The Skeptical Teacher

Musings of a science teacher & skeptic in an age of woo.

Posts Tagged ‘induction’

Skeptical Psychic Fair in Chicago a Hit & How Ouija Boards Fail

Posted by mattusmaximus on August 1, 2010

On Friday, July 23rd, the Women Thinking Free Foundation held a skeptical psychic fair in Chicago as a fundraiser while also having some fun exposing the various tricks & techniques that go into all manner of psychic nonsense.

Among all the drinking & merriment, there were a number activities that we had, including a tarot card silent auction, a “psychic showdown”, along with some fun mentalism & magic tricks.  We also handed out many copies of Michael Shermer’s Learn to be Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons! which outlines the tricks of the psychic trade, including such time-honored (and completely NON-paranormal) techniques such as cold reading.

My primary contribution to the event was to bring a Ouija board to demonstrate a lesson in critical thinking regarding these supposed “spirit boards”…

The whole trick behind the standard operation of a Ouija board is a well-documented & understood phenomenon called the ideomotor effect, whereby the people holding their hands on the pointer of the board (the planchette) subconsciously maneuver it around without necessarily knowing it.  In fact, with Ouija boards, tests have been performed that illustrate that when the people using the board are blindfolded, and the board is randomly rotated without their knowledge, then all the supposed messages from the “spirit world” turn into gibberish.  Just take a look at this footage from Penn & Teller’s Bullshit where they tested a Ouija board in just this manner… 🙂

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Posted in ghosts & paranormal, psychics | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Reasoning & Thinking in Science and Beyond

Posted by mattusmaximus on April 22, 2009

I wanted to just take a few minutes to give a quick shout-out to a couple of good blogs, each of which have a recent post about reasoning & thinking.  The first is a post at  Skepticblog about inductive reasoning in science by Dr. Steven Novella, where he takes on an interesting series of questions which are sometimes posed by those completely ignorant of science and/or who want to tear down science…

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Posted in philosophy, scientific method | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

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