Category Archives: News

Talk, 28 Oct 2014: The power of reason

I am giving a talk on 28th October at Off the Shelf, Sheffield’s festival of words. Here is the blurb: Is it true that “you can’t tell anybody anything”? From pub arguments to ideology-driven party political disputes it can sometimes people have their minds all made up, that there’s no point trying to persuade anybody […]

Psychoactive plants in season at Kew Gardens

The Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, or London’s Kew Gardens if you’re not from the 1800s, has a fantastic season of events on the science of psychoactive plants that starts on 20th September. It covers everything from coffee to opium to magic mushrooms and discuss the pharmacology, public policy and ethnobotany of intoxicating plants. There […]

Round trip ticket to the science of psychedelics

The latest edition of The Psychologist is a special open-access issue on the science and social impact of hallucinogenic drugs. There’s an article by me on culture and hallucinogens that discusses the role of hallucinogenic drugs in diverse cultures and which also covers how cultural expectations shape the hallucinogenic experience – from traditional Kitanemuk society […]

One death too many

One of the first things I do in the morning is check the front pages of the daily papers and on the day following Robin Williams’ death, rarely have I been so disappointed in the British press. Over the years, we have gathered a lot of evidence from reliable studies that show that how suicide […]

Hallucinating in the deep waters of consciousness

On Saturday I curated a series of short films about other inner worlds, altered states and the extremes of mental health at London’s Shuffle Festival. I discovered one of the films literally a couple of days before the event, and it completely blew me away. Narcose is a French documentary about a dive by world […]

Shuffle Your Mind: Short Film Screenings

If you’re around in London Saturday 2nd August I’m curating a showing of short films about psychosis, hallucinations and mental health as part of the fantastic Shuffle Festival. The films include everything from a first-person view of voice hearing, to out-of-step behaviour in the urban sprawl, to a free-diver’s deep sea hallucinations. There will be […]

Towards a scientifically unified therapy

Today’s edition of Nature has an excellent article on the need to apply cognitive science to understanding how psychological therapies work. Psychological therapies are often called ‘talking treatments’ but this is often a misleading name. Talking is essential, but it’s not where most of the change happens. Like seeing a personal trainer in the gym, […]

A festival of anxious art

If you’re in London during June, the Anxiety Arts Festival is surprisingly diverse and interesting series of events that looks at anxiety through film, theatre and visual arts. The festival is being curated by the Mental Health Foundation who have put together a genuinely exciting programme that avoids the curse of constant niceness and goes […]

Happy Birthday Tetris!

Released on 6th of June 1984, Tetris is 30 years old today. Here’s a video where I try and explain something of the psychology of Tetris: All credit for the graphics to Andrew Twist. What I say in the video is based on an article I wrote a while back for BBC Future. As well […]

Berlin Hallucinations Talk, Thursday 8th May

I’m going to be doing a public talk on the science of hallucinations in Berlin next week. This thoroughly awesome poster has been made for the event. A big tip of the hat to illustrator Eoin Ryan for that one. The talk will take place in the Villa Neukölln bar, is part of the Big […]

A history of the mind in 25 parts

BBC Radio 4 has just kicked off a 25-part radio series called ‘In Search of Ourselves: A History of Psychology and the Mind’. Because the BBC are not very good at the internet, there are no podcasts – streaming audio only, and each episode disappears after seven days. Good to see the BBC are still […]

Bomb disposal for the brain

New Statesman has an excellent profile of the wise, funny and acerbic neurosurgeon Henry Marsh. Marsh was the subject of the fantastic 2007 documentary The English Surgeon but he’s now one year away from retirement and has clearly decided that diplomatic responses are no longer a tactical necessity. The piece also gives a vivid insight […]

How to win wars by influencing people

I’ve got an article in The Observer about how behavioural science is being put at the centre of military operations and how an ‘influence-led’ view of warfare is causing a rethink in how armed conflict is managed. Techniques such as deception and propaganda have been the mainstay of warfare for thousands of years, but there […]

Parting – art through psychosis – at King’s Place

If you’re in London on Sunday 16th March, there’s an amazing stage show at King’s Place about psychosis called Parting. The performance has been created by talented twin sister composers Effy and Litha Efthymiou and, along with folks with first-person experience of psychosis, I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with them during the development of […]

Mind Mosaic

Biomedical charity The Wellcome Trust have launched a new online science magazine called Mosaic which is rammed full of mind and brain stories for its launch. As part of their role is medical education, the idea is that they get writers to produce in-depth articles about science and then give them away for free (welcome […]

What’s the evidence for the power of reason to change minds?

Last month I proposed an article for Contributoria, titled What’s the evidence on using rational argument to change people’s minds?. Unfortunately, I had such fun reading about the topic that I missed the end-of-month deadline and now need to get backers for my proposal again. So, here’s something from my proposal, please consider backing it […]

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