Monthly Archives: March 2009

Off to the US

I have to say goodbye for the moment. I am about to leave on a promotional tour of the book. When I first started this, the publishers asked me to keep a blog. For the life of me, I could not understand why I should do this. My first post was indeed entitled “The Reluctant Blogger,” which reflected my reticence  at engaging in what seemed to me, such a self-indulgent, unedited bout of naval-gazing. 

But I have to say that I was wrong. Yes, there are too many blogs about many inconsequential things (and I have to say I too, deliberately tried to be trivial) but in the process I have met and engaged with some brilliant minds who survive in the blogosphere. I am so lucky. I just happen to have a job where I can think for a living. I have the luxury to think about things that have nothing to do with any product or bottom line. That is so rare and I am grateful. But I recognize that I am nothing special and that there are many brilliant people out there. I sort of knew that already, but I never appreciated how smart , witty , sharp, generous and numerous they were.

This is not a farewell post. It’s just I can’t be here to blog as regularly as usual. I will keep you updated whilst on tour in the US.

I hope to appear on the National News for perpetrating the most outlandish crime against humanity! So look out for me in the press. And if you hear nothing, then you know that I will have failed.

Keep the SuperSense! Love & kisses

Bruce

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Did Charles Take Another Tinkle Before Blast-Off?

charlesBillionaire software magnate, Charles Simonyi, took his second flight into space yesterday on a $35m trip to the International Space Station. He is likely to be the last space tourist for a while as they plan to increase the capacity of the space station and will not have enough room for paying passengers. One has to admire the man or any person for that matter that has the balls to blast off into space. I know I would wet myself….. 

Maybe that’s the origin of the Russian superstitious behaviour of urinating on the back wheels of the transport bus that takes them to launch pad. He did this on his last space trip, and knowing the nature of superstitious behavior, it is unlikely that he and his fellow cosmonauts would have not relieved themselves again for luck. So well done Charles. And well done for your support of the Charles Simonyi Chair for the Public Engagement of Science recently vacated by Richard Dawkins.

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SuperSense on Authors on Air

On April 7th (the day my book comes out!) at 3pm EST / 12 noon PST / 8pm GMT, I’ll be making a special appearance on the HarperCollins Author on Air TOP SHELF show.

Bruce M. Hood, Authors on Air

For about 45 minutes I will take calls and questions from listeners– you can tune in through the web or call in on the phone. So if you’ve been dying to ask me something, now is the time!

Throughout the time, I’ll also be discussing my book SuperSense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable with my Editor, Eric Brandt.

Click Here for more information… (you can even set a reminder for yourself)
Website: AuthorsOnAir.com
Call-in Number: (347) 945-6141

I hope you all will join me and tune in. Ask me something that will really confound me. It’s great to hear someone squirm on air!

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Filed under General Thoughts, In the News, Radio

First Major Review of SuperSense!

Over the coming weeks, I will not be able to blog as much as I would wish because I  am off to the US to begin my promotion for the book. This has been an awful period of waiting with much grinding of teeth (I need to see the dentist) and sleepless nights wondering what the critics will make of the book. Yes, Pinker, Bloom, Blackmore, Hauser, Wegner and other colleagues and friends have said wonderful things but they would, wouldn’t they? It’s what the rest of the world thinks that determines whether the book will be a success

Today, I read my first independent review from a major publication, the “New Scientist,’ from Michael Brooks author of “13 Things That Don’t Make Sense.”

I wont post the whole of the review (it’s just out) but here are some of the highlights,

“Hood’s presentation of the science behind our supersense is crystal clear and utterly engaging. There are good, scientific reasons why religion won’t disappear, he says, however much anyone might want it to. Spiritual thinking is not about being simple-minded or stupid it’s about being human. We are, he suggests, “a sacred species.”

Our supersense gives us sacred values, and our sacred values create taboos. Taboos, in turn, provide a means for group cohesion. “Irrationality makes our beliefs rational because these beliefs hold society together,” Hood says. If hardened sceptics were to accept that irrationality is, well, rational insofar as it serves to hold societies together, that would constitute an important step toward a more tolerant and unified society.”

It’s a fantastic start and no doubt you can’t please all of the people all of the time, but I may end up enjoying this whole experience rather than wondering what I got myself into.

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A Master’s Degree In….. Creationism

noahs_ark_photo6Well, those of us in higher science education have long known that standards have been slipping for some time but this latest move from the creationists takes this beyond belief. Actually beyond belief and well into faith.

Texas State Representative Leo Berman has proposed House Bill 2800, which would exempt any private non-profit institution that requires students to complete “substantive course work” from having to acquire a certificate of authority from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB). 

What does that mean? Well that any institution can offer higher degrees. Apparently he has the Institute of Creation Research Graduate School in mind who have been trying to get certification in Texas for two years. These are the so-called “Young Earth” creationists who take the Old Testament literally and believe the Earth is no older than 10,000 years. These are the über creationists not to be confused by the intelligent design bunch.

