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MSU / Biology / BIOL 202 / What is Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble?

What is Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble?

What is Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble?


School: Michigan State University
Department: Biology
Course: Appl Envir & Organismal Bio
Term: Fall 2015
Tags: ISB, Biology, critical thinking, and Fallacies
Cost: 50
Name: Study Guide Midterm #1
Description: Includes: Class Notes, Case Study and the Informal Fallacies Do not forget to also study the RG posted on D2L with the answers
Uploaded: 02/15/2016
29 Pages 4 Views 5 Unlocks

Exam 1 2/15/16 6:48 PM

What is Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble?


• Perceptions and Memories

o Satanic Ritual Cases

o Alien Abductions

o Recovered Memories of Sexual Abuse

• Nature of Science

o Witches

• Xango Case Study

• Abducted

• RSsG #1-3

o Exception Ch.2 PCL book

o No readings from this week (nothing about astronomy)

o Only chapter 1 from PCL

o SCH chapters: 1, parts of 2, 3, and 6


• Come early

• Come with Student ID

• Bring Lead Pencils & Eraser

• No electronics


• 80 questions

• MC and T/F

• Scantron

Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

An Old Witches Tale and its Modern-day Sequel

• In Ancient Egypt and some ancient cultures witches were not deemed bad • Pharaoh’s kept them close at hand to help out their kingdom and curse  their enemies

Who ordered Witch Hunts in 1484?

• People of the Middle East believed in:

o Magical powers

o Divination

o Spells

• Some cultures accepted witches, so long as they did no harm

• However the Israelites took a different view

o Exodus Chapter 22, v. 18 God told Moses, “Thou shalt not suffer a  witch to live”

o This is the basis for centuries of witch hunts

Witch Hunts

• In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal bull or papal decree which  marked the beginning of the official persecution of witches

o Used evidence as being of witch: killing babies, dead cattle, dead  fruits and harvest..etc. Don't forget about the age old question of How many members of the UN Security Council are elected for rotating two­year terms?1

o Incubi ???? male demon  

o Succubi ???? demon who takes the form of a beautiful woman to  

seduce men in dreams

▪ Collect semen from the men they sleep with, which incubi  

would use to impregnate women and give way to babies with  

What is Succubi?

birth defects

• The Papal bull issued made witchcraft a heresy punishable by being burnt  alive.

• Pope Innocent authorized two Dominicans to stamp out witchcraft. o Published infamous Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of Witches) in  1486

▪ Torture was approved as a means of obtaining confessions

▪ Catch 22 because saying you were not a witch was a sign of  

being a witch

o Disbelief in demons was condemned as heresy.

Examples of Witches

• In 1333 Catherine Delort, an elderly French woman was charges with  causing: wheat to rot with fog, a vineyard destroyed by frost, oxen and  sheep to sicken and die, aunt to die by heating waxen figures

o Under torture, she admitted to having killed her two aunts and  attending sabats at which children were killed and eaten. We also discuss several other topics like What is marketing myopia?

▪ Model of a sabat was based on her account

• Pendle Forest, England 1633 21 year-old Mary Spencer was accused of  being a witch for pail rolling

o Young unmarried women were in charge of looking for water from  the well

o She would roll her bucket behind her down the hill (gravity)

o Accuser: 10-year old Edward Robinson, who also claimed his dogs  were turned into a woman and a boy

▪ Claimed to have been taken to a sabat

▪ Paid for every “witch” he had seen at the sabat

▪ One woman he accused named 11 others, who were then  


▪ He lied.

o Mary Spencer was convicted and sent to the Tower of London ▪ Not convicted because when she was searched for witches  

marks she was found to be blemish free We also discuss several other topics like What is a hardware?

• Women who were accused of: flying on a cat, killing a neighbor’s cow,  raising a storm, one woman confessed to trying to injure a councilman by  sprinkling salt on his clothes while she was invisible.

o All were executed

• The idea that storms were supernaturally-caused was “common  knowledge” in the Medieval World

o St. Thomas Aquinas -13th Century : “It is a dogma of faith that the  demons can produce winds, storms, and rain and fire from heaven o 120 bell ringers in Germany, most were children died because of the electrical storms


• A simple accusation

• Anything unusual or confessions obtained under torture

• Saying you are not a witch was proof you were a witch

• Witches’ Marks

o Birthmarks, scars or tattoos which did not bleed when pricked


• Key to identifying witches

• Denial of guilt was considered proof of the crime

• Torture did not end until a confession was given

• Those who were skeptical of witches, or argued for the innocence of the  accused, were themselves condemned as witches Don't forget about the age old question of Why fats are important to enerygy storage?

