Dr. Anthony Pratkanis, UC Santa Cruz psychology professor and social psychology researcher, held hundreds of students, employees, and community members in raptAnthony Pratkanis
attention last Friday at Ohlone College
in Fremont, CA. Entitled “Selling FlimFlam,” Pratkanis' talk began with a loud admonition to “leave your conscience at the door.” It then delivered a powerful 1½ hour lesson that masqueraded as a guide to selling flimflam, but which was actually designed to teach us the signs that we’re being conned, duped, sold a bill of goods, and presented with empty promises.
Pratkanis' talk began with background information that showed how widespread and costly flimflam can be. In the U.S., more money is spent on medical quackery than on hospitalization. Con criminals rake in over $100 billion each year, promising everything from free food, to sex,
Apollo Moon Landings
Pearl Harbor Attack
As our family story goes, when my parents left eastern Oklahoma for California (the first in their Don Prothero
families to move that far away in generations), many of their relatives bid them farewell with a sense of foreboding, quite certain that they would someday soon perish in a terrible earthquake. This may seem odd coming from people who dealt regularly with tornadoes, but it’s an opinion that persists to this day in many parts of the country, and demonstrates a sentiment which is returned with alacrity by people who can’t imagine living with the seemingly constant threat of deadly twisters known all too well by Oklahomans.
Last night’s talk by Dr. Don Prothero, professor of Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology at Occidental College, brought this family lore back to me. His talk, entitled “Catastrophes” and given at Café Valparaiso in Berkeley, assured me that my relatives were not alone in their tendency to oversimplify their threat evaluation of natural disasters. Prothero provided many detailed examples of death and destruction caused by a wide variety of na