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Chris Atherton at @Bettakultcha Leeds


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This talk was most definitely for fun — an after-hours audience, with beer. The format of Bettakultcha talks is 20 slides for 15 seconds each (they transition automatically), and you can talk about anything you want.

This was my first time using hand-drawn slides; I had fun. Annotations were added afterwards so this made some kind of sense when uploaded :)

And no, I don't get any kind of kickback for mentioning Paper for iPad. I just think it's brilliant.

Chris Atherton at @Bettakultcha Leeds

  1. I gave this talk at Leeds @bettakultcha on 17th April 2012. It doesn’t really have a title, but I guess it could be called “Some rants about psychology that I need to let out.” 1
  2. I’m just going to come out and say it — I’m Chris, and I used to be a psychologist. I have a few things to get off my chest …
  3. Cab drivers used to ask me “so, what do you do?” and I’d tell them, and there would be this awkward pause, and then they’d say “So … are you psychoanalysing me now?”
  4. When you tell people you’re a psychologist, they ascribe toyou some kind of Terminator-like x-ray vision, with which you can read their thoughts. Sorry, nope. Can’t do it.
  5. Even the term “psychoanalysis” specifically refers toFreudian-style “lie down on the couch and tell me about your mother” stuff. It’s not even science; it’s basically unfalsifiable.
  6. Okay, here’s another one. I hear this a lot: when someone’sin two minds about something, people sometimes refer to them as being all “schizophrenic”.
  7. But they’re thinking of multiple personality, a totallyseparate disorder — schizophrenia is an illness characterised by fractured perceptions, delusions and hallucinations.
  8. Symptoms like paranoia and delusions can make people with schizophrenia act unusually, which in turn reinforces their likelihood of social isolation. It’s pretty pernicious :-/
  9. Okay, here’s another one: people only use 10% of theirbrains. How many of you have heard this? Yeah, well, it’s probably bollocks. Sorry about that.
  10. If you’re only using 10% of your brain, you’re probably in a coma :-/
  11. We have billions and billions of brain cells — about the sameas the number of stars in our galaxy (ish). They’re all doing something pretty much all the time.
  12. And all of this is stuffed inside something that’s about thesize and weight of a bag of sugar, which is pretty cool really.
  13. This is a depressingly common myth — though one apparently rather popular among my undergraduatepsychology class, half of whom then went on to fail it.
  14. Here we all are. Nine hundred of us rammed into twoadjacent lecture theatres. I know what you’re thinking — yes, I went to university with a load of tits.
  15. Psychology, like other sciences, starts with a hypothesis. It might be based on observation, or just something youthought of in the shower. (No, not those shower thoughts. Tsk.)
  16. What you do next is design an experiment or observation totest that hypothesis, with the aim of remaining impartial and not biasing the outcome.
  17. Ah, statistics. Students hate this part. They come touniversity thinking “I’m going to be Cracker!” and then have to do stuff with numbers. But the numbers are important, because …
  18. … you need them to form a sensible conclusion about yourhypothesis. If you don’t have data, it’s just your opinion. But data can meaningfully inform your next hypothesis …
  19. Unfortunately, we’re actually too good at believing neuroscience — adding unrelated neuro jargon or brainpictures to your story actually makes it more persuasive >.<
  20. … which puts us into this irrecoverable tailspin …
  21. So next time someone asserts something about the brain,ask them how they know. Demand data! And think criticallyabout the psychology-related language they, and you, use.
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