As opinion polls from around the world repeatedly show, levels of belief in the paranormal are high and show no signs of falling. Skeptics remain unconvinced by the scientific evidence put forward in support of paranormal claims but it is clear that members of the public are not basing their opinions upon such evidence. Either, at least some of these experiences are based upon genuine paranormal phenomena, or people are misinterpreting non-paranormal events as involving forces that do not exist.
Anomalistic Psychology attempts to explain these types of experiences in terms of psychological and in some cases physiological phenomena. This talk will present some examples of the systematic biases in the way in which we process information that may help to explain why so many believe in the paranormal and report ostensibly paranormal experiences. One such example is the role of memory biases. Thirty years of research has shown that memory is not the reliable store that was once thought. Memory is in fact a constructive process, vulnerable to all kinds of misinformation, suggestion and individual biases.
I will illustrate how far individual differences might render someone more susceptible to distortions of memory and in particular how belief in, and experience of the paranormal impact on both perception and memory.