Saturday, September 13, 2008

JJNN Saturday: Pseudoscience - 07

Welcome again to JJNN for Saturday September 13th, 2008. Today we will be talking about cold readings and physics.

A few years ago in Japan in Niigata and I suppose in Tokyo there was a psychic reading boom. Almost all young (20s and 30s) ladies would go out every weekend, or more often, to get a psychic reading. The psychics here are just like those in every other country around the world. The supposedly tell you about your future about everything from your job to romance.

Personally I can see myself going to a cheap psychic for a little entertainment value. The cheap ones cost less than movies (here at least) and give you a nice topic for conversation at work the next day. The problem I see with psychics is when people actually start to believe in them. They start to believe and soon enough almost all of the money they earn goes directly to the psychic. That is when it crosses the line from light hearted entertainment to being a scam.

Why am I saying psychics are entertainment and not a means of getting serious information about the future, or about a dead loved one? Well, that's because there is no such thing as real psychics. Simple as that. All psychics do is a combination of detective work and acting. This is called cold reading. The psychic (I will call them that even though they have no "psychic" powers) trains themselves to get a lot of information from a person with a look and by asking leading questions or making leading statements. Watch the psychic below and see if you can spot the cold reading.

The first thing he said "Old lady, but with black hair." he said because he knew that any one in the audience would know an old lady and the chance of an old lady having black hair is not that low. Notice when he was saying that names he says a lot of them at once. This is called shot gunning. If you say enough names you are bound to get one right. A lot of psychics don't go that far and just say a letter. He than gives a lot of statements. He looks at the reactions from the people he is giving readings to and changes his statements accordingly. He is not actually saying anything, the people in the audience are saying everything for him.

This next clips is an explanation of cold reading by Orson Welles. This is one of my favorite clips.

So, any way, psychics may be good entertainment, but don't start believing them. Remember to look at things a little skeptically.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 超能力者(ちょうのうりょくしゃ). It is pronounced chou-nouryoku-sha and means psychic. The chou part means over and above and nouryoku means powers. So in Japanese a psychic is a person that has powers over and above normal people. That makes sense I guess.

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.

PS: This is the 100th post for JJNN yay!

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