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Topic: "Science Guy" debate
Message: Posted by: tcpAz (Sep 9, 2013 03:28PM)
Hello once more.

I was debating with my colleague the routines I'll take to a Festival (living statues) this Friday. We will be performing for the seating area of nearby cafés along with some walking bands.

One of the routines I thought of involves a pendulum. The pendulum is red and I found this article about MIT and quantum spin liquids (a solid crystal with a magnetic field that's constantly changing and doesn't "lock on" as with ferromagnetism). This MIT part is not required to the performance, but I find it really interesting and I can share it in one sentence.

The routine consists of making the pendulum rotate over a rattlesnake magnet (those oval ones) to show that my pendulum is made of coloured lead glass (not technically a crystal since it lacks the actual crystalline structure) which makes it react with magnets.
So I'll be demonstrating it and then letting someone try it. You can get where this is going.

The point is to however demonstrate the principle at work. This is because I'll mention it is connected to us saying a word we're thinking of ever so slightly when asked to repeat it in our head. The next routine in this set relates to detection by muscle reading. After the first effect I won't be mentioning the ideomotor effect again and let them do the math by themselves. I am unsure if I should put a different sort of effect in between. All these effects will be presented in a light hearted way. We'll be performing outside, and there's no serious mood going on, it's for fun and entertainment.

My colleague however, seriously disapproves of my approach, and has in the past, and while some of them he was right this time it is simply because I'm explaining the ideomotor effect. I don't think it's a method, to be honest, and anyone with some time and Google will eventually find it. I will tell people the magnet and pendulum are just to make the ideomotor effect work and part of the process (which is true).

However, he claims this will set me up as a science guy rather than a mentalist. However, all my presentations are psychological, so I don't see it as a bad thing. The reason I want to talk about it, and like to talk about Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, or quantum spin liquids, or any other interesting principle of psychology (I replicated the Milgram experiment at school and while it didn't work that well, I was thrilled and found it interesting, just like I read into the Stanford Prison experiment, etc. I am genuinely interested in this sort of thing and like to share it). It's my thing. I like to tell people "did you know?" and explain something I find interesting. I love it and want to pass it on. He's making the jump from magic to mentalism, going after the sort of thing I do. My defence is that giving a bit of information conveys that I actually know about certain aspects of psychology and human behaviour. In the interview I mentioned in a previous post, I "read" the face of the girl interviewing me to find the word she was thinking of (using a couple of books I asked her to bring). When asked how I did it, that's what I said, I read their face, and off camera, after the interview, I discussed Paul Ekman with one of the crew members and how body language comes from when we had no spoken word. And apparently, people behind the camera went "he's really reading her!" (they were suspicious a few seconds later, the same colleague helped me out there, actually).

I've always had this POV. So, we have 2 people, 2 different theories, so I am trying to get a second opinion.

So, do you think it's a bad thing for me to appear scientific? Isn't that what a student of psychology and behaviour basically is? Don't people see psychology as, at least, a kind of science? Am I revealing too much and taking an offensive stance for any of you?

Just my current dilemma.

Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 9, 2013 03:49PM)
You could always call the ideomotor response the Carpenter Effect...

its hard to say whether someone else is doing something "wrong" - maybe being the science guy will weaken the impact for some people, but strengthen it for others, depending on their belief structure...
Message: Posted by: tcpAz (Sep 9, 2013 04:06PM)
I don't think the issue would be what I call it, just that I talk about it, as I do explain what it is, I feel saying "It's the ideomotor effect" and then stop it there would make some think "well, thank you, I know soooo much more now". But I do like the alternate name, for some reason. Shows the person behind it, maybe?

That's why I am touchy about using the pendulum, I've had people oppose touching my tarot deck (I wasn't performing, I was just handling my tarot deck and checking the things I could do with it, back when I was into XCM), so you never know.

I just feel that it fits me. If someone talks to me about Ekman, or suggestion or something like that, I love to talk about it, discuss my own theories, mentalism aside. It really is something I love and trying to explain the psychological quirks of our brain is like a reflex. I am worried I am doing more harm than good and revealing too much, but I never considered this sort of thing to be a trade secret and have found people take me a lot more seriously if I perform after talking about it (it also allows me to pick an effect that best suits the person's most favourite subject, for instance).

