Chris French bigraphy, stories - Psychologists

Chris French : biography

06 April 1956 -

Christopher C. French is a British psychologist and vocal skeptic specialising in the psychology of paranormal beliefs and experiences, cognition and emotion.


He is currently Professor of psychology at Goldsmiths College, University of London, is head of their Anomalistic psychology Research Unit which he founded in 2000, and is the Editor-in-Chief of The Skeptic (UK) magazine.

He teaches a course entitled Psychology, Parapsychology and Pseudoscience as part of the BSc (Hons) Psychology programmes at both Goldsmiths College and Birkbeck College. He is a Chartered Psychologist and a Fellow of the British Psychological Society. He has published over 60 articles and chapters covering a wide range of topics within psychology, including publications in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, the British Journal of Psychology and the British Journal of Clinical Psychology.

His main current area of research is the psychology of paranormal beliefs and anomalous experiences. In addition to academic activities, such as conference presentations and invited talks in other departments, he frequently appears on radio and television casting a sceptical eye over paranormal claims. He has taken part in programmes dealing with a wide range of such claims including psychic predictions, telepathy, faith healing, hypnotic past life regression, ghosts, UFO abductions, out-of-body experiences, astrological claims and so on. He has appeared on various science programmes (e.g. Equinox, Science Now, All in the Mind) and documentaries (e.g. Heart of the Matter, Everyman) as well as numerous discussion programmes (e.g. Esther; The Time, The Place; Kilroy; This Morning).

In 1997, he was one of three sceptics sitting on a panel for a 90-minute live debate on UFOs broadcast at peak viewing time by the Strange But True? team to mark the 50th anniversary of UFOs. In 1998, he took part in an investigation of reincarnation claims amongst the Druze people of Lebanon, broadcast as part of the To the Ends of the Earth series. This involved spending around three weeks in Lebanon with a film crew.

In August 1996, he organised and chaired an integrated paper session on the topic of The Psychology of Paranormal and Pseudoscientific Beliefs at the XXVI International Congress of Psychology in Montreal. He also contributed to a symposium on The Psychology of Anomalous Experience at the British Association Annual Festival in Birmingham in September 1996. In July 1997, he chaired a symposium on The Psychology of Paranormal Belief at the Fifth European Congress of Psychology in Dublin. He presented a paper at a conference on Paranormal and Superstitious Beliefs: A Skeptical Examination at Manchester Metropolitan University on Friday 13 November 1998. In February 1999, he contributed to a symposium of the Royal Statistical Society (which he co-organised). In July 1999, he co-organised and presented a paper at a half-day conference on Parapsychology: Current Status and Future Prospects at Goldsmiths College and gave a paper at the Sixth European Congress of Psychology in Rome. In February 2001, he gave an invited presentation to the Institute for Cultural Research at the Royal Society of Medicine and he has organised two symposia at major conferences (Glasgow, March 2001; London, July 2001).

He made regular appearances on ITV's programme Haunted Homes. He also makes appearances in the Channel 4 documentary series 'Tony Robinson and the Paranormal'.

French is a regular science news contributor in the Guardian exploring scepticism and anomalistic psychology.

In January 2010, French was elected as a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

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