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Topic: Acknowledging it's all a trick
Message: Posted by: Walkio (Jul 28, 2016 11:16AM)
I read in an interview between Fogel and Corinda in the 13 Steps where both seemed to suggest it's ok to let the audience believe the mentalist really does have some kind of psychic ability. Thankfully, Fogel makes it clear one shouldn't take advantage of the recently bereaved who wish to talk to their deceased loved ones etc. (I think all mediums are deplorable). But I personally think we should make it clear what we're doing is trickery. It's ok to deceive in the context of a trick if the audience expects and accepts trickery. Otherwise you're no better than Uri Gellar, a charlatan and fraud and laughing stock. What do you guys think?
Message: Posted by: Lucien Astor (Jul 28, 2016 11:32AM)
Context is important. If you are working with the public as an entertainer, why would you need to say anything? If your services have been retained and you are doing close-up, platform, or stage... anyone with common sense will know that you are a performer with whom they have chosen to suspend their disbelief. It is an insult to the intelligence of your average rational individual. And for those lacking in common sense, why do we have to pander to them? Disclaimers seem strange to me. It would be like George Lucas opening Star Wars by telling the audience that the Jedi aren't actually real. The one demographic who should offer disclaimers never will, because they are disingenuous charlatans.

All my opinion, and that being said, I have heard some clever and ambiguous disclaimers.
Message: Posted by: tomd (Jul 28, 2016 11:46AM)
I don't think you need to say anything. Or at least I don't want to when I perform any mentalism, disclaimers aren't needed personally.

There is a great clip from a Derren Brown show where he tells someone he has no psychic ability, and then proceeds to cold read. He gets some good hits. Afterwards, in an interview the person who he cold read genuinely believed he had some psychic ability. He put a disclaimer out there for her, and she ignored/refused to accept it.

Let the audience your performing for decide what abilities you have/haven't got.
Message: Posted by: Dr Spektor (Jul 28, 2016 11:54AM)
IMHO - if your goal is to make people believe you truly have mysterious psionic etc powers, then you may not be a mentalist.
Message: Posted by: Walkio (Jul 28, 2016 12:10PM)
I too don't think a disclaimer is necessary because most will know it's a trick. However, if a spec was into spiritualism and did believe telekinesis was possible for instance, and then asked me straight if I possessed the ability after using loops on some silverware, I would certainly say it was 'just a trick'. I would not say 'you'll just have to make up your own mind!'
Message: Posted by: Lucien Astor (Jul 28, 2016 12:13PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
I too don't think a disclaimer is necessary because most will know it's a trick. However, if a spec was into spiritualism and did believe telekinesis was possible for instance, and then asked me straight if I possessed the ability after using loops on some silverware, I would certainly say it was 'just a trick'. [/quote]

I would tell them I did it with some unique skills that I have learned, skills anyone can acquire if they devote themselves to the proper areas of
Message: Posted by: Michael Zarek (Jul 28, 2016 12:34PM)
Every single thing I perform, I could do for real.

Duplicate thought of drawings? I can do that for real
Guess thought of cards? I can do that for real
Read people and reveal things I shouldn't know? I can do that for real


There is no lying, and if I sometimes use a "fake" method, I doesn't diminish the fact that if I wanted I could do it for real.

But despite that, even if I couldn't do all this for real, telling the audience that you're doing tricks diminishes their experience massively.

Also while we're on the topic, most lay people really just don't give a ****, we seem to think it's so important what we claim but for 99% of people it really doesn't matter (and even if you claim it's tricks there still will be that 1% that wants you to talk to their dead cat)
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jul 28, 2016 01:07PM)
I do everything with the POWER OF MY MIND....case closed....
Message: Posted by: truman (Jul 28, 2016 01:19PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
...no better than Uri Gellar, a charlatan and fraud and laughing stock...[/quote]

Uri Geller did a lot of good for mentalism. He is a legend and doesn't fit the description you gave him. Try to have a successful career like his as a mentalist performing "tricks."
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Jul 28, 2016 01:25PM)
Nobody would pay to see a fake psychic.
Message: Posted by: seamagu (Jul 28, 2016 01:36PM)
I like to maintain an air of mystery so I just don't mention it
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Jul 28, 2016 02:20PM)
I think if its for stage, then by its own definition, there's enough there to indicate its for entertainment...the lighting, the music, the fact you've bought a ticket for a show, that kind of thing...they get caught up in the drama and the theatre of it, but in my opinion - they'll have a great experience and talk about it for days, if its really good - a great memory to keep...

you'll still get a percentage of believers no matter where or what you do (if you're any good)...

i think the first real question to ask is though - "am I really good enough to be convincing in the first place?"...and if so, then its the difference between ego and personal values...
Message: Posted by: Walkio (Jul 28, 2016 02:40PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, truman wrote:
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
...no better than Uri Gellar, a charlatan and fraud and laughing stock...[/quote]

Uri Geller did a lot of good for mentalism. He is a legend and doesn't fit the description you gave him. Try to have a successful career like his as a mentalist performing "tricks." [/quote]

He maintains he has magic powers, and that he can really bend spoons with the power of his mind when really using the ratcheting technique. He is a liar and a fraud, and that's why the likes of Randi, Penn and Teller and Derren Brown expose him.
Message: Posted by: Walkio (Jul 28, 2016 02:43PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, ringmaster wrote:
Nobody would pay to see a fake psychic. [/quote]

All psychics are fake. People pay.
Message: Posted by: Walkio (Jul 28, 2016 02:50PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Michael Zarek wrote:
Every single thing I perform, I could do for real.

Duplicate thought of drawings? I can do that for real
Guess thought of cards? I can do that for real
Read people and reveal things I shouldn't know? I can do that for real


There is no lying, and if I sometimes use a "fake" method, I doesn't diminish the fact that if I wanted I could do it for real.

But despite that, even if I couldn't do all this for real, telling the audience that you're doing tricks diminishes their experience massively.

Also while we're on the topic, most lay people really just don't give a ****, we seem to think it's so important what we claim but for 99% of people it really doesn't matter (and even if you claim it's tricks there still will be that 1% that wants you to talk to their dead cat) [/quote]

No you can't! You don't duplicate anything merely 'thought of'. You use a force, or an imp pad, or a Swami gimmick or a centre tear... You pretend that you can reveal something a spec merely thought of - read their mind - but of course you can't. You have to see or be told what they've written.
Message: Posted by: Lucien Astor (Jul 28, 2016 03:06PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
No you can't! You don't duplicate anything merely 'thought of'. You use a force, or an imp pad, or a Swami gimmick or a centre tear... You pretend that you can reveal something a spec merely thought of - read their mind - but of course you can't. You have to see or be told what they've written. [/quote]

I've met individuals and watched lectures from people who can do it for real. Prop-less. Reveal thoughts and drawings that have never been written down or told to anyone. It is sophisticated. It is not "psychic".
Message: Posted by: Axel (Jul 28, 2016 03:08PM)
Walkio, I have the feeling that you're coming from a very rigid point of view.
And while I think I can relate to the way you see this there might be a little bit more to this topic then just "if you're lying it's morally wrong".
For me there are many facets to this and it took me 10 years of studying mentalism to get through my personal dilemma with the moral aspects of mentalism.
There is some poetry in it and there is some beauty in deceiving and as long as you don't exploit your audiences and do it in the right context I think there can be some beauty in pretending it is real.
Message: Posted by: Walkio (Jul 28, 2016 03:20PM)
I think that's a very fair point and you're probably right. Morally, I have no qualms with lying to an audience (that's what magic is, after all), as long as they know and accept at some level they're being deceived!
Message: Posted by: Ed_Millis (Jul 28, 2016 03:27PM)
I have to agree with Axel - I think you're dealing with a very huge case of magician's guilt. Deceit is no different with sponge balls than with a spoon bend.

