Astrology and Self Deception

Professor Ray Hyman, at the University of Oregon, specializes in the Psychology of Self-deception. As a teenager, he worked his way through school as a palm reader. He amazed both himself and his clients with his accurate readings. But a friend suggested a way to test his readings? (Did any of you come up with this test in the discussion time?) He recommended telling clients the opposite of his normal reading. Hyman gave it a try. In his own words, ?If the palm said that at age ten you were depressed, I?d say, ?At ten you were elated.? They?d say, ?Fantastic! How did you do that??? As a practicing Psychologist, Hyman says that a phenomenon known as ?the fallacy of personal validation? explains the puzzling results of his little experiment. The key is that the person wants to believe. They?ve actually done experiments where they give a person someone else?s horoscope. The result? The person usually sees it as a perfect match. Other experiments found that when the astrologer?s description contadicts the facts, both the astrologer and the client somehow interpret the description to fit the facts, although they are not aware of what they are doing. You can imagine how it could happen. Astrologer: ?At the age of nine, something wonderful happened.? Client: ?But at nine years, my dad lost his job. It was a horrible year.? Astrologer: ?Strange. I wonder if something good came out of that situation?? Client: ?Of course! Our temporary poverty gave me a heart for the less fortunate. That event probably led me to my current involvement in social action.? And wa la! A horrible year becomes a wonderful year. At other times, Astrologer?s predictions are so vague, that the client can interpret them any way he chooses. (Source: Life Magazine, 7/1/97, by Kenneth Miller) ? Copyright 2002 Steve Miller - All Rights Reserved

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