Trends in Superstition Psychology

Cambridge Skeptics
Cambridge Skeptics
Public group

The Blue Moon

2 Norfolk Street · Cambridge

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For this event there is no formal event host, but Meetup members are encouraged to arrive early and introduce themselves.

Location image of event venue


Stuart Vyse
Psychologist, Writer, Contributing Editor, Skeptical Inquirer Magazine

Despite the many scientific and technological advances of modern life, superstition persists and, by some measures, is increasing in popularity. As a result, today there is a lively stream of research on the psychology of superstition, much of which is marketing studies inspired by the remarkable rise of the Chinese economy. This talk will review current trends in superstitious beliefs and the latest research on the psychology of those beliefs. Finally, I will discuss some of the current challenges faced by the skeptical community in the United States and elsewhere. I hope to get your thoughts about the proper role of skeptics in today’s world—a place where too often basic truths are rejected and wildly implausible ideas are uncritically endorsed.

Stuart Vyse is an American psychologist, teacher, speaker and award-winning author who specialises in belief in superstitions and critical thinking. He is frequently invited as a speaker and interviewed by the media as an expert on superstitious behaviour. His book Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition won the American Psychological Association's William James Book Award.

Vyse is frequently sought after by the American news media to explain why people believe in superstitions and how people make financial decisions. Vyse believes superstitions come from a need to have some measure of control over events people hope will happen, or seek to avoid. This behaviour is reinforced by the tendency of the human brain to detect patterns in events, even when they're completely due to chance. That motivates people to attribute a favourable outcome to a good-luck charm, for instance. Finding a way to control the outcome of an uncertain situation brings some comfort. While this behaviour may help reduce anxiety, it may also cause people to gamble excessively, to base decisions on unreliable techniques such as fortune-telling or to endanger their health, for example by using homeopathy rather than actual medication.

This event is open to the public.
No registration or prior association with Cambridge Skeptics is required.

Advance Tickets £5.00 (only 80 spaces)
Student (on the door with valid ID): £3.00 (subject to availability)

Unreserved seating is available for a maximum of 80 people on a first-come-first served basis.

Doors Open: 7:00pm
Talk Starts: 7:30pm
Event Ends: 9:00pm -9:30pm
Venue Closes: Midnight

Step-Free Access To Venue: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible Venue: Yes
Wheelchair Accessible Toilets: No

The bar provides a variety of food and drink. Only food and drink purchased at the venue can be consumed on the premises. Please place food orders early to avoid extended waiting times during busy periods.

This event is hosted by Cambridge Skeptics. A not-for-profit community organisation for the promotion of science, positive skepticism and critical thinking skills. All ticket sales and donations received fund speaker expenses and running costs. Full details of all expenditure, accounts and profit/loss can be viewed at our annual AGM meetings. All the staff are volunteers and support these events in conjunction with their full-time jobs.