When Michael Shermer and I visited Anthony Bush as his Noah’s Ark Zoo, Anthony was quick to dismiss these Young Earth creationists as “American loonies.” Which was kinda of cute coming from someone who had dedicated his life to teaching intelligent design. And once these young earthers get their MSc degree, it will become increasingly harder to distinguish the scientists from the believers.

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Filed under atheism, In the News

Scottish UFO Confirmed

ufoI am just working my way through Jon Ronson’s book, “The Men Who Stare At Goats,” which is all about the wacky side of the US military who invested millions of dollars into SuperSense soldiers. The ‘First Earth Battalion’ were hand-picked soldiers selected for their psychic abilities to remote view enemy installations and kill at a distance simply by staring. They practiced this lethal gaze on goats. Would you believe that this has been made into a major movie staring George Clooney, Kevin Spacey & Ewan McGregor no less and is due for release this year.

In ‘SuperSense’ I talk about the origins of the belief in the power gaze and argue that even the most powerful members of our societies including the politicians and military rulers are inclined to believe in the daft, including UFOs. As I said before, UFO’s are not supernatural, just really unlikely. We learn today that the UK’s Ministry of Defense took seriously a photograph of a UFO hovering next to an  RAF jet near Pitlochry, Scotland in 1990. The title of the article is alarmist, “MoD Took UFO Sighting Seriously.” Actually, when you read the piece this title is misleading as it turns out that they were not interested in the slightest about the prospect of aliens. They were more worried by the hype of media.  If it had happened in the US who knows, what might have happened with this story?

I expect the conspiracy theorists will get to work shortly arguing that another critical piece of evidence for UFOs has yet again been suppressed.

UPDATE: You might like to read my other blog at 5TM

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German Blood Sausage

Two German Air Force sergeants are currently facing a court martial for preparing sausages made from their own blood based on one of their grandmother’s old recipes. According to the report, they had plans to develop a line of blood sausages using friends and comrades. Apparently the scheme only came to light when a fellow soldier questioned whether donating blood for sausage making was part of their duties.

Having been to Munich and Leipzig I can attest that Germans really enjoy their meat. At one evening dinner as part of a protracted job interview, the hosts took great delight in feeding me bollocks and I am not talking about the nature of the job requirements and duties I would be expected to undertake. No, Germans love to eat meat and are also partial to the occasional sweet

Armin Meiwes

Armin Meiwes

pork. In SuperSense, I talk about Armin Meiwes, the Rotenburg cannibal, whocannibalvicr_468x501 killed and ate Bernd Brandes. What’s so disturbing about this case is that Bernd was a willing victim but read the book for the more unbelievable aspects.

Human blood sausages and cannibalism smack of vital essentialism and if you find it going on in the elite of the German Air Force, then frankly what hope have we for eradicating such medieval beliefs?

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Filed under Essentialism, Weird Story of the Week

How the Hell Did They Do That?

I am just back from my Cambridge conference and learned many amazing things from some incredible minds. But it was this demonstration shown by philosopher Simon Blackburn as an example of seeing is not believing that left me astounded.

It will take me a few days to get back into the swing of things as I am knackered but fear not, I will start über-blogging again shortly. And yes,… I did get “saucy codpiece” into my opening introduction to the meeting.

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Filed under General Thoughts

You’ll Never Hear This Again Without Thinking Tuna

I have to go and strut my stuff at the Beliefs and Reason conference that I have organized in Trinity College, Cambridge. It is a major event for me as I have invited some of my personal heroes and the audience has some heavyweight intellectuals. Daunting stuff. I will be gone for a few days and unable to blog. So I am leaving you with a video demonstrating the power of the mind to re-interpret what it experiences.I blogged about this pareidolia yesterday and last week but this is the best example I have come across. Who says academics are crusty with no sense of humour? ENJOY and wish me luck!

While I’m gone, why not follow me on Twitter?

(Thank you NobblySan.)

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Obama Warns of Alien Invasion

obama-ufo1With Bush, it was Zombies, but we now discover President Obama is similarly warning of invasion but this time from aliens. Canadian speech recognition expert and former CBS radio producer Jon Kelly has subjected a recording of Barack Obama’s inaugural address on the steps on the U.S. capitol on January 20, 2009 to reverse speech analysis. This is a fool-proof technique for uncovering hidden messages and famously exposed Led Zeppelin as disciples of Satan. This is because Verbal communication happens on two levels. There is ‘normal’ speech, we are all familiar with it – and there is ‘covert speech’. Covert speech happens simultaneously to normal speech, outside of our control on an unconscious level. When we talk, the unconscious mind complements the conscious mind with statements embedded in reverse in the forward speech. These statements can be made audible by recording the forward speech and then playing the recording backwards.

Applying the same reverse techniques, Jon Kelly analysed the following section of Obama’s address

OBAMA INAUGURAL ADDRESS: “We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort – even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin [to responsibly leave Iraq to it] s people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.”

What he really said was this:

“Knows power of alien saucers”

If you don’t believe me you can check this for yourself here.

It is amazing how the human mind can discover significant patterns and hidden messages where there are none!

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