Richard Wiseman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the English landowner and politician, see Richard Wiseman (MP).
Richard Wiseman
Richard Wiseman-Emcee-CSICON 2012-Nashville-Opening Remarks-OCT 26 2012.JPG
Wiseman at CSICon 2012
Born 1966 (age 47–48)
London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Psychologist, professor

Richard Wiseman (born 1966) is Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom. Wiseman started his professional life as a magician, before graduating in Psychology from University College London (UCL) and obtaining a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Edinburgh.[1]

Psychological research[edit]

Wiseman is known for his critical examination and frequent debunking of unusual phenomena, including reports of paranormal phenomena. He is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).[2] His research has been published in numerous academic journals, reported at various conferences,[3] and featured on television.[4] In 2004, he took part in a preliminary test of Natasha Demkina, a young Russian woman who claims to have a special vision that allows her to see inside of people's bodies and diagnose illnesses. The test, whose validity has been disputed by Demkina's supporters,[5][6] was featured in the Discovery Channel documentary, The Girl with X-Ray Eyes.[7]

In addition Wiseman has studied the principles of good and bad luck, publishing the results in the self-help book The Luck Factor. He showed that both good and bad luck result from measurable habits; for example, lucky people, by expecting good luck, might expend more effort in their endeavours, resulting in more success, reinforcing their belief in good luck. Lucky people are outgoing and observant and therefore have many more chance encounters than unlucky people, each of which could bring a lucky opportunity. Moreover lucky people are more likely to look on the bright side of 'bad' encounters. In a mental exercise describing being shot during a bank robbery, lucky people considered themselves lucky not to have been killed while unlucky people considered themselves unlucky to have been shot.[8]

In 2001 Wiseman led LaughLab, an international experiment to find the world's funniest joke.[9] The winning joke described a caller to emergency services who shoots his friend who has collapsed in order to comply with the instruction "First, let's make sure he's dead".[9] The experiment also explored regional and cultural variations in humour.


Wiseman's research has been featured on over 150 television programmes, including Horizon, Equinox and World In Action.[4] He is regularly heard on BBC Radio 4, including appearances on Start the Week, Midweek and the Today programme. Wiseman also makes numerous appearances on the British television show The Real Hustle, explaining the psychology behind many of the scams and confidence tricks.[4] Feature articles about his work have regularly appeared in The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.


Wiseman has published studies on anomalistic psychology and the psychology of paranormal belief. He is the author of the book titled Paranormality: Why We See What Isn't There (2011) which takes a psychological approach to paranormal phenomena.

In 2011, Wiseman wrote the first section of a collaborative story at Libboo in an attempt to produce a full-length novel in two months. The final result of this experiment, was a novel called, Paradox: The Curious Life, and Mysterious Death, of Mr Joseph Wheeler.[10]

Wiseman has also become a content creator on YouTube after uploading a video in 2007 that has 6 million views as of January 2014. He is best known for his Bets You Will Always Win series, which has amassed over 60 million views throughout 10 videos. On January 7, 2014, Wiseman uploaded a video to a new channel called "59 Seconds" [11] in promotion of his book of the same name.


Richard Wiseman (left) during TAM9 in 2011, with Phil Plait and Joe Nickell


Richard Wiseman talks about 59 Seconds on Bookbits radio.
  • Wiseman, R. & Morris, R. L. (1995). Guidelines for Testing Psychic Claimants. Hatfield, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press (US edition: Amherst, USA: Prometheus Press).
  • Milton, J. & Wiseman, R. (1997). Guidelines for Extrasensory Perception Research. Hatfield, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press.
  • Wiseman, R. (1997). Deception and self-deception: Investigating Psychics. Amherst, USA: Prometheus Press
  • Lamont, P. & Wiseman, R. (1999). Magic in Theory: an introduction to the theoretical and psychological elements of conjuring. Hatfield, UK: University of Hertfordshire Press (US edition: Hermetic Press).
  • Wiseman, R. (2002). Laughlab: The Scientific Search For The World's Funniest Joke. London, UK: Random House
  • Wiseman, R. (2003). The Luck Factor. London, UK: Random House
  • Wiseman, R. (2004). Did you spot the gorilla? How to recognise hidden opportunities in your life. London, UK: Random House
  • Wiseman, R. & Watt, C. (2005). Parapsychology. London, UK: Ashgate International Library of Psychology. Series Editor, Prof. David Canter
  • Wiseman, R. (2007). Quirkology. London, UK: Pan Macmillan
  • Wiseman, R. (2009). 59 Seconds: Think a Little, Change a Lot. London, UK: Pan Macmillan
  • Wiseman, R. (2011). Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there. London, UK: Pan Macmillan


  1. ^ Hertfordshire University
  2. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff". Skeptical Inquirer. 
  3. ^ "Papers". 
  4. ^ a b c "Richard Wiseman (I)". IMdb. 
  5. ^ Baty, Phil (10 December 2004). "Scientists fail to see eye to eye over girl's 'X-ray vision'". Times HIgher Education. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Rennolls, Keith (17 December 2004). "Distorted visions". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  7. ^ Hyman R, Skeptical Inquirer, May 2005, "Testing Natasha"
  8. ^ Carter, Christine. "Happy-go-Lucky". Psychology Today. 
  9. ^ a b "LaughLab". 
  10. ^ Libboo (2011-07-19). "The Mercury is Rising Fast". Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  11. ^ "Quirkology". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-03-03. 
  12. ^ a b "Education Guardian March 2, 2004". London: 2 March 2004. Retrieved 2013-06-29. 
  13. ^ "Turning scientific papers into best-selling prose". 

External links[edit]