At the Fringe of Reason

Dr. Peter Lamont

Wednesday, August 15 2012 at 8:30PM

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29-35 Niddry Street

Dr. Peter Lamont

What's the talk about?

For many years, I have studied extraordinary phenomena, from magic and miracles to mesmerism and mind-reading. I have encountered some very mysterious things, met some rather peculiar folk, and had some remarkably strange conversations. This is about the stuff I continue to find genuinely extraordinary.  BIOGRAPHY: Dr. Peter Lamont is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, who specializes in the history and psychology of magic and the paranormal. He does this because, having worked in the real world, he decided long ago to work somewhere else. So he gained a first-class honours degree in Economic and Social History (University of Edinburgh), and postgraduate certificates in Theology and Education, before completing a PhD entitled ?Magic and Miracles in Victorian Britain? (University of Edinburgh). He went on to win the Jeremiah Dalziel Prize for British History, then an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts. Having ended up in a Psychology department, which was never the intention, he is now Secretary of the British Psychological Society (History and Philosophy of Psychology Section), and Programme Director of the MSc in History and Theory of Psychology (University of Edinburgh). Peter is also a former professional magician, an Associate of the Inner Magic Circle, and a Past President of the Edinburgh Magic Circle. He has written extensively on historical and psychological matters relating to magic and the paranormal, in a wide range of academic and popular periodicals, and in three books: Magic in theory: an introduction to the theoretical and psychological elements of conjuring (1999) [with Richard Wiseman]; The rise of the Indian rope trick: biography of a legend (2004) [a New York Times book of the year]; and The first psychic: the peculiar mystery of a notorious Victorian wizard (2005). In addition to many other media involvements, he wrote and presented the BBC radio series Wizards of the North, and was the academic consultant on the BBC television series, Magic.

His forthcoming book, Extraordinary beliefs: a historical approach to a psychological problem, will be published later this year by Cambridge University Press. In other words, the book is not out yet, so he is not doing this talk in order to sell books. Come to think of it, why is he giving this talk? It certainly isn?t for the money. Perhaps in the interests of spreading his wisdom to a larger audience? Yes, let?s go with that. But I must ? sorry he must remember to delete this last bit, or else it might sound a tad pretentious. After all, the whole point of writing these things in the third person is to avoid sounding like we?re simply bragging. Thankfully, nobody reads them. Except you. But that's because you're special.