On How Easily We Can Be Fooled: Victor Reppert Again

Victor, an evangelical philosopher (no surprise!) tells us about a paranormal event in his life:
When I was in the seventh grade, I won the District Spelling Bee. The defending champion, somewhat to my surprise, went out when there were six people left, stomped off the stage, and went crying to his mother. After winning the Bee (and qualifying for the state finals), I was asked to provide a picture for the newspaper. As it happened, my violin teacher had a Polaroid camera, and my parents and I knew this, so we visited him. He told me that he had been thinking about my spelling bee, and at one point had an awareness that my rival had gone down, and that he was very upset about it. He had this awareness at about the time when my rival went down. He said that he had sometimes had episodes of clairvoyance. Link

I must say more than ever that Victor should get and read this college textbook: How to Think About Weird Things. Incredibly improbable events happen all of the time if for no other reason because there are so many people and so many minutes in life. The authors demonstrate this. It is inevitable that incredibly improbable events take place in our lives. And when they occur they stand out in our minds because we count the hits and discount the misses. This is how the mind works because it has been demonstrated that we seek to confirm our beliefs rather than disconfirm them. See the aforementioned book on all this.

There is another thing. Our memories have been demonstrated to be poor. Each time we recall a memory we can add bits to it that were not part of the original memory even though we still feel certain that our present memory is accurate. This too has been demonstrated. Just read the book Kluge, as but one of many.

So as a young boy Victor did not have the ability to see what was going on and his memory of what happened changed over the years.

Even if Victor's present memory is correct, as a boy he had no clue that his violin teacher could see on his face that he had won the Spelling Bee. So quite naturally the teacher knew the previous champion had lost, which means the former champion would be upset (no clairvoyance needed for this). And he made a good guess when he lost. If his teacher was initially wrong about when he had lost then the technique of Cold Reading explains the rest. For all we know Victor's teacher could have merely said he had lost "earlier" and Vic subsequently told him when this happened without knowing he supplied the clue.

This is all basic stuff.

Victor tells us his teacher wanted to teach him about clairvoyance. This is clear in what Victor tells us. Otherwise, why would his teacher say so? Put two and two together. Adults who want to teach children something can easily fool them.

The problem I have is with Victor's present critical thinking skills. He does not see this for what it is. He can't because he's blinded by faith. He wants to believe. He needs to believe. So as David Eller told me, Christians have "a different set of eyes than we do, and they cannot see what we see. Criticizing them, even poking them in the eye, simply does not improve their vision. They are deep inside a Christian box, and until they see the box and the world outside of it, their view is fatally limited."