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Topic: Disclaimers
Message: Posted by: Rocketeer (Jan 7, 2018 10:33AM)
I'm sure there are many threads on this but I'd like to revisit it.

I'm always slightly dismayed when mentalists state that they have no special powers, that there are (non-supernatural) explanations for everything they do. So should we claim boldly that we are "real" like Uri Geller? No. To me, the main thing that separates mentalism from magic is that many people think it _could_ be real. When Copperfield goes through the Wall of China absolutely nobody believes he really did it. But when a mentalist reads someone's mind, a fair proportion of the audience at least wonders if it could be real. I think that wonder is the icing on the cake of the entertainment value that only mentalism can deliver (to at least _some_ of the audience).

I was a big fan of magic as a little kid, spending my Christmas money at Tannens etc. But when I saw Maurice Woodruff or Joseph Dunninger on TV I entertained the idea that they might actually be real psychics. (I also wondered if maybe some UFO reports really were about extraterrestrial spaceraft.)

So what I'm advocating is to neither claim real powers nor completely disavow them (as Derren Brown does so frequently).

IMO I like leaving things up in the air--not being duplicitous, just ambiguous. Maybe make a weak disclaimer or something.

Was it Dunninger who originally said, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary. For those who don't, no explanation is possible."?

What do you think?
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Jan 7, 2018 11:35AM)
I made my disclaimer into my opening joke. It's right there in my signature.
Message: Posted by: George Hunter (Jan 7, 2018 12:15PM)
Claim or disclaim nothing. Let the spectators reach their own conclusion. They will anyway!

George
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 7, 2018 01:02PM)
I think the whole issue on disclaimers (and their need or purpose) has changed. It was initially discussed here because mentalists were using them to state if they did or didn't claim to have special or real abilities as to their performance being seen and accepted as real (the foundational issue you identified above, quite different, actually opposite from magic). Today, most that call themselves "mentalists" are magicians doing mental magic so either no disclaimer is necessary or it is not necessarily for the same purpose.

Those not claiming to be real really have little need for a disclaimer, other than to separate themselves from psi abilities.
Message: Posted by: Shrubsole (Jan 7, 2018 03:51PM)
I don't think there is one fits all answer and each must decide for themselves how they wish to portray themselves.

I'm sure many would not support fraudulent scamming of vulnerable people, but at the other end making a big song and dance by saying that you are a total fake and only doing what magician do, is, whilst not nasty, not very productive for a good show.

On a sideline to this, what do you replying to an audience member who obviously believes your every move and asks you serious questions about your 'special powers'? Do you answer with a non-committal response? Feed their delusion with falsehood or try to word it nicely that they shouldn't put to much emphasis on what you do as it's just meant to be a piece of entertain?
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Jan 7, 2018 06:29PM)
I'm an extrovert, so I "feed" off the energy of people. Therefore, the only place my powers seem to manifest, is when I'm on stage in front of a lot of people. ;-)
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Jan 7, 2018 06:35PM)
I think people will believe what they feel best fits their world view, regardless of evidence or disclaimer...
Message: Posted by: Ben Blau (Jan 7, 2018 10:44PM)
Iím an open skeptic. Itís central to my narrative. I donít have one specific disclaimer. I have SEVERAL. Many of them are woven into my scripts themselves. Some of them are prewritten responses to common questions or responses I get. A lot of them are the result of experiences Iíve had interacting with spectators and audience members after a performance, and just listening to them while paying close attention to what was most thought-provoking to them.
Message: Posted by: Max Hazy (Jan 7, 2018 10:50PM)
Yes, I also have an ambiguous position. It goes like this:

"People wonder if what I do is real. What I do is probably more real than you might think, but nothing I do is supernatural in my opinion. Some people think I have a gift. Personally I don't think I have. I may be wrong... maybe I have a gift, different from what you think. Maybe I have a gift that is exactly what you think. Either way, you're all free to think whatever you want. I just hope that you enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed yours. Thank you."

With that ambiguity, basically I try to not "break" people's wonder without putting myself in a charlatan position.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 7, 2018 11:01PM)
That's the problem with many's disclaimers is they are really nothing but a lot of non-committal doublespeak.
Message: Posted by: bofx (Jan 8, 2018 02:51AM)
Here is what I said about disclaimers in "Douceurs Mentales 2" :

"I consider that the use of any disclaimer harms the credibility of the mentalist, the quality of the show and only appeasing the conscience of the one who pronounces it. Moreover, each human being free to believe what he wants, it is not the words of a mentalist that will push him to change his beliefs. I also think that it is neither wise nor respectable to confront the beliefs of its audience."
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Jan 8, 2018 03:02AM)
Inversely, you can claim certain things under particular conditions...
Message: Posted by: WitchDocChris (Jan 8, 2018 08:47AM)
If I'm doing my solo parlor show, "the ticket is the disclaimer" as they say. I don't put anything into the actual script.

