Richard Wiseman, psychologist and bestselling author of several popular psychology books, returns to the Fringe to talk for an hour about the psychology of perception, touching on topics such as deception, dreams, luck and success. Distinguishing himself from other self-help authors, he takes care to back up his arguments with results from rigorous psychological experiments. Wiseman is a superb public speaker. He paces his talk perfectly, throwing in plenty of well-timed jokes and never allows his control over the audience to slip.
It is undeniable that Wiseman’s talk is brilliantly delivered
Much of Wiseman’s research has infiltrated mainstream consciousness, most famously an awareness test where a man in a gorilla suit walks unnoticed through a group of basketball players, and because of this the talk is unlikely to lead to any life-changing revelations for people with an existing interest in pop psychology. Aside from a handful of juicy tidbits, such as the ‘myth of visualisation’ and a reference to Peter Skillman’s Marshmallow Challenge, much of what Wiseman says, and indeed his humour, tends to affirm what we already know.
You leave the auditorium feeling more happy and wise, until you start trying, with considerable difficulty, to pin-point the moments in the talk which yielded these new insights. His frequent deployment of hilarious anecdotes leave the appreciative audience feeling that they have learned more than they really have. One can only marvel as Wiseman, being a skilled comedian and former professional magician, waves his metaphorical wand at the audience and performs a clever exercise in manipulating their perceptions. The medium is the message.
That said, it is undeniable that Wiseman’s talk is brilliantly delivered and it is likely to give audience members the inspiration they need to live life with a slightly more positive and self-aware perspective.