• Many forms of torture was implemented to gain a confession

o The “pear” ???? stick it up your insides and burst it open

o The rack

o Water torture

▪ Today water boarding, USA used to se it as a humane  

method to obtain information from enemies Don't forget about the age old question of What are the Core Aspects of Marketing?

o The Saw ???? cut a person in half up until the important organs o Impaled ???? person could live for a day after this was done to them o Hanging was the common method of execution in England

o Burning at the stake

• The swimming test was considered an infallible test for more than 600  years

o They bound your thumbs to the opposite toe and threw you into a  lake, you float = witch, you sink and die = not a witch

• People confessed to:

o Man claimed he had turned himself into a wolf and eaten the flesh  of a 4-year-old girl

o In 1587, Walpurga Hausmanin confessed to doing harmful magic,  including killing 41 infants and 2 mothers in labor

▪ Burned alive at the stake after having her breasts and hands  torn off

o 1628 before being burned at the stake a man named Junius  smuggled a note to his daughter in which he noted that his  

executioner told him to confess to something whether it be true or  not so the torture would end

• By some estimates half a million people were executed as witches  between the 15th and 17th centuries in Europe alone If you want to learn more check out What is Human capital theory?

The Salem Witch Trails

• 20 people were executed on the basis of a little girls claim

o 19 were hanged

o one was pressed to death

o one died in jail

o Hundred were arrested and spent time in jail

• Modern day sequel ???? The Satanic Day Care Cases of 1980 and early  1990’s

o Devil-worshippers had set up day-care centers, and were allegedly:  “raping and sodomizing children, practicing ritual sacrifice, shedding  their clothes, drinking blood and eating feces

o In Austin, Texas day-care providers Fran and Dan Keller were  accused.  

▪ Crimes included

???? Cutting up people with chainsaws

???? Stealing a gorilla from a non-existent zoo

???? Flying children to Mexico on jets

• Brothels in Mexico and then flying them back  

before end of school day

???? Digging up bodies and reburying them

???? Sentenced to 48 years in prison in 1992

???? Girl who brought the first charge was angry and  

emotionally disturbed

o Between 1984-1995: 185 adults charged with ritual abuse, 113  were convicted, many convictions overturned, but many are still in  jail

o Many children involved in these cases later admitted that they  fabricated the stories

The Sabat

• A Satanic worship service

• Satan appears as a goat-like creature

• Participants are usually given hallucinogenic drinks and procure to dance  naked

• Young female priestess are sacrificed

• Orgy, often involving children

• Instead of spreading holy water they spread urine

The Nature of Science and Non-Science 2/15/16 6:48 PM

Basic Premises of Science:

• The world is real.  

o We don’t create physical reality and can’t change it by wishful  


o The physical universe exists independently of our minds, whether  we can sense it or not.

• It is possible that humans can understand the physical universe.

• Natural processes are sufficient to explain the natural world; non-natural  processes are unnecessary

• Such knowledge is available to everyone. It is not based on subjective  states of mind.

Two ways to think about “science”

• Body of facts

o Earth is a planet that orbits the sun

o Atom is the smallest unit of matter

o DNA is the basis for heredity

o Interior of the earth is divided into layers

• Science is a method of learning about the natural world that organizes  facts into a meaningful pattern which enables us to make predictions

o Organize = Meaningful/useful  

o Science helps us make sense of the world

o Science is a method of building better models of reality

• Science isn’t capable of answering every type of question

o Aesthetic appreciation ???? such as art, music and dance can’t be  

studied scientifically

• Does not study phenomena that cannot be observed and/or controlled  because there is no way to test them

o Ex. Supernatural: gods, spiritual beings, or miracles

• Cannot study a religion and decide if its true or not because faith = belief in  the absence of empirical evidence


• Sound qualities of musical instruments, kinesiology of dance

• Ethics = moral issues and value judgments

o Can scientist make “scientific” moral pronouncements?

• Information can be used to inform decisions of an ethical nature

o Ex. Rat was locked in a cage, second rat faced the choice of either  eating or freeing the rat and then eating.

▪ The rat freed the other rat and then shared the food

• Claims to control supernatural abilities can be scientifically tested • If someone claims that a supernatural event occurred – which left physical  evidence – then the evidence could be examined

o But, can’t prove or disprove the claim that it was caused by a divine  being

Different Domains: Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA)

• Magisterium refers to different domains of human experience and though • Proposed by Stephen J. Gould – Evolutionary biologist

o The magisterium of science covers the empirical realm: what the  Universe is made of (fact) and why it works in a certain way (theory) o The magisterium of religion deals with questions of ultimate  

meaning and moral value.

o According to Gould, these two magisterial do not overlap, nor does  each, by itself, encompass all inquiry.

