The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Thomas Luschei
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz


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Christopher French
FEATURED INTERVIEW:
Neil Langdon Inglis, Interlitq's U. S. and Parapsychology Editor, Interviews Professor Christopher French Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit in the Psychology Department at Goldsmiths, University of London.
 

 

NLI. What is a typical day like for you at Goldsmiths, University of London? Tell us something about your current projects, the institutional environment, the syllabus and examinations, the students, etc.

CF. A typical day for me at Goldsmiths is, I suspect, very much like the day of any other colleague in a Psychology Department anywhere in the world. The job consists of those aspects that most academics enjoy (typically research and, for some, teaching and public engagement) and those that are somewhat less enjoyable (typically administrative tasks, marking, and so on). As it happens, I am just starting a year’s study leave so I have some respite from the more onerous aspects of the job. My main focus over the coming year will be the writing of a popular science book on anomalistic psychology but I will also be keeping my research ticking over. In particular, in association with colleagues in the UK and USA, I will be working on publishing the results of a large-scale survey of experiences of sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome (yes, the latter really does exist!).

Goldsmiths is anything but conservative in its approach. Even so, I did feel that for a long time my interest in anomalistic psychology was tolerated rather than encouraged. I was allowed to indulge that interest as long as I also published research in more ‘respectable’ areas of psychology. I am pleased to say that such attitudes no longer hold sway. I have been at Goldsmiths since 1985. Initially, I taught a couple of lectures presenting a sceptical perspective on parapsychology as part of a larger module on theoretical issues. A decade later, I realised I knew enough to present a whole module (20 hours of lectures, plus tutorials, coursework, and an exam) as part of our BSc (Hons) Psychology programme--and the module proved very popular with the students, both sceptics and believers. In recent years, the syllabus has been very built around the textbook that I co-authored with Anna Stone in 2014 (Anomalistic Psychology: Exploring Paranormal Belief and Experience). The book and the module take the novel approach of considering what insights each of the sub-disciplines within psychology (e.g., cognitive, biological, developmental, social, and so on) can provide in attempting to understand various topics of interest.

NLI. You started out as a believer, and moved in a skeptical direction later in life. Did you have an early experience you could not explain? If so, was it positive or negative (my own two experiences were negative). Do you retain any connection with the world of the supernatural (are you religious?).

CF. I cannot claim that it was any particular inexplicable early experience that got me interested in the paranormal, I’ve just always been fascinated by weird stuff. As a kid, I was petrified of ghosts, monsters and aliens – yet still felt drawn to read about them and watch scary stuff on TV. I have had a couple of sleep paralysis experiences that, if I were a believer, I might have interpreted in supernatural terms. But I’m not and I didn’t. I’m also now an atheist although I did believe in God up until teenage years.

NLI. I gather you work with skeptical groups. Tell us more about how you view the pros and cons of such associations; how useful are they in dispelling popular misconceptions effectively; can they lapse into harshly prescriptive language? With particular reference to CSICOP/CSI, I worry about a tendency toward mission creep, with undue focus on Gwyneth Paltrow at the expense of more critical issues. Where do you think that skeptical groups should focus their efforts in future?

CF. I am always happy to work with sceptical groups whether it be locally, nationally, or internationally. At the local level, I run Greenwich Skeptics in the Pub, organising monthly talks on a range of topics. At the national level, I am a Patron of Humanists UK and I am on the Advisory Board of the Good Thinking Society. I was also involved in the 10:23 campaign to raise awareness of the pseudoscientific nature of homeopathy. At the international level, I co-organised the 15th European Skeptics Congress and I am a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

I personally feel that such groups are essential in dispelling popular misconceptions but I do also recognise that the ‘sceptical movement’ can vary considerably from one country to another. In particular, I think the approach in the US can sometimes be a bit more aggressive than the British approach and may sometimes “lapse into harshly prescriptive language”, as you put it. I think this reflects long-standing cultural differences.

I also think it is perfectly legitimate for sceptics to criticise the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow, notwithstanding the fact that there are indeed more important issues to be addressed. Most sceptics feel that there is an important strand of consumer protection in their activities and object to the public being conned by pseudoscience.

