About Bruce

hood1I am currently Professor of Developmental Psychology in Society in the School of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol. I have been a research fellow at Cambridge University and University College London, a visiting scientist at MIT and a faculty professor at Harvard. I have been awarded an Alfred Sloan Fellowship in neuroscience, the Young Investigator Award from the International Society of Infancy Researchers, the Robert Fantz memorial award and voted to Fellowship status by the society of American Psychological Science. I am also a Fellow of the Society of Biology (UK) and the Royal Institution of Great Britain.

I have diverse research interests including the origins of supernatural beliefs, intuitive theory formation, object representation, spatial cognition, inhibitory control and general cognitive development conducted at my labs at the Bristol Cognitive Development Centre which opened in 2001.

I have written two books for the general public, “SuperSense” (HarperOne, 2009) about the natural origins of supernatural beliefs which has been published in 12 countries, and “The Self Illusion” (Constable & Robinson 2012) about the fallacy that we are coherent, integrated individuals but rather a constructed narrative largely influenced by those around us.

I have also co-authored a highly successful undergraduate textbook “Psychology”  (Palgrave, 2011) and co-edited an academic book on development of object knowledge “The Origins of Object Knowledge” (OUP, 2009).

I have appeared in a number of TV science documentaries and in 2011 I delivered the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures which were broadcast on the BBC to over 4 million viewers. You can see the lectures as well as behind-the-scenes at the Ri Channel. I also repeated these lectures in Japan and Singapore in 2012.

I am currently working on my new book for Penguin which is due in 2013.

DISCLAIMER: The content and opinions expressed on this site having nothing to do with the University of Bristol.

More personal stuff can be found here at my Author’s Page.

I have recently joined the celebrated ranks of Skeptic Top Trumps

128 responses to “About Bruce

  1. podblack

    Hello! You left a comment on my blog – can I email you? My email details are on the ‘About’ on my blog… very interested in talking to you! :)

  2. debikm

    I like to think I have an open mind about such things supernatural or strange, though the only real strangeness I’ve experienced firsthand has been of the completely mundane variety. I am fascinated by ghost stories and tales of supernatural beings, even write some fiction in that vein. I once had a conversation with a biological scientist I worked with several years ago involving his experiences all his life with spirits. He was as logical and ‘normal’ a person you could imagine, yet had experienced unexplainable things. This leads me to lean more toward the believer end of the spectrum, though if a scientific explanation for such events were presented, I wouldn’t dismiss either as impossible. I feel there are things we don’t understand; and among them are things we aren’t meant to understand. Which is which? Beats me…

  3. Thanks for the heads up, Bruce. And for the informative alphainventions.com post. Will read up on this asap – have to finish a grant application first. Oh, the joys of academia!
    Kind regards,
    Tom

  4. Thank you for alerting me to your book: I’d be very happy to purchase it when it comes out in Australia!

    I’m very interested in how people can believe the things they do, and it seems like SuperSense covers this exact topic in a lot of detail.

    I hope everything goes well.

    Cheers,
    Jack

  5. carrieeatstofu

    your blog looks great! I will henceforth be a reader. =) Thanks for shouting out to our piece on Ari on the Daily!

    -Carrie

  6. Stimulating site Bruce. I am certain it will generate plenty of interest.
    Maureen

  7. Really interesting blog Bruce.

    I consider myself toward the believing end of open minded, having never ‘experienced’ anything other than the ‘Parking Angel’ to satisfy my need of proof.

    Working on a stroke unit has enabled me to witness first hand effects of brain damage on personality, inhibition and cognative function. It is a fascinating field.

    Last night a very poorly elderly patient of mine became very agitated and upset, she has difficulty in communicating though her cognative functions are still essentially in tact. At one point she was clearly having a conversation with someone, when I was the only other person in the room.

    I asked her if she could see some one and she indicated that it was her Father. To cut a long story short, she indicated that his presence was not frightening, (she had been a Daddy’s girl) but she became upset and said she wasn’t ready to go.

    This followed a night of her pulling off her blankets (even though she was cold), slapping herself and sucessfully batteling sleep.

    Often sick patients can be seen looking upwards towards the corner of their vision for a few hours or days before they die, and most staff believe that ‘someone comes to take them’. I have witnessed the grumpiest of grumpy old men ‘see’ these ‘visions’ and spend the last two hours of his life with the biggest smile on his face.

    Are these patients hallucinating as the brain closes down? I don’t know, but it much more reasuring for all of us to believe the alternative.

  8. Wow! How did such a smart guy run into my blog?…lol. My father went to MIT. I once was going to move to the UK, but it didn’t work out.
    P.S. supernatural things scare me! =(
    http://www.singleinatlanta.wordpress.com

  9. Hmmm…somehow I landed here while checking out alphainventions.com after they appeared as a link on my blog.
    Interesting “about” you have. I must confess, I am a believer. I know what I have seen. Then again maybe I am simply crazy. :O

    I’ll be back to read your words.

