109. Critical Thinking: ESP, Psychic Abilities and The Vividness Problem

03 important takeaways from this lecture:

00:04:30 Parapsychology 

is “a pseudoscience concerned with the investigation of paranormal and psychic phenomena. Parapsychologists study telepathy, precognition,clairvoyance, psychokinesis, near-death experiences,reincarnation, apparitional experiences, and other paranormal claims.”

 An important distinction, however, must be made between strength of proof and strength of belief.

The Psychology Of The Psychic by David F. Marks includes three chapters discussing the phenomenon of remote-viewing: the ability to project to another person’s location and see what that person is seeing.


The fallacy of personal validation involves asking the person whom the psychic is reading to judge for him or herself whether or not the psychic’s insight into that person’s life is accurate or not. This form of validation is so subjective and malleable using linguistics that it is among the least reliable forms of validation because subjective validation, or the personal validation effect, is “a cognitive bias by which a person will consider a statement or another piece of information to be correct if it has any personal meaning or significance to them.”  Meaning, humans have a tendency to overlook things that don’t coincide with their belief and notice things that do coincide with their belief/perception.

Often times scientific journals publish articles releasing the results of scientific studies, and refuse to publish replications – articles which test and may disprove the validity of the originally published article.

00:20:00-00:49:47 Several examples from history.

00:49:54 The vividness problem is the effect that one piece of information, correct or incorrect, can have be enough to determine the entire outcome of a decision simply because that piece of information is so vivid.

For example, you conduct hours of market research and consumer reports and are strongly considering buying a Ford Explorer, and when a trusted friend advises you against purchasing a Ford Explorer “because a friend of theirs once bought one and it turned out to be a complete lemon,” this vivid, personal piece of information is enough to override hundreds of statistics and dissuade you from buying the vehicle.

More often than not coming up with a great idea is a rollercoaster ride of thoughts with no logical progression;

ou lurch from the interesting to the absurd to the good back again to the absurd.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

To create great work you should be making up your own beliefs as you go along, changing them one day to the next, always pushing against the boundaries of current thinking, trying to escape the confines of conventional wisdom.

Hegarty on Creativity by Sir John Hegaty of BBH

It is possible to gain a good insight into the mindset of a customer by closely observing their total package of ‘expressions.’

By paying attention to the words people choose to use, their tone of voice, the gestures, postures, and facial expressions, one can read with surprising accuracy the frame of mind they are occupying at any particular time.

The key is to observe the total package rather than erroneously attach significance to just one aspect and deduce, for example, that because someone has their arms folded they are feeling defensive (they may very well just be cold, feel more comfortable that way, or be unconsciously modeling someone else’s behavior).

Consumer.ology by Philip Graves