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Beth Sorensen
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U of O professor presents physics-psychology seminar at Reed College

Portland, OR (September 10, 2003)–Ray Hyman, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Oregon, will present a seminar on "How Smart People Fool Themselves" on Thursday, October 16, at 4:10 p.m. in the psychology auditorium on the Reed College campus. The seminar, sponsored by Reed’s physics and psychology departments, is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Reed events website or call the Reed events line at 503/777-7755.

Hyman’s current project explores how contemporary theories of cognitive science may help us understand how smart people can go wrong. For this purpose, he has gathered a selection of detailed cases in which eminent scholars have blundered badly. Each case highlights a different cognitive mechanism that might account for the blunder. Ideally, Hyman’s project will showcase the power of cognitive science to provide possible explanations. In some cases, the project may point to the limitations of current theories and to ways in which cognitive science needs to be modified or expanded. Hyman is currently working on a book about this subject.

Hyman received his B.A. from Boston University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, all in experimental psychology. He served on the National Research Council on Techniques for the Enhancement of Human Performance from 1985 to 1991 and published two books during that period: Enhancing Human Performance and In the Mind’s Eye. Hyman was a founding member, and is on the executive council, of CSICOP (the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal), and is considered the leading constructive critic of academic parapsychology research. He has taught about the psychology of belief and self-deception and conducted painstaking analyses of published parapsychology experiments. He was one of the twentieth century’s ten most important skeptics, according to Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915).

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