The Scientific Method

• Terms: 

o Fact: an observation upon which reasonable people can agree o Hypothesis: A tentative, testable explanation

o Law: A description of what occurs; has lots of evidence

o Theory: a powerful explanation; has lots of evidence

• Implication: scientific method is based on reason and logic. To be  accepted, an idea or claim must be logical and supported by evidence • Works well because

o Empirical

o Objective and repeatable  

▪ Personality and persuasiveness are irrelevant

o Method is universal: state of mind, gender, religious and cultural  background of the investigator are irrelevant

o It is self-correcting

• Is a method that enables us to reduce or eliminate error

• Real purpose is to make sure Nature hasn’t mislead you into thinking you  know something you actually don’t

Foundations of Science

• Empiricism 

o Not wishful thinking and irrational thought

• Skepticism 

o 2 related components

▪ Accepting a claim if and only if the evidence is sufficient ▪ We’re even skeptical of our own conclusions (and those of  others).

• Self-Correcting 

o Our theories change with new discoveries

▪ Ex. Regarding diseases and their treatments

???? Ex. Leprosy in Hawaii were banned to Molokai island  

because they were cursed, until a priest came along  

and treated them properly

???? Ex. George Washington died of blood letting a  

common practice to cure the flu

???? Ex. Cure for scurvy found by James Lind when he  

gave limes to the sailors instead of the weird elixir

• Mistaken idea was corrected by testing

o Misconception: science doesn’t work so well because they change  their mind

▪ Change = self-correcting = elimination of wrong ideas =  progress

???? Ex. Geocentric and Heliocentric Model

▪ If we never checked our ideas by testing them, or by  

examining evidence and thinking logically about them, how  would we ever know we’d made a mistake if we were wrong? How could we correct our mistakes?

• Critical Thinking 

o Real purpose: to make sure that Nature hasn’t mislead you into  thinking you know something you actually don’t

o Critical Thinking: the process of evaluating the validity of claims on  the basis of well supported evidence

▪ Includes asking the following 5 questions:

???? What am I being asked to believe or accept? What is  

the hypothesis?

???? What evidence is available to support the assertion?  

Is it reliable and valid?

???? Are there alternative interpretations/explanations?

???? What evidence is there for the alternatives

???? What conclusions are most reasonable based on all  

the evidence?

• Multiple Working Hypotheses 

o More than one hypotheses, if there’s something to be explained,  think of all the different ways in which it could be explained

o Spin more than one hypothesis what’s left standing better chance of  being right

o Just because evidence is consistent with a hypotheses or theory  doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct

o Consistency equals support; not proof

• Occams’ Razor 

o The idea that one should not make more assumptions than the  minimum needed to explain something

o Often called principle of parsimony

o Underlies all scientific theory building

FiLCHeRs ???? Rules to Use When Evaluating Claims

• Fi: Falsifiability 

o It must be possible to conceive of a test that would disprove the  idea if it were false

o Can’t be falsifies is if one invokes the supernatural cause because it  can’t be proven false

o Two other ways that the rule is violated

▪ Use of undeclared claim ???? a claim that is so vague it lacks  

meaning and so can’t be falsified.

???? Ex. Good Luck

▪ Use of Multiple Out ???? a series of endless excuses to  

arbitrarily dismiss information that contradicts one’s beliefs

???? Ex. Jinx

o Cognitive Dissonance Reduction 

▪ Disagreement or incongruity in your brain

o Confirmation Bias 

▪ The more important a belief is to us, the more likely we are to  ignore or downplay contradictory information

• L: Logic 

o If an argument is presented in support of a claim, then it must be  logical; i.e., it must be both valid and sound

o Argument: an attempt to persuade someone that something is true  based on one or more premises

o Premise: a statement made by the person making an argument that  he or she believes to be true

▪ The information upon which the argument is based

o Valid argument: an argument in which the conclusion follows from  the premises

▪ Valid doesn’t mean true

o Sound argument: an argument in which the conclusion follows from  the premises and the premises are true

• C: Comprehensiveness 

o Consider all relevant evidence

o Must consider alternative explanations

o Multiple working hypotheses 

o F coupled with C or why scientists’ statements always sound  cautious

• He: Honesty 

o The evidence must be evaluated impartially, in an unbiased, fair minded without self-deception.

o Just because a person has an opinion doesn’t mean they are  biased

▪ You have to consider their evidence and their logic before  deciding this

o Ex. West Memphis Three

▪ 3 weird kids charged with the murder of small children even  though there was no evidence against them

???? Cognitive Dissonance: The prosecutor said in an  

interview that the state still considered the men guilty  

and that, new DNA findings notwithstanding, he knew  

of no current suspect

• DNA found in shoelaces belonged to the  

stepfather of one of the children

• R: Replicability 

o The results of studies and experiments, especially if they are  contrary to expectations, must be replicated by other researches ▪ Because that way we can see if the are biased,  

misperceived, coincidence or fake

• S: Sufficiency 

o The evidence for a claim must be sufficient to establish the truth of  the claims

o Has 3 corollaries

▪ The burden of proof is on the person making the claim. Its  

not up to someone to disprove the claim, it’s up to the  

claimant to prove it

???? The acceptance of an idea must be based on  

confirming/positive evidence; not simple the absence  

of disconfirming evidence

▪ Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof 

???? The more extraordinary or unusual the claim, the more  

evidence that is needed to support it

▪ Anecdotal evidence and testimony are never sufficient to  

establish the truth of a claim because people can lie.

