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Visual Images Will Be ‘In Focus’ at Next Colloquium


The impact of living in a culture increasingly reliant on technologies that primarily disseminate information via visual images rather than the printed word will be examined during the next edition of Pennsylvania College of Technology’s 2016-17 Colloquia Series.

“A General Assertion Is Worth Innumerable Pictures” will be presented by Robert N. McCauley, William Rand Kenan Jr. University Professor at Emory University. The free, public event is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, in the Klump Academic Center Auditorium on the college’s main campus in Williamsport.

Robert N. McCauley
Robert N. McCauley

“There are costs that come with our reliance on technologies that emphasize visual stimuli. There are certain advantages that come with that also. I’m not a naysayer about those technologies. In short, they have an impact, literally, on how the human mind works, and that turns out to have some very interesting implications that we will discuss,” McCauley said.

Americans’ consumption of visual media is extensive. As evidence, McCauley cited a recent study from Common Sense Media revealing that parents of kids (between the ages of 8 and 18) daily spend on average nearly 9.5 hours with screen media. A report last year by the organization found that teens (ages 13-18) average nine hours of entertainment media per day, and tweens (ages 8-12) average six hours a day, not including school or homework.

“My aim is to get folks to take a step back and reflect on the impact of a variety of new technologies in modern American life,” McCauley said.

The founding director of Emory’s Center for Mind, Brain and Culture plans to employ visual stimuli in his presentation to help people understand the difference between natural and unnatural cognition. According to McCauley, visual perception is a natural, intuitive accomplishment, whereas the printed word requires more reflective activity.

“I’m very pleased that I’m able to come to Williamsport for this presentation,” said McCauley, who has previously visited the city. McCauley’s cousin, a city resident, is in a local reading group with Mark D. Noe, professor of English-composition at the college. The group read McCauley’s most recent book, “Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not,” which eventually led Noe to recommend him as a colloquia series presenter.

McCauley has authored three books and published nearly 100 papers. He was elected president of both the Society for Philosophy and Psychology and the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion. McCauley writes a blog for Psychology Today titled “Why Religion Is Natural and Science Is Not: A Naturalist Examines the Cognitive and Cultural Foundations of Religion, Science and More.”

A question-and-answer period will follow McCauley’s Penn College presentation in the auditorium; the conversation can also resume during the reception that will follow downstairs in the Wrapture dining unit.

Honoring Daniel J. Doyle, professor emeritus and Penn College’s 1984 Master Teacher, the Colloquia Series features presentations by noted authors and academics who challenge audiences to consider the impact of technology on society.

Penn College is a national leader in applied technology education and workforce development. Email the Admissions Office or call toll-free 800-367-9222.

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