Summer festival includes free lectures on déjà vu, perception and more

flowers tree and sun

As part of an annual Fort Collins music and art festival, a free weekly lecture series will feature several Colorado State University faculty. They will share insights on topics ranging from the psychology behind déjà vu, to the science behind why our eyes sometimes deceive us.

The “Viewpoints” lecture series will be during the noon hour, June 18-July 11, in various locations in Fort Collins. The series is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome.

The lecture series is part of Off the Hook Arts Summerfest 2019: Perception/Deception, Illusion/Confusion, taking place June 17-July 12. The festival brings together music, neuroscience, psychology, magic, comedy, painting and photography to explore the “mysteries, methods, facts, and fantasies of human perception.” Events include a concert series and a summer academy for children. Get more information on purchasing tickets.

CSU Viewpoints Series speakers

Jessica Witt, professor, Department of Psychology

“The Science Behind Visual Illusions”

June 21, noon-1 p.m. at CSU Nancy Richardson Design Center Design Exchange Room, 522 W. Lake St.

Remember #TheDress?  Some people saw a white and gold dress, yet others saw a blue and black dress. People have the impression that they see the world accurately and in the same way as everyone else. We will discuss how #TheDress and other visual illusions challenge this intuition about perception.

Jennifer Harman, associate professor, Department of Psychology

“Why Children Reject their Loving Parents”

July 2, noon-1 p.m. at Avogadro’s Number, 605 St. Mason St.

Many children reject or refuse to have a relationship with a loving parent, and it is often hard for people to understand the cause of this rejection. Oftentimes, the parent who is rejected is blamed, as observers assume that they must be abusive or have done something wrong to make the child act that way. This talk will explore a form of family violence known as parental alienation, which is when a child rejects a parent for untrue, exaggerated, or unjustifiable reasons. The cause of this rejection and the child’s behaviors run counterintuitive to what we might expect, yet they are fully explicable once the true cause is exposed.

Scott Denning, professor, Department of Atmospheric Science

“Wrapping Our Heads Around Reality and the Study of Nature”

July 9, noon-1 p.m. at Ginger and Baker, 351-359 Linden St.

How can we know what is true about the natural world and our place in it? Historian Yuval Harari says the modern age began with the “discovery of ignorance,” when we began to doubt what had previously been deemed eternal truths. The formalized skepticism known as the scientific method has transformed us and the world we inhabit, replacing a search for truth with useful but ambiguous layers of approximation. Yet there are things we know for sure, and there are certainly lies. We can use the light of science to find our way, but we must draw on the best in us to bring meaning to its results.

Anne Cleary, professor, Department of Psychology

“Déjà vu and other Strange Memory Experiences”

July 11, noon-1 p.m. at Wolverine Farm Publick House, 316 Willow St.

It’s a strange cognitive phenomenon that most people experience at some point in their lives, but is assumed to be outside the realm of science – déjà vu. That mysterious feeling of having experienced something before, despite knowing otherwise, is often associated with the paranormal or with premonition. Join cognitive psychologist Cleary for a talk on the science of studying déjà vu and other strange memory phenomena.