Upper Sixth psychologists were treated to a day of magic, ‘bad science’ and hypnosis at the annual ‘Science and Psychology’ conference on Wednesday 1st December.

The morning started with a talk by Phil Banyard exploring how psychological research can often be considered pseudoscience, emphasising the need to progress in studying human behaviour more scientifically if we are to help dispel some of the long-held myths such as ‘we only use 10% of our brain’. Mike Cardwell followed up on this theme explaining in detail some of the methodological issues faced by psychologists in our pursuit of the truth about human behaviour. He gave an interesting talk on how data can be manipulated by researchers to help support their theories and the major flaw inherent in the publishing process whereby only significant findings get reported, ultimately distorting our understanding of human behaviour.

Dr Lucie Clements then gave an interesting talk about how, contrary to popular belief, ‘creatives’ aren’t all that different to ‘scientists’, including a live experiment to help demonstrate how different types of dance can help improve convergent and divergent thinking; and yes, this included us all doing the Macarena in the audience! After lunch, Oliver Meech gave a superb lecture on the psychology behind magic, teaching us all a new magic trick along the way. Finally, we ended the day with some stage hypnosis by Andrew Newton that had the crown enthralled. Unfortunately (or luckily?) none of our students were suggestible enough to be selected to go on stage this year, but nonetheless it was fascinating to see the students on stage being hypnotised right in front of our eyes; struggling to put their shoes on, unable to move their arms, and even using their shoes as an oxygen mask!

It was a fascinating and fun filled series of lectures and we are already looking forward to taking the Lower Sixth back next year.

Mrs Lucy Wilson, Head of Psychology.