Performing, by it's very nature, is deceiving. We're setting up a context and story that is meant to draw in the audience and win them to our point of view, to forget they are watching a performance. This includes setting up the nature and abilities of the performer's character. If any of this were to be done in "real life", it would most likely not be done *that* way by *that* person, if for no other reason than performers rarely entertain as they are in real life and a performance requires certain blockings and "trappings" (verbal or otherwise) to keep the entertainment value up.

[quote]as long as they know and accept at some level they're being deceived! [/quote]
You have zero control over that.


And to tell someone you don't know "You can't do that!" is the sound of someone very arrogantly sure that he knows everything there possibly is to know. Most people can't explain to you how their phone or CFL bulb works, much less why it was important to verify the existence of the Higgs Boson and what the results were and meant. If you don't know everything, then you don't know if that person has found a way to accomplish what you believe is impossible. It's been done quite often.

Ed
Message: Posted by: Axel (Jul 28, 2016 03:32PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
I think that's a very fair point and you're probably right. Morally, I have no qualms with lying to an audience (that's what magic is, after all), as long as they know and accept at some level they're being deceived! [/quote]


But after a certain point that is not in your hands.
You only have control over your own intentions.
If you're lucky that is ;-)
You can't fully control what your audience perceives.
That is true for any art-form where the audience takes part in creating the moment.
The same is true for any concert you might play as a musician.
Message: Posted by: Axel (Jul 28, 2016 03:35PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Ed_Millis wrote:
You have zero control over that.
Ed [/quote]

Ed beat me to the point.
:-)
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Jul 28, 2016 03:37PM)
Why can a joke be hilarious to some, yet highly offensive to others? And what about all those inbetween?...
Message: Posted by: ringmaster (Jul 29, 2016 01:55PM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, ringmaster wrote:
Nobody would pay to see a fake psychic. [/quote]

All psychics are fake. People pay. [/quote]
Take up stamp collection
... Clark the senator Crandell
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Jul 29, 2016 02:14PM)
There are those that do it for real....I've seen it.
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jul 29, 2016 02:58PM)
“You furnish the pictures and I’ll furnish the war.” – William Randolph Hearst, January 25, 1898
You may know of this from history class..... We live in a world of Deception and trickery..... Magic/mentalism marketed as Entertainment is just that....Context is important as Astor pointed out.
Message: Posted by: Ray Chelt (Jul 29, 2016 05:03PM)
I think a subtle disclaimer feels right, anything else spoils the ambience.

But it's a matter for the individuals conscience and in some respects there'll always be some who'll believe, you only have to look at the whacky comments on Chris Angel YouTube clips to see that there are a lot of unintelligent people out there who believe what he does is real. I blame civilisation for taking away the
"Survival of the fittest" aspect of natural selection.

The best thing about a disclaimer is that it reminds the mentalist as well, which is good because a few of the less stable types start to believe their own hype after a while :)
Message: Posted by: MichaelCGM (Jul 29, 2016 06:00PM)
[quote]On Jul 29, 2016, Ray Chelt wrote:
I think a subtle disclaimer feels right, anything else spoils the ambience.

But it's a matter for the individuals conscience and in some respects there'll always be some who'll believe, you only have to look at the whacky comments on Chris Angel YouTube clips to see that there are a lot of unintelligent people out there who believe what he does is real. I blame civilisation for taking away the
"Survival of the fittest" aspect of natural selection.

The best thing about a disclaimer is that it reminds the mentalist as well, which is good because a few of the less stable types start to believe their own hype after a while :) [/quote]

One doesn't have to be "unintelligent" to believe incorrectly.
Message: Posted by: Dr Spektor (Jul 29, 2016 08:10PM)
"Morals are for men - not gods!"

[youtube]JTujm4NXwac[/youtube]
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Jul 30, 2016 06:40AM)
When phenomenon occur in life, individuals or communities may interpret the experience differently. For example, if someone reports feeling a strange pressure or presence in the night, not being able to move, a New York psychologist may identify "sleep paralysis," a California poet may attach it to an artistic vision, and a Louisiana priest may account it as "Witch Riding."

In these cases, the participants are writing the script. The same for deja vu, symbolic dreams, coincidence, and so on.

In a show or demonstration, the performer has much more influence, even in subtle ways or by not saying anything.
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jul 30, 2016 08:26AM)
"Morals are for men - not gods!"

should one try to be a god on stage....or having god like powers?
Message: Posted by: Dr Spektor (Jul 30, 2016 09:19AM)
The more interesting question is when people try to be gods off stage!
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Jul 30, 2016 09:35AM)
Yes. I do not see this kinda stuff first hand, being that I am not in the professional side of magic, so I only know names like Uri Geller and John Edwards that theses guys never "drop the image" offstage. But then again I may tbe totally engrossed in the show while it is going on but when I leave I became a huge skeptic, not just of magical performance but ghost walks, movies, documentaries, even news shows.
Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Jul 31, 2016 12:06AM)
I inevitably get questions after a performance and I always try and walk a fine line. I like to say that I genuinely use my intuition but I also sometimes manipulate perception and communication in order to create a more theatrical experience.
Message: Posted by: Decomposed (Jul 31, 2016 03:23AM)
It is all tricks....tricks of the mind...
Message: Posted by: Nosslrak (Sep 19, 2016 04:51AM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
I personally think we should make it clear what we're doing is trickery.[/quote]

On the stage - no, off the stage - yes, if asked.
Message: Posted by: Mark_Chandaue (Sep 19, 2016 06:33AM)
I am completely honest about how I do it without giving anything away. My explanation for how I can do what I do is:

Sometimes I see things (p**k)
Sometimes it's a feeling (th****r)
Sometimes I know what someone will think before they think it (f***e).

This allows me to give a guilt free honest explanation whilst still retaining the mystery.

Mark
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Sep 19, 2016 07:30AM)
If you ever acknowledge that it's all "just a trick," then you're doing "mental magic."

If you never use a disclaimer, then you're doing "mentalism."
Message: Posted by: John C (Sep 19, 2016 07:51AM)
Have you ever watched Jurassic Park? Was that real?
Message: Posted by: Dr Spektor (Sep 19, 2016 08:46AM)
[quote]On Sep 19, 2016, John C wrote:
Have you ever watched Jurassic Park? Was that real? [/quote]

Of course! That is where I got my pet velociraptor.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Sep 19, 2016 09:32AM)
You spend days perfecting an effect. You script it. You polish it. You don't perform it until it's perfect. Then you turn around and say to your audience "It's all a trick." Why? Gee...God forbid they should walk away thinking they've seen something truly amazing. Who knows what horrific spiritual and psychological carnage that could cause? I mean...yikes!

Yeah. That makes perfect sense.

David
Message: Posted by: MentalistCreationLab (Sep 19, 2016 10:26AM)
[quote]On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
I read in an interview between Fogel and Corinda in the 13 Steps where both seemed to suggest it's ok to let the audience believe the mentalist really does have some kind of psychic ability. Thankfully, Fogel makes it clear one shouldn't take advantage of the recently bereaved who wish to talk to their deceased loved ones etc. (I think all mediums are deplorable). But I personally think we should make it clear what we're doing is trickery. It's ok to deceive in the context of a trick if the audience expects and accepts trickery. Otherwise you're no better than Uri Gellar, a charlatan and fraud and laughing stock. What do you guys think? [/quote]


I personally think all mentalist who use a disclaimer are deplorable. I happen Like Uri Gellar, charlatans and fraudsters and I was never was a huge fan of Fogel anyway note: I not saying I did not read his works or study hi construct take that as you will. And I see no point in this thread.

And while I am at it. I see no point in debunking period except in one case and that is debunking the skeptics and there hidden agenda.

The foundations upon which the early anti(XXXX) observations are based on during the 1850s-1860s (form which modern skepticism and its theories began) were rooted and based on bad, flawed and mind control information propaganda agenda for another organization to begin with in the first place. All of those fact's along with lots of proof and documentation that the roots of modern skepticism fell prey to a con are in the new tome.

If you think the people who do mentalism without a disclaimer or telling them its a trick are deplorable then mentalism may not be for you as some of these people could teach you a tremendous amount of needed and required information to perform mentalism and by ignoring them because of personal bias you will only get a basic understanding of what mentalism and its related arts are. Which is a real shame.

