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7 p.m. Thursday 5th December - SPR Lecture - Matthew Tompkins - Forgotten Studies of Memory: Hodgson and Davey’s Mal-Observation Report and the Psychology of Magic

Experimental Psychologist and magician Dr Matt Tompkins will discuss how Hodgson & Davey’s (1887) research on magic illusions and testimony set the stage for contemporary developments in the ‘science of magic.’

NOTE THAT THIS IS A PHYSICAL MEETING AT 1 VERNON MEWS.  IT IS NOT ONLINE - AND THIS LECTURE WILL NOT BE RECORDED.

Contemporary researchers are increasingly turning to performance magic to inspire new avenues of investigation into human cognition. This idea of applying magic trick methods as a tool to study perception and memory can arguably be traced back to a series of experiments that were published in 1887. The experiments were designed by psychical researcher Richard Hodgson who had teamed-up with an amateur conjurer S.J. Davey. Together they produced a report detailing the limitations of eye-witness accounts of anomalous events. Participants in their elaborate experimental hoax were invited to attend 'séances' hosted by Davey and they then were asked to write letters detailing what they had seen. Hodgson and Davey collected eyewitness accounts of staged séances and highlighted the dramatic errors and inconsistencies wherein participants' reports deviated from the actual events. Critics at the time argued that the severity of errors reported made it fundamentally unbelievable - an outlook which mirrors some modern-day popular misconceptions about human perception and memory. This talk will explore the context and impact of Hodgson and Davey's project in light of subsequent developments in cognitive and anomalistic psychology. 

Matt Tompkins is an American magician-turned-psychologist who recently completed a doctorate in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. His research, which has been featured across various international media outlets, including Wired Magazine, The Washington Post, and BBC Future, focuses on the cognitive psychology of illusions. He is also the first member of The Magic Circle to have been admitted on the basis of a peer-reviewed scientific publication. His new book, The Spectacle of Illusion, explores historical and contemporary relationships between magicians and scientists. 

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When
5th December, 2019 7:00 PM   to   9:00 PM
Location
Society for Psychical Research HQ
SPR
1 Vernon Mews
London
W14 0RL
United Kingdom

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