  10. Thanks for the comment, Bruce. I’ll definitely be dropping by here regularly. Excellent blog. Looking forward to reading more when I have time.

  11. great blog! well written and concise post! i will be back for more great reads…

  12. frigginloon

    Ah Bruce, why did you have to go and bump me off AI, now I have been wasting my time trying to return the compliment (to no avail). Oh well, never mind.

  13. frigginloon

    Hi Bruce, I have found another clip showing the Royal Guard clipping the tourist behind the ear. Fingers crossed they keep it up long enough for you to view it (oh, before the Queen gets it removed again!).
    http://frigginloon.wordpress.com/2009/01/23/royal-guardsman-attacks-mimicking-tourist/

  14. Ram Venkatararam

    Hi Bruce,

    Thanks for all of the great posts and for adding me to your blogroll. It’s greatly appreciated (and I will be happy to return the favour!) I have a friend who shares your Hammer fascination and also collects the posters. He too doesn’t have space to hang them all. I caught the bug and have a handful of movie posters but only one Hammer; “The Gorgon.” It’s a great piece.

    Thanks again, Ram

  15. wereviking

    Hi Bruce. I cruised along after reading your comments in a discussion at Condron.us. Interesting to see educated people thriving on the blog scene as well. Australian release for your book?

    W

    Zephyr — a superhero webcomic in prose
    wereviking.wordpress.com

  16. dorian9

    hi bruce, came here by way of http://tothewire.wordpress.com.
    i’m enjoying your blog. i’m curious about all things supernatural and like to debunk them but am fascinated by them anyway and delight in reading about the subject. anything on crop circles? england seems to have the best manifestations. how about spontaneous human combustion? that is a real phenomena…

  17. dorian9

    thanks!
    you don’t believe in supernatural abilities? clairvoyance, telekinesis, etc?? in the realm of parapsychology i do believe some individuals are able to harness their psychic energies and are able to manifest them in different ways- consciously or subconsciously, e.g ouija board planchettes and poltergeist activity, debunking ghosts but evidencing psychic energy.

  18. Hi Bruce! I’m Mary from Jon and Mary in the Morning Radio show in Wisconsin. We interview you this coming Monday morning and I can’t wait! I started SuperSense last night. This kind of information is fascinating to me. Of course, growing up in an Irish Catholic household where there was a new superstition spewing from my Grandma McCarthy’s lips every day, may have had an impact on my thoughts. (Yes, I fly with my rosary in my purse and I wear a Miraculous Medal. Having said that, I deeply believe in the power of prayer.) I’ll keep reading and we’ll talk to you Monday morning, Bruce!

  19. brucehood

    Dear Richard,
    That was thrown in for a bit of humor… I didn’t realize that someone had actually worked it out! But you do agree there has been more than one shroud – no? And that there was an medieval industry in relics in much the same way that James Randi recounts in the book. Thanks for the comment.
    Best
    Bruce

  20. Richard M. Kuntz

    I definitely with you on Chomsky/deep structure vs. Skinner. But I think
    skeptics err when making replicability the touchstone of scientific
    inquiry. I think there are phenomena worthy of scientific investigation
    which cannot be replicated under laboratory conditions. William James,
    whom you cite favorably on other matters at several points in the book,
    certainly was a “believer” in the possibility of psychic phenomena.
    There
    certainly was a profit motive in the medieval relic trade. But with
    respect to the Shroud, I’ll get back to you.
    Thanks for your response.
    Richard

  21. I would love to chat with you about any upcoming US tours. I could not find your email anywhere though.

    Best,

    Whitney

  22. Barry Carlino

    Enjoyed your MCing at the Conspiracy Theories lecture at the Bristol Festival of Ideas. Sorry we didn’t manage to get tickets for your session.

  23. Alvin J. Clark

    On page 26 in “SuperSense” you say that the limbic system is “Sometimes referred to as the ‘reptilian’ part of the brain”. Perhaps others have made the same mistake, but Paul MacLean, originator of the concept, on page 16 in his book “The Triune Brain in Evolution” refers to the limbic system as the “Paleomammalian Brain”. “Reptilian Brain” refers to the brain stem.

  24. brucehood

    Ooops Alvin. I stand corrected. The book is ambitious in its scope. I’ll need to be more careful in future but I hope the general story is reasonably accurate.

  25. Hi Bruce, your book was recommended to me by my PhD supervisor, what an excellent choice! It lead me onto about a dozen other books in a similar vein, including Stuart Vyse’s ‘Believing in Magic’ and Dean Hamer’s ‘The God Gene’, basically your book has helped me figured out my hypothesis! So if I get through my viva, it will be partly due to your book and where it lead me! Thanks! You the man!

