Philosophy at Quad – Belief

It’s supernatural season at Quad from 20 September and to fit in with this we have a philosophical discussion planned for 8 October 2014 from 1830-2000 on the topic of belief.


Here’s a link to the event on the Quad website:


When it comes to the supernatural I am a complete sceptic, but I wanted to avoid an adversarial, sceptic vs believer debate. Quite simply because I find them boring. Both sides tend to be entrenched in their positions and the same arguments we’ve all heard before are rehearsed over and over. I obviously have my own opinions, and I strongly believe that they are correct, but being a liberal kind of chap unless someone explicitly shows an interest in debating the matter with me I’ll generally leave it well alone. Unless, of course, those beliefs are harmful in some way.



So, rather than debate the merits of the beliefs themselves, I think it’s more interesting to recognise the fact that human belief in the supernatural is a common across both time and culture and to examine that phenomenon. Is there something about the human mind that predisposes us to believe? If so, what is it and what are its origins? If we are predisposed to believe, what does this mean for our concept of ourselves as objective assessors of evidence?


To help us tackle these questions we have some first class speakers lined up in the shape of psychologists Malcolm Schofield and Dr Ian Baker. Both are based at the University of Derby and are active researchers in just this area. I have already discussed the evening with them quite a bit and, as you would expect, both are very knowledgeable and passionate about their subject.


As usual the evening will consist of about 45-60 minutes of presentations from the speakers, with Ian and Malcolm tackling the heart of the issue and me exploring some of the philosophical implications of their ideas. After that, we’ll open it to the audience to see what you have to say.


At the last philosophical evening when we discussed equality with guest Katharine Jenkins we had some really fantastic contributions from the audience and the debate was lively and well informed. But after the event several people approached me to say that they had really wanted to say something but they were too scared – please don’t be! The discussion can only be enriched by different perspectives on the issues and everyone’s point of view will be listened to respectfully.


As always it’s free but you need to book your place through QUAD, you can do so through the link above. If you have any questions you can contact me through here or via Twitter.


See you there!

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