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 One Lie Better Than Another?

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Wishmaster
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:05 am

Dr Jae wrote:
There is an assumption made by many that psychic equates with supernatural and/or mediumistic type activities. That is one aspect of it but the other and more precise meaning is concerned with PSI and studying the potential applications of the mind. Sure others will have better definitions but this will do for now as i'm typing and eating ice cream simultaneously. No, not an experiment - I just like ice cream.
That's a very interesting point. By "PSI and studying the potential applications of the mind", are you talking about things like possible extra senses which have become dormant or forgotten? Hidden, supressed or otherwise unknown abilities? Or have I just misunderstood?

I read a great book that touched on something along these lines a while ago - The Sense of Being Stared At by Rupert Sheldrake. He presents some startling, but familiar, cases of those inexplicable happenings many of us encounter regularly. As the name suggests, being able to "sense" that someone is staring at you and the uncanny ability we seem to have of not only detecting this, but also being able to determine the direction from which the stare comes. DeJa Vu is another one that we all experience sometimes, but find it almost impossible to explain rationally.

There was some research done in the recent past (and I saw it on the BBC site iirc) where electrodes were placed on specific areas of the brain and it seemed the scientists could switch on and off abilities usually restricted to Autistic Savants.

Are all people with so called psychic abilities fakes or frauds? Absence of evidence and all that. Just because it cannot be explained or measured doesn't preclude the existence of something out of the ordinary or supernatural. Doesn't the assertion that these things cannot exist presume complete knowledge?

Why are these abilities hidden or unavailable to us? Are there more of them waiting in the wings? It seems logical to me that this is likely, considering how little we still know about the human brain/mind.
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SamGurney
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:45 pm

Freddie Valentine wrote:
The irony of the whole DB thing is that if someone followed him on tour and exposed his workings backstage and said "This is how he does it!", there would be an uproar.

The psychic he followed was certainly an odious character, but I am sure his clients would see the show as a "stitch up" and still book him.

With his current tirades, Brown has become a bore and his exposure of methods that many of us are using for Mystery Entertainment was quite clearly not on. I hope he receives a similar kind of treatment.
I have had the pleasure of meeting the guy and I know a lot about him, and I can honestly say he is a through and through gentleman. He means nothing but good and wants to help people- but he has a bone to pick with people who extort money off people whilst pretending to talk to dead relatives.
Morality is a subjective thing- but the fact is, 'psyhics' who go and pretend to talk to dead people's relatives ARE con artists. I find it quite revolting, but I am not blind enough that I cannot accept it does give people comfort, and if they are comfortable in that illusion then there I shall leave them. Nonetheless, right or wrong, it cannot really be compared to entertainment. We are payed to entertain, not for anything else.
If I am honest, sometimes it is quite arkward to defend Brown, because the assumption is that you are a sickly, imitative, brainless creature who drools over him. But if the boot is on the other foot, God help anyone who tries to criticise him: it's all part of the magic peer pressure and social conformity and it gets quite dreary at times. Don't hate someone for the sake of doing so nor like them because you're 'supposed' to.
So in keeping with my own belief that we need to be honest and fair about what we beleive rather than subscribing wholly to one school of thought and then believing everything that a component of that paradigm 'ought' to- I also think Derren needs to lay off on the skepticism. People can make their own decisions, and going on about it all the time, endears very few people, or at least very few likeable people.
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Wishmaster
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:09 am

I agree with you Sam.

I only "know" Derren Brown through his work and not the real persona. What I've seen of him is very impressive in many ways and I have been fascinated by his work since he began to make a name for himself.

He does seem to go on a bit of a crusade every now and then against the fake medium crowd, as with his last series. That is commendable. Yet, I've seen Derren perform as a supposed medium - cold reading a group and pretending to contact dead relatives, with them in tears and in awe of his "ability" - all in the name of entertainment. Again, it was impressive to watch his skill, but also faintly disturbing and disappointing to see him being so hypocritical. After all, he was being paid presumably a tidy sum to be that medium.

