Monday, July 22, 2019

Psychics

It was interesting to read about what it takes for fortune-telling and cold readings. Being extremely vague such as "you will face a big decision soon" will allow people to think freely and agree with whatever they say. Incredible vagueness is something psychics use to trick their clients into thinking they are 'predicting their future' when in reality they are just saying something that most likely applies to everyone. I never really fully believed in psychics but this just ensures to me that they aren't a reliable source to find out your future. Everything they say is for the most part something so vague and generalized that they will apply to pretty much everyone. And therefore, they are not 'predicitng your future'. Though, there are some "true psychics" that I read about that are able to predict more accurate and detailed information about your life. “True psychics are able to give you accurate and relevant information on specific things which are not obvious, for example, they may mention the exact full name of a person from your past, or a place you spent a vacation." This is something that I would believe more, such as Teresa (the Psychic on TLC). She is able to pinpoint specific details about people that no stranger would know. She is someone that I would believe to be a 'True Psychic', though it is still hard to fully believe that that could be true.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Psychics and Cold Readings


Nearly all of the lectures and videos we've watched this semester have astounded me in some way with just how poorly informed and easily fooled people are. I can't say I'm all that surprised because I find myself to be a natural skeptic, and most of what we've been learning helps validate my intuition, but nevertheless, as P.T. Barnum is alleged to have said, "There's a sucker born every minute". The fact that this quote can't even be accurately attributed to him based on any evidence is, ironically, evidence of this very point.

I believe that the lecture that most strongly proved this point was Lecture 6 on psychic crime detectives and cold readings (and just as a side note, even typing the phrase "psychic crime detectives" brings feelings of annoyance in me that such a job description even exists). I've long received criticism from friends and relatives for expressing strong doubt and pointing out the inconsistencies and generalizations in the performances (and yes, they are nothing more than "performances") by psychics and mediums like John Edward, Sylvia Browne, Theresa Caputo (the "Long Island Medium"), and so on. To read stories about a person like Noreen Renier, a "psychic crime detective", however, is particularly frustrating, because she goes beyond playing with people's emotions for monetary compensation to actually meddling in criminal and civil investigations, and somehow considers herself to be as qualified as a trained, educated forensic examiner. It makes you wonder if people like this, like televangelists (I'm looking at you, Peter Popoff), have any sense of guilt or dignity, or if they are so far gone that they truly believe what they are selling.

I'm beginning to believe the latter, unfortunately. In one of the videos, which she posted on her own website to promote herself, Renier literally says "I have no idea how this works. All I know is it works, and I can use it, and that's all that matters." She says this willingly, on camera, not only unabashedly, but almost proudly! Imagine if you heard a professional say this in any other field....
Thrillist put out a list of "7 Tricks Psychics Bull*** People With That Everyone Should Know". It's a good read, relevant to our lectures, and can help make you look like the smartest guy in the room - or the biggest party pooper, depending on how many "believers" you hang around with. https://www.thrillist.com/culture/7-tricks-psychics-and-mediums-use-how-psychics-use-cold-reading-the-forer-effect

1/3: POLYBIUS

In the world of myth and legends, few mediums can claim to have as many myths as video games. Every game seems to have its share of myths or made up features. Most are created to trick new players into either wasting their time or to soft lock their game, but some are glitches that make the game act strange. What about a video game that is a myth in itself? There have been many games that seem like myths but, none are more famous, or infamous, depending on how you look at it. That game is Polybius. The myth of Polybius is perhaps more exciting and intriguing than any early 80's arcade game has any right to be. It has it all. Secret experimentation using citizens as test subjects, men in black working for the government to cover the whole thing up, subliminal messages, references to greek philosophy and history, etc.

In 1981, in arcades around the U.S.A, a spooky cabinet was installed overnight. The cabinet was described as being black with no art, except a marquee featuring a blue/green typographical logo that reads POLYBIUS. Players would report feeling nauseous, not being able to sleep, headaches and hallucinations. Supposedly, as quickly as it appeared, it vanished. It was reportedly taken by men dawning thick black sunglasses, black suites and ties, and never heard of again... UNTIL THE YEAR 2000, on the website “coinop.org”, it was revealed that the whole thing was a government experiment performed by the military. No .ROM could be found, so what the game actually looks like remains a mystery. For the next few years, after the “coinop.org” entry this idea of a game that could not be found was spread among early internet users. due to its lack of evidence most conclude it as just a legend, some probably truly believed that it was covered up by the government so well that not a trace could be found. People, wanted to uncover government secrets assumed it could have been apart of the MK ULTRA project, despite being at one point top secret it was well documented. there was no mention of using a video game to brain wash the public.    