What I am saying is that mentalism and it related arts are not for everyone but I would never go into coin magic for example only wanting learn some of what is offered. For example, lets say I did not like T. Nelson Downs (March 16, 1867 – September 11, 1938), Ross Bertram (1912-1992), J.B. Bobo (February 11, 1910 in Texarkana, Texas- 12 September 1996), David Roth(still kicking)(hope he puts out another book) because they did said or did (whatever). Then by very nature of this I am only willing to only learn modern and traditional coin magic by using only a small fraction of what could be learned by studying the works of these above guys. Plus 95% of all the sources on coin magic site these guys for the foundations of what the others are basing there ideas for a coin routine on.In other words if you take away the foundations of the magic genre your learning then you not going to learn anything really and all your left with is a method for a trick without wonder, entertainment value and a whole bunch of other stuff.

In mentalism one finds that the so called trick is only a small part of the construct and without the other stuff mentalism is about as boring as it gets. If mentalism its not your thing find something that fits you better but please stop this you have to use a disclaimer and debunking junk. I not going to listen anyway because of one main reason is some of the most useful stuff I ever learned I learned form some charlatans and that stuff is so useful I wont even talk about it as I just use that information for myself. End rant.
Message: Posted by: solarpk (Sep 19, 2016 02:15PM)
This is a topic that has been discussed even recently in many a thread here, under different headings. The issue is not a black and white one. I believe the biggest issue is whether presenting examples which we well know are not genuine (because it is entertainment) in a context where a degree of academic rigor could reasonably be expected by an audience is acceptable, where the audience may be not be scientifically inclined, and have failed to acknowledge the blurring of entertainment and scientific discussion because of the context in which the presentation occurs. There you have the issue that such performances distort the reality to an extent whereby a spectator may, by supposed logical extension, conclude other areas considered pseudoscience are more credible than the science suggests.

It is clear that if you come away from a TED talk, having watched a mentalist, and have concluded the phenomenon exist, the clear, unambiguous yet intentionally fraudulent acts that have cemented your conclusions are a world away from, say, an apparent small statistical significance in the meta-analysis across 832 micropsychokinesis studies which parapsychologist Radin (controversially)describes, and which a layperson may likely have found notably less convincing.

In an theatre context you are expecting to be entertained and likely have an expectation that there is a fiction or some falsehood at play - there are evidently forums in which the spectators have different expectations. Certainly I believe that in presentations in an context which have even a facade of 'science' or 'academia' about them, the presenter surely has an increased obligation to be (more) honest and not fan the flames of the pseudo-sciences.

Of course, you can tell people the truth, but without a strong alternative explanation they will believe what they want anyway.
https://youtu.be/z8wvVAkoJTY?t=433
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 19, 2016 02:28PM)
Is there anyone here who believes that the performance of mentalism as being "real" in the context of a scientific discussion is not absolutely crossing an ethical boundary?
Message: Posted by: jstreiff (Sep 19, 2016 02:55PM)
To answer the question of ethics you must first clearly define 'real'. I believe this is what separates the various camps in fact.
Message: Posted by: Ben Blau (Sep 19, 2016 03:00PM)
When I perform, the question of whether or not they are "tricks" almost never even comes up. But if it did, I have ways of answering this question honestly without diminishing the mystery of what I do.
Message: Posted by: Sudo Nimh (Sep 19, 2016 03:14PM)
I'm not a fan of disclaimers. In my opinion they undermine what you're trying to achieve and I would rather have the audience draw their own conclusions.
Message: Posted by: AttnPls (Sep 19, 2016 03:44PM)
I do not believe in disclaimers in a theatrical or promotional context either.

But really -- who here thinks that it is OK to perform mentalism "as real" in the context of a scientific talk?

I have been asked, and I have, given lectures on body language in a scientific context. However, I was extremely careful to talk only about current published scientific research studies. I would NEVER present a theatrical routine and imply that it were scientific fact IN A SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT. Who here would?
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Sep 19, 2016 07:47PM)
The contemporary magician personas are typically comic like Don Alan or skeptic debunkers like Penn and Teller.

Blaine and Chris Angel harken back to an earlier age when more people were likely to find magic believable.
In that earlier age, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed that Houdini used the spirits in performance; Houdini debunked and yet believed...

The construct of mentalism still maintains that tone of mystery, the ambiguity of the question mark, verisimilitude bordering on hoax.

Spirit theater like the [url=http://www.ghosttrainadventure.com/]Ghost Train[/url] mixes a bit of realism and history into the experience so the paying audience can live the legends...
Message: Posted by: jstreiff (Sep 20, 2016 11:04AM)
Here is what Tony Shiels had to say about the Business of Mentalism in Invocation in July 1975.

"I WANT THEM TO BELIEVE . . . . a Mental Act is NO GOOD unless people are puzzled to the degree that they think "Well, there may be something in it". It's NO GOOD unless a Fair proportion of the audience is prepared to go at least half way towards believing in the possibility of ESP. If they all thought - as they do with an ordinary - straight magic act - that it's just trickery, then that's what it is! . . . and there's an instant lack of respect. Mentalism, or the effect of mentalism comes closer to the sort of reaction one would expect of a real magician.

(caps in the original).
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 20, 2016 11:20AM)
Exactly, nothing has changed.
Message: Posted by: Steven Keyl (Sep 20, 2016 01:49PM)
[quote]On Sep 19, 2016, AttnPls wrote:
I do not believe in disclaimers in a theatrical or promotional context either.

But really -- who here thinks that it is OK to perform mentalism "as real" in the context of a scientific talk?

I have been asked, and I have, given lectures on body language in a scientific context. However, I was extremely careful to talk only about current published scientific research studies. I would NEVER present a theatrical routine and imply that it were scientific fact IN A SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT. Who here would? [/quote]

I'm cross-posting this from another thread because it is germane to this discussion as well...

Why is it OK to deceive laypeople, but not students or scientists? What is it about those groups that cause some people to radically change their perspective on deception? That appears, to me, to be an inconsistency in how mentalism is viewed. [b]If you believe in disclaimers, then you should use them, regardless of who you are performing for. If you don't believe in them, then don't use them for anyone.[/b] What I'm struggling to understand is why do scientists and students get a peek behind the curtain while no one else does?

Let me sum up by asking two questions that may serve as food for thought. These are not rhetorical. I would genuinely love to hear some answers:

[list]
[*] Why is it OK to give scientists considerations that are not given to laypeople?
[*] Even if it's OK to treat scientists differently than everyone else, would you agree, yes or no, that there's still a huge gray area that isn't so easy to define? (For example, what about engineers? software developers? technical managers? At what point does it become OK to deceive again?)
[/list]
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 20, 2016 02:32PM)
From how I've read this thread, its being said that if you are booked to give a lecture on (for example) body language, and all you do is frame your mentalism around that - BUT you are ONLY using mentalism techniques and 'things' to achieve amazing outcomes, then you are being fraudulent... because you're not doing it for real, via real psychological knowledge and data etc...

if you are selling yourself not as an entertainment based mentalist, but doing the lecture under the guise of being "real" and the people at the lecture are there because they have been told that you are a psychological expert in *whatever* field...then yes, you are cheating them...because if you WERE really doing it, you would be working with others, writing papers on it, peer reviewed and all the rest of it...and as soon as others tested the workings, and not achieve the same results as you demonstrated - then there's the problem...

with that said, I don't think "acknowledging its all a trick" is a positive concept if you are performing mentalism, if you are doing it for entertainment, and the context in which you are working (paid tickets at a theatre) then you need zero disclaimer, and you can go for it as much as you feel able to...because all the dressings of it, indirectly nod towards the "theatre" concept...that you get taken on an emotional journey/ride, you get caught up in the drama and the mystery of it all, then you wake up next morning, tell your friends and go about your business...

if you are not fond of the psychic or psychological motifs that most people use, you have to dig deep and find another aspect to use that portrays you as authentically as you wish it to, and still allows you room to explore it as a creative process and be entertaining as well as emotive and engaging and all the rest of it...
Message: Posted by: Steven Keyl (Sep 20, 2016 06:40PM)
Thanks for that clarification, Iain.

