Psychology in Action

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Ask students how they could prove that reindeer do not fly, or that yellow elephants do not exist, etc. Instructor’s Resource Guide                              Chapter 4                                            Page   137                                                                            
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References Alcock, J. E., & Otis, L. P. (1980). Critical thinking and belief in the paranormal. Psychological Reports, 46 , 479-482. Blackmore, S., & Troscianko, T. (1985). Belief in the paranormal: Probability judgments, illusory control, and the “change baseline shift.” British Journal of Psychology, 76 , 459-468. Messer, W. S., & Griggs, R. A. (1989). Student belief and involvement in the paranormal and performance in introductory psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 16 , 187-191. Singer, R., & Benassi, V. A. (1981). Occult beliefs. American Scientist, 69 (1), 49-55. Wierzbicki, M. (1985). Reasoning errors and belief in the paranormal. Journal of Social Psychology, 125 , 489-494. Active Learning Activity 4.13 - Magic versus ESP To demonstrate your own “magic” abilities (as an antidote to belief in ESP), ask the entire class to: 1. SILENTLY CHOOSE A NUMBER BETWEEN 2 AND 9. 2. MULTIPLY THAT NUMBER BY 9. 3. ADD THE TWO DIGITS OF THE RESULTING NUMBER. (The result will always be “9.”) 4. SUBTRACT 5 FROM THAT RESULT. (The result will always leave “4.”) 5. THINK OF THE LETTER OF THE ALPHABET THAT CORRESPONDS TO THE NUMBER ARRIVED AT IN STEP 4. (This will always be “D,” because 1=A, 2=B, 3=C, and 4=D.) 6. WRITE DOWN THE NAME OF A COUNTRY THAT BEGINS WITH THIS LETTER. (Most students will think of “Denmark.” Also, remind students not to look at what others are writing. This helps to increase the impact of your final point.) 7. WRITE DOWN THE NAME OF AN ANIMAL THAT BEGINS WITH THE LAST LETTER OF THIS COUNTRY. (Most students will think of “kangaroo.”) 8. WRITE DOWN THE NAME OF A COLOR THAT BEGINS WITH THE LAST LETTER OF THAT ANIMAL. (Most students will choose the color “orange.”) 9. LOOK AT AND CONCENTRATE ON THE LISTED COUNTRY, ANIMAL, AND COLOR . At this point, you can “read the mind” of every student by simply saying something such as “There are no orange kangaroos in Denmark.” Or better yet, you can write on an overhead transparency (WITH THE LIGHT OFF), the words ORANGE, KANGAROO, and DENMARK. Then ask a student to come to the front of the class and switch on the light. This seems to amaze the class. Ask the students to hold up their sheets of paper—almost everyone will have the words—orange, kangaroo, and Denmark. SOURCE: “Sharing ideas on the Teaching of Psychology”—conference topic presented by Douglas A. Bernstein, University of Illinois. His source was a publishing company sales representative, who heard it at a party, who heard it from...? (Isn’t this the way we get a lot of our best teaching ideas?) Active Learning Activity 4.14 – The Psychic Psychologist
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