  26. Paul Murray

    I enjoyed your book. I’m a pathologist and I sometimes wonder about where the “soul” is when I hold a brain in my hands. I think the theory of emergence may have an answer.

    Anyway, I didn’t see a link to this article from the Sunday NYT on Capgras syndrome so I didn’t know if you had seen it.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/09/health/research/09brain.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=when%20loved%20ones%20seem%20imposters&st=cse

  27. Matt St.Onge

    Bruce,

    A statement you made at the end of Supersense gave me an idea for a new book you could write; or maybe I’ll write it. It’s called “Playing God with Information”.

    See, at the end of the book you talked about how you met the current residents at the cardigan killer house. You decided to TAKE information from them, but not GIVE them any information in return. This is critical information that you researched through “great pains” as you say. This is information that you were sharing with the entire world who would buy your book. The residents were the only people NOT to know. That’s crazy, because they were the ones who needed the information the most.

    This is a classic example of making your decision first, then justifying it afterwards. Do you know why you made that decision? You said it was to protect them. Ahhh, no. It was to protect you. It was to let sleeping dogs lie. It was to not open a can of worms. It was to not inconvenience yourself.

    It’s ok. People do this all the time. We all play God with information. The premise of the book can answer the simple question: Why do we all want the full information from others, while we withhold the full information from others?

    Lack of information NEVER protects listener. It only serves the person holding back the information.

    I’m a fan of full disclosure to an extreme and to let the chips fall where they may.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to give you a hard time. I liked your book. Its just that the ending shows a clear reason why we have a Supersense; because people hold back the truth and we’re left having to figure it out another way. The residents feel the ghosts, but it would be a helluva lot easier if you just told them what happened there like you told the rest of the world.

    • brucehood

      Are you saying that we should always tell everyone any information that may have some bearing on their situation? Surely not. Also are you also saying that the residents probably experienced ghosts?

      But yes, I did wonder if I should include the epilogue and mention that the house still existed. I figured that if the rest of the world knew then the book would have done pretty well and I could justify my disclosure. If the book did not do well then it would generally not be known. At the time, it just seemed wrong to tell them.
      Thanks for reading and commenting.
      Best
      Bruce

    • Lack of information NEVER protects the listener? OK, then, my alcoholic friend, you should know that the pub around the corner is having a 2 for 1 special right now. Matt, you are assuming that people are perfectly rational and will use information to their best interests. However, the main point of Bruce’s book is that people are not and never will be fully rational. He did not tell the people living there of the history of the house because he, quite rightly, recognised they might not react fully rationally to this information, just like the alcoholic from my example. I would have done exactly the same thing that Bruce did. Doing otherwise would have been irresponsible.

  28. Bruce? Bruce from Dundee Uni circa 1981/82? Party Bruce, coolest dude in town?

    Would you believe I began reading your book today? It’s a fascinating topic especially the ‘humans as pattern recognition machines’ aspect in terms of explaining curious perceptual phenomena (I did Psychology at Dundee too). Excellent work.

    Click my Website link for some photos of that era – does the name Plastic Flies conjour memories?

    Apologies if I have confused you with another Bruce Hood. I’ll get my coat.

  29. gary ashton

    bruce
    im enjoying your book but i have a question.
    why can’t intelligent design be evolution, after all evolution would be the intelligent way to design any being?
    regards
    gary

    • brucehood

      Well I think this is really Dawkins’ point about the difference between a system that has a goal in mind (designed) as to one where there is no goal (chance variation and selection by competition), where complexity simply emerges as a consequence.
      Does that help?

  30. PaulB

    Bruce – many thanks for a very interesting and entertaining presentation this evening, and for being so accessible afterwards – fascinating, and now looking forward to reading the book.

  31. Regards! I’m extremely interested in the Cognitive Science of the Religion, and I have followed some publications from his blog and other sites.

    I direct a blog and a forum of divulgation (all in spanish) of this topic: http://humanismonaturalistacientifico.blogspot.com/ that focuses in neuroscience of religion. It would be good that you visit the site, because there is a lot of information. I think that you would be interested in seeing that there is a temporo-parieto-frontal network in the right hemisphere of the brain (homologus to languague network on left side) that it correlates with the cognitive bases (agency, causality, folk psychology, empathy, ToM) that support the supernatural belief.

    I have dedicated some publications on your work:

    http://foroshnc.freeforums.org/supersense-t53.html (on “Supersense…”, extracting information from your blog)

    http://foroshnc.freeforums.org/somos-creyentes-innatos-o-receptores-culturales-t60.html (on an online interview)

    http://humanismonaturalistacientifico.blogspot.com/2009/09/ciencia-cognitiva-de-la-religion.html (on the controversial note “We are born to believe in God”, updated with your crticis about it).

    And now I’m preparing an entry on his your video-interview with Eduardo Punset.

    Congratulations for your brilliant work.