Since I always say I'm using psychology and that it's not psychic and not "real" mind reading in the sense that I invade their mind and extract information. Outside of mentalism, I am a science guy. I loved reading about graphene "batteries", which were charged for 3 seconds and powered a single LED for 5 minutes. I love that stuff outside of my performance and it's just a reflex bringing it in.
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 9, 2013 04:20PM)
I have spoken of the ideomotor effect in a presentation. What is "magical" about it is that it can be used to communicate directly with your non-conscious mind. Have you recently lost something? Try using a pendulum or dowsing rod -- the "other" side of your mind may have a message for you. The process and result of giving the nonverbal mind a voice can be quite amazing and magical. It may know all kinds of things you are not aware of. (Now proceed to show them how they are excellent at ESP or seeing the future, etc.)
Message: Posted by: Cervier (Sep 9, 2013 05:45PM)
Some mentalists say you shouldn't give any explanation about what alows you to achieve what you do (Richard Osterlind, in Principles of Mentalisms, quoted by cbartak on the Café [url=http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=406725&forum=15&start=60]HERE[/url], and that's my choice too. Others, such as Derren Brown, like the "scientific" approach, and it seems to work well enough.
But I believe you should be careful about keeping what you do "magical". I mean, what "we" (mentalists and magicians) do is show people things that are not possible. Explaining how ideomotor movements maks a pendulum swing can amaze people, just like I still am amazed by magnets or airplanes. But you only get a "[i]ok, so that's how it work[/i]" reaction, because you only gave a science lecture.
Don't get me wrong, I like science lectures and believe they can make a good show.

But they're not "magic", they're not mentalism, and you lose the "extra" reaction people have when they witness the impossible. As a matter of fact, I would say you depreive them from the pleasure of witnessing the impossible.

I believe giving scientific explanations is good, if they're false! Like when you say you use NLP or whatever to read someone.
In that respect, taking about ideomotor effect is all right, IF you do en effect that it can't really explain (such as finding the billet with the name of the dead person, etc.) That's what Derren Brown do and I guess all the people who rush into NLP seminars after his shows must be disappointed ;-)

When I began, I used too much of that scientific patter, until I realized people were impressed (like you're impressed by someone who can run 100m in less than 9.6"), but they were not baffled, speechless, moved, laughing in shock ;-)
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Sep 9, 2013 07:28PM)
There's nothing secret about the ideomotor effect. It was described in great detail by William James, the father of modern psychology. And since it arguably is a conduit to the subconscious mind, I don't see anything particularly wrong with using a brief explanation as a lead in to an effect.
Message: Posted by: tcpAz (Sep 9, 2013 09:30PM)
LCervier, the quote you posted and your whole argument do make me go "Hmmm, hadn't seen it that way". I don't explain everything I do. I explain some methods, most of them not true, the ideomotor effect being one of the few I have in my head should people want me to demonstrate psychological knowledge. As for the rest of my effects, either it's presentation or I say nothing at all, when I've performed other effects, and let them connect the dots if and how they want.

In a way, I am giving a short lecture as a reflection of myself. I like to understand so I like to let others understand. I guess I run into the cold science area more than the mystical. On the other hand, I've had people come to me with issues (mostly love related) simply because I seem to "understand human nature better" (which, if I did, would be comprised of "you can't understand human nature" in my opinion!). I am 2 years into this, if you count gathering information on routines. As of late, lets say, 6 or 7 months, I've focused on presentation and how I want to present effects in a way that most resonates with me. Failed terribly along the way, and it seems this half explained half unexplained approach seems to do best.

I mentioned not taking the ideomotor effect as a method so I'd hopefully get across my confusion at my colleague's position, we didn't discover/create it, it's a psychology thing, and as such, I'm operating in a whole different context for just a minute or two. I find that showing something, even if unrelated to the next effect, that shows I know some psychology makes them believe any explanation I create out of thin air afterwards.

I think (and I might be affected by this, mind you) that people have lost the magic and we live in a scientific world. If you're not creating something visible, tangible and most likely profitable, then you're doing nothing. I used to perform Twisted Palm by Luke Jermay I believe, one of my earliest ventures, and I would not explain that. I had one person just stare at me. I just smiled and got up. I like to mix those two. This little presentation in particular tends to the more scientific approach, I guess.

To be honest, I ask this sort of thing because I don't think I have the experience to look at a step and say "no, that's not it, lets go with something else".
Message: Posted by: Magical Dimensions (Sep 10, 2013 01:59AM)
I have mixed feelings on this.

