Origins Project will explore why we deceive

October 9, 2012

Little white lies, sleight of hand, con games, hornswoggling. Deception has been around since the rise of life, but why is this so and why do we, to this day, spend so much time and effort trying to deceive? ASU’s Origins Project will explore the genesis of deception, demonstrate deception at its best and put it in context of today’s society at the next Great Debate.

Tickets are now on sale for The Great Debate: Deception, A Night of Magic and Illumination, 7 p.m., Oct. 20, Gammage Auditorium on ASU’s Tempe campus. Download Full Image

After a demonstration of deception by two of the world’s best close-up magicians, panelists will explore how deception is an essential part of the human condition, the evolutionary purposes deception fills, and how we can recognize deception on an individual level and overcome it on a societal level. 

“Like xenophobia, the subject of our last Great Debate, deception has an evolutionary basis that is vital, but also has societal consequences which can be counterproductive,” said Lawrence Krauss, director of ASU’s Origins Project. “How the brain works to be able to deceive and also to detect deception is fascinating. We will have some fun exploring both sides of the brain in a magical evening.”

The panel, along with the help of the magicians, will talk about (and demonstrate) deception and the biological, behavioral and political boundaries of this controversial issue.

The panel includes influential evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers of Rutgers University; popular author and social psychologist Carol Tavris; accomplished neurobiologists and laboratory directors at Barrow Neurological Institute, Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde; and acclaimed magicians Jamy Ian Swiss and Joshua Jay. The conversation will be moderated by Krauss, who is also a professor in the Department of Physics and School of Earth and Space Exploration, academic units with ASU's College of LIberal Arts and Sciences.

Tickets are now on sale; students for $4 plus fees and the general public, $8 plus fees. Contact Gammage Box Office, 480-965-3434 or Ticketmaster.

For more information about this event, visit, or call 480-965-0053.

Associate Director, Media Relations & Strategic Communications


ASU to host 'America's Music: A Film History'

October 9, 2012

Arizona State University is one of 12 universities selected to host America’s Music: A Film History of Our Popular Music from Blues to Bluegrass to Broadway, a project created by Tribeca Film Institute in partnership with the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities in consultation with the Society for American Music.

Christopher Mehrens, head of the Music Library for ASU Libraries, will serve as project director for the six-week series of public programs that will feature documentary film screenings and discussions by Richard Mook, assistant professor of music history and literature in the ASU School of Music in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, about 20th century American popular music ranging from blues and gospel, Broadway, jazz, bluegrass and country, to rock ‘n roll, mambo and hip hop. Download Full Image

"Music is such a fundamental part of American history and identity that we often take its influence for granted,” said Mook. “This series and its discussions can change the way we hear and understand America."

According to Mehrens, the application process for the NEH grant to fund participation in the series was highly competitive. “I firmly believe that ASU received the grant because of the university’s reputation and commitment to community embeddedness, the involvement of Richard Mook as project scholar, the ASU Libraries’ past experience with public programming and, ultimately, the partnership with the Herberger Institute’s School of Music and the prestige of its music programs,’’ Mehrens said.

In addition to the 12 universities, there are 38 public libraries and nonprofit organizations also receiving the NEH grants to be sites for the America’s Music series. ASU is the only site in Arizona for the program that will include screening of  such documentary films as Ken Burns’ "Jazz, From Mambo to Hip-Hop: A South Bronx Tale;" "History of Rock and Roll;" Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues, Episode 1: "I Feel Like Goin’ Home" and "Say Amen, Somebody."

The series begins in 2013 at dates, times and locations to be announced.