It just seems a bit rich for him to go on the attack against the likes of Mr Power when he's guilty of performing essentially the same act on television. If I had the pleasure of meeting and chatting to him, this is one of the things I'd ask him about. I'm still very much a fan of DB, but I do find him somewhat confusing sometimes and wonder if this is why he does it. Maybe he's not sure and is looking for someone to convince him because he wants to believe.
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Tue Jul 13, 2010 1:53 am

I think Derren is a great performer and has produced some incredible television in his career. The last few years though, he seems to have lost it a bit regarding TV, first there was the (non) Events (many lay people I know who like him hated these and found them boring) then these tedious crusaudes.

One thing I hate is being preached to, whether it's Christians or whether it's someone like Derren trying to push his opinions across.
Of course, it's all another form of his mind control!

I understand his stance on fake mediums, having read his 'Tricks of the Mind', and such con-artists are despicable, but his constant banging on has become tiresome and has reduced the respect I have for him. He's preaching to the converted really, those who follow him will generally already hold the same opinions and those who believe in mediums will continue to do so and see these shows as a stitch-up (If they bother to watch them). So I can't really see what he is trying to acheive.

He has done the mediumship thing himself and apparently, in his mind, it's ok as he is admittedly faking it. Someone who believes in such things will believe he is just saying this and he really is psychic, so essentially he's the same. Houdini had many people dismissing his claims of trickery and claiming he had magic powers and denied it. It's obviously something that Derren has a fascination - or obsession - with.

Unmasking mediums is a fairly safe thing for him to do. If he did the same kind of thing with extreme muslim clerics then I would admire the man's balls for doing so. (No innuendo intended)
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Christopher J Gould
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Tue Jul 13, 2010 10:54 am

There is no right answer, only opinions - this is why this issue keeps raising it's deformed little head on all of the boards.
My own opinion (and practice) is that exploitation of gullibility is wrong. However, exploring the audiences own belief systems and leaving the answers open ended allows the audience to leave with interesting thoughts and their dignity (and mine) intact. I think the bad smell that everyone picks up from the 'sceptic' camp (and some of them need to look that word up!), is a 'holier than thou' attitude, and a sneering sense that they have the 'right' answer, and everyone else is stupid. Enquiry is good preaching from a fixed position is bad.
I think DB tries hard to avoid this, but fails.
However, at the end of the day, he is a performer - and let us not forget - a successful one. Taking a sceptical viewpoint against the paranormal, is just entertainment at the end of the day, and simply an acceptable way of presenting such material in the context of our urbane society.
On the whole, I think that DB is going in the right direction and is forging an interesting direction. The mechanic behind his career development is that magic has a short TV shelf-life. The audience's attitude is on of; 'Well, yes... we know you can do that, now - what else can you do?'. This slide to obscurity is far swifter than in other forms of entertainment. A TV magician needs to keep on reinventing him(her?)self - to not end up with Paul Daniels in a festering bitterness of rejection. At least DB isn't singing and dancing - or appearing in 'I'm a celebrity, get me out of here'............ yet!
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:17 pm

In my stage show I use a bit of each. I have a two part show, with the first act focusing on using pysiological methods for doing things that look impossible. Then the second half we experiment with ESP and the like, still using science as a backdrop for the unexplained. I never make any claims about how I am doing the things I am doing.
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Christopher J Gould
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:40 pm

Science is one of my favourite religions.
Welcome here Paul.
cheers
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Daniel Young
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:46 am

First off, Chris, me Bourland and Korzybski would like to see you do your act in E-Prime Razz

Second thing, I think people should start using the disclaimer: "This Act Is Based On True Events", solves everything Smile

Third thing is: A lie is a lie. When I perform I tell my audience exactly what Im doing, as I don't want to deceive them... "Write something down on this card... Fold it up. Now I will take it back and perform something called the Acidus Novus peek, all I do is this..." and then I expose everything. Usually at the end of the show I have a projection of a credit list rolling in the background, giving everyone the necessary references and sources, so that they, too, can do my act.

No seriously though... this is something that I've written about before in a little book called FrameWorks, it deals with how to be believable. First you just have to decide how far you are willing to go and what you, yourself, believe in. Im quite happily sitting in the middle between psychology and the paranormal. Intuition is a wonderful thing. No one will argue with it, it's believable and sometimes quite unbelievable. So after having decided on that you move on to the next step.