???? People can misperceive what they experience; ie.  

They can make mistakes

• Venus always getting misreported as a UFO  

• Rules related to sufficiency and replicability are designed to reduce or  eliminate error. That’s why its part of the scientific method.

• Related to reasonableness

o Always ask: what conclusion is the most reasonable based on the  available evidence, the number of alternative explanations and logic • Look for both confirming and disconfirming evidence and evaluate both  impartially

o Alternatives must be logical and consistent with the facts

o Be aware that you may not know all you need to know

o Develop multiple working hypotheses


• Person with a high degree of skill or knowledge derived from training or  experience

• Academia = doctorate degree (Ph.D)

• Expertise in one are does not qualify a person as an expert in another • Criteria to consider when evaluating the reliability of an authority o Does the authority use the critical thinking skills ?

o Proper credentials?

o Appropriate affiliations?

o Financial stake in the claim being made?

o Has work been subject to peer review?

o Are arguments based on unsupported or untenable claims? Does  the authority offer sufficient evidence to evaluate his/her claim?

• In general, it is best to accept the conclusions of experts because o They have more information about a topic

o Better judges of relevant information

o There is good reason to doubt a claim if it conflicts with expert  opinion

• Expertise is not guarantee against making mistakes

• In general, we should let experts determine which is more likely to be true  – they know more than non-experts.

• The Nazca Lines

o Series of geoglyphs located in the Nazca Desert, a high arid plateau  that stretches more then 50 miles between the towns of Nazca and  Palpa in Peru

▪ Very arid, therefore if you move your feet you essentially  create lines because the dark stones get removed

▪ Lines fall into categories both visually and chronologically ???? Animals

???? Geometric Figures

o 1968 “Chariots of the Gods” book where Erich Van Daniken claimed  the lines were made by alien astronauts to mark landing strips ▪ Reasons:  

???? Nazca people were too technologically primitive to  

have created them, especially, the straight lines

• Debunked: teacher used his high school  

students to create the straight lines using three  


???? Lines can only be seen from high above the ground

• Other explanations like offering to the gods

Case Study: Xango Juice 2/15/16 6:48 PM

Facts and Notes: 

• Both were poster children for healthy lifestyle before the juice

• Juice contains powerful antioxidants as well as other healthy substances o Vague about the other substances  

• Became distributors for product to earn additional money for school and  wedding

o Alternative motives; earned a profit out of it

• Mangosteen plant has been used for thousands of years to treat health  problems

o Fallacy appeal to tradition, just because it is used since like the  beginning of time doesn’t make it correct

• Xango juice treats everything

o Not a miracle cure.

• Uses testimony of father: a lawyer who suffered from migraines and when  he retired and started drinking the juice it went away

o Fallacy of false cause, Other causes not just the juice, he did  

leave work after all so less stress and therefore less headaches

• Testimony of grandmother: Bounced right back after surgery, even the  doctor said he had never seen anything like that

o Appeal to authority, uses the doctors comment to prove that the  juice works without giving actual proof

• Their own testimony: feel better, have more energy etc.

o Fallacy of single cause (causal oversimplification): Other causes  not just the use of the juice, such as exercise and good diet

• Evidence: testimony from the people at the Xango juice conventions o Confirmation bias, Biased people who usually make a profit of  

selling it

o They have something to gain from selling the juice because they get  a discount for every person they sign up as a dealer

o Fallacy appeal to masses, just because loads of people take it  

doesn’t make it right.

• When asked about actual scientific studies gave a vague answer about  someone doing something with some animal .

o No concrete evidence or tests

• “But our own experience is enough to prove to us that it works”

o testimony is biased given as they gain a profit from it

• Evidence: brochure from company

o No company is going to put bad reviews about its product when  

trying to sell it

• John comes to conclusion that they wont put it’s a medical treatment  because if they do they can repeat it then government then companies o Slippery Slope fallacy, assumes an irradical set of events follows  one single event

• John has a BA in business and says that because of the sales then it  proofs it is effective

o Fallacy Appeal to the masses, just because most people do it  doesn’t make it right

o Also, John is not an expert on medical or natural things only in  business, therefore his ideas must be taken with a grain of salt

• Lisa applies logic by asking this and that about the product


• Falsifiablitiy: must be able to test to disprove the claim

o Multiple Out: excuse why an experiment might not be doable

▪ Ex. John’s Slippery Slope Fallacy is a multiple out

o Vague claim: the animal study with no concrete proof

o Vague claim: grandmother “bounces right back”, no way to measure  it

o Vague claim: David says he has more energy, no way to measure it o No claim or evidence given about the results the juice has on the  different people

▪ Only anecdotal testimony and that is not proof

o Claims could be tested:

▪ Poison Ivy: have two groups of people who have come in  

contact with poison ivy. The first group would not be given  

the juice and would be given a placebo of the juice, a mixture  

of water and dye so essentially the control group would let  

the injury cure itself. The second group would be given the  

juice as a remedy for the poison ivy. This way one can test if  

it is in fact helpful for poison ivy. Depending on the difference  

between the control group and the Xango group, one can  

see if it in fact works as a antihistamine or not.

