The Power of the Mind…To Be Fooled
I am fascinated by the mind’s incredible power. And this power sometimes causes you miss things that are right in front of your nose. In the secret, “Remember that Opportunity Knocks Often, Just Sometimes Softly,” I talk about how the brain filters 99.9% of the stimuli around you. This is important because it allows you to focus. However, what you focus on expands, to the exclusion of all else. You see what you “want” to see, but miss everything else.
I love magic. Magic uses misdirection to get you to see what the magician wants you to see rather than what is really taking place. One form of magic that is particularly interesting is “cold reading.” This is the ability to perform seemingly paranormal (aka psychic) activities through conversational misdirection.
I am reading a great book on the topic by Ian Rowland. I first learned of his book from an article on StraightDope.com (Be sure to read this article and then sign-up for the free Straight Dope newsletter. It’s great. I also subscribe to The Skeptical Inquirer, a magazine I highly recommend). According to the article, Ian “is an entertainer who claims no psychic ability. He has given TV demonstrations posing as a tarot reader, an astrologer, a clairvoyant, and a spirit medium. He scored just as many hits as the ‘genuine’ psychics even though he openly admits he isn’t psychic.”
I’m not discounting the possibility of people with psychic abilities. However, this article provides compelling evidence that our minds can be easily manipulated. People see what they want to see, and miss everything else. When you are blindly focused on your future goals, you often miss opportunities that are around you. You are unwittingly blinded and unknowingly misdirected.
When you are “present and conscious” of your immediate surroundings, you may find bigger and better opportunities.
I will be writing more about magic, mind-reading, and misdirection in the future.