Skeptics in the Pub: September 17th – Chris French

The Psychology of Anomalous Experiences

Professor Christopher C French, Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London

When: Thu, September 17, 2009 8:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Where: Crown Hotel, 43 Lime Street Liverpool, L1 1JQ

Chris French


Ever since records began, in every known society, a substantial proportion of the population has reported unusual experiences many of which we would today label as "paranormal". Opinion polls show that the majority of the general public accepts that paranormal phenomena do occur. 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. Anomalistic psychology attempts to provide non-paranormal explanations for anomalous experiences in terms of known psychological factors. This approach will be illustrated with examples relating to a range of ostensibly paranormal phenomena.


Chris French is a Professor of Psychology and Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has published over 100 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology. His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. He frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims. He is the editor of The Skeptic magazine.

  1. #1 by Piette Motuche on September 17, 2009 - 16:12

    If you would like to boost your career as a skeptic then try to redefine the recent evidence gathered by Prof Erik Von daniken author of Chariots of the gods who has thousands of followers promoting the ancient astronaut theory without criticizing his personality & can you also explain why I know how to build UFO’s & the unlimited power source needed to propel it through space. The oil barons really rule the world & I know you can only say so much about the truth but if you are unaware then I suggest not reading science books or any work from credible scientists & follow you own conclusions once you’ve considered all possibilities. If the world does end on 21-Dec-2012 then I want to complete my ship to save as many human lives as possible. What is the difference between a halo & a helmet, angel or alien, magic or misunderstood technology. Our ancient ancestors would not have known the difference. Please research ancient astronaut theory before contacting me.

  2. #2 by Michael on May 4, 2010 - 20:02

    I really enjoyed the talk and Chris was a great sport and very interesting fella (as Marsh would say “all round good fella”)

  3. #3 by mickyfromthegrave on May 11, 2010 - 22:13

    I read all of Prof Erik Von daniken’s books and was disapointed when he was exposed for faking material.
    I one saw a UFO over Manchester in 1968. it was wicked, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck.
    I was cold stone sober and new that nothing entering the earth’s gravitational pull could move like this object. it moved accross the skyline at a fantastic speed and just stopped dead, it then moved in the opposite direction at about the same speed but stopped dead half way accross the skyline. it then started to rise into the clouds and because they were thin i could still see it. in the clouds it went left and right almost simultanously it was so fast, it then came down very slowely and suddenly shot off, this went on for only a few minutes but it seemed ages.
    it was NOT AN HELICOPTER, NOT A PLANE. Not a STAR. not a meteor,
    I have never forgot it.

  4. #4 by Michael on June 7, 2010 - 18:30

    Hold on. Did this UFO traverse the sky in a forward and backward motion at quite a lick? Going in one direction and then ‘turning on a sixpence’ (pre-decimal era) and going in the opposite direction for some moments before reversing and repeating until your mum called you inside as it was getting past your bath-time?

(will not be published)