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The Outer Edge by Joe Nickell

The Outer Edge

by Joe Nickell (Editor), Tom Genoni (Editor), Barry Karr (Editor)

Other authors: Martin Gardener (Contributor), Ray Hyman (Contributor), Philip Klass (Contributor), James Randi (Contributor), Carl Sagan (Introduction)

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This book is an anthology of reprints, mostly from Skeptical Inquirer, which are fun to read, but usually contain nothing revelatory to the average skeptic. However, the article by Ray Hyman entitled "Cold Readings: How to Convince Strangers That You Know All About Them" (reprinted from Zetetic) was extremely interesting and contained a lot of information new to me. While I've known for a while that cold readings start with generalizations and that the client supplies the specific details, I've never understood why people fall for this or how the readers themselves can think that they're special. This article reviews a large number of social psychology studies about people's reactions to texts with very little information content. It turns out that our brains automatically try to make meaning out of random statements, so not only do we accept general statements as being about us specifically, the reader sees that connections are made and experiences positive feedback about their abilities, even if they didn't think they had any to begin with! If you're interested in why people believe weird things and haven't read about the social psychological aspects before, I highly recommend this article. ( )
  aulsmith | Jun 4, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nickell, JoeEditorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Genoni, TomEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Karr, BarryEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Gardener, MartinContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hyman, RayContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Klass, PhilipContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Randi, JamesContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sagan, CarlIntroductionsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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