Psychologist to Provide Guidance for Evaluating ‘Extraordinary Claims’

Dr. Scott Lilienfeld, professor of psychology at Emory University, will deliver the Michael Dinoff Memorial Lecture Nov. 15.
Dr. Scott Lilienfeld, professor of psychology at Emory University, will deliver the Michael Dinoff Memorial Lecture Nov. 15.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Scott O. Lilienfeld, one of the country’s most acclaimed psychologists, will be the guest speaker for the Annual Michael Dinoff Memorial Lecture on The University of Alabama campus Friday, Nov. 15.

The topic will be “Science and Pseudoscience in Everyday Life: A Field Guide for Evaluating Extraordinary Claims.” The lecture will begin at 6 p.m. in room 208, Gordon Palmer Hall, and it is free and open to the public.

Lilienfeld will speak about how people can better navigate the confusing world of extraordinary claims, like psychics, “Bigfoot,” alternative medicine and extrasensory perception.

“There won’t be answers, but there will be skills for everyone to avoid errors in thinking that we’re all prone to, and that can sometimes lead us to see patterns or meaning when it’s not really there,” Lilienfeld said. “With the advent of the web, there’s been an information explosion, but also a misinformation explosion. The problem is — without skills to evaluate the web — people don’t know how to sort wheat from the chaff.

“I’m going to argue that the same principles people could use to argue claims of extraterrestrial life, they can use to argue everyday claims,” Lilienfeld said. “The same kind of thinking errors can also lead us to a mistake of buying the wrong toothpaste or adopting medical theories that aren’t supported.”

Lilienfeld is the associate editor of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and past president of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology. Lilienfeld has published more than 300 articles, book chapters and books on personality disorders, dissociative disorders, psychiatric classification and diagnosis, and evidence-based practices in clinical psychology.

His work in clinical psychology has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Time, Boston Globe, Washington Post, USA Today, New Yorker, U.S. News and World Report and Scientific American.  He is a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and, along with Dr. Hal Arkowitz, a regular columnist for Scientific American Mind magazine.

In 1998, Lilienfeld received the David Shakow Award for Outstanding Early Career Contributions to Clinical Psychology from APA Division 12. In 2007 he was elected as a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science. In 2012, he received the James McKeen Cattell Award for Lifetime Contributions to Applied Psychological Science from the Association for Psychological Science

The Dinoff Memorial Lecture is given in memory of Dr. Michael Dinoff, who was a professor and director of the University’s Psychological Clinic from 1963 until his death in 1982.

The psychology department is a part of UA’s College of Arts & Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state.


David Miller, media relations, 205/348-0825,