No one likes to be wrong. If you straight up challenge someone's beliefs they will disagree. This is a common persuasion technique. So don't challenge their beliefs. Start with something that they CAN believe in. So I would start with some psychology based presentation, and explain how this is something we all do automatically without thinking about it. "You know when someone says something and for some reason it just doesn't feel right... You dont know why, you cant put your finger on what it is exactly..." etc. So then move into more intuitive presentations. You've now slowly moved away from the mere psychological area, but it MAY still be psychology, because MAYBE you are still subconsciously reading their body language etc.

So you have now slowly moved from what they would definitely believe in, to something slightly more unbelievable. Next step is to take it slightly further and further with each effect or stage of your performance. And in the end it culminates in something completely unbelievable, that if you presented this in the beginning of the show they would've violently opposed it. All of this is detailed in FrameWorks.

This is applicable for "psychics" as well as "psychologists".

If you look at Derren's career you will see this quite clearly. He started with explaining how he did these things, with his pseudo-explanations. This built up his credibility, people associated him with NLP, hypnosis and psychology. He has moved away from that quite a lot, he gives less explanations these days. And a lot of the things that he does would be totally and utterly inconceivable with the bare use of "psychology". Same with Marc Salem.

You start somewhere believable and then take them on a path to unbelievability. Because if it's all easily feasible then no one would give a toss about buying tickets to these people's shows. People still want mystery. With both Marc and Derren they have put out books on reading body language and other little psychological "tricks", what this does is cement their starting point in the audience mind. "Yes he really is reading body language and the eye accessing cues... I read it in his book". Then, with these two, they are obviously labelling themselves overtly or covertly as "experts" that have perfected those "techniques". Which allows them to do amazing things and yet sleep well at night.

So in the end... it's all up to YOUR beliefs, and what you are willing to do in the name of entertainment, and still sleep well at night...

Or...

Just say: "My act is based on true events"

//Daniel Young
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Christopher J Gould
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:29 am

These are very incisive and workable observations Daniel.
(exactly the sort of posts that define the Moon cheers )

What you talk about is a very powerful technique - link this to an examination of where you want to take your audience and how far you can go - and then some powerful magic (magic that borders on 'real' magic) can happen.

My motivation (as I have said here before - to the point that some of the older members will groan when they hear it again!), is to question the audiences limiting understanding of 'reality' - in my view, what they understand as reality is a socio-political construct - one that is used to keep them 'in their place'. Freed from this invisible bondage, revolutions of thinking and social revolutions can happen - so for me magic has always been a little more than - 'hey, want to see this cool trick?'.

The book sounds really interesting - when I get out of the (very bad) debt I have put myself in launching AMA - I will get a copy.
Also, this is probably hidden somewhere on the forum - but ads are free here. So if you want to put an add on the right hand column just send me a graphic (kind of roughly the same proportions) and a link - i will do the rest.

Finally, you are making an assumption that I have an act. I am cancelling the few gigs I had coming up to Christmas - purely due to lack of time - AMA is taking up all my time. However, I will continue to perform on a casual basis, which is what I prefer anyhow...

I really look forward to your future posts - great minds are gathering here.
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Daniel Young
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 3:51 am

I can telll you've read a fair bit of ol' Bob's books, such as Quantum Psychology, and no doubt Prometheus Rising, am I right?
Im all about reality tunnels as well Smile I'm currently working on some stuff with a symbiotogram that would be right up your street.
FrameWorks is still in the works, I have a rough copy made up, but there's so much more, and I don't feel I've gotten to the bottom of everything that I want to say at the moment.

And like you said, it's also about where you want to take your audience.

The only problem with the "what is reality" approach, or more like "whose reality" approach, is that it could easily become a boring lecture, but then if you ease up too much on the philosophy of it, then it becomes silly tricks with a pretentious presentation.

I mean really I would go all out political and religious and tell people they are crazy to believe in either Smile but, alas, that's not really magic. that's just a man shouting from the stage...

