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Ray Hyman (born June 23, 1928, Chelsea, Massachusetts) is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon,[1] and a noted critic of parapsychology.


While attending Boston University as a young man,[2] he also worked as a magician and mentalist,[3] impressing the head of his department (among others) with his palmistry. Hyman at one point believed that 'reading' the lines on a person's palm could provide insights into their nature, but later discovered that the person's reaction to the reading had little to do with the actual lines on the palm. This led to his interest in psychology.[3]

He obtained a doctorate in psychology from Johns Hopkins University in 1953,[4] and then taught at Harvard for five years.[2] He also became an expert in statistical methods


Along with other notable skeptics like Paul Kurtz, he was a founding member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP),[5] which publishes the Skeptical Inquirer.

Aside from his scholarly publications and consultation with the U.S. Department of Defense in scrutinizing psychic research,[2] one of his most popular articles is thirteen points to help you "amaze your friends with your new found psychic powers!", a guide to cold reading.[6] The guide exploits what fascinated him in his academic research in cognitive psychology, that much deception is self-deception. He has investigated dowsing in the United States and wrote a book on the subject.[3] He is one of the foremost skeptical experts on the Ganzfeld experiment.[7]

Dr. Hyman's prestidigitational skills (which he calls "manipulating perception") have earned him the cover of The Linking Ring, the magazine of the International Brotherhood of Magicians of which he has been a member for over 35 years.[8]

Dr. Hyman was close friends with Barry Beyerstein and together they founded an annual workshop in 1992 in Eugene, Oregon called Skeptic's Toolbox[9] which is still being held.[10]

Hyman retired in 1998 but continues to give talks and investigate paranormal claims.



  • Bush, Robert R. (1956). Mathematics for Psychologists, New York: Social Science Research Council.
  • Vogt, Evon Zartman; Hyman, Ray (1959). Water Witching USA, Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago Press.
  • Hyman, Ray (1964). The Nature of Psychological Inquiry, Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.
  • Hyman, Ray (1989). The Elusive Quarry: A Scientific Appraisal of Psychical Research, Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-87975-504-0.
  • Andrus, Jerry; Hyman, Ray (2000). Andrus Card Control, Eugene, OR: Chazpro Magic.

Hyman, R. (2001). Why and When Are Smart People Stupid? In R.J. Sternberg (Ed.), Why smart people can be so stupid. New Haven CT: Yale University Press.


Hyman, R. (1989). The psychology of deception. Annual Review of Psychology, 50, 133-154. Hyman, R. (1999, Fall/Winter). The mischief-making of ideomotor action. The Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine, 3, 30-39.


  1. Department of Psychology at the University of Oregon Faculty Information, Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon,, retrieved on July 27, 2009 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Shermer, Michael (January 1998), The Truth is Out There & Ray Hyman Wants to Find It, Skeptic Magazine,, retrieved on July 27, 2009 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ask The Scientists: Water, Water Everywhere -- Ray Hyman, PBS.ORG,, retrieved on July 27, 2009 
  4. Hyman, Ray (1953), Stimulus information as a determinant of reaction time, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University, pp. 30, OCLC 30554829 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Alcock, James (March/April 2004), "In Praise of Ray Hyman", Skeptical Inquirer 28 (2),, retrieved on July 27, 2009 
  6. Hyman, Ray, Guide to "Cold Reading", Australian Skeptics,, retrieved on July 27, 2009 
  7. Novella, Steven Episode #43. The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. URL accessed on July 27, 2009. (This is his first podcast interview, it runs from 27:34 to 1:04:50)
  8. 2008 Order of Merlin Inductees and Awardees, The International Brotherhood of Magicians, July 22, 2008,, retrieved on July 27, 2009  (Hyman is listed as a Shield Awardee - 35 continuous years)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Ray Hyman - Honorary Degree Recipient, Vancouver, BC, Canada: Simon Fraser University, October 4, 2007,, retrieved on July 27, 2009 
  10. The Skeptic's Toolbox 2009 Registration, Eugene, Oregon: The Skeptics Toolbox,, retrieved on July 27, 2009 
  11. retrieved April 24, 2010

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