Welcome to the fourth instalment of ScienceTeller, a popular biennial event open to the public and hosted by the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago in beautiful Dunedin, New Zealand. This is not your professor’s boring old academic conference.
Celebrating science and storytelling, ScienceTeller invites leading thinkers, researchers, and industry professionals working on a provocative scientific topic to share their work and ideas in a welcoming—but no-holds-barred!—environment.
ScienceTeller 2019 is all about “Science and the Afterlife.” In special collaboration with the Department of Psychology, we’re featuring three days of keynotes, debates, and discussion centered on that timeless mystery of what happens after we die… and perhaps more to the point, why do so many people believe that anything happens at all?
Headlined by bestselling American science writers Mary Roach (Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife) and Michael Shermer (Heavens on Earth: The Scientific Search for the Afterlife, Immortality, and Utopia), ScienceTeller 2019 features the latest research and thought on the human drive to ponder, speculate, and proselytize about life after death.
In addition, we’re bringing in some of the leading scholars in the field to share fascinating new research about the psychology of afterlife beliefs. If you’ve ever wondered about how children think about life after death, what the evolutionary “function” of a belief in eternal reward or punishment might be, or why the concept of an endless soul is common around the world, you’ve come to the right place!
We know what you’re thinking. What about that big existential question: “Is There Life After Death?” In a spirited debate, arch-skeptic Michael Shermer matches wits with cognitive scientist Justin Barrett of the Fuller Theological Seminary to try and sway you one way or the other.
There will be plenty of other spectral surprises, too, including a special screening of an episode from the hit TVNZ 2 television series Wellington Paranormal, followed by a chance to talk with some of those involved with the production of the show.
We hope that you enjoy this intellectual and fun foray into ghosts, immortality and all the other afterlife affairs we can squeeze into three exciting days. And if you’re online, help us to spread the word about this great University of Otago event series by tweeting your thoughts and experiences along the way using the #ScienceTeller19 hashtag.
Hope to see you in April!
Associate Professor Jesse Bering
Director, Centre for Science Communication
Professor Jamin Halberstadt
Department of Psychology