To my way of thinking, whether its billed as strictly entertainment (come see Billy the mind reader!) or you are claiming to be an expert in body language, doesn't change how you present your performance. You're cheating them either way. To quote Iain, "because if you WERE really doing it, you would be working with others, writing papers on it, peer reviewed and all the rest of it...and as soon as others tested the workings, and not achieve the same results as you demonstrated - then there's the problem..."

I don't see the problem. When you perform for laypeople without a disclaimer and get them to believe in what you're doing, they're going to try the same things too! The only difference is that a scientific group (if you're truly able to deceive them in the first place) will test these findings under more rigorous and strict conditions. But if you don't believe in disclaimers for one group and believe in it for others, I still see it as an artificial distinction.

I understand the general consensus, I just don't agree with it. Best wishes to all, and to all a good night.

[i]If a man does not keep pace with his companions
Perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer
Let him step to the music he hears
However measured or far away[/i]

-Henry David Thoreau
Message: Posted by: Dr Spektor (Sep 21, 2016 07:21AM)
It boils down to context - if someone is hiring you because you claim you are an expert at body language and they want to see who is honest, a liar, etc. for job interviews, etc. and all you really do is logic puzzles and everything but actual body language tech... well that is being dishonest without tacit agreement....

If you are an entertainer that performs things in a context of theatre it has a built in agreement "I am here to deceive you for your entertainment - but not to humiliate you etc."

If you are the (still not really well defined) mystery performer - the key to a disclaimer is that you do NOT claim its "real" or "fake" either way - you are working in the realm of ambiguity - but no one can accuse you of claiming you have "REAL" powers as you never do... hence I like the term mystery performer... as mystery cannot be solved, only experienced and reflected upon.

I usually end up between entertainer and mystery performer. I sometimes need to make things clear it is entertainment because some audience members can be devastated by effective presentations and I have sworn to do no harm or the least harm.

As opposed to someone who states they have true psychic abilities and are not using it as pure entertainment e.g. to avoid any attack, I am stating I speak of those who say they are psychic but are not, know they are not, and are not accidentally really psychic from some ironic twist from an M. Night Shamalan film :)....

And I know this brings up the concept of readers - which to me is another zone.... some can be charlatan con people - but there are the shut-eyes who I actually like a great deal - because they are doing often (IMHO) roschachian / reflective techniques with people.... being in my field for years, I understand how one accumulates templates and profiles of people one sees in therapy and can then appear to be "psychic" because of your experiences...like Sherlock sometimes was thought to be, only because one picks up a gazillion tell-tale clues. If a psychic needs to rely on billets and peeks.... well.... ugh. Hence why I like reading systems versus just "cold reading" books because systems allow a (yes) systematic approach to doing an assessment of a person.

Please note, I do not know if real psychic powers exist or not - so my current explanation for great readers is more a psychological approach which perhaps the reader doesn't even realize they are doing... love that subconscious...

Acid test - if the people you are working with ever did discover that you were using deception as part of whatever you were doing with them - will they not mind because that is OK and they understood it was for their benefit - or feel betrayed and that the deception was more in the realm of manipulating them for your own ends.... answer that truthfully for what you are about to do and then it becomes clear

IMHOtep..
Message: Posted by: jstreiff (Sep 21, 2016 11:58AM)
It may come down as well to expectations of the audience or the booker. Disclaimers seem to be bit more common in corporate settings. It is harder to sell the psychic angle there apparently. This seems to be more a matter of acceptability in that market than anything else. The implication being that one will be not be hired if one is perceived not to be a true psychic or expert psychologist. It seems the corporate bookers don't want someone who misrepresents themselves. Thus may extend to the academic market as well
It would be good to hear from performers who actively work those markets.
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Sep 21, 2016 12:16PM)
Having worked corporate almost exclusively for years, I don't think disclaimers are more common at all. What IS common is to say nothing either way. When asked I tell them that I am not doing anything they couldn't do. I explain that I accomplish what I do by using a combination of method, technique and intuition. This is absolutely true.

I call myself a mind reader because, ultimately that's what I am. Using techniques, methods and intuition, I really can reveal what you are thinking...and I can honestly say that I feel exactly ZERO percentage of guilt about this.

Saying "Gee...what you've just seen is all tricks" would strip the mystique away from the performance...and that would be deadly from a marketing perspective. Let me say (again) that part of the appeal of mentalism is the tantalizing possibility that what's happening in front of them just might be real. And on the heels of that "Hmmm....if he can do that, maybe I can too."

What do you think the number one "super power" would be in the minds of a corporate audience? They would LOVE to know what their clients/coworkers/bosses are thinking. Presenting this on stage is doubly fascinating to them for this reason.

I don't do a disclaimer. I don't say what I'm doing is a literal presentation of psychic power. I just do a show. As long as the show remains fascinating, it's going to sell.

For ME -- and only me -- I would say that presenting a mentalism show and telling people it's a real thing that I can train them to do is stepping over the line...so is the notion that that I really am contacting the dead...that I really can predict the future etc.

That "line" for me is anything that steps across the "performance" stage and into other commercial ventures. Does that make sense?

But nothing shines a bright light onto the key differences between magic and mentalism -- their intents and worldviews -- quite like a conversation like this one.

David
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 21, 2016 01:23PM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2016, jstreiff wrote:
It may come down as well to expectations of the audience or the booker. Disclaimers seem to be bit more common in corporate settings. It is harder to sell the psychic angle there apparently. This seems to be more a matter of acceptability in that market than anything else. The implication being that one will be not be hired if one is perceived not to be a true psychic or expert psychologist. It seems the corporate bookers don't want someone who misrepresents themselves. Thus may extend to the academic market as well
It would be good to hear from performers who actively work those markets. [/quote]

As a performer that works corporate and an agent that books corporate markets, they do not want magicians (or anything they view as magic) when hiring a mentalist. That is the #1 concern I hear when a new corporate client inquires. The psychic approach does work very well in the corporate market. Look at Ross Johnson, Ted Karmilovich, Richard Osterlind and others. No, they do not want someone that misrepresents themselves. They want the real thing.
Message: Posted by: Dr Spektor (Sep 21, 2016 02:16PM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2016, Mindpro wrote:
[quote]On Sep 21, 2016, jstreiff wrote:
It may come down as well to expectations of the audience or the booker. Disclaimers seem to be bit more common in corporate settings. It is harder to sell the psychic angle there apparently. This seems to be more a matter of acceptability in that market than anything else. The implication being that one will be not be hired if one is perceived not to be a true psychic or expert psychologist. It seems the corporate bookers don't want someone who misrepresents themselves. Thus may extend to the academic market as well
It would be good to hear from performers who actively work those markets. [/quote]

As a performer that works corporate and an agent that books corporate markets, they do not want magicians (or anything they view as magic) when hiring a mentalist. That is the #1 concern I hear when a new corporate client inquires. The psychic approach does work very well in the corporate market. Look at Ross Johnson, Ted Karmilovich, Richard Osterlind and others. No, they do not want someone that misrepresents themselves. They want the real thing. [/quote]


Richard's context is his he doesn't give a claim or a disclaim - he just does "things" and my favourite line since I grew up in the 60s and 70s .... "Isn't that cool!?!?!?" I love it. I also like the fact by not having to say one thing or another, you don't create potential dead time boring patter - which is often one of the complaints not-so-great mentalism is charged with.... its get straight into the goods as soon as possible and chop away anything not needed - like all great entertainment.

I would also assume no one would want a magician if they hired a mentalist! Its like I would not want a juggler either if I wanted a chocolateer! They want a real mentalist! That is so (note that doesn't mean someone with real psychic powers - but the ability to perform mentalism!).
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 21, 2016 02:23PM)
...and what most consider mentalism to be.
Message: Posted by: Olympic Adam (Sep 21, 2016 04:38PM)
People will for the most part think what they want. And for the most part won't change their minds.

