Psychics and ESP (September 16-20)

Our topic this week is a popular one: psychic phenomena. Let’s start with a review of the whole psychic thing with a Wikipedia summary. Note that the concept is very broad, from self-proclaimed prophets to spurious spoon-benders. When examining psychic claims, always look for legitimate experiments (not testimonials). The experiments must be blinded and repeatable by other examiners. So far no psychic has met this standard.

The psychic technique of cold reading has long fascinated me. A good psychic is an excellent social psychologist, with a command of human nature that is astonishing. read about the Barnum Effect for more information on how cold reading (and other practices) take advantage of our wishful thinking, vanity, and fears.

Check out this psychic’s predictions for 2019. How did she do? Check out this list of way-obvious 2019 predictions. (“I also feel an earthquake and I see it in an Asian country …”)

Amy introduced me to YouTuber Shane Dawson and his conspiracy videos. Here’s one of his most popular presentations. I can’t tell yet what his positions are, but he is entertaining and full of information (and misinformation). His 911 analysis has serious flaws.

[Items we used this week in class: Patricia Steere statement on IMDb. John Edward reading. Cold reading analysis.]

Nonsense in the News —

Tensions are appearing between QAnon believers and Trump re-election campaigners. It looks like the Trump people don’t want the craziness rubbing off on them. Ironically, they’ve been covertly encouraging Q fans since the start of the phenomenon.

A Florida psychic was just sentence to a prison term and fined $1.6 million for being a low-life scammer. Of course, it is all a scam, but this one was briefly quite successful in draining money from the naive.

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