As John Prine would say, Summer’s end is around the bend just flying / The swimming suits are on the line just drying.
My latest article for Skeptical Inquirer is a review of the status of subliminal messages and psychological priming research in general. This has been a particularly controversial and fraught area, and it was useful to see where things stand at the moment. (Spoiler alert!) I conclude that there is some hope for science to straighten things out before long.
Recently I spent a very pleasant hour on the “Why Do We Do That?” podcast talking to psychologist Ryan Moyer about my book The Uses of Delusion. Among other things, I learned that my first book, Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition, was an influence on Ryan’s dissertation research. This is a relatively new podcast, but so far it seems terrific. You can listen to the episode here.
For anyone who might be in the Philadelphia area, I will be giving what will probably be my last public presentation on The Uses of Delusion for PhACT, the Philadelphia Association for Critical Thinking, on September 17th. I have given a few talks for PhACT before, but they were all over Zoom. So it will be a great pleasure to finally meet these people in person. The talk is free and open to the public, and you can find the details here.
Finally, my second book of 2022 launches on October 17th. Stonington’s Steamboat Hotel is a history of the building I live in, now locally known as The Heartbreak Hotel. As I discovered somewhat by accident during the dark days of the pandemic, the Steamboat Hotel has a very colorful history, and almost before I knew it, I was writing a manuscript which The History Press has now agreed to publish. I am giving all my proceeds for the book to the Stonington Historical Society, without whom I could not have written the book.
The official launch of the book will be at the LaGrua Center in Stonington, CT at 6:00 pm on October 19th. On that occasion, I will give a talk entitled “Liquor & Temperance in the Borough,” which is the topic of one of the chapters. Traditionally, hotels have been a popular location for drinking, and they often came into conflict with advocates of temperance and prohibition. In this regard, the Steamboat Hotel was no exception. Copies of the book will be on sale at the event, and there is a plan for some beverages to complement the talk. I am really looking forward to this gathering and hope anyone in the area will consider attending.
That’s it for now.