This, I believe is one of the areas people spend far to much time thinking about and not enough time actually creating/performing.

If you don't want to lie - tell them it's a trick. The ones who really believe will see you with a wink in your eye.
If you want to be a liar - tell them it's real. The sceptical ones won't believe you.

If you want to have fun, just do your act. Let them think what they want.
Message: Posted by: Pit Boss (Sep 21, 2016 07:22PM)
Saw Garrett Thomas lecture last night. He said he likes mentalism, but ONLY when performed by magicians as part of a magic act. His reasoning? That when delivered seriously, people believe it's real and it frightens them, and it's borderline unethical.
Yeah. And I like balloon doggies, but only when twisted by a ventriloquist. :huh:
Message: Posted by: Stevious (Sep 22, 2016 04:06AM)
[quote]On Sep 21, 2016, David Thiel wrote:
Having worked corporate almost exclusively for years, I don't think disclaimers are more common at all. What IS common is to say nothing either way. When asked I tell them that I am not doing anything they couldn't do. I explain that I accomplish what I do by using a combination of method, technique and intuition. This is absolutely true.

I call myself a mind reader because, ultimately that's what I am. Using techniques, methods and intuition, I really can reveal what you are thinking...and I can honestly say that I feel exactly ZERO percentage of guilt about this.

Saying "Gee...what you've just seen is all tricks" would strip the mystique away from the performance...and that would be deadly from a marketing perspective. Let me say (again) that part of the appeal of mentalism is the tantalizing possibility that what's happening in front of them just might be real. And on the heels of that "Hmmm....if he can do that, maybe I can too."

David [/quote]

The last thing the audience wants to hear after a great performance is that it was all simple tricks done with sleight of hand and trickery, the whole show could be like a waste of time for them.

People will usually ask how it is done, if one uses a disclaimer it doesn't need to be so drastic. A great example is above, other simple explanations are provided by Brown and Banachek. They are so famous that it would be very misleading and risky if they lied in every interview that it is only psychology.

Equally they could ruin the art of mentalism by using a disclaimer: 'it's all tricks', and therefore it is not worth seeing.

When asked, to remain ethical, one does not have to use very dishonest... claims.
Message: Posted by: B_man2012 (Sep 22, 2016 05:45AM)
[quote]On Sep 22, 2016, Stevious wrote:

People will usually ask how it is done, if one uses a disclaimer it doesn't need to be so drastic. A great example is above, other simple explanations are provided by Brown and Banachek. They are so famous that it would be very misleading and risky if they lied in every interview that it is only psychology.

Equally they could ruin the art of mentalism by using a disclaimer: 'it's all tricks', and therefore it is not worth seeing.

When asked, to remain ethical, one does not have to use very dishonest... claims. [/quote]

Regarding Brown, I feel most of the laymen will believe that psychology is the MO for most of his demonstrations. He does use a disclaimer, at least in his TV-show Trick of the Mind, but most of the audience, including some (amateur) mentalist will buy the psychology explanations or they will add their own such as NLP or covert hypnosis. There are some that believe that he is psychic and they will continue to believe that despite any disclaimers or confessions. This is true for other performers as well, Banachek and others talk a lot about people coming backstage and asking them why they refuse to admit they have psychic powers.

My opinion is that disclaimers are, for the most part, redundant. Just imagine if during a movie or a theater play they stop after every scene and explain that the murder / UFO / talking bear was just the fabrication of the screenwriter and that it wasn't real. It is real in that context as is the mindreading you do real in that context you create.

I feel there's lot of grey area and that morals and ethics of performing mentalism and similar depend largely on the context.
Message: Posted by: E.E. (Sep 23, 2016 02:54PM)
With great power, comes great responsibility.

An actor does not feel gulty for pretending to be something he is not, because he knows his audience knows that he is acting.
The thing with mentalism is that the line is very blurred. You can not admit you are just acting/doing tricks, because mentalism main goal is to entertain an audience by convincing them you possess some kind of psychic ability.

If you admit you are just using trickery (which we are not...) then you become a mental magician.

The math is very straight forward: If you say what you are doing is not real, then you must be acting... then you must be cheating to create the impression that you are psychic... then you must be doing tricks...magicians do tricks, then you are a magician and you are performing magic...with a mental theme!... so you are a mental magician... then what you call mentalism is just magic with a mental theme.


As I said in the beginning of this post- "With great power comes great responsability"
If you are not willing to take or assume that responsability, then don't take the job. You can still perform your mental magic and throw disclaimers willy-nilly, just don't pretend you are a mentalist.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 23, 2016 03:08PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2016, E.E. wrote:
With great power, comes great responsibility.

If you admit you are just using trickery (which we are not...) then you become a mental magician.

The math is very straight forward: If you say what you are doing is not real, then you must be acting... then you must be cheating to create the impression that you are psychic... then you must be doing tricks...magicians do tricks, then you are a magician and you are performing magic...with a mental theme!... so you are a mental magician... then what you call mentalism is just magic with a mental theme.
You can still perform your mental magic and throw disclaimers willy-nilly, just don't pretend you are a mentalist. [/quote]


That is it, really quite simple. I might ad it is still the same whether one admits they are using trickery or not. Still a magician or mental magician. Magician's try to complicate it. Most that say or believe they're mentalists are not. They can not even be real and honest with themselves. What you have stated is very clearly offered. It only gets cloudy when it gets in the hands of those claiming to be mentalists that aren't.

I wish these types of performers could let go of the mentality that they are mentalists and just be proud and content being a magician or mental magician rather than all the extra efforts and claims just to twist it and justify it in their eyes. It doesn't need to be that complicated and thwre doesn't need to really even be a debate.
Message: Posted by: Shrubsole (Sep 23, 2016 03:50PM)
I usually leave people to make up their own minds after a show. Off stage I make no force claims and describe what I did as a piece of entertainment. "Were you entertained?"

On stage the whole thing is an act and I can do and say anything just like you can in a stage play. I find it funny that if I was in a stage play I can claim that this woman is my wife and these youngsters are my children and at no stage does anyone come on stage and say "Actually he is not married to this women and those are not his children he is just pretending." So during my show I act according to the routine I am doing. Generally I don't like to make statements and prefer to just lead the audience and leave them to make up their own minds.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 23, 2016 03:54PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2016, E.E. wrote:
If you admit you are just using trickery (which we are not...) then you become a mental magician.

The math is very straight forward: If you say what you are doing is not real, then you must be acting... then you must be cheating to create the impression that you are psychic... then you must be doing tricks...magicians do tricks, then you are a magician and you are performing magic...with a mental theme!... so you are a mental magician... then what you call mentalism is just magic with a mental theme. [/quote]

and
[quote]On Sep 23, 2016, E.E. wrote:
If you are not willing to take or assume that responsability, then don't take the job. You can still perform your mental magic and throw disclaimers willy-nilly, just don't pretend you are a mentalist. [/quote]

genuinely interested in this...

so, what if you don't say its trickery, but you also don't want to say you are psychic or some kind of master of psychology?

what then?
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 23, 2016 03:55PM)
To be clear, what if you say you are *something else - whatever it is* that doesn't cover those three things of:

trickery
psychic
psychological type

if its still "mind-based", is it not allowed to be labelled as mentalism?
Message: Posted by: E.E. (Sep 23, 2016 04:04PM)
You raise a good point. Got an example?
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Sep 23, 2016 04:21PM)
One example is Kenton's signature disclaimer, which he asked that others NOT use verbatim:

"It's not fake. It's not real. It's symbolic."
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 23, 2016 04:24PM)
Well, look at the term mentalism from a philosophical angle...

