Wanted: Effective April's Fool's gags for Critical Thinking class

From: Max More (max@maxmore.com)
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 14:41:15 MST

I suspect many of you are like me in not making a big deal of most
public/official holidays (e.g., I spent Christmas Day a few years ago
setting up my first web site, after paying brief respects to Sir Isaac
Newton on his birthday). However, I particularly like April Fool's Day.
It's a wonderful opportunity to show people how easily they can be fooled,
how unaware they often are, and how they need to improve their critical
thinking skills. A few do this in a mean-spirited way, but mostly it seems
to take place in a humorous way.

Since I teach classes in Critical Thinking and Logic (I have one this
semester), I like to use examples of effective April Fool's gags as
examples, and even to try out on students. (Unfortunately the next class
isn't until April 6th this year.)

Last year, my favorite was an article in Red Herring (a business technology
magazine). It appeared as a substantial and entirely journalistically
plausible profile of a start-up company, Tidal Wave Communications, making
a device you wear behind your ear. It picks up your thoughts and allows you
to send and email by thinking. The story went on for several pages,
included photos of the companies principals, and photos of the product. Red
Herring is an excellent business tech magazine, so it was an effective way
to fool people, and the gag was pulled off with great skill. (I highly
recommend reading it. The story (without the photos is here:
http://www.redherring.com/mag/issue65/news-tidalwave.html ) Some readers
were quite upset at being taken for a ride. Without any knowledge of
neuroscience it would be difficult for most people to catch onto this one
right away.

If you come across clever gags like this, I would appreciate hearing about
them. Fresh material for the class is always good. Maybe we should also add
a page to the ExI site for such things, including resources for critical


Max More, Ph.D.
President, Extropy Institute. www.extropy.org
CEO, MoreLogic Solutions. www.maxmore.com
max@maxmore.com or more@extropy.org

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