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Dr. Barry L Beyerstein, Ph.D. (May 19, 1947 - June 25, 2007) was professor of psychology at Simon Fraser Universitymarker in Burnabymarker, Canadamarker. Beyerstein's research explored brain mechanisms of perception and consciousness, the effects of drugs on the brain and mind, sense of smell and its lesser-known contributions to human cognition and emotion.

Personal life

Beyerstein was born in Edmontonmarker, Albertamarker, Canadamarker. He died suddenly at age 60 in his office on Burnaby Mountainmarker, of an apparent heart attack.

He is survived by his brother Dale, his wife Suzi, his daughter Lindsay, and his son Loren. He is predeceased by his father, Hilliard Beyerstein.


Beyerstein received his B.A. from Simon Fraser University in 1968, and a Ph.D. in Experimental and Biological Psychology from the University of California at Berkeleymarker in 1973.

In the 1970s Beyerstein collaborated with his colleague Bruce Alexander on the famous Rat Park study of addiction.

Beyerstein was a co-founder of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. He was chair of the BC Skeptics Society.

He co-authored a book about handwriting analysis and graphology, and has been a public critic of such methods, which he identifies as pseudoscience similar to phrenology.

He has been publicly critical of unsupported claims of techniques to improve brain function.

He also made an appearance in the first season of the television show Penn and Teller: Bullshit! to discuss the scientific basis of near-death experiences.

In an article for Skeptical Inquirer magazine titled "Why Bogus Therapies Seem to Work", Beyerstein outlined ten errors and biases that can lead people to incorrectly perceive medical benefits from ineffective treatments.

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

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