Unsplash.com photo by Jeff Siepman
I recently ran across two excellent examples of "What the thinker thinks, the prover proves."
Example #1: When a 16-year-old girl was found dead in New Jersey in 1972, "rumors spread quickly that the Springfield girl was killed in some sort of satanic rite or witchcraft. Police sources leaked to the press that they had found signs they thought might be related to the occult, including crosses made of sticks and branches arranged in a coffin-like outline around her body."
Newly-released photographs show all of these claims were bogus.
"But crime scene photographs released for the first time this week seem to debunk those claims, showing that DePalma’s body was simply lying in a dense, brushy area in Houdaille Quarry, facedown with an arm draped over a downed tree branch. There are branches lying across one another by her head, but they do not appear to be arranged in a purposeful way.
"Jason Coy, a history professor at the College of Charleston who researches witchcraft and superstition, said he can’t find any sign of the occult or any other symbolism in the jumble of brush and branches. It suggests that investigators, looking for something sinister, saw patterns that weren’t there, or perhaps their initial descriptions of the branches near her body became exaggerated or misconstrued in the retellings of the scene."
Hat tip, Jesse Walker on Twitter. who y'all should follow.
Example #2 comes from reading Tyler Cowen's The Age of the Infovore, which as I wrote last time, I am reading as part of a "selective attention" exercise.
In Chapter Four, Cowen describes an experiment carried out on wine EXPERTS in France (I am using RAW's customary spelling for "expert" in the passage below, too.)
"Frederic Brouchet, a psychologist at the University of Bourdeaux, ran some experiments to test experienced wine tasters. He invited fifty-four wine EXPERTS to give their sensory impressions of a red wine and a white wine. He was told that the red wine tasted of 'crushed red fruit,' among other traditional descriptive responses. He was told that the white wine tasted of lemon, peaches and honey, all traditional white wine flavors. The EXPERTS then returned for another tasting, but this time the white wine was dyed red with (tasteless) food coloring. The same EXPERTS described the same white wine, only now it looked red. All of a sudden those experts found flavors in the white that usually they ascribed to the reds. What use to taste like lemon, peaches, and honey now tasted like black currents. These EXPERTS had no reason to lie and in fact their answers subsequently caused them embarrassment. Their blather about the wines was sincere."
As I mentioned above, I am piggybacking on Eric's reading exercise, reading works by Robert Anton Wilson and Tyler Cowen with "selective attention" for 23 days, then switching to reading them as "magickal texts." Thank you to Oz Fritz and Rarebit Fiend in the comments for their suggestions on how to do the latter, and to BFHN for pointing out that in the John Higgs interview with Alan Moore, Moore talks about magickal readings of literature. I will watch the video soon.