Bigfoot Meets the Loch Ness Alien Space Ghosts: The Cognitive Genesis of False Observation in Superstition and Science

Ring in the new year with Cafe Scientifique! Dr. Matthew Sharps from Fresno State will be speaking to us about some of his research into perception and cognition.

Eyewitness memory in the criminal justice system is notoriously unreliable.  Less well-recognized is the fact that the same perceptual and cognitive principles operate in other areas as well, notably in the false observation of “paranormal” phenomena such as Bigfoot, UFO aliens, and ghostly apparitions. My students and I have published a number of articles on this subject.  We’ve demonstrated that not only can we distinguish, psychologically, people who believe in different aspects of the paranormal, but that specific psychological processes can literally induce normal people to see them, to interpret everyday sights as paranormal entities and objects.  We have also shown that these principles can apply in the sciences themselves, most famously in the case of Percival Lowell and the Canals of Mars.  Understanding these principles of interpretation and misinterpretation is increasingly important in a world in which science and pseudoscience are frequently confused.

Who: Dr. Matthew Sharps, California State University, Fresno.

When: January 7, 2019 at 7PM

Where: Santa Fe Basque, 3110 N Maroa Ave., Fresno, CA 93704

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