Tag Archives: Geoff Bunn

BBC Radio 4: The Truth and Nothing but the Truth

BBC Radio 4 recently broadcast The Truth and Nothing but the Truth in which psychologist Geoff Bunn explores lie detecting technologies, past and present. In this episode, much like in his recent book The Truth Machine: A Social History of the Lie Detector, Bunn explores the creation of lie detectors by psychologists and others, as well as the link between this work and pop culture icons Dick Tracy and Wonder Woman. An excerpt from the episode can be heard here. As described on the BBC Radio 4 site,

Dr Geoff Bunn discovers that Dick Tracy and Wonder Woman both have starring roles in the history of lie detection. The culture of the comic book influenced the cultural perception of science then, and now colourful brain images from fMRI scans direct the public’s view of what science can achieve. But does seeing parts of the brain light up when a subject lies provide any more concrete proof of what is true and what is not than did measuring heart and sweat rate in the traditional polygraph?

Dr Geoff Bunn investigates the latest lie detecting technology with the help of Steven Rose, Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the Open University and Geraint Rees, Director of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. He discovers that the early history of the lie detector features a psychologist, William Marston, who went on to create the comic book character Wonder Woman, and an amateur magician, Leonarde Keeler, who was an inspiration for the comic strip hero, Dick Tracy.

He explores the history of the American obsession with lie detection, aided by Ken Alder, Professor of History at North Western University and Garyn Roberts, biographer of Chester Gould, who created Dick Tracy. He investigates Wonder Woman at the Travelling Man comic book shop in Manchester with the help of Dr Joan Ormrod, co-editor of the Journal of Graphic Novels and Comics. And he hears from Bruce Burgess, founder of Polygraphs UK, who uses his company’s services.

You can listen to the full episode, The Truth and Nothing but the Truth, here.

Podcast: BackStory‘s DSM and Deception Episodes

BackStory with the American History Guys is a podcast series hosted by U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh. In each episode Ayers, Onuf, and Balogh, along with their guests, explore the historical roots of a topic of current relevance. Two recent podcasts explore issues of interest to historians of psychology. In “States of Mind: Mental Illness in America,” the American history guys use the recent release of the DSM-5 as a springboard for discussion of the history of mental illness in the United States,

…exploring how the diagnostic line between mental health and madness has shifted over time, and how we’ve treated those on both sides of it. We’ll hear how the desire of slaves to escape bondage was once interpreted as a psychological disorder, how a woman’s sleepwalking landed her in the state asylum, and how perspectives on depression altered in the 1970s. Plus, the Guys walk us through a mid-20th century quiz that promised to identify a new kind of mental “disorder” – our susceptibility to fascism.

Bridge for Sale: Deception in America,” features an interview with psychologist Geoff Bunn on the history of the lie detector and its connection to Wonder Woman, which is also detailed in his recent book The Truth Machine: A Social History of the Lie Detector. In this episode, the American history guys,

…dig into the long story of confidence men and counterfeiters. We discover a time when fake money jump-started the economy, and take a look at the long, strange history of “the truth compelling machine.” And, oh yeah… we try to sell the Brooklyn Bridge.

Check out even more episodes of BackStory here.

Oct. 2012: BPS Stories of Psychology Symposium

Following last year’s event, the British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre is again hosting a history of psychology symposium, Stories of Psychology, this fall. The event, which will be held on October 16th, 2012 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, will feature presentations from a number of prominent historians of psychology, including: Geoff Bunn, Elizabeth Valentine, Peter Lamont, and Thomas Dixon. Full symposium details, including titles of talks, follow below.

History of Psychology Symposium

Tuesday 16 October 2012 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Stories of Psychology
Archives, Histories and What They Tell Us

1.45pm-5.30pm

convened by Dr Alan Collins (Lancaster University) and Dr Rhodri Hayward (Queen Mary, University of London)
Speakers:

Dr Geoff Bunn (Manchester Metropolitan University)
The secret history of the love detector

Professor Elizabeth Valentine (Royal Holloway, University of London)
‘A brilliant and many-sided personality’: Jessie Murray, founder of the Medico-Psychological Clinic

Dr Thomas Dixon (Queen Mary, University of London)
The logic of the moist eye: Tears and psychology in the twentieth century

Dr Peter Lamont (University of Edinburgh)
Extraordinary phenomena, and what we have made of them

Attendance is free – Register online

For more information, e-mail hopc@bps.org.uk or call Peter Dillon Hooper on 0116 252 9528.

