Miguel Farias specializes on the psychology of belief. Following his DPhil in Experimental Psychology at Oxford, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Ian Ramsey Centre and the Oxford Centre for Science of the Mind, where he worked with philosophers and neuroscientist on a brain imaging study of the analgesic effects of religious beliefs. He moved back to the Department of Experimental Psychology as a Lecturer and carried out new research on conspiracy beliefs, pilgrimage, and the stress-buffering effects of believing in science. In 2012 he embarked on the first randomized-controlled trial of the effects of yoga and meditation in prisons. This eventually led him to write, with clinical psychologist Catherine Wikholm, a book that examines the science and myths about the effects of meditation, including its potential for harm. He currently leads the Brain, Belief and Behaviour Lab, where he is carrying out new research on the modification of beliefs.
Big Data, big danger?
"Five debates a day sounds a bit daunting beforehand, but I really loved it. The speakers are so knowledgeable and passionate about their chosen topic, and the amount of time dedicated to questions from the audience was great as it really brought in alternative views."
Exeter University student