Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

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Richard Stokes
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Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Richard Stokes » January 2nd, 2019, 4:56 pm

From today's Times: "Magicians who embellish their conjuring tricks with false scientific explanations are unwittingly spreading beliefs in pseudoscience, according to an expert in cognitive psychology."

Derren Brown is criticised for the false solutions he offers his audience.

For example, Derren often refers to 'subliminal priming' in his shows as a method he uses for manipulating our thought processes - a phenomenon which is unsubstantiated despite many years of research.

Brad Henderson
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Brad Henderson » January 2nd, 2019, 5:47 pm

did they complain when Dali painted dripping clocks on the premise it gives the viewer unrealistic expectations about the atomic structure of metals?

did they complain when steven king wrote the shining because it encouraged people to believe in psychic phenomena and ghosts?

What of any number of sci fi movies that depict scientifically impossible technologies?

All art is a lie that reveals the truth.

that some people have minds too small to contemplate fiction isn’t the story teller’s liability.

Joe Mckay
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Joe Mckay » January 2nd, 2019, 6:05 pm

A lot of people fell hard for the fake explanations provided by Derren Brown.

Including a lot mentalists. Which is pretty funny. Andy over at The Jerx had a post on this once.

I will see if I can find it.

Brad Henderson
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Brad Henderson » January 2nd, 2019, 6:44 pm

that was my favorite - seeing all the half smart mentalists at the cafe pontificating on what Derren was doing. He fooled them twice. Kudos to him.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 2nd, 2019, 7:16 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:A lot of people fell hard for the fake explanations provided by Derren Brown.
How was misdirecting people into learning a little more about perception, cognition and rhetoric a problem?

If you like stories - here's a source: http://www.scp-wiki.net/
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 2nd, 2019, 8:26 pm

Richard Stokes wrote:From today's Times: "Magicians who embellish their conjuring tricks with false scientific explanations are unwittingly spreading beliefs in pseudoscience, according to an expert in cognitive psychology."



It is ironic that this "expert" in cognitive psychology accuses magicians (i.e. wonderful people like us) of spreading beliefs in pseudoscience, when even prominent and leading psychologists themselves have conceded that Psychology, itself, is essentially a pseudoscience.

For example, Gregg Henriques, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and author of A New Unified Theory of Psychology, wrote in Psychology Today in an article entitled, "Is Psychology a Science?" that "Psychology fails as a science" because it "has failed to produce a cumulative body of knowledge that has a clear conceptual core that is consensually agreed upon by mainstream psychological experts."

Another widely acknowledged psychological scholar, Paul Meehl, has written, that, in Psychology, "theories rise and decline, come and go, more as a function of baffled boredom than anything else; and the enterprise shows a disturbing absence of that cumulative character that is so impressive in disciplines like astronomy, molecular biology and genetics."

Another great scholar of the field, and author of many books on Psychology, Professor Kenneth Gergen, likened acquiring psychological knowledge to "building castles in the sand; the information gained from our methods might be impressive, but it is temporary, contextual, and socially dependent, and will be washed away when new cultural tides come in."

Still further, in the Psychology Today article noted above, Doctor Henriques notes that, "Even mainstream icons, like Daniel Gilbert, readily acknowledge the cumulative knowledge problem," and that Gilbert has commented that one of psychology's big problems is that new paradigms simply “throw the babies out with the bathwater” and that Gilbert "wonders whether psychology as we know it will even be around in 10 or 15 years."

So, arguably, the psychological expert who is so critical of magicians for "spreading pseudoscience" ought to be more concerned about getting his own glass house in order before throwing stones at magicians or mentalists...

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 2nd, 2019, 10:09 pm

Psychology is not Newtonian Physics. There were a few years between when people started charting the motion of stars and when Newton posited an inverse square law and argued by geometrical proofs.

