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Im 4 7 writing exercises here are some things that

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Writing Exercises Here are some things that can be said about these (although we usually leave this stuff up to you, we just happen to have these remarks handy!). 1. We’re not reporting on a scientific poll when we say that more people believe that professional “psychics” have supernatural powers than that stage magicians have them, but we have asked any number of classes of students and those seem to be the usual opinions. We think there are a couple of explanations for the difference. For one thing, people are accustomed to being fooled by one sort of trickery or another on television or on a stage. For another, most stage magicians do not actually claim to have supernatural powers. They may occasionally make a pretense of it, but this is most frequently done tongue-in-cheek. In fact, most magicians are quite happy simply to fool their audience; to leave a group of people mystified—“How did he do that?”—is as good as convincing them he did it by supernatural means. On the other hand, psychics are in the business of selling themselves as possessing occult powers rather than mere trickery, even sophisticated trickery. This connects to the next point, which we think is the main reason people think psychics have powers but think otherwise about magicians: psychics deal in matters that are of personal importance to their clients. Their subjects are ready to believe they are able to read the future, contact the dead, find lost objects, and so on, because they really want to know their futures, converse with their deceased loved ones, or find their lost objects. As is pointed out in the text, we are much more likely to believe something we want to believe than something in which we have less interest, even if the latter is accompanied by smoke and bright lights and white tigers. 2. We’re willing to concede that Charlie’s bringing us a photocopy or facsimile of a newspaper adds somewhat to the story’s credibility, but since the story had so little credibility to begin with, it remains highly dubious. We would say that it is still much more likely to be false than true. One way to ask the crucial question is this: Which is more likely, that we have before us fictitious evidence of an eighty-seven-year-old woman swimming across Lake Michigan in the winter (e.g., a phony facsimile of the front page of a Chicago newspaper) or that an eighty- seven-year-old woman actually made such a swim? Putting it slightly differently seems to drive the point home with students: Given your choice, which would it be easier for you to do, produce the phony evidence or actually get an eighty-seven-year-old woman to swim Lake Michigan in the winter? The answer to that question settles the matter of how much credibility the additional “evidence” gives the story. IM – 4 | 8
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