    Antonio

  32. dorian

    hello bruce!

    here’s something one of our cheeky authors at ADKOB posted that made me think of supersense: http://tothewire.wordpress.com/2009/12/03/virgin-mary-in-a-pancake/

  33. Adrian

    Bruce, Just heard your On Point interview (re-broadcast).
    Excellent talk , can’t wait to read your book when it arrives.
    My own specialism is consumer behavior so you can see the connection.

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  35. Hey there, mr. Hood. Just wanted to let you know that I was the person in charge of translating your book into Portuguese. It was really an enjoyable experience, and your book really made me think about a few things. Keep up the good work!

  36. Hello, Dr. Hood! My name is Daria Okuneva and I am a journalist on the Russian broadcasting channel TVC (Moscow). Currently I am working on the news item about your investigation in the field of children s pcycology. I have read that you came to the conclusion that all children subconciensly do believe in supernatural things, do belive in God. Would appreciate very much if you could find time to comment on your interesting findings. If you are interested, it is possible to hold an interview by Skype or telephone. For doing so you could kindly inform us about the most suitable time for you for holding the interview and provide us with your Skype details or contact telephone number. Or, may be, your collegues from the Institute will help us with that.

    I would be very grateful for your answer and for your assistance!
    If you have any questions or would like to receive any additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me.

    tel: +7916147-73-05, mail: stardog@yandex.ru

    Kind regards,

  37. Hello Bruce,

    I had a small epiphany the other day while standing in a grocery story line-up.

    The lady behind me had a toddler who was named “Bella”. I recalled that the main female character in the movies series “Twilight” had that name, and this got me to thinking about how often people name their children after TV/Movie characters.

    Do you suppose that, just like people collect things that they subconsciously think gives them some of the essence of the previous owner (e.g. a signature of a movie star) that somehow they also believe that naming their children after a famous TV/movie character somehow will rub off some of that character’s essence on their child?

    I wonder what your thoughts might be on that?

  38. brucehood

    Hmm.. I think that would be taking the essentialist concept too far. People just like the sound of some names or the associations they conjure.. Essentialism is not simply association as I have been at pains to argue – if it is then it becomes an invalid concept which I don’t think it is. Rather, the behavioural consequences of essentialism speak to a much richer notion than association supplies e.g. contamination fears
    But thanks for the thought

  39. Thanks Bruce. Yes, that makes sense now that you’ve explained it again. I leant my book out and was struggling to clearly remember the concept as described in Supersense.

    Thanks for setting me straight. :)

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  44. Susan

    I enjoyed your interview on SGU and thought some of your points were very valid. I was, however, disappointed that you don’t seem to know what country you are in. You state that the UK charges around $5000 per year for higher education. I have recently completed my M.Sci. in Chemistry at the University of Glasgow and didn’t pay any fees along with every other Scottish student studying for their first degree in Scotland. I now live in Canada and I am constantly frustrated with North Americans thinking that England and the UK/Britain are the same place and professors from universities in England thinking the same thing does not help the situation. Although I should point out that this was only a very small part of the interview and I found the rest very thought provoking and informative.

  45. brucehood

    Ah Susan, I take your point but Scottish students are the exception and the minority (but for how long who knows). I’ll try and be more inclusive in describing the whole of the UK next time. Thanks forth positive comments. B.

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  47. Hello again, mr. Hood. I wrote a post in March about being the translator for the Brazilian Portuguese version of Supersense. I just got my copy from the publisher. If you’d like to take a look at the cover, please feel free to come to my blog: http://artmakers.wordpress.com

    Keep up the great work! :)

    • brucehood

      Dear Ivar,
      I received copies of the Brazilian publication and absolutely love the cover. I am working on a new book – hopefully that will also be published in Brazil with another beautiful cover.
      Best
      Bruce

  48. Bruce, this book filled a very necessary spot and provided a piece of the puzzle that was previously missing – bravo!

    It also provides an explanation for why – despite decades of effort, the Skeptic movement has been unable to erase bunkum, and why centuries of education have not made horoscopes disappear.

    I particularly enjoyed the passages on contagion, and felt you have provided ample space for more research and testable predictions about behavior.

    One area that I felt begged for more space in the book were the results of the “Mister Rogers” experiment. The fact that the adult students believed more strongly than children that somebody ignorant of the person or the origin of the clothing would “behave differently and feel more special”, deserves more scrutiny.

    • brucehood

      Dear Matthew,
      Thank you for the kind words. Your points about contagion are being addressed as we speak. I have a grad student working on positive and negative contagion from wearing sweater. Also Paul Bloom just just published a “George Clooney” sweater study and we have been looking at moral contagion from organ donation that has just been published – so more research coming out or in the works.
      Best
      Bruce

  49. Alyssa

    Hello,

    My name is Alyssa Jacobs. I have been reading through your blog and finding it very interesting. I love the a squared plus b squared, equals salt shared. it is a nice touch. I love to write, and i think I could make a great contribution to your page. If this is something that interests you, then shoot me a quick email when you get a chance.