Does anyone here have questions about Pavlov's laboratory dogs salivating? Or questions about the reasoning behind that last switch in the "Monty Hall Problem"? The notion of id (that's German for "it" = base creature ) is only a century old. Behaviorism seems to work, and agency of behalf of authority seems to work. People seem okay working with the tooth fairy and Santa stories as milestones of maturity.

Someone described people watching three shell manipulation as similar to a cat chasing the dot of a laser pointer. We don't usually condone running cats into harm or running the shell game for money. So go for it and spread the word about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Get them to put on the colander and step onto the path of becoming a Pastafarian... :D

Computing for Cthulhu
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Diego
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Diego » January 3rd, 2019, 2:12 am

"Unwittingly spreading beliefs...."

For some, actually, deliberately spreading beliefs....

"There isn't a market for a fake mentalist."

(Same old arguments over mentalists, decade after decade)

jason156
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby jason156 » January 3rd, 2019, 11:08 am

Just curious .. does the Times publish a horoscope in their paper?

Richard Stokes
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Richard Stokes » January 3rd, 2019, 12:42 pm

The Times has a horoscope column, but, as you can see, it is of a heretical nature!

"Here I present your horoscopes for 2018, as based on astrology, the ancient art of waffling nebulously while hoping that some of it will hit home, as some of it has to, surely. There are those who will say that horoscopes are exclusively for superstitious fools of low intelligence who should be slapped repeatedly about the head and hung upside down until they see sense, but where would that leave my palmistry business? My homeopathy clinic? My chakra rebalancing retreats? And my premium-rate phone lines as supported by Worldpay, PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and Maestro?"

Richard Stokes
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Joined: September 11th, 2008, 8:18 pm

Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Richard Stokes » January 3rd, 2019, 12:55 pm

The Times also has a more conventional horoscope column which appears each week in one of its supplements.
Supposedly compiled by 'Shelley von Strunckel' - which sounds rather like a femme fatale from The Young Frankenstein (Frankensteen)?

She claims to be real, though.

Richard Stokes
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Richard Stokes » January 3rd, 2019, 1:14 pm

On a more serious note, there has been a wide-ranging debate about the apparent replication crisis in Experimental Psychology.

This seems to be mainly a problem within social psychology.

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/arc ... al/576223/

In my day, the biggest names in psychology were Hubel and Wiesel and they were eventually awarded a Nobel Prize.
To describe them as 'pseudoscientists' would be grossly unfair and ridiculous.

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 3rd, 2019, 1:33 pm

Just to set the record straight, Hubel and Wiesel were not psychologists. They did not receive a Nobel Prize for Psychology, nor is there any Nobel Prize awarded in the field of Psychology. The Nobel Prize is any of six international prizes awarded annually for outstanding work in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, economics (since 1969), and the promotion of peace.

David Hunter Hubel FRS (February 27, 1926 – September 22, 2013) was a medical doctor,, a Canadian neurophysiologist noted for his studies of the structure and function of the visual cortex. He was co-recipient with Torsten Wiesel (also a medical doctor specializing in neurophysiology) of the 1981 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for their discoveries concerning information processing in the visual system.

performer
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby performer » January 3rd, 2019, 2:28 pm

I have written many horoscopes for Irish newspapers. The deal was that they would give me free advertising of my psychic phone lines in exchange for the horoscopes. At one point I got fed up with the tedium of it all and since I was moving to Canada told one paper that I didn't want to do it any more. They amused me greatly by saying, "Oh don't worry, we will just recycle the ones you have already done for us and we will still advertise your phone lines!"

I was getting royalties sent from Ireland to Canada from those phone lines for quite a few years afterwards. And for all I know the newspaper is still recycling the horoscopes!

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Magicians and their pseudoscientific spells

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 3rd, 2019, 2:38 pm

What's the problem with trendy pseudonews stories and infotainment? Before you shake your head or nod - notice the visual glitches.
https://richardwiseman.wordpress.com/20 ... e-to-side/

Is the Journal of Irreproducable Results still around? http://www.jir.com/history.html
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


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