TCNJ Magazine Fall 2018

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48 The College of New Jersey Magazine TCNJ X10 10 things you need to know about … DETECTING BALONEY Magic tricks, claims of fake news, and photoshopped images — all ways we are deceived in everyday life. Biology professor CURT ELDERKIN says we could all use a healthy dose of skepticism. In his First Seminar Program course, "Skepticism: Mythbusting, Pseudoscience, and Baloney Detection," students learn how not to be duped. Here's a crash course. — Kara Pothier 8. Check the source of rumors. Is it reliable? is a good source to see if these are true or not. 1. People have the need to believe in myths and mystical things like Bigfoot and ghosts. There's a comfort in believing, I think. 3. Psychics work with probabilities. They talk until they get a "hit," a reaction from you to some feeler they put out. We never see the misses the psychic has. Psychics can't work without your feedback. 4. Magic tricks draw our attention to one thing so we don't see something else. 5. In the classic shuffling-cup- and-ball trick, don't just track the original cup with the ball. Look for the distraction where the ball can be switched. 6. With social media, none of us are as sharp as we used to be. We see a viral video, and it's easy to share as truth, without checking it out first. 7. We have a responsibility as citizens to problem-solve and not be so gullible. Does what we see fit with the way the world works? Can it be tested? It boils down to the scientific method. 2. There's been tests where everyone gets the same horoscope, and each person says it is dead on. People adapt it to who they are because horoscopes are general enough to fit all personalities. 9. Phishing scams are huge right now, especially on Facebook. You take a quiz about something benign, but it's to get info to answer your password- security questions. Avoid the trap. 10. Be a skeptic. Search for one more opinion, one more source. Find objective, repeatable evidence before you believe the baloney.

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