    Kind regards,
    Alyssa

    AlyssaMJacobs@gmail.com

  50. Rox

    Cheeky .Monkeys doesn’t seem to be there .

  51. Michael

    I stumbled across a commentary on your work, and thought you might like to browse through my very unstructured look at our cognitive life. CRC – Comprehension, Rationalisation and Conclusion
    http://www.sl4p.net.crc

    I have been loosely following this as a personal study for almost 20 years – and it’s never failed.

  52. Michael

    wordpress tweaked the link above –
    it shoud be /slash/ CRC
    http://www.sl4p.net/crc

  53. Carl Kyle

    A psychic has recently channeled Heath Ledger:

    http://divinechanneljacqueline.blogspot.com/

  54. Fraser McEwing

    Bruce, I want to email you but I can’t find an address. Are you purposely coy or am I thick? Probably the latter. Anyway, there is a favour I want to ask of you to which you’ll probably say no, but my Australian publicist says I should try.

    • brucehood

      Oh come on, I am the least coy guy you can find. If it is an endorsement or blurb, I am likely to decline as I have no time to read anything at the moment
      It’s bruce.hood at bristol.ac.uk (reformat accordingly)

  55. You are a very intelligent individual!

  56. Eric Mahady

    I have only just watched the second episode of “Meet Your Brain”.

    I’m 48 years old and I don’t think I have ever had so much fun!

    I am anxious to see the third, and will be exploring your books and other projects with hunger.

    Elephant juice!

  57. Sam L

    Bruce,
    I have recently been watching your Christmas Lectures about the brain and found them very interesting. I have been reading you blog and other sections of your website and have found your adapted edition of ‘Psychology’. I have been reading many product descriptions about this book online and I just wondered what the recommended age would be. I am thirteen years old and am highly interested on the topic of psychology; would I understand the text and other sections of this title?
    Regards
    Sam

    • brucehood

      Hi Sam, “Psychology” is a textbook for university undergraduate students but I am sure that a bright young person like you would understand it. But it is quite expensive. Send me an email to my university address and I’ll see about getting a copy sent to you. You can find me on Google.
      Best
      Bruce

  58. Thank you for bringing this to my attention – I haven’t laughed so much for a long time

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  60. Dear Mr. Hood

    Could you please tell me when your book “The Self Illusion” comes out in full on Kindle (UK)?

    Thanks

    Henry Swanson

  61. I was walking the streets of Bristol last week when I saw you and was going to tell you how much I enjoyed the Christmas Lectures when I thought to myself “don’t be silly, what would Bruce Hood be doing in Bristol?!”. Then I am told (much later) that it is actually quite likely that you would be in Bristol so I probably wouldn’t have seemed mad.

    I really enjoyed the Christmas Lectures.

  62. satanfornoreason

    Your book is incredible. I do have one complaint, however, though it is not about any of the large ideas in “The Self Illusion”. You accept the idea that some of our beliefs are the result of believing what we are told, rather than any type of reasoning process. It is one of these unconscious beliefs that I take issue with, and though not stated explicitly, it came through at one point and was transmitted to others through your writing.

    “Maybe that’s why belief in free will predicts not only better job performance but also expected career success. Workers who believe in free will outperform their colleagues, and this is recognized and rewarded by their supervisors. So, when we belive in free will, we enjoy life more.”

    The last statement begins with the word “so”. This implies that it is a logical conclusion of the preceding statements. For the statement to be a logical conclusion, however, one would have to accept the notion that enjoyment of life is related to work, performance at work, or success at work. I disagree with that notion. It is embedded so deep in so many ways of life – in the US, at least – that it is difficult to recognize and even harder to combat, though this is my first attempt to do so.

    I have no doubt that belief in free will (as opposed to not believing it) translates into better job performance, increased recognition by employers, and success* in one’s chosen career. I have a problem with the assumption that those things are somehow related to how much a person enjoys life. There is no discussion linking enjoyment of life with a person’s job or career. Rather, it is blindly accepted as a given that success at one’s job is correlated with enjoyment of life.

    If examined closely, I’d bet that the two actually are strongly correlated. But only because of the widespread acceptance of this notion – through writings like yours which implicitly reinforce the meme – the notion that your job and what you do for a living is more important than any other aspect of your life. It doesn’t have to be that way, and I think such focus on one’s career keeps people from actively celebrating or wondering about what a remarkable thing life is.

    Oddly enough, people who accept this notion (that career success and happiness go hand-in-hand) have less free will about many things simply because they haven’t even considered alternatives (e.g., happiness can be achieved through means other than succeeding at work and/or making money).

    (*I’m sure that the notion of career success is also something that most people blindly accept rather than consciously define for themselves, probably something such as having high rank in an organization, or making lots of money regardless of what one’s job is.)

