The Perspectives page in the Feb. 9 edition of the Loquitur reminded me of the time I invited a fortune teller to my Critical Thinking class. The point was, as the point should be with the tarot card readers, that fortune-telling is entertainment at best and pseudo science at worst. Our world is filled with pseudo science claims that purport to be scientific and truthful but are not based on evidence and often even go against common sense. Astrology is a prime example. The Bermuda Triangle is another. Bookstores have shelves of these kinds of books. They sell well because they appeal to our love of mystery and they make their authors a lot of money.
My “fortune teller” was one of my good friends who dressed up in a scarf for a turban and long earrings. She had never told a fortune in her life before. However, she found it very easy to follow the responses of the students as she made up stories that had them running out to call their friends. The students were excited about the rosey futures she described and totally sucked in by her narratives. The next week I had my friend return to the class dressed in her normal weekday attire, tennis warm-ups and tennis shoes. She explained that she was just an ordinary housewife who had never told a fortune before. She had found the whole experience of being a fortune teller rather fun. The class was very chagrined that they had fallen for a hoax.
Lesson learned, I hope. And that is the point. As a teaching institution, we try to bring lessons to students in the classroom and outside the classroom and to make them fun and memorable.