the real story of Polybius however is not something that would be seen in theaters any time soon. imagine you are an arcade enthuses and want to help your fellow enthusiast by documenting every arcade game ever dropped on the market. Its 2000 and the internet is not very big and information dose not spread super fast, not as fast as today). you want the sight to be noted and used. back in the day you had few options tell people, in person, during conventions or expos (not very fast and unreliable and time consuming). Link your sight in a relevant forum (faster but most forums don't allow advertisements).  fabricate a nebulous but interesting story that would unfolded overtime. resulting in people talk about it. those who were interested would do some digging and end up  on your web-sight.  That is what  happened for the most part. Every article that you could find ether mentions the sight by name or fettered the sight in a "special thanks" section. the story really didn't unfold however in the way coinop.org wanted, in that it did really unfold at all. the entry form 2000 stayed the same for years saying that more info was need. The most resent update to the page was from 2009, and it just add a little sentence about the writher going on a trip to investigate some evidence he found about the game so he won't be updating it any time soon. well he was right about not updating it any time soon. By 2009 Polybius was mostly debunked, so trying to wright an ongoing story about it wont look good for a sight that wants to be an accrete data bace about arcade machines.  The short of it the game is not real. It was made to attract traffic to the sight. 








this is the only screen shot of the game and perhaps the only physical evidence of its supposed existence. 

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Mozart Effect

    Perhaps you've heard or even believe that listening to classical music can make you smarter. This is what's known today as the Mozart Effect and according to Samuel Mehr (a PhD student at Harvard), currently 80% of American adults believe music improves a child's intelligence, despite the fact that the original study from which this concept was born, has since been disproved -and better yet- that the claims published in the 1993 Nature study, never actually aligned with the public's perception in the first place. How? Well, for a start, the study was performed with college students, not babies.

    Part of the reason this myth is so resilient that people still believe in it today, was the marketing around it that took place. Subliminal messaging tapes were already popular, so the Mozart Effect became another opportunity for selling CDs and DVDs to expecting and new parents looking to up their kids' IQs. Sadly for these parents, even subsequent studies searching for evidence of this effect have not been able to achieve more than minor increases in participant ability to complete a task or solve a problem. There is no strong correlation between music and its effect on competence. 

    There is even a collection of 40 studies titled "Mozart Effect-Shmozart Effect". Which I highly recommend checking out.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Hahne, Jessica. “The Mozart Effect: Not so Noteworthy?” Yale Scientific Magazine, Yale Scientific Magazine - Http://Www.yalescientific.org, 18 Mar. 2012, www.yalescientific.org/2012/03/the-mozart-effect-not-so-noteworthy/.
Anderson, Jenny. “The Idea That Mozart Makes Your Baby Smarter Is One of Parenting's Most Persistent Myths.” Quartz, Quartz, 8 Feb. 2017, qz.com/628331/the-idea-that-mozart-makes-babies-smarter-is-one-of-parentings-most-bizarre-myths/.







The Psychology of Gullibility


As I complete my reading for my book report, "How We Know What Isn't So: The Fallibility of Human Reason in Everyday Life" by Thomas Gilovich, I did a little bit of research about the author and came across a lecture he did on "The Psychology of Gullibility", which I found both interesting and relevant to our coursework.

One of the most interesting topics he covers in this lecture is the theory that humans see order in random stimuli. This simple concept help explains so many things in human nature that otherwise well-informed people believe in despite any concrete evidence. The inherent pattern detection abilities of the human mind are what make people believe they see, for example, religious faces in random places, or patterns in winning lottery numbers, when there is no evidence, statistical or otherwise, that these patterns exist. Gilovich further explains that these pattern detection abilities have been shown to be stronger (and thereby less statistically accurate) when we feel "out of control". Humans find more order in random stimuli than normal when they feel out of control, perhaps explaining things such as hearing subliminal messaging in popular music, "streak" performance in sports, or even gambling addictions. While the psychology of these things (and humans in general) is infinitely more complicated and intricate than this simple concept, it goes a long way in explaining many of the idiosyncrasies that we see in many people and situations each and every day.

Check the lecture out on Vimeo, https://vimeo.com/21988909. Gilovich covers several topics related to what we've been reading about this semester and provides many interesting real-life examples.