  63. I just purchased “The Self Illusion” & “Why We Believe in the Unbelievable”.
    Am looking forward to reading them. Regarding “The Self Illusion” I have something to share in advance of my reading the book. Through the work I’ve done over the years with Landmark Education and in my ongoing personal inquiry into “Self ” I recently bumped into several realizations regarding “Self”.
    It began when I asked myself what I was referring to when I used the expression “myself”. Given that we mostly use representational language as our primary means of communication, what or where was this “self” that I keep referring to? In my daily conversations with people whenever someone
    used the expression “myself” I’d ask them what they were referring to. It was a “show stopper “of a question. Mostly they started with pointing to their body. Or they would say “Me”. Or they just became bewildered by the question. I’d then mention that when I say “chair” we both would know what that word represented, but when we used the expression “myself” we were both stuck for an answer as to what the word represented.
    This inquiry led me to the conclusion that “Self” only exists in language, or otherwise said “Self” has its existence in language only. So, “Self” does
    exist, but only in language. There is no pre-existing thing that the word, spoken or written, refers to. Aha! In that case “Self” is up for grabs; “Self” is anything I say it is, and only exists as a function of that saying. Then, “Self” is spoken into existence, and only exists in the moment it is said. It exists as a form of linguistic declaration in representational language.
    In order to maintain this “self generated” declared “Self” it must be
    shared in conversation with others until people begin to relate to one as the embodyment of that declaration.
    I further realized that all the pronouns, “I, we, you, them, us…” etc fall into the same category of existence.
    That’s good news and bad news. I finally realized an already existing Self does not exist. It isn’t even a “Non Self” as proclamed by Buddhism. Nor is it a “No-thing”. It just “isn’t. The american Declaration of Independence is a
    powerful linguistic act that brought into being the existence of what is called
    “American” or the “american” identity. Declarations take place in Generative language (as opposed to Descriptive language).
    My next insight has to do with the area of “Illusion”. I read an excerpt on Illusion in your book on the Amazon website. I agreed with it and I’d like to add or enhance what you wrote. I am an artist. A painter and graphic artist. I also produce a one-day seminar on painting. My insight came to me during an interaction with one of my participants, and I continue to use it in my seminars. What is the fundamental nature of an illusion?
    The fundamental nature of an illusion is familiar to any magician. The
    fundmental nature of an illusion is THAT IT LOOK REAL.

    • The last sentence in my reply has a typo. The fundamental nature of an illusion is that it must look real. When the magician puts someone in a box, closes the box and then proceeds to saw the box in half, we are fascinated by the trick because it looks like he is really sawing the person in half. So the fundamental nature of a successful illusion is THAT IT LOOKS REAL.

  64. “In our lab, to avoid the various ethical problems of using marshmallows…”

    Ummm…..what?

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  67. Hi Dr. Hood,

    I merely want to take the time to inform you that I recently completed reading your book, “SuperSense, ‘ and I found the book extremely well-written as well as interesting. It is clear to me that one could surmise that you are somewhat of a “Neo-Darwinist” as well ss, possibly a humanist. Having that said, would you happen to know of any excellent resourcex one can visit to capture some of the more groundbreaking information about your own field as well as Darwinism in general? I would really appreciate your time and efforts.

  68. “’In our lab, to avoid the various ethical problems of using marshmallows…’

    Ummm…..what?”

    Marshmallows can be highly addictive, as anyone who’s been on a flump-frnzy will know….. *blush*

  69. I enjoyed your book Self Illusion very much, especially on the topic of free will.

  70. frunzaru gabriel ionut

    Hello, professor my name is Gabriel Ionut are from Romania and is a graduate of the Faculty of Psychology of the average 7 license exam and I would like to acces to your articles , I read about you like you are a world-renowned psychologist , dare say you are a psychologist Donald Broadbent level.

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  73. Hey There. I found your weblog using msn. That is a very well written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful info.
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  74. vishal

    Dear Bruce,
    I read your book supersense which inspired me to read /study your other book the self illusion. I had to read it twice as i was musing and contemplating on each page each chapter.thank you for writing this book..its an eye opener in many ways.
    I had a question. I agree that the illusory sense of self is absolutely essential for development of child on to adulthood. However do you think that beyond adulthood this illusion is burden something that inhibits our potential.or something that is totally unnecessary, rudimentary..and that realising that this is illusion is actually setting the intellect free and empowering (not sure to whom)?. Also the fact of realisation that people we are dealing with are also under the spell of illusion is liberating. I men i have felt something like this since i have understood this. Now that “I” know its also confusing at times..because earlier was quite instinctive and now its taking time to decide before which many things from the book flash in the brain before it decides.anyways
    thanks again.
    Vishal

    • brucehood

      Dear Vishal,
      Thank you for the kind words. Yes, I think that it can be both liberating or brudensome depending on how you apply the principle. If you try to maintain a conception of self at all cost then it is a burden but one that is imposed by the pressure to conform by others.
      Best
      Bruce

  75. Rox

    Why should it be liberating or burdensome to maintain a conception of self ? I don’t understand this at all . Are some of us getting a little too clever ? Or are most of us too stupid ?