"the theory that physical and psychological phenomena are ultimately explicable only in terms of a creative and interpretative mind"

then think about the shifts in how mentalism has been presented, even the opening paragraph from Annemmann himself decrying about turbans, crude eletronics and so on...the new age and hippy stuff from the 60s onwards, its all shifted a little or a lot...

and then how someone could be labelled as an empath 100 years ago, when (maybe) they were naturally good at understanding micro-muscle facial movements?

or how we understand how powerful the imagination is, or what we are starting to understand about what "voices in our head" actually are for some people?

why do we choose not to progress in little ways here and there? I understand that the two main ways or presenting mentalism is either psychic or psychological (and you could argue that anything and everything we do could be under that umbrella term - 'psychological') - can be very believable and 'impressive', but why don't we progress and evolve a little too?
Message: Posted by: E.E. (Sep 23, 2016 05:01PM)
Ok...

I guess that if the source of your power is your mind, whether by claiming psychic/psychological abilities or something else that is "mind based" it can be labelled as mentalism.

I get your point, Iain. Progressing and evolving is good, as long as you are following the right path. If you don't, all of the sudden the final product will no longer be mentalism. It will be something else.

Consider this following analogy...

Rock and roll is called rock and roll for a reason (A certain kind of beat, certain kinds of instruments, etc) if you decide to evolve and start using different rythms, different instruments, a different beat... well that's no longer rock and roll. It's something else.

You can do very well with that something else, and that's good, but you can't pretend you have a rock band when you don't.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 23, 2016 05:13PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2016, Shrubsole wrote:
On stage the whole thing is an act and I can do and say anything just like you can in a stage play. I find it funny that if I was in a stage play I can claim that this woman is my wife and these youngsters are my children and at no stage does anyone come on stage and say "Actually he is not married to this women and those are not his children he is just pretending." So during my show I act according to the routine I am doing. Generally I don't like to make statements and prefer to just lead the audience and leave them to make up their own minds. [/quote]

Herein lies another problem or concern. People come to a play knowing it is a production based on a story and that the people in the play/cast aren't real and are actors playing a role. Fine, great.

That is NOT how people come to see a live performer presenting their show. If you are a magician, they don't expect you to be an actor playing the part of a magician, they truly expect a magician (contrary to many magician's own beliefs of they are an actor portraying a magician. That's their THEIR approach or premise). If you are a mentalist, they expect you to be a mentalist, which usually means psychic or having real such related abilities.

Like much of this thread the vast majority is from the performer's perspective and belief. It is not the same as they audiences, bookers, clients, promoters, agents, etc. They expect you to be what you claim, and even more so what they believe it to be. They expect what they believe it to be is real. So all this talk about do you (as performers) use a disclaimer, are they a magician, mental magician, or mentalist, it as E.E. said being able to be what you claim you are as real and in the eyes if those people, audience, bookers, promoters, agents, etc.

At some point you have to stop thinking it is all about you and work from the industry's perspective and that of those our shows are for. It's the denial of this or lack of true understanding of this, combined with many variations of "performer's thinking" that creates the problems and contrast.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 23, 2016 05:16PM)
Yes, while Iain may be correct, it is not how our targets see it or us. It can be much different that our deep analyization and technical delving.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 23, 2016 05:17PM)
Yeah, I do kinda agree...i've said many times before, don't consider myself a mentalist, haven't done in ages...

looking back, though it was great - I want 'more' and 'different' and 'personal to me'...

going back to your example...

even though the band Taste were at its core, an irish blues/rock band, it still had (at its core) irish folk, jazz, rock, blues, RnB elements in it...and Rory Gallagher will forever be one of the finest blues guitarists...but he could also express himself on a mandolin, play rock n roll on one, even though he would play traditional gaelic folk songs on it too...

i agree there's a cut off point, but its not much of a step away if you look at someone like Muddy Waters and Hendrix in some ways, but its also a huge leap in others...you could easily see them both play together (pretty sure they did), but Hendrix took all those techniques, and by playing with people like Little Richard, Isley Brothers and many others - he eventually expressed himself via those same techniques...

does that not still make him (at heart) a bluesman too? just a different version of one...
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 23, 2016 05:36PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2016, Mindpro wrote:
Yes, while Iain may be correct, it is not how our targets see it or us. It can be much different that our deep analyization and technical delving. [/quote]

maybe its a cultural thing, in the uk people are more than willing to talk openly about beliefs and non-beliefs, there's far less believers over here (statistically) than the states...

one of the benefits of giving lots of readings in different busy bars in london is, you get such a wide spread of people - and there's no room for manouvering...you are sat face to face (well, I like 'em to sit next to me) with that person, and you get all kinds of people believing in all kinds of things - and that comes spilling out of them very quickly...

there are no outs available as a reader...not really...you live and die by what you say...so you learn very quickly how people's own filters kick in and how that can be either interesting and fun, or potentially dangerous...

not everyone interested in a reading is also a bona fide 'believer' - especially over here...

lots of those "most haunted" shows (with a psychic medium and NV cameras with a presenter) are seen as ridiculous to most, there's just a small and strong-minded stream of believers who will never engage in reasonable debate about what they see...
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 23, 2016 07:54PM)
For sure there are differences in our areas. I've been saying that since the beginning of the Euro-mentalism movement. Even the way we refer to mentalism is not just different, but opposite. Your whole explanation of one on one reading, person to person in a bar, isn't even a thought in any reference I've made when I speak of mentalism. I'm talking about a "show" (full performance) in front of an audience (a body of people). Again, even by this basic difference in "mentalism" at the foundation anything that follows will certainly differ. The fact that you even think of that style of presentation and readings as mentalism is not even at all what I was referencing when I speak of mentalism. You are right, cultural differences for sure.
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 23, 2016 08:06PM)
Yup - certainly not talking about mentalism stage shows, have zero experience in that field...

surely that's all we can do here - just talk from our own perspective...never seen the point in creating unecessary divides when there's no need for them :)
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Sep 23, 2016 09:01PM)
It's not creating a divide it's only acknowledging it exists. It is also the primary basis for the wide differences in this forum. If these foundational differences exist at this level, everything that follows will only follow suit. People are often talking about two different things more often than not. Two different things being referred to as the same thing - mentalism. I think members forget the foundation of this forum. People seem to want to twist it (and mentalism) to their personal needs and interpretations.
Message: Posted by: Alexxander (Sep 23, 2016 09:06PM)
[quote]On Sep 23, 2016, Mindpro wrote:
People seem to want to twist it (and mentalism) to their personal needs and interpretations. [/quote]

And what is wrong about that?
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Sep 23, 2016 09:24PM)
Magic is the experience of an impossible illusion through artistically applied psychology.
Mentalism is the experience of a possibly real phenomenon.

Something between the two may allow for premise and presentation other than spiritual ("Crossing Over") or scientific ("Trick of the Mind"): culture, art, stories, imagination, symbolism, metaphor, archetypes...
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 23, 2016 11:33PM)
Looking through all my old mentalism books, pretty much all advocate using readings as well as mentalism, both individually and together...so it seems that annemann, corinda, alexander and many, many others advocate that...

They are both used to create an authentic experience...
Message: Posted by: Dr Spektor (Sep 24, 2016 06:40AM)
Stéphane Mallarmé
“To define is to kill. To suggest is to create.”
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Sep 24, 2016 06:46AM)
Theres a small clip on black box cinema, bob cassidy's dvd..of a PEA lecture where he says "I get a lot of my gigs from close up or one on one performances"

I think it can be done badly and it can be done well, just like everything else...
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Sep 24, 2016 09:36AM)
New electric old folk...

[youtube]5tnRMZyaWPE?list=RD5tnRMZyaWPE[/youtube]
Message: Posted by: Ben Blau (Sep 24, 2016 01:30PM)
"Magic," as you may know, is based on illusion. There are many kinds of illusions. For example, we all know that there are optical illusions, but very few people know that auditory illusions exist as well. Somasthetic illusions can occur under certain circumstances, as in the "phantom limb" phenomenon.

Magicians tend to produce visual illusions through the use of sleight of hand, or the use of physical apparatus that is not what it appears to be.

I am a practitioner of mentalism. Like the magician, I specialize in illusion. However, the illusions I create are COGNITIVE illusions. They are INTELLECTUAL illusions. The apparent miracles I perform are rarely exactly what they appear to be, but I strive to challenge and deceive your intellect through manipulation of INFORMATION, and an understanding of the human mind that is unique to practitioners of this art form.

