NOTE: Seminar takes place in the Murray Room, Level 4, 65 Oakfield Avenue
The use of the scientific method in the study of conscious perceptual experience is intended to prevent it from becoming a tumbling ground for whimsy. Taking perceptual experience seriously can be a very productive scientific enterprise, but the distinction between measurable perceptual bias and experimental artifact or publication bias has often been strikingly hard to pin down. Here I will review some of the empirical observations that have led a number of researchers to question the merits of whole classes of claims that have been splashing across the pages of prominent journals. Based on my own work, I will emphasize the explanatory advantages of the participant compliance (or demand characteristic) account of several otherwise strange and surprising findings that are ostensibly perceptual. But I will also place this type of basic psychological explanation of these kinds of findings within a broader theoretical context of systematic confirmation bias in psychological science. That is, ongoing crises concerning statistical hypothesis testing in psychology, the concomitant crisis concerning replication, and the ever-present risk of scientific “truthiness” encouraged by a rational cost-benefit analysis of selection bias in journals ought all be relevant factors in the evaluation of the recent flood of claims regarding the strangely metaphorical embodiment of perception.