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Post  Max Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:34 am

I find this show slightly-moderately annoying a lot of the time. It is unnecessarily profane, childish, and a lot of times I even disagree with some of Penn & Teller's conclusions. However, I enjoy the skepticism in this show. They challenge everything, and sometimes I have learned to see a few things in a new light. From the perspective that it is a magician's job to come up with ways to fool the public, P&T actually gain some credibility on debunking hypnosis, psychics, etc. Watching the show makes me feel a little wiser, even if it is at the cost of being a cynic.

For example, chiropractors. I had no idea there was even a controversy surrounding chiropractic treatment, but apparently there is no medical evidence that it does anything and in fact some suggest that it may actually cause harm.
Time and again, they show some "expert" who certifies with ABSOLUTE confidence about a miracle diet, psychic powers, etc... and proceeds to use pseudo-scientific language to confuse people into submission and belief. I can sometimes feel a lingering doubt about a number of the subjects after listening to the charismatic expert, but after yielding to logical arguments that debunk the expert, it seems obvious it was bogus.

I find there is a resistance to logic with some of these. Almost as if we want the illusion more than the reality. Something comforting in the fiction. I get a better understanding of how people (including myself I suppose) get sucked into belief in these kind of things. Through the media, parents & family passing on incorrect beliefs.

In relation to stocks, you can see a parallel. Pumping the stock with a narrowly focused pseudo-scientific analysis that is believable (as opposed to logical), and provides the remote possbility (as opposed to high probability) of large gains with unshakeable certainty plays on the investor's greed, and over time, the desire to believe in the story will convert believability into logical fact, and remote possibility into high probability. We don't want to think about what will happen if we lose, so we block that half of the equation out of our minds and focus only on the gains. Once committed to the stock, to sell at a loss is to admit you were wrong, and to admit you were wrong is to admit you were duped (you were a fool). This may cause a bad position to get worse, so we cling ever tighter to the promise of the big payoff and ignore the increasing losses.

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