Fonds F-255 - Barry Beyerstein fonds

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Barry Beyerstein fonds

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  • Textual records
  • Sound recordings
  • Photographic materials
  • Records in electronic form (born-digital)

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the name of the fonds creator.

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  • ca. 1968-2007 (Creation)
    Beyerstein, Barry
  • 1917-2007 (Dates of document)

Physical description area

Physical description

Paper and analog materials:
1.44 m of textual records and other materials

Born-digital materials:
45 MB of textual records

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Name of creator

(19 May 1947 - 25 June 2007)

Biographical history

Barry Beyerstein was a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University. His research focused on brain-behaviour relationships, with a focus on the topics of psychopharmacology, sensory psychophysiology, and critical assessments of claims of the paranormal and pseudoscience. He was a renowned skeptic of pseudoscience and the paranormal, heading the B.C. Skeptics Society. Beyerstein taught at SFU from 1973-2007. He passed away on June 25, 2007 at age 60.

Beyerstein was born on May 19, 1947 in Edmonton, Alberta to Christine and Hilliard Beyerstein. Barry began his university education as a charter student at Simon Fraser University, completing his B.A. in 1968. He received a Ph.D. from University of California, Berkeley in 1973, and subsequently moved back to Vancouver to join SFU's Department of Psychology as an Assistant Professor. He was promoted to Associate Professor in 1986 and Full Professor in 2004. Beyerstein continued to teach at SFU until he passed away due to a heart failure in 2007. He is survived by his wife Susan Beyerstein, and their two children, Lindsay and Loren.

Beyerstein published numerous articles and contributed to several important books in his field:

• The Write Stuff: Scientific Evaluations of Graphology (1992)
• The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal (1996)
• Mind Myths: Exploring Everyday Mysteries of the Mind and Brain (1999)
• Science Meets Alternative Medicine: What the Evidence Says About Unconventional Treatments (2000)
• Tall Tales about the Mind and Brain: Separating fact from fiction (2006)
• 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior (2009)

Beyerstein was the recipient of numerous awards and honours. He received significant research grants from the Steel Research Fund throughout the 1980s, and received the President's Award for Service to the University from SFU in 2003.

In addition to his scholarly output, Beyerstein was regularly sought out by the media for his understanding of human brain behavior. He presented on the BBC Radio's "All in the Mind" program; he appeared regularly on the CBC National Radio program "Quirks and Quarks"; and he spoke as a guest on the Jim Bohannon Show.

Outside the academy, Beyerstein served at various times on the boards of a number of organizations: the Drug Policy Foundation, the Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the Canadian Psychological Association, and the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

In a late essay, Beyerstein reminds his readers that, "false hope easily supplants common sense," and that, "in this vulnerable state, the need for hard-nosed appraisal is all the more necessary, but so often we see instead an eagerness to abandon any remaining vestiges of skepticism." Such calls to think critically about brain behaviour were common in Beyerstein's writing, teaching, and media appearances, showing his passion for identifying ways to see past myths, conspiracies, and claims of the paranormal and pseudoscience.

Custodial history

Beyerstein's records were in his continuous custody prior to donation and transfer to SFU Archives in 2012 by his widow, Susan Beyerstein.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of records relating to Barry Beyerstein's personal and family life, and his teaching, research, scholarship, and professional activities. Records include correspondence, photographs, research notes, working papers, and teaching material; offprints, lectures, and copies of newspaper and magazine articles authored by Beyerstein; and draft manuscripts for chapters of published books.

The fonds is a hybrid of paper, analog, and born-digital media.

The fonds has been arranged by the archivist into nine series:

• Correspondence and personal records (series 1)
• SFU course files and lectures (series 2)
• Conferences and public presentations (series 3)
• University service and career records (series 4)
• Research files and collected publications (series 5)
• Publications (series 6)
• Professional advice files (series 7)
• Sound recordings (series 8)
• Photographs (series 9)

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition


Where apparent, original order was maintained; arrangement was provided by the archivist for records with no existing order.

Beyerstein's records were transferred to the Archives as one distinct group: 6 banker's boxes of paper files, sound recordings and photographs.

Paper files are distributed across series 1-7. The sound recordings have been assigned their own series (series 8), as have the photographs (series 9).

Language of material

  • English
  • Spanish

Script of material

Language and script note

One Spanish language document located in F-255-5-2-0-5.

Location of originals

Availability of other formats

The fonds includes 16 audiocassettes. The analog originals have been retained, but the Archives will provide access only to digital surrogates. Consult the reference archivist for more information about access to these materials.

For born-digital records, the Archives' practice is to retain the materials in their original file formats and create normalized copies in designated access and preservation formats. Decisions on individual formats are codified in the Archives' Format Policy Registry (FPR). Typically the Archives will provide access via the designated access format, but it can provide copies in the original or preservation formats on request.

Restrictions on access

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

The fonds contains copyright-protected materials that fall into two main categories: (i) materials created by Beyerstein for which Beyerstein was the copyright holder; and (ii) material received or collected by Beyerstein for which copyrights are owned by third parties.

For type (i) materials in which Beyerstein held copyright - the donor transferred copyright to SFU. The Archives provides access to these under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license (CC BY-NC). Users are free to copy, share and adapt the materials as they like provided they credit Beyerstein as the creator, indicate any changes they have made, and use the works for a non-commercial purpose. All requests for commercial use should be made in writing to SFU Archives.

For type (ii) materials in which third parties own copyright - the Archives will make copies available for private study or research purposes under the fair dealing provisions of Canada's Copyright Act. Use for any other purpose may require the permission of the copyright owner. SFU Archives can assist researchers in attempting to identify copyright owners, but it is the user's responsibility to contact owners and secure any permissions.

Finding aids

The archivist prepared a list of Beyerstein's publications and conference addresses to assist with navigating sub-series 6-2 (articles, abstracts and conference papers). This list can be found in Appendix A of the PDF finding aid or in hard copy in the Archives' Reading Room.

Generated finding aid

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No future accruals are expected.


Photographic materials in F-255-6-1-0-4 have been physically separated and removed to flat storage (container 13) for preservation purposes.

Physical description

Analog materials: in addition to the paper files, the fonds includes 42 photographs, 20 negatives, 5 slides, and 16 audio cassettes. Photographic materials are concentrated in series 6-1 and 9; they have been physically separated and removed to flat storage (container 13) for preservation purposes. Audio materials are found in series 8 and are available on request.

Born-digital materials: the fonds includes 26 word processing files (45 MB). These records are found in series 6-2.

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Rules or conventions

RAD July 2008 edition.


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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Dec 2021: arrangement and description completed (Matthew Lively).

Language of description

  • English

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