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Bruce Hood

Bruce Hood

Bruce Hood, Ph.D.

Bruce Hood is on the editorial advisory board of The Skeptic and is a Professor of Psychology at Bristol University.

Best known for his idea that humans are hard-wired for religion and superstitious beliefs, Hood is the author of a book entitled The Science of Superstition: How the Developing Brain Creates Supernatural Beliefs (2009).

In The Amazing Randi meeting in London in 2011, Hood claimed that “personal experience” with the paranormal can be explained through expectations stemming from belief, in that the brain’s neural firing fills in inferred information (such as “seeing a ghost”) for what is believed and “should” be. Hood concluded that it is not enough just to be skeptical, but that we need to know why people believe in the paranormal. He also posited that believing may be more natural than abnormal, since it seems to be how the brain works.

Like several other academic skeptics, he claims that his own beliefs are based on evidence. In an interview in Skeptical Inquirer (March 5, 2011) he said, “I think that dogma, whether you’re a believer or nonbeliever, is not appropriate, and you need to have the flexibility to change with the evidence. That’s what a true skeptic should be, not someone who dismisses it off-hand.”

However, he himself has shown very little interest in the evidence for psi phenomena, and seems to have been programmed with a strong belief in the materialist philosophy. In his Royal Institution Christmas Lectures for children in December 2011, he stated categorically that “There is no such thing as psychic phenomena and anyone who says that there is is either a fraud or deluded.”

His most recent book is The Self Illusion (2013).

 
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Photo:
Dave Fayram

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