Friday, July 29, 2011

Richard Wiseman Reads My Mind!

I recently purchased Richard Wiseman's book Paranormality: Why we see what isn't there. Dr. Wiseman was fantastic and funny and educationally entertaining at the TAM9 in Vegas a couple of weeks ago, and I wanted to read his latest.

I started reading yesterday evening, and got only 3% into the book (darned Kindle! Give me page numbers!) before discovering that Dr. Wiseman has obviously read my mind with his paranormal skills. Even more magically, he was able to PREDICT what I would have in my mind this very morning, while writing the book, a year or more ago!

Almost immediately before I started reading, I had done a search to see if wet weather really affects my knee pain like I *think* it does. Each answer I saw gave various reasons why it really does make my pain worse: pressure within the knee joint, etc.

Then I began reading. Dr. Wiseman, very early in the book, cites a study on whether or not weather affects arthritis pain!

"WHAT?" I said, "Get out of my head, Richard Wiseman!"

"I can't," he replied [in my dreams], "It's my JOB!"

At any rate, the study showed that people fool themselves into thinking the weather affects their joint pain because we are good at noticing data that verify our prior beliefs, i.e. noticing our joint pain more when it's rainy because we expect the pain to be more noticible, while discounting or ignoring it when the data don't fit our preconception, i.e. all the days the pain was worse, but there was no rain.

Thank you Dr. Wiseman! If anyone reads this, I highly recommend his blog and his book. He gives a great presentation/talk as well, if anyone has the opportunity to see him in person!

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