Màgia, fake news, realitat i ficció: una investigació

He vist al blog de The Guardian que l’entrada The spell breaks for mentalists’ ‘pseudoscience’ comenta un article recent de Kuhn et al. a PLOS One titulat Fake science: The impact of pseudo-psychological demonstrations on people’s beliefs in psychological principles. Vaig conèixer en Gustav Kuhn, psicòleg, fa un any i mig, durant el congrès de Science of Magic, que es va fer a Londres, a Goldsmith’s.

The Guardian (i The Times) vé a dir que els mags fan malament de dir que fan servir tècniques NLP (programació neurolingüística) per llegir la ment de la gent, malgrat que després diguin que no és ben bé veritat. Acaba el post queixant-se dels mags-il·lusionistes

“Some magicians want to give the impression of being a mind reader. I have a problem with that. I’m not reading people’s minds,” MacKay says. But audience members still congratulate him on his mind-reading. They want to believe. “People come away with false impressions. There’s disillusionment.” Which, of course, is the opposite of the effect that magic intends to create.

De fet, l’article de Kuhn incideix sobre un aspecte molt actual: la frontera entre realitat i ficció, sobre les fake news. L’abstract del seu article diu

Magicians use deception to create effects that allow us to experience the impossible. More recently, magicians have started to contextualize these tricks in psychological demonstrations. We investigated whether witnessing a magic demonstration alters people’s beliefs in these pseudo-psychological principles. In the classroom, a magician claimed to use psychological skills to read a volunteer’s thoughts. After this demonstration, participants reported higher beliefs that an individual can 1) read a person’s mind by evaluating micro expressions, psychological profiles and muscle activities, and 2) effectively prime a person’s behaviour through subtle suggestions. Whether he was presented as a magician or psychologist did not influence people’s beliefs about how the demonstration was achieved, nor did it influence their beliefs in pseudo-psychological principles. Our results demonstrate that pseudo-psychological demonstrations can have a significant impact on perpetuating false beliefs in scientific principles and raise important questions about the wider impact of scientific misinformation.

Kuhn et al. senyalen que la gent, encara que se’ls digui que hi ha hagut un error o que se’ls ha donat informació dolenta, segueixen creien en el que creien:

Our results demonstrate that pseudo-psychological demonstrations can have a significant impact on perpetuating false beliefs in scientific principles, but they also raise some important questions about the wider impact of misinformation. Misinformation has a remarkable impact on people’s memories for past events [23] and their understanding of the events themselves [24]. Moreover, with the rise of the ‘fake news’ phenomena, recent research has investigated how people respond to false information that was later corrected [25]. In such studies, participants are presented with information that is initially presumed to be true, but is later corrected [26]. Results showed that corrections are rarely fully effective [26]. That is, despite being corrected, people rely on information they know to be false, a phenomenon known as continued-influence effect [27]. Thus, even when people know that what they are seeing may not be real, it can have a profound impact on their beliefs (see also [28]).

Al final de l’article, els autors diuen que la màgia precisament pot ajudar a investigar el tema de les fake news i de les percepcions errònees de la gent:

In our post-truth era, the boundaries between truth and misinformation have been eroded, and it is often difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction [10, 11]. One of the key features of this post-truth misinformation is that “fake news” is often very convincing. Clever editing and special effects are used to doctor online videos. Fake viral videos can spread across social network platforms, often viewed by millions of people. Rather than simply reading about a fake event, people are now witnessing the illusory event with their own eyes. Most past research on misinformation has presented participants with factually incorrect texts or verbal information. Very little is known about the impact of these more convincing forms of misinformation. As we have demonstrated here, stage magic provides a powerful tool to study the impact that highly realistic, yet entirely fake evidence, has on our beliefs and attitudes.

Un article ben interessant. Jo he practicat una mica el mentalisme a les sessions de màgia, i la veritat és que m’he trobat en casos en què malgrat esmentar que “tot és una il·lusió i el que heu vist només us ho ha semblat”, les persones segueixen creien que han assistit a un acte màgic i que tinc poders màgics. Per això l’article de Kuhn et al. és rellevant, i per això les fake news, la manipulació i post-veritat són coses de les quals ens n’hem d’ocupar.