//Dan
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Christopher J Gould
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 4:22 am

'Old Bob' - you hit the nail right on the head there!

cheers

It is great to find someone else who has read this very intellectually stimulating and funny stuff.
If you have seen Anton-Wilson lecture - it is anything but dry, nor is he a man 'shouting from the stage'. However, I do understand your point - perhaps this is why I am becoming more and more disinterested with formal performance- so much more can be done to plant seeds in an informal setting.

Good luck with the book - written by an 'Old Bob' fan - I will be getting one for sure!
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Daniel Young
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 5:59 am

I warn you... It's not written in E-prime, and it's full of presumtions and isms all the way through Smile


If only Ol' Bob did mentalism, that would be a sight for sore eyes!
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Daniel Young
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 6:16 am

Thinking about it... Modelling Ol' Bob would be an excellent model for the type of mentalism that I want to do, and maybe yours too?

I think the screaming bit is just the ignorance of youth, we all wanna change the world, then we all get old and cynical instead and resentfully sit back and accept the world as it is.
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:02 am

The word 'psychology' is part of the ideological/rhetorical bind our culture has got itself in, because it signifies both the domain of mind and behaviour and a particular recent model of it (while the word that should mean the matter rather than its study, 'psychic', has taken a detour). 'Psychology' is a magic word that can be used to legitimize all sorts of strange stuff, but also a chauvinistic soul-prison in which people, whose thought and action is as magical and mythic as it ever was, daydream about not believing in magic.
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:28 am

Ah, it is good to be amongst friend is it not?

Daniel, Merlin - I agree with every word you say - and believe me, although I value debate, I am in the mood for agreement at the moment!

Daniel: 'I think the screaming bit is just the ignorance of youth, we all wanna change the world, then we all get old and cynical instead and resentfully sit back and accept the world as it is'.

....er, I am 54!

E-prime - a great concept and something to hold on to - but have you noticed that if you try to speak in E-prime it takes roughly 2 minutes before you sound like a total tit? However, you are quite right, and I am caught with my pants down - watch me spank my own ass! Embarassed bounce affraid What a Face
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Daniel Young
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 7:55 am

Well the screaming, youth thing, was referring to me Smile Im only a mere 27.

E-Prime does make you sound like an evasive retard, but it's a worthwhile lesson. Whenever I get into an argument with the wife I tend to use e-prime. It seems to be useful whenever you have an argument. I think that Robert Anton Wilson should be compulsory reading for all the youngsters out there... and all the relgious people. Politicians seems to be reasonably good at using the essence of e-prime. "There SEEMS to be, quite possibly, maybe, some WMD in Iraq, maybe attacking them and level the whole country into rubble could solve our problems and may help beating the people into submission, according to my staff" Razz

//Dan
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Christopher J Gould
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:04 am

sadly, you have just highlighted is potential misuse.
...and yes these bastards - or those that train them are fully aware of these techniques.
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Sun Sep 05, 2010 5:24 pm

Shocked
I am now changing my name to Bob. Have you ever met an un-cool Bob? Well there you go. (Aristotle might not like my inference, but who cares).


Everyone keeps telling me that I'll grow old and cynical. They overlook my cynicism for authority.



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Merlin Cox
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PostSubject: Re: One Lie Better Than Another?   Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:27 am

I think the main hazard with 'is' is claiming a jealous, exclusive identity, that by X being Y it isn't anything else. Unfortunately that's easy to imply, because of people's tendency (irrespective of intelligence and education) to falsely conclude when one reality-map seems to work that others must be false. Steering clear of 'is' too carefully feels to me similar to compulsively avoiding passive verb constructions. We can talk about being as well as doing.

Were any of you on Loren Tindall's mailing list in 2006 when he sent a link to an article by John Mulholland from the 1930s attacking fortune tellers? I was disappointed not to see discussion about that. [Edit: The article can be found by searching http://books.google.com/ for "Secrets of the Fortune-Telling Racket".]

Incidentally, magicians' discussions of debunking too often see Houdini portrayed as a hard-line CSICOP-style disbeliever -- a boring oversimplification of his nuanced, conflicted position.
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