Question, Explore, Discover: 2016

s200_susan-blackmoreFancy some Team Spirit? On Saturday 15th October I’ll be contributing to this year’s QED conference . QED is a science and skepticism meeting in Manchester (UK) .  I’ll be joining Prof Susan Blackmore (pictured) and @HayleyStevens for a panel called Team Spirit, exploring parapsychology and paranormal research. Keeping us in order will be Deborah Hyde (@jourdemayne , of werewolves, vampires, and The Skeptic magazine fame). As described on the QED site, “Susan Blackmore is Visiting Professor in psychology at the University of Plymouth and one of the most prominent early figures of the modern UK skepticism. Her personal encounters with perceived out of body experiences while studying at university led Susan to study the phenomena fully.” Sue’s 1986 autobiography Adventures of a Parapsychologist is a classic. Most recently, Sue has been writing about consciousness. Hayley is also a “Believer-turned-skeptic, with over a decade of ghost research under her belt, she examines strange sightings, photos, videos, sound recordings and more to determine their rational causes.”

Sue, Hayley and I were asked to come up with some possible questions to kick things off. Ideas include…

Has anyone ever tried to trick you?

What’s the most fun investigation into the paranormal you have ever done?

What’s the most depressing event you’ve encountered in paranormal research?

If there’s one paranormal phenomenon you’d most like to be true which would it be?

Is there any evidence for the paranormal that you think might possibly be valid?

Do you think belief in angels, spirits, souls, and life after death will ever go away? If not why not?

Is there any experiment you would love to do if only you had the time/money/ethical approval etc. ?

What advice would you give to a bright young student wanting to pursue a career investigating the paranormal?

Have you made any mistakes that have helped you to learn something about paranormal research?

Which paranormal researcher has inspired you most, and why?

What is the strangest thing you have experienced personally?

Has modern technology changed the way you research? For better or worse?

Are there any age-old stigmas you face regularly?


Let us know if you have any other ideas. There are just a few tickets left so you’ll have to move quickly if you want to join in. Hope to see you there!



About Caroline Watt

Prof Caroline Watt is a founder member of the Koestler Parapsychology Unit.
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11 Responses to Question, Explore, Discover: 2016

  1. Jeremy Fraser says:

    Will this QED talk be put online after it has been given / held? Sadly due to distance I can’t make it.

    Failing this will it be streamed for those such as my self who don’t live in the UK but would like to learn more.


  2. Leea says:

    Would have loved to attend but again due to distance I’m unable. Will the talks be coming to Glasgow or Edinburgh?


  3. Bevis Beauvais says:

    To be perfectly honest I cannot really see the need for prominent professional individuals or institutions to label themselves as sceptics. The scientific method already has scepticism built into it – that is the whole point of the exercise. It should not be about believers versus non-believers, but about true versus insincere science. I would also point out that attempting to study the paranormal without a reasonably lengthy experience of some form of meditational or introspective technique is rather like attempting to study music without being able to play an instrument – it is a personally enjoyable intellectual exercise and one that is of interest to other intellectuals, but it does not necessarily have much to contribute to music. The difficulty uniformed sceptics face is that they may not be emotionally equipped for the kind of intimate self-knowledge that spiritual practices engender and this is even more the case with what Gooch would call compulsive scepticism.


  4. Arthur Mather says:

    It seems to be inevitable that anyone with a view on the paranormal will incline one way or the other, probably human nature demands it. The difference being that skeptics require concrete proof before belief, and believers need disproof for them to change their views. What really matters is how open they are to any evidence, what standards of proof or disproof they will accept. Those who are converts from one stance to the other (typically believer to skeptic) are the most intractable and closed minded.


  5. Gemmaexplores says:

    Not sure I agree Arthur! I genuinely don’t feel I fall into either camp. And I like it that way. It can change daily – Some days I wake up and feel that I’m part of the universe and something bigger, some days I’m practically Dawkins – it’s all bull, I’m walking meat! But then again, I’ve done a degree in neuroscience (very data driven) and a masters in Parapsychology (with some very hippy dippy modules!). I like to think I have the best of both worlds 🙂

    This event sounds amazing. Had no idea it was happening – plus it’s in my home town! 🙂 I’m tempted…


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