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  77. Rox

    If this website is ” awesome” as you put it, that is in no way thanks to your father.

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  79. Dennis Moore

    Hi Dr Hood. I was very much looking forward to your talk in Bellingham Washington later this month, but I just learned it was cancelled (at The Pickford anyway). Will you be speaking anywhere else in the vicinity?

    • brucehood

      Hi Dennis,
      Yes I was equally disappointed but unfortunately nothing for the Washington area on the schedule for the moment.
      Best
      Bruce

      • Marquis Patton

        Hey Bruce. I know you might be tired of hearing this question but if we are not coherent, integrated, continuous, separate, unreplicable, objective selves then does this leave any implications or even hints when it comes to “death”. If the self is an illusion and the self is finite then it follows that the finite self is an illusion. I know that you try to stress that it being an illusion doesn’t imply that it’s not real (thats a little confusing by the way) but it seems more like I am a wave in an ocean or a “narrative gravity” then a clump of matter with a objectively separate and finite consciousness. The more that I research what the self is from both a physics and neurological standpoint it seems to me that death is most likely and illusion. Im trying to resist it because there is a scientific consensus on the subject but it seems to me these facts are being ignored when people think about this kind of stuff. Atman from buddhism. I think you made a brief reference to buddhism in your book and while I’m an not necessarily a buddhist I want to know what you think about this concept. It is really hard to argue with especially when one sees that moralism stems from an egocentric view of organisms.

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  82. roxks

    For Christ’s sale, Bruce, or for the sake of all that is eternal or ineffable, remove stuff like “Two of Klotz’s jerseysone General and one SPHAhave made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame.” and even “this web site is in
    fact awesome” .

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    • roxks

      For Christ’s sale, Bruce, or for the sake of all that is eternal or ineffable, remove stuff like “Two of Klotz’s jerseysone General and one SPHAhave made it to the Basketball Hall of Fame.” and even “this web site is in
      fact awesome” and certainly Louis Vuitton Daily schedules .

  84. mike melim

    Just read ‘the self illusion’ and was wondering if you’ve read thomas metzinger ‘being no one’. Im pondering writing on how culture programs behavior, specificly built in behavioral personalitys. Your book did a wonderfull job of laying out the problem. Keep up the good work.

    • brucehood

      Thanks Mike,
      Yes I know of Thomas Metzinger but I did not read his book precisely because I wanted to try to write my own without being overly influenced
      Thank you for the kind remarks and sorry for the late reply. I’ve been away from here for some time
      Best
      Bruce

  85. Rox

    Get rid of Karenpatrick. What is this bit about joint bankruptcy ?

  86. amanimal

    I just finished “The Self Illusion” this morning, a fascinating read(have a shot of dopamine on me :) ). I usually limit myself to a chapter a day to let the info sink in and swim around a bit, but I couldn’t do that with ‘TSI’ – looking forward to “The Domesticated Brain”!

  87. Hello Dr. Bruce. I am a disable combat veteran of Desert Shield / Storm. I wanted first to say thank you for your Aug. 2010 interview on the radio show “Coast to Coast AM”, where you talked about Vacine “A”. It was a great wealth of information to me.
    Is there anyway I could personally communicate with you Sir? I have been sick for going on twenty-three years now and the U.S. VA doesn’t care about any of us, and to date still claims either it is all PTSD, or we are just crazy?
    I have tested positive for patroliume poisoning, DU exposure, and ten years after the war I was able to obtain doccumentation that my unit was exposed to the fall out of the Kaymasia, Iraq demolition of Sadam’s chemical agents, the known ones being Mustard, Syrin, but we know there were more.
    Dr. Bruce, I have two young children we adopted ten years ago, PLEASE SIR, HELP ME?

    • brucehood

      I think you are mistaking me for someone else – I have no idea what vaccine A is- try contacting the radio station to find out who the guest was
      Best
      Bruce

      • Thank you Sir, I did throgh research, and you were the only Dr. Bruce Hood I could find anywhere in the world on the net?
        Sorry to bother you Sir, have a blessed day!

        • roxks

          Well, April 20th was Easter Sunday here. It was supposed to be a blessed day in Bristol, I should imagine? Maybe Dr Bruce Hood is not entirely sure about his own identity ? If he was a Freudian psychiatrist, he would have had to be psychoanalysed himself before getting the job?

