Lee Brooks


Lee left a lasting mark

I just saw this news, searching for some papers of his to pass on to some colleagues. I lost touch with Lee, but I always expected to see him again.

New contributions appear to be closed, so I am writing my tribute as a response to the most appropriate post that I can find in this set…


I studied psychology with John Vokey, in the late 1970?s, early 1980?s. I worked in a different sub-area (psychophysics) but Lee took me under his wing. He allowed me to do mentored research in his lab. He joined my doctoral committee and critiqued my ideas and, especially, my methodology.

I thought I knew a lot about the philosophy of science when I came to McMaster. I had studied philosophy as an undergrad. Lee gently, but enthusiastically, made me realize how little I knew and what fascinating ideas were on my horizon. Kuhn was a starting point. But his approach to nonanalytic concept formation was an education in itself in questioning one’s assumptions, holding the “obvious” up to scrutiny, and thinking through how to create a credible critique of things that everyone “knows”.

Lee was remarkably patient with me, before I graduated and after. He was always helpful.

As a teaching assistant for his cognition course, I discovered that he was sensitive, perhaps too ready to accept (or worry about) criticism (especially criticism of his teaching). I learned a lot about the humility of teaching from him, the art of being the authority in a class while recognizing that there is much to improve and the students can and will point that out and deserve your attention when they do. I apply that teaching every day, now, as a teacher myself.

Lee was one of the small set of teachers who left a lasting mark on my career and my persona. I will miss him forever.

– Cem Kaner

This post was submitted by Cem Kaner.

A great scientist

I only met Lee in person once (in Cambridge in around 1999, when he attended a conference I was co-organizing), but I’m a long-time follower of his work, and he provided a number of signed, very useful and wonderfully full, reviews of my articles. It’s very sad to hear of his death.

This post was submitted by Andy J. Wills.

Lee was my mentor before the word was used for this relationship

I was an assistant professor at McMaster 1970-74. I have always said that, although I did teaching and earned my salary, it was like doing what we would now call a post-doc, under Lee’s supervision. He rounded out my education in psychology. We talked constantly; he was across the hall most of the time I was there. I came to think of him as one of the smartest people I knew. Also underappreciated. Not UN-appreciated, but he certainly should have been more famous than he was. In part, he didn’t try. He just wanted to find the truth.

We also talked politics, constantly. He was always arguing the conservative side, because I was farther left than I am now. Now I think we would agree about political matters. I also learned a lot from him about Canada. In many ways I’m sorry we did not stay there. Although I was out of touch with Lee for many decades, the thought that he isn’t around any more is a sad one.

Jon Baron (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)

This post was submitted by Jon Baron.

Dad’s Obit (Globe and Mail)

Here is a link to Dad’s Obit in the June 12th Globe and Mail

BROOKS, Dr. Lee R.
Passed away on Wednesday, June 2, 2010, after a long struggle with cancer. He was a friend, mentor and colleague to many through his years of dedication in the psychology department at McMaster University. He is survived by his wife and partner of 50 years, Carol Brooks (Flora), his two children, Eric Richard Brooks of Woodenville, WA. and Corinne Carol Brooks Claypool of Savoy, IL. Loving grandfather to Kaylin Christine Claypool. Loving brother to Seba Phingston of California. Memorial Service to be held at a later date. Remembrances and condolences would be gratefully accepted at:


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