Some people are naturally really really good at guessing.
Some are so good at this type of analysis, that their “guesses” can come across as an emphatic psychic power.
Web Watch recalls an experiment that we did once, where we had to read the mind of someone across the room and determine what figure had been drawn on piece of paper.
The first one was easy: a circle. Anybody would have a 50-50 chance at coming up with that one.
The next one was also easy (although we forget whether it was a square, triangle, or other geometric shape), and we got that one correct as well.
It was the third one that cemented in our minds that there can be such a talent as being a mind-reader:
We thought and thought for a moment, and couldn’t come up with anything in particular.
We said “we’ve got nothing. Sorry.” Wouldn’t you know it if the subject across the room didn’t draw anything on their paper, on purpose? True story.
So while the first two can certainly be chalked up to good guesses, that last item must be a sign of pure psychic ability, right?
Well – not so much.
According to a study from University of Edinburgh, THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PSYCHIC ABILITY.
What they found was that any test that asked people to predict the future was inherently flawed. People were more likely to predict things that they would naturally encounter next, rather than something completely unexpected.
Which makes some sense to Web Watch. We can certainly analyze trends in a casino to determine what the next roll of the dice or spin of the wheel could bring up. But we certainly wouldn’t be able to predict that a clown marching band would come running through the casino next. The former would justify our ability if we got the answer right (or at least be seen as a really really good guesser), the latter would just be funny as hell.
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