▪ Allergies: Similar to poison ivy. Create two groups who have  

similar visible reactions to a same allergen, example dog or  

cat, without it being deadly. Make both groups come into  

contact with the allergen and have one group take a water  

and dye formula that looks similar, while the other is given

Xango. If the groups present equal results then Xango has  no effect as an antihistamine.

• Logic 

o Informal Fallacies

▪ Slippery Slope

▪ Appeal to Tradition

▪ Appeal to Masses

▪ False Cause

▪ Appeal to Authority

▪ Single Cause

o Premises that lead to a conclusion that is valid or sound

▪ Argument: Xango cured his headaches

???? Premise: Dad had migraines

???? Premise: Dad drank Xango

???? Premise: Migraines go away

???? Conclusion: Xango cured his migraines

???? Not Valid because it is not the only conclusion  

you can reach from the premises, it is not sound.

• Comprehensiveness 

o Consideration of all relevant information

o Did not follow this because they assumed many conclusions without  including various alternatives

▪ Ex. Dads headaches were cured because of the juice, when  it could have been because of retiring from a stressful job

• Honesty 

o Honest appraisal of the hypothesis seeking out different opinions  and reasons, seeking out the tendency to seek alternative evidence o Vested interest: They had something to gain from the selling of the  product and making them become distributors

▪ Multi level advertising: people who use it become distributors  and get commission for it

• Replicability 

o It could be done, but hasn’t

• Sufficiency 

o Burden of proof is on the claimant and they haven’t given any ▪ Testimony doesn’t count

o Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, which they  don’t have.

Limits to Perception and Memory 2/15/16 6:48 PM

Illusions and the Brain

• Illusions prove that just because something seems real or true, doesn’t  mean that it is

• Illusion mistakes occur because of processing errors the brain makes or  errors in reasoning

o Unaware of this = more likely to reach wrong conclusions

• Scientific methods attempts to eliminate these types of errors

o Some errors include:

▪ Multiple outs

▪ Inappropriate Dissonance Reduction

▪ Logical Errors

▪ Failure to look at all Relevant Evidence

▪ Bias

• Our mind does not work like a camera or a recorder, it constructs an image  of reality that is subject to error

• Brain looks for patterns, using “information processing” rules  

o Can see patterns when there are non or miss patterns when they’re  present

• Eyewitness Testimony 

o Conflicting information

o Not reliable

o Ex. RED written in blue

How we think/Cognitive Factors

• Expectation Bias: perceive what we expect to perceive

o Ex. Professor René Blondlot’s N-rays

o Ex. Facilitated Communication (down syndrome kids with the ability  to “communicate”)

▪ Even after being proven wrong still held that it worked =  

multiple out, dissonance reduction

o Ex. Haunted houses

• Confirmation Bias: only look for information that confirms the idea you  hold, ignores the rest

• Selection Bias: The mere wording of the question influenced what type of  information on which they focused

o Ex. Look for positive qualities and then look for negative, ended up  choosing the same person

o Political campaigns: ignore information; alter our perceptions of  

what the candidate has said or done

• Availability Error: tendency to make decisions based on evidence that is  vivid or memorable, instead of reliable

o Ex. Chances of getting abducted

o Ex. Chances of car crashes is higher than plane crashes, yet more  people afraid of planes

o Error due to lack of availability of alternative explanations

▪ The fewer the alternatives, the greater the confidence we  

have in our decisions

▪ Corollary: when unaware of natural explanations we may  

assume it’s supernatural, caused by aliens, etc.

???? UFO!

• When evaluating a claim or theory, be self-aware of your own thought  processes in order to consciously avoid your own biases

o Apply this same skepticism to your own personal experiences o Some examples of consciously looking for alternative, natural  explanations for unusual phenomena

▪ Ex. Constantine entering into battle and wining

▪ Ex. Fata Morgana in Polar regions “clouds” caused by the ice  particles in the air

Sensory Illusions

• Often based on rules called perceptual constancies

o The tendency to see things as being constant even when they  aren’t

• Illusions occur when we misperceive a sensory stimulus

o Color Constancy: we tend to see an object as being a certain color  because we expect it to be that color

o Size Constancy: we perceive familiar objects to be a constant size,  even if they are near or far away