Also, his Wikipedia page covers some of his notable contributions in biases and heuristics research...very interesting information! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Gilovich

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Post #1: 10% of our brains

I had heard of the we use only 10% of our brains thing a lot. Then I started to hear other things about how that does not actually hold any truth. In the lecture slides you mention the people who love this myth and it is the groups that are faking things with pseudoscience. I tried to do some research for myself. Since I never really thought us only using 10% of our brains really made any sense. I found this website post about linked below. In mentions how the myth is untrue. It has been perpetuated over time and no one is really sure how it got started. In the post a neurologist is talking about the myth. He says "It turns out though, that we use virtually every part of the brain, and that [most of] the brain is active almost all the time,". He mentions how even the simple task of pouring coffee in the morning can use a lot of functions of the brain even though most people do not realize it. Another thing is that at the very end he mentions that we undrstand the brain and how it works very poorly. Saying that it is not that we use 10% but rather we only understand 10%. 

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-people-only-use-10-percent-of-their-brains/

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Horoscopes

The definition of horoscope as stated in the dictionary goes "A forecast of a person's future, typically including a delineation of character and circumstances, based on the relative positions of the stars and planets at the time of that person's birth." Hence, every person's horoscope is different. Some might say what about twins? and astrologers will mention how their horoscope will be different based on their birth time. Horoscopes are very popular in today's culture and has been for many years. It dates back to BC times. It's also fascinating to think how someone can simply download a horoscope app and in a matter of seconds it will reveal their horoscope depending on the information they submit. A more detailed horoscope will be given if one enters their birth time and birth place and a more generalized horoscope if they only enter their zodiac. One example of these apps is the app called "The Pattern" which went viral last Friday thanks to actor Channing Tatum. He published a video on Twitter sharing his experience with the app and how scary accurate it was.

Personally, I am not 100% sold on the idea that my future and day will be determined based on the alignments of the stars and planets. However, I am intrigued by the idea of it and how it can be used to relate to people and start conversations. I also believe that many people choose to trust horoscopes and zodiac signs because it gives them answers, guidance and something to believe in. It is a safety net. It is a way of relating to others and making someone feel like they're not alone. Horoscopes and zodiac signs have been a part of me since my childhood. I grew up with a man on my TV (Walter Mercado) telling me what my day will look like and what I should or shouldn't do, but by no means do I use it to make life changing decisions. It it more of a form of entertainment for me. I am a Virgo-Libra cusp and to my surprise, I find many similarities in the traits of a Virgo-Libra cusp and can't seem to relate to the other zodiac signs, so is it real?

Here is a video of an interviewer asking people about their opinions on astrology. Start at 3:44 and end at 4:40.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbfNHh-Uka0

Here is another video with Bill Nye making a good point on why he believes astrology isn't real.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQPFoDkGFrU

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Post 3


Out of body experiences are very fascinating and happen frequently. I personally have never had an OBE before, and I don’t know anyone personally that has had that happen to them. There have been instances when I am sleeping, that aren’t considered out of body experiences but are similar. For instance, if you are falling in a dream or get scared, and you flinch or jump in the dream and your body jolts and jumped on the outside as well. That is more of a lucid dream experience than out of body. What I find really interesting is that humans and primates have a similar sense of self and are able to form a mental representation of themselves. The people who have had out of body experiences, have come back changed and with a new perception of the world around them. I have done some research and there are ways to induce your own out of body experience. While I may try to do that, it does freak me out that you could try and induce that yourself. I found some OBE’s that ended up being turned into case studies. A really informative TED Talk on how they can transform a person and society, as well as a video on how to induce your own OBE.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMBNZspmn7I

https://allthatsinteresting.com/out-of-body-experiences

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=okcIWK9EaNA

Monday, July 8, 2019

Jersey Devil Myth

Living near the Pine Barrens, I  have always heard different variations of the Jersey Devil Legend. It is to be believed that during the late 1600's Daniel Leeds published his Almanac that included sections on angels, natural magic, astrology, and the behavior of devils. Though, the Quakers of this time did not approve of the "inappropriate language" that was used as they believed one should not speak about the heavens in such a way. Because of this, the Leeds family did not have a very good relationship with the Quaker community. Thus the story to be told is that in the early 18th century, Mother Leeds have birth to her 13th child in the Pine Barrens as she cried out "Oh, let this one be a devil!".  The so called "child" came out to have a horse head with bat wings. After she gave birth the "devil" flew up out of their chimney and disappeared into the woods, where he has been spotted still to this day. There are many stories that I've heard about people's encounters with this 'devil', some were convincing and some not so much. But, one thing that has creeped me out is that most people described seeing the same thing, a horse head with a dragon/bat like body. Also, the picture of the devil that was spotted near Galloway township is slightly concerning... But that can't be real, can it?

https://youtu.be/C33HiCDlwGg