The skills we employ to create these illusions are highly specialized, and not widely known (not even by magicians, or even psychologists).

When I do my job correctly, hopefully these cognitive illusions point beyond themselves to the greater mystery of life, the universe, existence, and what it means to be human.
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Sep 24, 2016 04:50PM)
Nicely stated, Ben Blau! I am so glad to see this description in the mix!

Consider the following responses to finding money:

1. "I'm lucky" as a cultural response:[url=http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2013/12/14/money-superstitions-from-13-countries-will-it-make.aspx] Money superstitions from 13 countries[/url]
2. "This coincidence may have meaning" as synchronicity:[url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity] Carl Jung[/url]
3. "This is a sign to trust in God" as a religious impulse: [url=http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/providence-divine/]Divine Providence[/url]
4. "This moment has the meaning I choose to give it" as a philosophical approach: [url=https://www.britannica.com/topic/existentialism]Existentialism[/url]
...and so on...

In life, people experience phenomenon and write the script and subtext themselves.
In performance, an artist provides the frame...
Message: Posted by: David Thiel (Sep 26, 2016 12:16PM)
The knee jerk reaction to talk like this is to say 'avoid labels' and just do the show.

But in this case labels define precisely what you call what you do. For that reason, labels are critical because they define how we see what we are about as performers..and the show we are going to present. They also set the mindset of the audience. With a magician anything could happen...but the audience knows it's all tricks. Seeing a mind reader has the potential to be something entirely different.

Strangeness ensues when the two labels don't fit. Consider going to see a "mentalist" who does dove productions, coin matrixes, breakaway wands and zig zag illusions. Does the performance fit the label? Nope. It is ridiculous even to try to make it work, right? By this I mean that a performer calling this act "mentalism" doesn't change the fact that he's doing a magic show. (Calling a dog a duck does not make the dog able to fly south, right?)

I exaggerate for effect, of course. But take the example just a few steps further. Let's say that the "mentalist" claims that it is the power of his mind that causes doves to appear inside his clothes...the coins transport themselves through the air in obedience to his will...that he smashes the wand with a blast of mental energy -- and that, after having been bitten by a radioactive mentalist, he has acquired the power to chop women into three pieces and (wait for it) restore them to LIFE!

Still silly, right? The only person fooled by this scenario is the magician...who, in the act of fooling himself, is subjecting his audience to a load of crap onstage and committing the ultimately unfair deception by calling what he's doing something it's not.

Again: an exaggeration -- but an example of how someone who doesn't understand mentalism is going to make a mess of presenting it...in the same way a biologist would make a mess of presenting advanced physics. The arts of magic and mentalism are only distantly related disciplines in that they both present aspects of the mystery arts.

ALL of which leads us back to the basic question: why most mentalists would rather have the hair ripped out of their legs one hair at a time than tell the audience it's "all a trick." Doing so would suck the tantalizing mystery out of the whole performance and transform it (note I did NOT say 'reduce it) into a magic show.

That's why it would be absolute folly for a mind reader to say "you know the mentalism I just showed you? It's all tricks." That would be like Copperfield saying "Okay...now that you've see me vanish the Statue of Liberty, here's how I did it..."

Mystique is critical in ALL of the mystery arts. It's just the KINDS of mystiques that differ. And understanding WHY they differ, glaring obvious to the mentalist, seems to confuse most other people.

David
Message: Posted by: thatmichaelguy (Sep 26, 2016 05:00PM)
I constantly go round and round on this with myself. And I think a lot of it has to do with what experience you want to give to your audience.

There is the route of claiming psychic powers/psychological prowess. This has no real explanatory power because we know that's not how the effect was actually accomplished (and that, as far as we are aware those sorts of powers don't exist and/or can't be harnessed in the way we claim,) but it provides tons of explanatory power for an audience member. It's a very surface level explanation that appeals to a deeper mystery, but it stops at the surface. Went to see a mind reader, and he read some minds. End of story.

You could, of course, say nothing and let the audience draw their own conclusions. Many esteemed professionals suggest this route. Now there's a mystery with no easy explanation. Is it real? Is it not? Were some parts trickery and other parts genuine? How do you know? And how do you tell the difference? The savvy in the audience will understand that they've been duped. The believers will believe. There will be those who can't decide. But that leaves the audience mostly contemplating whether what they saw has an explanation or not. They are stuck at a doorway between explicability and inexplicability. For those who see it as genuine psychic/psychological phenomena, they are stuck on this side of the door. They ultimately belong in the first group who, though unaware that their explanation is false, have an explanation and move on. Then there are those who are stuck at the threshold, unable to quiet themselves with an explanation one way or the other. But how can one even begin to contemplate any mystery of deception when one isn't even sure if they've even been deceived? This distills to a binary mystery for most of the audience. Was it real? Was it not? For many performers this mystery is the soul of mentalism. However, there are at least some in the audience who know they've been fooled and can see through to the door to the other side. On that side is the understanding that you've been fooled and that you've got zero explanatory power for that. On that side lies wonder.

And you can open the door for them by either by announcing before that you're going to spend your time together fooling them or telling them after that the entire experience has been a deception. In doing so you take away the mystery of whether any of it is real, but you replace that with a mystery so much deeper. You replace it with an experience that seemed real - that possibly could have been real if you hadn't said otherwise - that can't be explained away (unless you know the methods.) "He has psychic powers" is not a real explanation, but it satisfies the need for one when the alternative is incomprehensibly mysterious. To tell the audience that you fooled them, that it was all a trick, doesn't offer even that surface level explanation. It immediately plunges them into the contemplation of how that could possibly be. It forces those who would be stuck at the threshold considering a heads or tails, up or down mystery to engage in something much deeper.

Some will say that wonder is the realm of magic and magicians and that mentalists exist to present the binary mystery of what's real versus not real. I think this is where a choice has to be made as a performer. And the choice isn't how you're going to label yourself or your performance. You have to decide what sort of experience you want your audience to have.
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Sep 26, 2016 08:04PM)
Whit Haydn paints a spectrum with theater/suspension of disbelief/claim to fiction on one end and charlatanry/belief/claim to reality on the other end.

Magic is in the middle with what Teller calls the "unwilling suspension of disbelief" giving evidence that the effects have "really" happened.

The mentalist is somewhere between the magiciaan and the charlatan, giving evidence of the effect like the magician--yet often not making a direct claim of reality or at least performing the phenomenon in the context of a show, giving something of a theatrical frame. It seems to me performers should choose where they appear on the spectrum, rather than letting the audience write the script as people do for phenomenon in real life. For example, in [I]Artful Mentalism 2[/I], Bob Cassidy mentions using subtle, comedic disclaimers--not directly stated--to take the edge of charlatanry off the performance.
Message: Posted by: The Hermit (Oct 6, 2016 11:45AM)
There has been so much mental !@#$%^&*()_+ on this subject here and elsewhere it's gotten ridiculous. If you are a mentalist or a magician for that matter you are a mystery performer. The whole act must have an air of mystery. How you create that doesn't really matter. Once you explain a mystery or analogize it, it is no longer a mystery and no longer worth paying for.

You trash Uri Gellar. He made fame and fortune and always played it as real. What was wrong with that? He kept the mystery going for years. People went to see him because there was a dichotomy in their mind - he does miraculous things, no one can really do these things, how does he do it for real?, It's not real, but I don't know how it works, maybe it is real, it can't be. That is the basis for the mystery.

Once you take that away you are not a mystery performer or mentalist anymore. You're a hack pretending to do things. Who wants to pay for that?

If people don't think what I do could be real, they won't pay for it. Deceiving them is part of the bargain. Why disappoint them?
Message: Posted by: Alan M (Oct 6, 2016 07:19PM)
[quote]On Oct 6, 2016, The Hermit wrote:
You trash Uri Gellar. He made fame and fortune and always played it as real. What was wrong with that?[/quote]

I don't think Uri was trashed for playing it for real as a performer. I think it came from playing it for real outside of that context. Such as taking money to find oil or a lost plane. Stuff like that does invite more criticism than bending a spoon. Just sayin'.

