages of
memory, fractured families and Satanic panics
Discover how the unreliability of memory has
led to grave miscarriages of justice, including panics about Satanic abuse. Can
memories really be ‘recovered’ by therapists? To what extent can we rely on the
memories of witnesses in historic abuse cases? Some deeply disturbing cases
will be investigated.
6th June 2015
Venue: Room LG02 in the Professor Stuart Hall
Building (formerly the New Academic Building),
College, University of London
New Cross, London SE14 6NW
Find us: https://www.gold.ac.uk/find-us/
PLEASE NOTE VENUE IS NOT CONWAY HALL
Title: What people believe about memory that ain’t
Speakers: Prof Chris French & Dr James Ost
French is Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Goldsmiths, University
of London. He frequently appears
on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal and related claims.
He writes for the Guardian and The Skeptic magazine. His most recent
book is Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring
Paranormal Belief and Experience.
Dr James Ost is a Reader in Applied Cognitive
Psychology at the Department of Psychology, University of Portsmouth, UK.
His research focuses on the
inherently context-dependent nature of memory and remembering, focusing mainly
on false memories for real life events (childhood memories, sexual abuse,
terrorist attacks). He has advised police forces on interview
strategy, written expert reports on memory evidence, and has served as an
expert witness at court.
Surveys show that a large proportion of the general
public hold many beliefs about memory that are just plain wrong. Even more
worrying, so do psychotherapists, psychologists, and professionals involved in
legal services, a situation that can lead to miscarriages of justice. Chris
French and James Ost summarise our current understanding of the nature of
memory. (NB: This presentation includes a quiz for you to assess your own level
of understanding - so bring pen and paper!)"
Title: False memories, false accusations and torture:
Speaker: Barbara Hewson
is a senior barrister practising at 1 Gray’s Inn Square. Her work includes
human rights, mental capacity and professional regulation. She is well-known
for criticising Operation Yewtree, associated historic abuse prosecutions, and
“the cult of victimhood”. She also writes for spiked-online and other journals.
A recent case about alleged Satanic ritual abuse in the
Family Division highlights the dangers of not learning lessons from history.
But it also confirms that to instil false memories of abuse can amount to
torture, contrary to Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This
is also a heinous wrong. So the stakes could not be higher for professionals
working to prevent abuse, but also false allegations of abuse. Britain’s
mounting obsession with historic abuse allegations (dubbed “Paedogeddon” by
critics), coupled with political demands to give victims greater rights, risk
brushing common sense away to keep monsters at bay. How can the law fight back,
to ensure justice can be done?”
Title: When Satan Came to Town – Carol Felstead: a true
story of false memories.
Speaker: Dr Kevin Felstead
In 2001, Kevin
Felstead was awarded a doctorate from Keele University where he taught
courses on the history of crime, policing and punishment in England and Wales
since 1800. He was subsequently employed by Manchester City Council working in
the field of community safety, neighbourhood crime and justice. Kevin is
currently employed as a consultant for the British False Memory Society, where
he is employed as Director of Communications.
After visiting her doctor about a headache, Carol was
subjected to hypnotic therapy, sedated and brainwashed, Carol’s childhood
memories were eradicated and her mind was re-ordered. Assigned a new identity,
Carol fell into the iron grip of a string of psychotherapists who obsessed
about ritual abuse. A myth was created which helped stoke the entire Satanic
Abuse Panic in the United Kingdom.