It reminds me of wanting a talking board..... My wife believes in them and that demons are the cause of making the planchette move. She believes that just playing with a talking board in the home, can release a bad spirit/demon. so I went out of my way to explain how talking boards worked and even pulled up information on google backing up what I was saying. She tells me in no uncertain terms, that if I bring a talking board into our home, she will destroy and burn it in the back yard. So even having the truth told to her, it didn't swing her inner feelings about it.

Bottom line is this..... People will believed what they want and no amount of explaining will changed their mind if they already have a belief set in their mind. After you explain how a pendulum works, you will still have those who will tell you that you are wrong because they are SURE that they didn't move their hand. The pendulum moves because that is just what a pendulum does! ... No explanation is needed or wanted for many.

I personally won't say anything about how a pendulum really works. If I was to explain anything at all, I would play it a different way using science. I might talk about String Theory and how everything in the Universe are connected by what are called strings. Each string has its own vibrations and that through these vibrations the pendulum can feel and connect to this inner workings of the cosmos. ...... And in a way, you are still REALLY telling the truth! Plus, they can even google string theory and find that you were telling the truth!

P.S. I still want a talking board........:cry:
Message: Posted by: Cervier (Sep 10, 2013 05:51AM)
TcpAz, my point is, whatever character you impersonate, whatever presentation angle you chose, make sure you leave room for the impossible. From what you say about yourself, I believe I've been through what you're experiencing, and noticed what I already wrote: giving people "believable" explanations lowers the impact. And the fact an explanation is believable of not depends on the public. For instance, "alien technology" will seem "normal" to certain people (just like kids are not amazed by what a magician can do, because "of course a magician can make things disappear' ;-)

Also, don't think that, because YOU don't believe in let's say telepathy, most people don't believe it it either! What's true is, most people will SAY they don't believe in that, but you'll find out (or mayba already have) that after having seen you perform, some persons will come to you and "admit" they believe in such things. And they won't be "funny old ladies" only: teachers, engeneers, lawyers, and even some fortune tellers ;-)

What Magical Dimension wrote is also very significant:
- people who don't believe in "unexplainable facts" will accept your explanations
- people who do believe in the unexplainable won't --they'll won't say so only to avoid an argument or because they're being polite.

Remember how Houdini would telle Conan Doyle "[i]no, I'm not a psychic[/i]", and how Doyle would answer "[i]you are, you just don't realize it[/i]"!!!

But really, while it's very good to seek and read advice, nothing will be better than your finding by yourself what works best.
I believe your (tcpAz's) strengh is not your knowledge, nor your interest in scientific matters, but the fact you like to SHARE what you know. That makes you want to go towards other people :)
Message: Posted by: JanForster (Sep 10, 2013 06:25AM)
And when Dr. Wilsmann duplicated the tricks of Hanussen to prove that Hanussen was using tricks he got told that he (Wilsmann) needed tricks, but not Hanussen... Jan
Message: Posted by: tcpAz (Sep 10, 2013 09:06AM)
I won't be attacking pendulum users, for me, what I'm doing, right then, is the ideomotor effect. I have given up on fighting those battles, it's debating religion and normally leads nowhere. For me to prove it's the ideomotor effect and not some supernatural force, I'd have not only to prove it's the I.E, but also disprove everything else (by logic, which wouldn't mean people would accept it still!). All I do is say "this is an option which might be true" and refrain from acting like it's the only explanation for why a pendulum swings.

Yesterday night, when I was supposed to be falling asleep, I thought of a follow up effect to this, that has little to do with it.
I'll be using a Tarot deck I own (a Favole), and take out the minor arcana. If at this point, someone goes "I don't believe in Tarot decks" even before they ask me, chances are, it's the truth, and I'll explain the connection between the Tarot and our modern decks. But saying "it's not supernatural" is not the same as saying it is not symbolic. Even if you don't believe in the Tarot, you have to admit it has become loaded with symbolism, and that's what we'll be using. I'll only use the Major Arcana, which is what people normally want to see (and my Tarot is mostly an art piece) and explain each card, particularly, Death, and explain that it can just mean change, and how we mustn't fear it, fear keeps us from trying things, from changing things, and if you never try, you'll never know how far you would have gotten.

