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Understanding the Risks of Virtual Technology
A series of talks by guest speakers at the Institute for Psychological Sciences (IPS) offer pointers for navigating the world of virtual reality.

Scruton lecture
The first presentation, “Hiding Behind the Screen: The Philosophy of Virtual Reality,” was presented by Dr. Roger Scruton, Ph.D.

Pope Benedict XVI recently issued a statement warning young people to be wary of the dangers of “isolating themselves in an increasingly virtual reality.” The Institute for Psychological Sciences (IPS) is doing its part to get this warning heard with its 2008-2009 John Henry Cardinal Newman Series “Virtual Reality: Its Distortion of Self and Others.” IPS has brought together a series of experts from various disciplines to discuss this challenging modern dilemma. 

The first presentation, “Hiding Behind the Screen: The Philosophy of Virtual Reality,” was presented by Dr. Roger Scruton on Oct. 31, 2008. (To view a video of this talk, click on the title above.)

Dr. Leon Kass, PhD, also presented “Virtually Intimate: Is the Internet Good for Love and Friendship?” on Jan. 16, 2009.  This presentation should also be available for viewing soon at under the “Events” tab.

The danger of pornography via new information technologies was presented on Nov. 21, 2008 by Dr. Patrick Fagan of the Family Research Council (FRC). An article about this talk can be viewed here.

The next Newman Series presentation will be “The Adoro te devote and Virtual Reality” by Father Kevin Flannery on February 6, 2009.  Those who cannot attend the event in Washington DC can webcast the seminar on that day from 10:50 AM to noon.

1. Go to the website
2. Click on the link under "What´s New" that says "View LIVE lecture webcasts!" You should see "The John Henry Cardinal Newman Lecture Series: 2008 - 2009 Calendar."
3. Click on the title of Friday´s lecture.  A black box should appear at the center of the page with the FRC logo in it and a "Play" button. Click on the play button.
4. If you get to the presentation title page and do not see a box, but instead see a link to download Flash Player, that means you do not have the sufficient player to view the webcast and you need to download it from the link provided on that page.
5. The box with the FRC logo and play button will appear beginning Thursday evening, but the webcast will only be available for viewing on Friday from 10:50 AM to noon.
The remaining presentations in the IPS series include:
• “Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism” by Christine Rosen, PhD, on March 13, 2009.
• “Virtual Reality and Mystical Imagination: Glimpses of Hell and Heaven?” By Rev. Vivian Boland, PhD on April 17, 2009.
• “The Analog to Digital Progression: Modernity as
IPS screenshot
the Model of Reality” by Paul Vitz, PhD, on May 14, 2009.

IPS is affiliated with the Legion of Christ.  Located in Arlington, Va., IPS is an institution of higher learning, offering Master’s and Doctoral degrees in the psychological sciences.  According to the Institute’s mission statement, IPS is dedicated to the renewal of the Christian intellectual tradition and the development of a psychology consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church and in constructive dialogue with the modern world.

For more information about IPS and the Newman series, go to the Institute’s website at



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