Chris French is Emeritus Professor in the Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is also Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit. He retired in 2020. He is a Fellow of the British Psychological Society and of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and a patron of Humanists UK. He has published over 200 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He writes for the Guardian and the Skeptic magazine (UK). His most recent books are Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience, co-authored with Anna Stone (2014, Palgrave Macmillan) and The Science of Weird Shit: Why Our Minds Conjure the Paranormal (2024, MIT Press).
Anomalous and Paranormal Beliefs: Twenty-Five Years of Research
Opinion polls show the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. Such widespread experience of and belief in the paranormal can only mean one of two things. Either the paranormal is real, in which case this should be accepted by the wider scientific community which currently rejects such claims; or else belief in and experience of ostensibly paranormal phenomena can be fully explained in terms of psychological factors. This presentation will provide an introduction to the sub-discipline of anomalistic psychology, which may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behavior and experience, in an attempt to provide non-paranormal explanations in terms of known psychological and physical factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.