The premise is to have the spectator focus on one of the cards, after I explain each one, while thinking of a good memory of theirs. They are to find the card that best matches their memory. I'll ask for a good one because it simply works better than a negative memory. They take their card out, knowing which one it is, and, should they feel comfortable, they may show their friends, however, their memory should stay with them.

I put whatever card they took back with the rest, mix them a bit and lay them on the table, take their wrist and while they imagine that memory playing out in their head, they'll be leading me to the right card (no thinking "left" or "right", by the way).

I won't be giving a scientific explanation to how I do it, nor will I give this one a scientific presentation. While someone might think "could it be the ideomotor effect?" I won't be stating that. Those who prefer to think it's the ideomotor effect are free to do so. Those who aren't may believe whatever they want.

I don't try to make them believe my explanation is the only one. But it's an explanation for them to consider.

@MagicalDimensions: Same thing with a Tarot, I had a friend who had a Tarot just like mine and was immensely annoyed and angry when her mother threw it away, because you can't throw away a Tarot deck, you must burn it. What is it with people are fire? And to think the Tarot used to be a game.
Message: Posted by: Michael Zarek (Sep 10, 2013 09:15AM)
I don't go for a scientific approach but I belive everybody should choose what they're comfortable with, I personally wouldn't even mind performing my pendulum routine (using psychic approach) right after yours. You should use the approach that you feel is best for you, forcing something diffrent on yourself can only result in bad presentation.
Message: Posted by: garett (Sep 10, 2013 10:13AM)
Are you a creator ? A producer ? A performer ? Then you have artistic license while you are performing and can do and say whatever you want. The opinion of your friend and those of the Café members, including myself, doesn't matter. There are no rules. It's your stage, have at it.

As far as keeping what you do "magical", understand that it's all different strokes for different folks. To me, respectfully and subjectively, I feel that my intelligence is being insulted when mentalists try and walk the line by saying "You decide." It's no different than a magician feeding you BS along the lines of "Is this merely an illusion or might I have real powers?" I suspect that's why many people have little regard for magic and magicians.

Derren Brown is the reason I fell back in love with magic as an adult and why I'm a performer now. But I even dislike when he suggests that he's reading body language or using some sort of psychological principle to divine a word. To me the litmus test of morality is: will *everyone* leave the room with the same beliefs they did before they entered? It's easy to hide behind "we're entertainers", but I've seen many extremely intelligent friends of mine, some with University degrees in the sciences, think things that are absolutely wrong about subjects like hypnosis because they saw BS on TV. They should know better, but it happens.

So on the topic of "the magical" here is my theory for what it is worth: If we are supposed to do "the impossible", and the definition of "impossible" is of course something that cannot be done period, why open the possibility that what we are doing is through some sort of "god given" (for lack of a better term) means? Which is to say, if you could actually be "psychic" then would that not have to mean that psychics exist? And if psychics exist then it's not super-natural, it's just natural. So what's special about that?

Wouldn't believing in psychics be just as spectacular as believing in trees or air planes? Don't YOU want the credit instead of your DNA? Wouldn't it be more impressive on your part to say what you're doing is the product of your creative mind?

The "magical experience" is created through the un-willing suspension of disbelief. In order to recognize something as being impossible you first have to know stuff. You have to understand basic principles of gravity to know that a woman cannot actually float. But then you have to be able to consider all the ways it could be accomplished (wires, hidden supports, etc.) and have those solutions systematically ruled out. That's when your brain arrives at the "No way!" moment where what you know clashes with what your senses are telling you.

So when it comes to something like the ideomotor response, I agree whole-heartedly that it shouldn't really qualify as a "method." Because it's a widely known scientific principle. It can still be really cool to see it in action, but in order to amaze ("that's impossible!") an entire audience of people with such a principle you would need to rely on that room being representative of an uneducated and superstitious demographic. I don't mean to offend anyone, but is fooling people who make fooling themselves a daily routine something to feel proud of? For me personally I prefer to entertain and delight audiences who are representative of my own demographic. Skeptical, scientifically-inclined people who watch The Big Bang Theory, love Star Trek to an unhealthy degree and read Richard Dawkins. If I walk away from a performance knowing I held that room's attention and they were blown away by my illusions then I feel a sense of accomplishment. They know it's tricks but they also know that's not the point. I was entertaining and amazing while not only respecting their intelligence but appealing to it.