The Mourning After

100_0108Last night I gave a lecture on the origins of supernatural beliefs in John the Baptist church in Bristol. The medieval church was decommissioned 25 years ago but for the first time since then, it had a full congregation who came to hear a scientist explain the brain basis for why we believe that unbelievable. I even threw in a bit of magic and fantasy to spice things up.

100_0100The church is still sanctified or holy if you like, which makes the content of my lecture with references to murder, sex with virgins, organ transplantation and cannibalism, holy inappropriate to those who consider these topics taboo within the context of a church. I even gave my sermon from the pulpit which was a very strange experience. There is something very empowering about being perched above a congregation and with them looking up to you. Still there was no devine retribution (so far) but I must admit, the evening did not go without some stress.

You want it dedicated to who?After the talk, we had a wine reception and book signing in the amazing crypt below complete with craved pumpkins and skulls. There are still tombs down there and I would imagine that if they could, the inhabitants would be turning at high speed. The book signing went well until the elderly lady from the bookseller took a very nasty tumble off a step onto the stone floor and a bunch of dodgy gate-crashers came in and started helping themselves to the wine. Anyway, the lady was alright and I booted the gate-crashers out. I bet Richard Dawkins doesn’t have to manage his own events! Speaking of which, I am introducing him next week when he comes to promote his new book. I did not have any protestors but I would imagine there might be some at the Dawkin’s event.


Note the "BMH" teeth

Thinking of our bookseller lady, maybe it’s not the speakers who attract the devine retribution but those around them who help out at the event. In which case I had better watch my own step at the Richard Dawkins talk. Check back next week when I update the blog with that event…. assuming I am still around to post one.


UPDATE: I just discovered that the church was broken into after my talk and the collection money stolen. Hmm…


Filed under book publicity

9 responses to “The Mourning After

  1. podblack

    Maybe an attack by the Great Pumpkin? 🙂 Just turn it into pie. 🙂

  2. Holy inappropriate. Love that. Glad the event went well, well, except for the fall and the gatecrashers. Wine in a crypt. Sounds like great fun. Best of luck in your Dawkins’ introduction.

  3. brucehood

    Yes, It was an amazing venue especially on Halloween… hope to do it again next year somewhere even better!

  4. Andrew Atkinson

    Points for style there Bruce. Well done! Is it wrong that I draw a small amount of sneak satisfaction at this? I’m sure you did…

    • brucehood

      Yes, but I also felt concern that I was upsetting some. Guess I am not a militant atheist at heart. Not so much an apologist… just want to be liked by everyone (impossible of course)

      • Andrew Atkinson

        I know what you mean – Apparent insensitivity is difficult to avoid when speaking about religious and sacred concepts, and can often cause the misappropriation of any character who might see the lighter side of satisfaction in the humour of it all…

        Thanks for the response!

  5. Do you have a larger pic of the jack o’lantern?

    I just wrote a review of Supersense for Amazon:

    “5.0 out of 5 stars Are “believers” likely to read this?, November 1, 2009

    Part of what struck me: Hood mentioned that most of his readers would be of a superstitious bent. This surprised me since not only am I a hard-core skeptic (I even attended a large skeptic conference this past summer), but I would have thought the book would be of more interest to skeptics than “true believers”! After all, it does dissect superstition in a way that a believer probably wouldn’t want to hear.

    Not only that, but only after I picked up the book did I realize it often cited the research of psychologist Paul Rozin, with whom I studied at PENN. I did my work study and senior thesis with him.

    Talking about the belief in things such as homeopathy, fear of walking under ladders and boogeymen is probably less threatening than the atheist literature of late to which this book is being compared, but the principles are still the same.”

    Dr. Hood, if you’re reading this, could you contact me so that we can maybe chat about writing? Thanks:)

  6. maarten

    Off topic, but I read this on a dutch news page and thought you might find it interesting (translated by the almighty Google):

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