          • I haven’t a clue Ma’am, all I know is I have an entire three hour radio broadcast here in the states from 2010, with one of the Dr.’s being named; “Dr. Bruce Hood”, and using three different search engines, your friend was the only B.H. I found in the world who had a doctrine was the one I wrote?
            I prayed for you on Easter weekend, have a blessed evening!
            In Christ,

            Adam

            • roxks

              I’m not a madam at all, and with your Ma’am” you make me sound like the Queen, “ComeToJesus”. Nor do I spend blessed evenings in Christ, I’m afraid, Nor do I really want you to pray for me, thanks all the same. Do you pray for Rox/Roxks ? It’s an intriguing thought that God might keep everybody’s various computer IDs on his massive celestial database.

              Can you explain what this means, please, Squire ?
              “your friend was the only B.H. I found in the world who had a doctrine was the one I wrote?”

              I don’t think you’re genuine, actually. Sorry if you are.

            • My apologies, if I mistakenly took your computer identity as female? It matters not, for when I pray for someone by the identity of which I know them to be, do you not understand the Lord knows exactly whom I am praying for? He is the creator of all thing, he knows the number of hairs on your head, He knows each star in the sky by number! I don’t think that the Lord would be mistaken in knowing who I was praying for. I am very humbled to be able to pray for you. And I always do so in the name of our Savior, and my Redeemer; Christ Jesus! May He enlighten your heart and mind, and it is in His glorious name I pray this for you my friend!
              Amen and Amen.
              In Christ,

              Adam

            • roxks

              I don’t know why rocks should be female ! I did tell you I was an atheist, remember ? This is not a religious website really,

            • I didn’t say either.

            • roxks

              Well really ! You did mistake me for female, and you have written a lot of religious stuff on here.

            • Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.

              Romans 13:8 KJV

            • roxks

              “Believers will cast out devils in my name and speak in strange tongues; if they handle snakes or drink any deadly poison, they will come to no harm.”
              Mark 16:17-18. NEB

  88. Rox

    I’m sorry, Come2Jesus, but you must realise the Dr Hood is only a psychologist, not even a psychiatrist, in Bristol, which is west of London on the coast where it digs right into the mainland. I don’t see how he can possibly do anything to alleviate the suffering caused to you by exposure to chemical agents in Iraq. You case is a sad one, but it is really rather unfair of you to place on him the burden of being expected to help you, because he is in no position to do so.

    • @ Rox,
      I do not appreciate your comments, as I am not seeking sympathy. Nor do I appreciate your stating that I burdened Dr. Bruce (still trying to figure out how you came to this conclusion)? And if he is solely a psychologist than his interview in America in 2010 was a shame. For he was discussing scientific research, which in so doing portrayed himself to be a Gulf War Illness research scientist.

      I was merely asking about the research he was discussing and in hopes that he might be able to refer me to scientist in the states who are taking veterans for treatment or study.

      And Rox, with all due respect I do not need a geography lesson, I have spent much time all over Europe. My ancestors were the King of Holland in the 12th century. Also five of my ancestors where Knights under the Thrown of England.

      I shall pray for you this Palm Sunday Rox, that you find our Lord and Savior; Christ Jesus. God’s second comment is that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, and that you come under personal conviction about this and your relationship with Abba! Have a blessed Palm Sunday!
      In Christ,

      Adam

      • Rox

        Please don’t bother to pray for me, Come2Jesus, I’m an atheist, and anyway, you are the one in need of succour, not me. It may be a shame, but I don’t think Professor Hood is a Gulf War Illness research scientist. Have your read the rest of all this ? So he is psychology professor in Bristol (not all Americans know where that is, I was trying to be helpful). This being so, what sort of help do you think he could possibly give you? Have you somehow got hold of the wrong person ?

        I don’t know what a Knight under the Thrown of England is,. Can you give names and the actual order ?

        But it is astonishing that you are descended from a 12th century king of Holland. I didn’t know that Holland had kings in the 12th century. I agree that any descendant of such a king would know where Bristol was.

        I suppose you are genuine ? There have been too many, American jokers on here. Surely Abba was a pop group? I don’t get it. The point about burdening is obvious: you would make Prof Hood feel under some moral obligation to help you, but I don’t see how he possibly could,

    • brucehood

      Only a psychologist? Thanks for the high praise ;)
      Unfortunately the reputation of academic psychology has been constantly undermined by the media – especially in the UK

      Can I quote you something from someone?

      “Psychology will be based on a new foundation, that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Light will be thrown on man and his history”

      Who said this?

      Read the final pages from “On the Origin of Species” for a clue.

      If the one of the greatest scientists of all time had high praise for psychology then I think it is about time it was recognized for what it can tell us about humans that no other area of science has managed.
      And as for psychiatry – don’t get me started :)

  89. roxks

    In the context, though, you are only a psychologist, not even a psychiatrist, whereas he seems to need some kind of doctor, or expert on chemical weapons and their effects. Are you an expert on the effects of chemical weapons, or a “Gulf War Illness research scientist” ? I thought not. Darwin was only a biologist, and a geologist. He wasn’t a surgeon. There is no shame in that.

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