Having said that, there is no doubt that sceptical groups now consider a much wider range of topics than they did forty years ago. Back in the 1970s, the focus was almost solely on paranormal issues. These days, sceptical conferences and publications feature topics such as religion, politics, conspiracy theories, and various controversies in science. The only common factor appears to be the attempt to apply critical thinking to these areas.

NLI. My father Brian Inglis (1916-1993) was a militant advocate for the paranormal, and dedicated the last 20 years of his life to attempting to persuade the world of the reality of the psi force. He set up KIB with Arthur Koestler and Instone Bloomfield, and it was their intention for their legacy to outlive them. Experimental and methodological disciplines meant little to my father; he would quote successful research results that went his way, but even when they did not, what he wrote about was real, and that was that. What do the names in KIB suggest to you? You can be candid.

CF. I am more familiar the KIB Society under the name of the Koestler Foundation and, in particular, the work of the Koestler Chair in Parapsychology in Edinburgh. I was very influenced by the writings of Arthur Koestler in my younger days as well as some of the work of your father, Brian Inglis. I suspect that neither would have had much time for my current views and approach and of course that feeling would be mutual!

However, I had a huge amount of respect (and affection) for the late Prof Bob Morris, the first holder of the Koestler Chair. Although Bob was a believer in psi, he treated informed sceptics with respect and was very well informed regarding their arguments and evidence. He welcomed sceptics into his lab and encouraged them to point out any potential problems they saw in his experimental set-up so that they could be rectified. This enlightened approach had a big influence on me. I am pleased to say that the current holder, my good friend Caroline Watt, has adopted the same approach.

NLI. My father considered Martin Gardner "the ablest" skeptic of his day (this respect went unreciprocated). Which skeptic or skeptics do you rate most highly? (switch order with earlier question on groups).

CF. Like your Dad, I was a big fan of Martin Gardner although I never actually met him. I wrote his obituary for the Guardian and a tribute to him in the Skeptical Inquirer. That does not mean I agreed with every single thing he said or wrote and the same goes for many other sceptics for whom, on balance, I have great respect. It is often the case that, even if I agree with what certain sceptics say, I may not like the way that they say it!

I am afraid that the list of sceptics that I rate highly is quite a long one (and I am sure to unintentionally miss some names off that I really should have included) but the list would have to include (in alphabetical order): James Alcock, Barry Beyerstein, Susan Blackmore, Richard Dawkins, Edzard Ernst, Deborah Hyde, Ray Hyman, Philip Klass, Stephen Law, Steve Lewandowsky, Elizabeth Loftus, Mike Marshall, Joe Nickell, Massimo Polidoro, James Randi, Ben Radford, Carl Sagan, Eugenie Scott, Simon Singh, Carol Tavris, Stuart Vyse, and Richard Wiseman. Well, you did ask!

NLI. And we're delighted to see that list! Moving on, I see that you have served as a skeptic on panel discussions of UFOs. Having recently attended some MUFON meetings, I have found that the ranks of UFOlogists include some people who are interested in the possibility that aviation technology might be on the cusp of dramatic change (i.e., they don't care so much about how and whether little green men can traverse the vast distances of space). Some of these UFO people believe that this cutting-edge technology has been kept from us, although its existence cannot be concealed indefinitely (and we all know how difficult it is to keep a secret). Especially if such technology is home-grown and does not originate from ET civilizations, it seems to me that the eventual disclosure of such technology is not inherently implausible. Your thoughts?

CF. Well, I am totally unconvinced by the claim that such technology already exists as a result of back-engineering UFO hardware but I just do not feel qualified to comment one way or the other on whether a big breakthrough in aviation technology is imminent. One point I would make is that, through recent decades, the alien technology described by abductees often seems to be just a few years ahead of our own (i.e., our conception of the future as portrayed in then-current science fiction movies). Let’s face it, the aliens who abducted Betty and Barney Hill would have thought digital watches were really cool even though they already had the technology to travel across the galaxy! This strongly suggests that such accounts are a product of belief systems current at the time and do not reflect objective reality.

NLI. What raises your spirits in your day-to-day research? What things do you value most?

CF. Although I was very influenced by Karl Popper’s view that real science is all about trying to falsify one’s hypotheses, I am like every other scientist that ever lived in being delighted when the results from a study appear to support, not contradict, my hypothesis! I also get a big kick from finishing a piece of work and also from getting papers accepted for publication (and that very rare – in my field – experience of a successful grant application).



Featured Interviews