▪ Learned, but we can be tricked into perceiving that objects of  the same size are different in size

▪ Perspective can radically alter our perception of sizes

o Shape Constancy: familiar objects are perceived as having a  constant shape even when viewed from different angles

o Pareidolia: finding meaningful patterns when none exists

▪ Ex. Seeing faces in stuff

o Autokinetic Effect: stationary object appears to move b/c of small  movements of the eye

▪ Dark gives you no good frame of reference ???? Venus gets  

called in as a UFO

o We can also misinterpret motion

o MIB: Motion Induced Blindness 

▪ Staring at a stationary object while in the background dots  

move, eventually dots seem to disappear

• Illusions can be caused by physical disorders of the eye or brain o Shadowy figures can be a symptoms of having opacity spots in the eye

o Floaters: objects that appear to float across one’s visual field of  view. In some cases, they can appear as a dust storm

▪ Caused by blood cells in the eye, when the blood clots the  

clot may move around causing it to appear as if something  

passed the line of vision

o Halos around people can be caused by detachment of the optic disk  in the eye.

▪ Flashes: adhesions in eye excite receptors

• Hallucinations

o The brain itself can generate imagery, or sounds, or sensations of  touch; it’s all in our heads

▪ Nervous system disorder, or effects of drugs, stress, or sleep  deprivation  

• Auditory Illusions

o When exposed to random “white noise” the brain attempts to  impose order on the sound; it creates a pattern from memory

Collective Delusions

• Also called Mass Hysterias 

• Mass delusions occur in an unorganized, spontaneous fashion • Involve a rapid spread of false, but plausible, exaggerated beliefs that gain  credibility within a particular social or cultural context

o Rumors are an essential ingredient

o Everyday objects, events and circumstances receive extraordinary  scrutiny often based on fear

• Groups of people hold irrational beliefs that seem very rational at the time • Many factors contribute to these episodes

o Mass Media

o Group conformity

o Low education levels

o Fallibility of human perception

o Cultural superstitions and stereotypes

o Reinforcing actions by authority figures such as the police or  military

• Examples of Mass hysterias

o Community Threats 

▪ When a community feels that their values and moral  

principles are under attack from somewhere or something.  Perceived threats to traditional values (no physical threat)

???? Common in Witch Hunts and Day care scandals

▪ Ex. Milan Italy 1630: Period coincided with the plague a  prediction that the Devil was going to poison the water  

supply. An old man was spotted wiping a stool before sitting  on it = poison off the seat and mob beat him up.

o Conversion Disorder 

▪ Member of your group start feeling the same thing

▪ Ex. Morgellons disease: bugs crawling over skin, sores,  mysterious “fibers”. No virus, psychosomatic and scratching.  ▪ Ex. 1973 barrels full of a chemical called merphos leaked  onto a dock, exposing workers. 400 residents and workers  checked into the hospital even though merphos is nontoxic o Collective Wish Fulfillment 

▪ The object of interest is esteemed and satisfies a  

psychological need.  

▪ Ex. Belief of Fairies in England

???? Two girls who took “pictures” of fairies

▪ Ex. UFO sightings

▪ No recognition of what actually is because of expectation  bias usually fueled by the news

o War of the Worlds broadcast reading by Orson Wells

o Often come with the use of scapegoats

▪ Most scapegoats are members of a smaller class such as:  Jews, Africans, heretics, deviants and the poor, communist  too

???? “The myth that these groups are threatening society  

flourish during periods of economic downturns and  

social unrest.”

• Spurious Correlations

o Seeing a casual connection between events where no connection  exsists

o Fallacy: post hoc, ergo propter hoc 

▪ After that, therefore because of that

o Basis for most superstitions

o Human sacrifices based on spurious correlations

o Correlation does not prove causation 

▪ One of the most important principles in science

o Important to notice: Not all correlations are spurious


• Malleable and easy to deceive

• Given incredible credibility to eye witness

• First study of memory done by Harvard psychologist about 100 years ago o Had a clown run through the auditorium and a guy chasing the  clown with a gun

o Asked scientist what they had seen

▪ Only one individual out of the 40 present was able to recall  

the event with any accuracy

???? Ability to remember accurately is compromised by  

how impressionable the brain is

▪ One of the reasons eye witness testimony should not be  

given so much weight

• Police lineups in about 1/3 or ½ of cases the lineups lead to wrong  convictions

o We are amendable to suggestions who are in the room with you, or  just their body language

• Innocence Project

o Gotten over 321 prisoners exonerated by DNA

▪ ¾ convicted by eyewitness testimony alone

▪ Anecdotal evidence is never sufficient

• Ronald Cotton and Jennifer Thompson 

o Jennifer was rape and was in fear for her life, tried to get through  the ordeal by remembering who it was

o Rapist attacked in middle of the night in the dark

o With the light from the fridge she identified Ronald  

▪ Sent to jail

o Later DNA showed that the perpetrator was another

o They now tour the country talking about how inaccurate our  memories are

• Memory Limits 

o Remembering = changed memory; it is a reconstruction ▪ Based on memory fragments