-Alan
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Oct 6, 2016 07:53PM)
...................................Ghost Story.......................Spirit Theater......................Ghost Hoax
...................................Urban Legend.....................Mentalism Show...............Psychic Advisor
Harry Potter.....Magic Show...........................................................................Voodoo Priest

In the old days, magic was probably more believable and was closer to the Spirit Theater or Mentalism of today.
Magic has lost the mystic and supernatural tone, except maybe in some of Blaine and Angel's presentations.
The mixing of elements of proof and reality and believability make the mystery arts distinctive...
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Oct 7, 2016 02:21PM)
Magic, mentalism, and the stuff on the far right of the spectrum are the mystery arts. They are distinctive from theater and fiction because there is some claim to reality. Magic and mental magic are the strangest hybrids between claims to fiction and fact because evidence is expected at the same time as fantasy. The difference between the items in the spectrum in my previous post is the levels of the claim made by the presenter. Theater and fiction have a claim to illusion, depending on the verisimilitude required by the genre. The reason old science fiction seems cheesy is that the expectations have change for special effects, for example. These basics are pretty much found in Whit Haydn's theories and years of discussion in the Food For Thought forum here at the Magic Café.

Another way of looking at the presentational options is that what is "art" or created items at one end of the spectrum become real phenomenon at the other end of the spectrum: the storybook magic acted out becomes theater>>>which presented with evidence becomes a magic show/or tied to history becomes legend>>>>which made believable becomes mentalism>>>>unattached from theater becomes real phenomenon.

Hypnotism plays as a real phenomenon, though I have no idea whether the participants experience what the audience thinks they do. Readings can be considered a real phenomenon (apart from the theatrics of spiritualism or science) in that the cards make patterns which can be actually be interpreted by a reader and really be applied by a sitter. As a kind of physical version of these "mental" effects, the rice jar effect (a favorite of Barrie Richardson) is a real physical phenomenon that plays as a mystery art because it's counter-intuitive.
Message: Posted by: Waters. (Oct 21, 2016 05:59AM)
If your subtext is "perceptual manipulation" then you get to have your cake and eat it too. Having a shocking knowledge of how we perceive things and how to bend that perception is both truthful and incredibly intriguing. While you are not making claims, the innocent outer layer holds in tension the menacing idea that someone has such a command of a hidden knowledge. You get to be fun and nice, but the honestly creates another layer, with which, they must contend. I like being fun (and a bit disconcerting).
Message: Posted by: Adeofspades (Oct 23, 2016 10:41AM)
[quote]On Oct 6, 2016, The Hermit wrote:
There has been so much mental !@#$%^&*()_+ on this subject here and elsewhere it's gotten ridiculous. If you are a mentalist or a magician for that matter you are a mystery performer. The whole act must have an air of mystery. How you create that doesn't really matter. Once you explain a mystery or analogize it, it is no longer a mystery and no longer worth paying for.

You trash Uri Gellar. He made fame and fortune and always played it as real. What was wrong with that? He kept the mystery going for years. People went to see him because there was a dichotomy in their mind - he does miraculous things, no one can really do these things, how does he do it for real?, It's not real, but I don't know how it works, maybe it is real, it can't be. That is the basis for the mystery.

Once you take that away you are not a mystery performer or mentalist anymore. You're a hack pretending to do things. Who wants to pay for that?

If people don't think what I do could be real, they won't pay for it. Deceiving them is part of the bargain. Why disappoint them? [/quote]

I agree Hermit, you must keep an air of mystery. If not, what are you getting paid for?
Message: Posted by: Martin Pulman (Oct 23, 2016 02:10PM)
There's a difference between keeping an air of mystery and explicitly claiming you have psychic powers or have been gifted powers by aliens. As soon as Geller did that he was fair game for those wishing to expose him.
Still love the guy though. One of the great performers.
Message: Posted by: bdekolta (Oct 23, 2016 02:39PM)
If what you do is not real then you have the issue. If the majority of what you do is real the situation does not exist. My personal performances are 99% legit. The rest of the show I cover with presentation.

I never use a disclaimer, reference the above, and I believe that the vast majority of mentalists do not need to either since their audiences will never believe they are real in the first place.
Message: Posted by: ctom (Nov 10, 2016 03:03PM)
Curtis Kam has an interesting perspective on it, in which he likens it to keyfabe in professional wrestling. You can hear the talk here : https://www.themagicwordpodcast.com/scottwellsmagic/296-curtis-kam
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Nov 12, 2016 09:34AM)
Even if not admitting trickery, maybe it's good to acknowledge the effects are for entertainment, just like fortune cookies or professional wrestling--the reason being that the methods of the mystery arts can be and indeed are used for nefarious purposes.

When the performance is a show, the context may be assumed.

When doing telepathy or readings off stage (in bars, classrooms, streets, homes), the context of art or fun may need to be made clear.
Message: Posted by: AndreOng1 (Nov 12, 2016 03:16PM)
[quote]On Oct 6, 2016, The Hermit wrote:
There has been so much mental !@#$%^&*()_+ on this subject here and elsewhere it's gotten ridiculous. If you are a mentalist or a magician for that matter you are a mystery performer. The whole act must have an air of mystery. How you create that doesn't really matter. Once you explain a mystery or analogize it, it is no longer a mystery and no longer worth paying for.

You trash Uri Gellar. He made fame and fortune and always played it as real. What was wrong with that? He kept the mystery going for years. People went to see him because there was a dichotomy in their mind - he does miraculous things, no one can really do these things, how does he do it for real?, It's not real, but I don't know how it works, maybe it is real, it can't be. That is the basis for the mystery.

Once you take that away you are not a mystery performer or mentalist anymore. You're a hack pretending to do things. Who wants to pay for that?

If people don't think what I do could be real, they won't pay for it. Deceiving them is part of the bargain. Why disappoint them? [/quote]


Well said, big part of why they coming to see you its that they want to experience the mystery, curiosity of the unknown.
Deliberate revealing it will kill the magic. I guess it really comes down to ethics as now you have set yourself up to be this "super human" individual.
With great power comes great responsibility .
Message: Posted by: Second Sight (Dec 23, 2016 08:01AM)
[quote]On Nov 12, 2016, Alan Wheeler wrote:
Even if not admitting trickery, maybe it's good to acknowledge the effects are for entertainment, just like fortune cookies or professional wrestling--the reason being that the methods of the mystery arts can be and indeed are used for nefarious purposes.

When the performance is a show, the context may be assumed.

When doing telepathy or readings off stage (in bars, classrooms, streets, homes), the context of art or fun may need to be made clear. [/quote]

These are interesting points. But it is worth noting that fortune cookies do not come with disclaimers. Neither do the horoscopes in the newspapers. What if someone based major life decisions on a fortune cookie? Come to think of it, I sort of do that. No big deal. Just a bit of fun.

Just because a magician is handy with a pack of cards and maybe even does pseudo gambling demonstrations, doesn't mean he is guilty of cheating at cards.

Mentalists engage in all sorts of ritualistic "play" which hints at all manner of things from divination to telepathy to super psychology, but it doesn't mean they are defrauding bereaved widows.
Message: Posted by: Second Sight (Dec 23, 2016 08:06AM)
And professional wrestling doesn't really come with a disclaimer either. I loved it as a kid. I heard rumors that it was fake, but I had a hard time seeing how all of it could be fake. I think that Geraldo Rivera even did an expose. But clearly it wasn't ALL fake. I mean, the physics were still real and laws of the universe weren't suspended. Clearly some of it HAD to hurt, for real.

I'm still a bit confused about what is and is not real, and it doesn't hurt me, and nobody cares. Mentalists worry a lot. I don't think that wrestlers do.

It's like Eugene Burger says in Magic and Meaning and his first Penguin lecture: Once the audience knows that the snakes are fake, then what's the point? What's the point?