If a good-looking good-talking phony rates high, is there hope for us?

Well it is the end of the school year. The school is asking the students for an evaluation of the teachers. Frankly it may be hopeless for many of us.

The problem is not that we failed as a teacher to help our students. The problem is that we didn’t make our students think we helped them. You see, making our students “think” we helped them is much more important than if we really helped them or not.

Many students at one college, when asked what teacher they liked the most, told me of one woman teacher. When I asked why they liked her they told me the teacher was beautiful. And those students were girls, by the way.

In a famous experiment [1], an actor gave a lecture at the University of Southern California School of Medicine. The subject was “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education.” The actor had only read an article on the subject beforehand. The attendees were psychiatrists and psychologists (MDs and PhDs). They all gave the fake expert high marks and said he had stimulated their thinking.

Lesson? Wear a suit and tie and talk confidently.

“Donald Naftulin, John Ware, and Frank Donnelly who wanted to find out whether student evaluations of teachers had any meaning conducted this experiment. The actor was Michael Fox. He based his talk on the Scientific American article on Game Theory. He borrowed from the article some phrases, but not any sense. He mixed them up with allusions to unrelated subjects, which on purely verbal level may appear relevant. He conducted himself with great confidence and showed such a mastery of the aforementioned allusions that the audience was convinced that a luminary is standing before them. A 100% had answered in the questionnaire that Dr. Fox had stimulated their thinking; a 90% that he presented material in a well-organized form, and 90% that he put his material across in an interesting way.” More and a Video

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