▪ Not a video camera

o Memory Alteration and Recovered

▪ Memories: The Malleability of Memory

???? The simple act of asking a question can alter a  

person’s memory of an event

• How tall? vs How Short? Gives a foot in  

different even referring to the same person

???? Asking how fast was the car going when it passed the  

barn? Responded with a number even though there  

was no barn

• Inserting data into a question can change the  


• Children and Suggestive Questioning 

o Court cases, kids often receive 3-11 interviews

▪ Giving that answer can change that child’s memory

▪ Simply hearing stories can create dales memories as well o Psychologist Jean Piaget

▪ Remembered when he was small how a nanny fended off  robbers with an umbrella  

???? They event never happen

???? The nanny had made up the story so she could  

remain in the good graces of the family

▪ Memory was reinforced every time the story was mentioned • Same suggestive questioning techniques used by therapist in: o Past-life therapy

o Alien abduction therapy

▪ Abducted by Susan Clancy

o Recovered-memory therapy involving alleged childhood sexual  abuse

▪ Breaks families

???? 28 year old woman claimed after therapy that her  

father molested her when she was 6 months old, no  


???? Roseanne Barr ???? parents began molesting her when  

she was 3 months old

▪ Reality ???? cannot remember that level of detail from  

Childhood; such detail is a strong sign of fantasizing

o Instead of extracting the memory they are implanting a fake  memory into their patients  

• The confidence with which a person recalls an event is not a good  predictor of its accuracy

o Quick reply does not necessarily ensure that it is an accurate or  truthful answer

o Hesitant reply

• Hypnosis

o Not accepted in court

o Extremely susceptible

Chapter 1: Close Encounters with the Strange 2/15/16 6:48 PM

The Importance of Why

• Why: solid reason behind beliefs

• Without them our beliefs are arbitrary and there is no claim to  the knowledge, and therefore no good reason for choosing the  


• Belief alone without any good evidence is not an indication of  


• Much of what we read lacks solid evidence

• Skeptical thinking is important for civilization and mankind to  


• Reasoning and analysis of book can be proven by using them  


Beyond Weird to The Absurd

• Important False Claims

o No such thing as objective truth, we make our own truth

o No such thing as objective reality, we make our own reality

o There are spiritual or mystical ways of knowing that are  

superior to ordinary ways of knowing

o If an experience seems real, it is real

o If an idea feels right, it is right

o We are not capable of gaining knowledge of the true  

nature of reality

o Science itself is irrational, it has no more justification than  

other belief systems

o It does not matter if beliefs are true or not, as long as they  

are meaningful to you

• Important Lessons:

o If some ideas are true, knowing anything about anything is  


o If you honestly believe any of these ideas, you cut your  

chances of ever discovering what’s real or true

o Rejecting these notions is liberating and empowering


• Research done by two social scientist shows that many high  

school teachers are not prepared to teach science because they  

believe in discredited or unsupported ideas

• Research done try to understand where pseudoscientific beliefs  come from

A Weirdness Sampler

• Just because we want something to be true does not make it  true

• Find truth: let go of prejudices and preconceptions and examine  evidence fairly and impartially  

• Continuation of democratic society depends on our ability to  think rationally

o Educational system, however, more focused on teaching  people what to think instead of how to think

• Quality of life depends on quality of decisions which depend on  quality of thinking

• Examples of Irrational Thinking

o Quack Medicine or Quakery refers to alternative medicine ▪ More victims than all of crime violence put together

o Psychic Hotlines

▪ Most are staffed by unemployed housewives

Chapter 3: Arguments Good, Bad and Weird  Pgs. 33-39; 49-55 2/15/16 6:48 PM Claims and Arguments (pgs. 33-39)

• Argument: Combination of claims giving reason to support  another claim

o A string of statements asserting or clarifying a view is not  an argument

o Different from persuasion

▪ Persuasion can be used to influence people to accept  

a believe without showing good reasons to believe it

o Minimum requirement: have at least one premise and a  


▪ Various ways to present structure:

???? Can have many premises  

???? Conclusion can appear after premises

???? Argument can be buried in a cluster of other  

statements that are not part of the argument

• Argument Classifications

o Good Argument: demonstrates that the conclusion is  

worthy of acceptance

▪ Can be valid or strong, but must always be sound

???? Sound Argument: a deductively valid argument  

with true premises

o Bad Argument: fails to demonstrate that conclusion is  

worthy of acceptance

o Deductive Arguments: provide conclusive support for the  conclusion

▪ Valid Arguments: deductive argument that success in  

providing conclusive support  

???? Characteristics:

