I’m a cognitive psychologist and amateur magician with a variety of skeptical interests. In general I’m interested in how people come to believe the things they do. What processes in the mind,brain, and body; what influences of their environment and upbringing – what leads to people believing the things they do? And how much awareness can people have of these factors – what knowledge do they have of their own thoughts?
Some specific topics of interest to me are the recurring reports of “supernatural” occurences (including psychics, ghosts, and such), as from my background with magic I’ve discovered that quite a lot of paranormal phenomena can be very, VERY convincingly faked. This is closely related to my background as a magician and my interest in what insights magic can provide to the field of cognitive psychology.
I’m concerned with the way that scientific reasoning and critical thinking can be taught, and am, frankly, irritated with the apparent lack of interest in helping students and adults appreciate the sheer wonder of a scientific worldview. I’m also a promoter of open standards of data and evidence in law and government, as I feel that these institutions rely too much on opinion and rhetoric and not enough on facts.
When it comes to evaluating all the claims that come up in day-to-day life, I try to live by the idea that while everything may be possible, not all of it is very likely. We should make as few assumptions as we can, and constantly test the ones we do make.