British psychologist, speaker, and author Richard Wiseman is known around the world for his innovative research into the psychology of luck, self-help, persuasion, and illusion. Wiseman started out as a magician, performing street shows around Covent Garden in Londons West End from an early age. He studied psychology at University College London and continued his focus on the science of behavior and mind, obtaining his PhD in that field from the University of Edinburgh. Today he is a professor at the University of Hertfordshire, where he holds Britain's only Professorship in the Public Understanding of Psychology.
Wiseman is a prolific author whose books have sold over three million copies worldwide and been translated into more than twenty languages. Many of these works explore the science of success and focus on practical, evidence-based techniques to improve people's personal and professional lives. They include: The Luck Factor (2003); Quirkology (2007), which looks at the psychology of so-called quirks like laughter, lying, and love; and 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot (2009), on the science of self-help and techniques one can learn in under a minute. Other popular titles include Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There (2011); and Night School: Wake Up to the Power of Sleep (2014).
The investigation and critical examination of the paranormal and other psychic phenomena is another area of Wiseman's interest and expertise. "I find it amazing how malleable people's testimonies are, and also quite terrifying," he said in a 2011 interview with the Scotsman in regard to why people believe in the paranormal. He also takes issue with people's faith in the power of prayer:
I'm always very skeptical of anything which is low-input but makes you feel good. Whenever anybody does very little and it makes them feel good, you almost certainly know it's for their benefit and no one else. Wiseman is one of the most followed psychologists on Twitter, his illusion-based YouTube videos have attracted over 500 million views, and he's been a creative consultant on shows like Ghost Stories and Brain Games. He's presented keynote addresses to the Swiss Economic Forum, Google, and Amazon, and the Independent on Sunday chose him as one of the top 100 people who make Britain a better place to live. A patron of Humanists UK, Wiseman is also a distinguished supporter of Humanist Society Scotland and a fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. On...