• If premises are true, conclusion must be  


???? Refers to deductive arguments logical structure

• Conclusion follows the premises

• Said to be truth-preserving

▪ In Valid Arguments: Fails to provide support  

???? Does not follow the premises

o Inductive Arguments: Intended to provide probable  

support for their conclusions

▪ Strong Argument: inductive argument that succeed  

in giving probable support to its conclusion  

???? If premises are true, conclusion is likely or  

probable to be true

???? Cannot guarantee that conclusion is true

▪ Weak Argument: inductive argument that fails to  

give probable support to its conclusion

• Claim: Reasons to support an argument

• Premise: Claims intended to support another claim

o Usually designated by indicator words:

▪ Since

▪ Because

▪ For

▪ Given that

• Conclusion: Claims that premises are trying to support o Usually designated by clear indicator words:

▪ Thus

▪ So

▪ Consequently

▪ Hence

▪ Therefore

Informal Fallacies (49-55)

• Fallacious argument: fails to provide a good reason for accepting  the claim

• Argument is fallacious if it contains:

o Unacceptable Premises

▪ Unacceptable if they are at least as dubious as claim  they try to make

o Irrelevant Premises

▪ Irrelevant if they have no bearing on the truth of the  conclusion

o Insufficient Premises

▪ Insufficient if they do not establish the conclusion  

beyond a reasonable doubt

• Unacceptable Premises: 

o Begging the Question 

▪ Argues in a circle

▪ When its conclusion is used as one of its premises

▪ Ex. God exists because the Bible says so, The Bible  should be believed because God wrote it

o False Dilemma 

▪ When it presumes only 2 alternatives exists, when in  fact there are more.

▪ Ex. Either science can explain how she was cured or  it was a miracle. Science can’t explain why she was  cured, therefore it was a miracle  

• Irrelevant Premises 

o Equivocation 

▪ When a word is used in two different senses in an  argument.

▪ Ex. Only man is rational. No woman is a man,  

therefore no woman is rational

o Composition 

▪ Claims that what is true for the part is true for the  whole

▪ Ex. Belief in the supernatural makes Joe happy,  

therefore universal belief in the supernatural would  make everyone happy

o Division 

▪ Opposite of composition

▪ Assumes that what is true for the whole is also true  for its parts

▪ Ex. Societies interest in the occult is growing,  

therefore Joe’s interest in the occult is growing

o Appeal to the Person 

▪ Someone tries to refute an argument by criticizing or  denigrating the person rather than the argument.

▪ Reffered to Ad hominem or “to the man”

▪ Ex. This theory has been presented by a believer in  the occult, so why should we believe it?

o Genetic Fallacy 

▪ Argues that a claim is true or false based on the  origin

▪ Ex. Juan’s idea is the result of a mystical experience  so it must be false

o Appeal to Authority 

▪ Citing authorities

▪ Valid if person is an expert in the field, if not then  fallacy

▪ Ex. Celebrity endorsements

o Appeal to Masses 

▪ Very common

▪ “It must be true because everybody believes it”

▪ Ex. Earth was believed to be flat.

o Appeal to Tradition 

▪ Argue that something must be true because it is part  of an established tradition

▪ Ex. Astrology has been around for ages, therefore it  must be true  

o Appeal to Ignorance 

▪ Comes in 2 varieties:

???? Using opponents inability to disprove a  

conclusion as proof of correctness  

???? Using opponents inability to prove a conclusion  

as proof of correctness

▪ Lack of evidence does not prove anything

o Appeal to Fear 

▪ To use the threat of harm to advance your position ▪ Ex. If you do not convict this criminal, you may be  next

o Straw Man 

▪ Misrepresents someone’s claim to make it easier to  dismiss or reject

▪ Instead of addressing actual claim, you concoct a  weak one to assault instead

▪ Ex. Outlaw guns or gun control is an extreme  

position against the Second Amendment right to bear  arms and we should always oppose moves that gut

the Constitution  

• Insufficient Premises

o Hasty Generalization 

▪ Jumping to conclusions

▪ Draw a general conclusion about all things of a  

certain type on the basis of evidence concerning only  a few things of that type

▪ Ex. Every medium that has been investigated has  turned out to be a fraud, therefore you can’t trust  any of them

o Faulty Analogy 

▪ Things that resemble one another in certain aspects  resemble each other in other aspects

▪ Ex. Earth has air, water and living organisms. Mars  has air and water, therefore Mars has living  


o False Cause 

▪ Supposing that two events are casually connected  when they are not

▪ Also called post hoc, ergo propter hoc

???? “After this, therefore because of this”

▪ Ex. Night follows day, therefore day causes night o Slippery Slope 

▪ Argument that performing a specific action will  inexorably lead to an additional bad action/s as proof  to not perform the initial action

▪ Ex. Teaching evolution in schools leads to loss of  faith in God, and loss of faith in God leads to the  weakening of morals, which leads to crime and social  disorder

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