BBC Radio4: A History of the Brain

Starting today, BBC Radio4 is airing a 10-part series on the history of the brain. A History of the Brain, has been written and produced by historian of psychology Geoff Bunn (left), of Manchester Metropolitan University. As described on the program’s website,

Dr Geoff Bunn’s 10 part History of the Brain is a journey through 5000 years of our understanding of the most complex thing in the known universe. From Neolithic times to the present day, Geoff journeys through the many ideas of what the brain is for and how it fulfils its functions. While referencing the core physiology and neuroscience, this is a cultural, not a scientific history. What soon becomes obvious is that our understanding of this most inscrutable organ has in all periods been coloured by the social and political expedients of the day no less than by the contemporary scope of scientific or biological exploration.

The first episode in the series, on the topic of trepanation, aired today and can currently be listened to online. Further episodes, each 15 minutes long, air weekdays at 1:45pm on BBC Radio4 and will be available online thereafter. Descriptions of the first 6 episodes in the series – all those airing this week, as well as the episode to air next Monday – are currently available on the program’s website:

In Episode 1: A Hole in the Head, the focus is on trepanation, the practice of drilling holes in the skull believing that such operations might correct physiological or spiritual problems. Trepanation reveals much about the understanding of the brain from Neolithic to recent times. The Ancient Egyptians, however, rarely trepanned, even though their Secret Book of the Physician, one of the oldest medical texts in the world, shows that they recognised how damage to the brain can paralyze limbs on opposite sides of the body. Believing the heart to be the core organ, they discarded the brain altogether at death, since it had no part to play in the afterlife.

In Episode 2: The Blood of The Gladiators, the focus is Ancient Greek scholarship, with Hippocrates’ astonishingly prescient belief in the brain as the chief organ of control and his debunking of the myth of the ‘sacred disease’ with his assertion that epilepsy was the result of natural causes. Yet the belief that a cure lay in the magical properties of blood persisted for centuries. Continue reading BBC Radio4: A History of the Brain

BPS Symposium: Stories of Psychology

The British Psychological Society‘s History of Psychology Centre is hosting a free history of psychology symposium on October 11, 2011. The symposium, Stories of Psychology: Archives, Histories and What They Tell Us, has been organized by prominent historians of psychology Alan Collins (right) and Geoff Bunn and will take place at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre in London. Full symposium details can be found on the History of Psychology Centre’s website and are listed below.



History of Psychology Symposium
Tuesday 11 October 2011 at the Wellcome Collection Conference Centre, Euston Road, London NW1 2BE
Stories of Psychology: Archives, Histories and What They Tell Us
1.45pm-5.30pm

Convened by Dr Alan Collins (University of Lancaster) and Dr Geoff Bunn (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Speakers:

Professor Richard Bentall (University of Liverpool)
How we have changed the way we think about madness

Professor Michael Billig (Loughborough University)
Archival knowledge versus personal reminiscence: The case of the social psychologist Henri Tajfel

Dr Rhodri Hayward (Queen Mary, University of London)
Psychological knowledge and the making of the modern state

Graham Richards (Independent scholar and former Director of the History of Psychology Centre)
The psychology of archives – especially archives of psychology

Professor Sally Shuttleworth (St Anne’s College, Oxford)
Studying the child in the nineteenth century

The symposium will be followed by a reception in the Wellcome Library Reading Room to celebrate the collaboration between the Wellcome Library and the British Psychological Society and to mark the transfer to the Library of the main BPS archives.

Advance free registration is essential – register here

For more information, e-mail hopc@bps.org.uk or call Peter Dillon Hooper on 0116 252 9528.