The only time I give any kind of disclaimer is when I'm doing my busking show. I say that I'm not there to prove anything, or change anyone's beliefs, I'm just there to give them a unique experience and a fun story to tell their friends on Monday. I find that encourages people to relax and just go with it, and enjoy the show. And give me money at the end.
Message: Posted by: John C (Jan 8, 2018 12:25PM)
[quote]On Jan 7, 2018, Philemon Vanderbeck wrote:
I'm an extrovert, so I "feed" off the energy of people. Therefore, the only place my powers seem to manifest, is when I'm on stage in front of a lot of people. ;-) [/quote]

As well as creating bits and situations with the spec or specs onstage. Let them create the action.

As far as the question "do we have powers?" well, in a kinda sorta way we do. Most of us spend lots of time researching, reading, learning about the 5 senses, ESP, tells, lying, body language and such things. So we could think that all this combined "creates" a new power (unknown in others because they have no experience in these areas) same way that a blocked artery creates new paths for the blood to flow. Same way very deep sea fish are blind, same way flounder only have one eye.

And as ongoing learning continues we have "powers under construction!!"

Where the heck am I going with this? Stop John C, while you're ahead.

Carry on....
Message: Posted by: Oscar999 (Jan 8, 2018 03:03PM)
There's a line in Eugene Burger's Secrets of Restaurant Magic, that states (paraphrasing, book is not in front of me),"There's a difference between performing magic for family and friends and doing it because it 7PM on a Wednesday."

I realize that argument has to do with the decision to perform for money, but I would draw a parallel in this way... "There's a difference between performing mentalism on a stage in a theatre - and doing a reading in a tea room or psychic fair."

It's context. Do you even need to give a disclaimer on stage? I don't think so... but I DO really like Philemon's.

Oscar
Message: Posted by: Max Hazy (Jan 8, 2018 03:14PM)
[quote]On Jan 8, 2018, Mindpro wrote:
That's the problem with many's disclaimers is they are really nothing but a lot of non-committal doublespeak. [/quote]

I don't really see it as a "problem", it's actually the opposite imo, it avoids problems. If I commit with playing for real 100%, I'll be going to the charlatan side (along with it's consequences). If I commit 100% for not real, I'll break their wonder (along with it's consequences). By not committing 100% with either side, I don't have any side issue so, I don't face any problem from either side. I only use disclaimers when I feel is needed. Sometimes further things must be said (like not taking part on medical, law and health issues) and sometimes I don't even need to say anything. Depends on the situation. Being ambiguous is what seems to work best for me, but might not be the case for others.
Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Jan 8, 2018 05:06PM)
I think that the goal should be to invoke intrigue and mystery. As such, I don't offer any type of disclaimer during the show. Like Chris says, the ticket is the disclaimer. I'm an entertainer having been hired to entertain. That is a pretty serious indication for the thinking person that this might not be real.

On the other hand, if someone comes to me afterwards with seemingly genuine belief, I prefer to hedge a little and try and invoke the idea of 'theater' in one way or another. My goal is not to create false beliefs, but rather to entertain and to hopefully encourage people to question reality a little in a positive way.
Message: Posted by: Raum (Jan 8, 2018 06:42PM)
I don't disclaime or claim anything, because people will believe what they want to believe.
I remember interview with Derren Brown, where he told,a story about a guy who came to him with a huge notepad where was a various theories about how Brown do his effects. One theory include GIANT MAGNETS UNDER THE STAGE.
Message: Posted by: Robb (Jan 9, 2018 02:26PM)
SHOOT ME NOW.
Message: Posted by: ThomasIndigo (Jan 9, 2018 02:46PM)
Lol what? ^
Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Jan 9, 2018 04:45PM)
If I had to guess, it's that this exact conversation has been had in dozens of threads with nearly the same talking points since the beginning of the Cafť. And, well, way back before that too...
Message: Posted by: Max Hazy (Jan 9, 2018 05:48PM)
[quote]On Jan 9, 2018, Robb wrote:
SHOOT ME NOW. [/quote]

After LL explanation, this actually made me laugh hard... ROFL
Message: Posted by: ibm_usa (Jan 9, 2018 08:06PM)
I've had a lengthy in person conversation with Lee Earle this past November. He and I share the same attitude about disclaimers. They are useless and a waste of time.
People will arrive at their own conclusions without your help.
Message: Posted by: ThomasIndigo (Jan 9, 2018 11:22PM)
[quote]On Jan 9, 2018, Max Hazy wrote:
[quote]On Jan 9, 2018, Robb wrote:
SHOOT ME NOW. [/quote]

After LL explanation, this actually made me laugh hard... ROFL [/quote]

Yeah now I'm laughing too hahaha
Message: Posted by: ThomasIndigo (Jan 9, 2018 11:26PM)
I agree, disclaimers can only invite skepticism, diminish impact, or fall on deaf ears in most cases. I don't think disclaimers are theatrically useful either. Not anymore anyway.
Message: Posted by: Max Hazy (Jan 10, 2018 12:22AM)
Some opinions here in the Cafť are quite curious to me. To mention an example, in my case, the husband of a famous singer here where I live didn't even took part in a performance of mine, he just saw me performing and came talking how I was fortunate to have the opportunity to develop my "gift" since I was a kid... by my side was a friend (a very popular magician) staring at me with absolute curiosity, wondering what I was going to reply. Yep, I had to give a disclaimer that nothing I do is supernatural... I didn't use terms like "tricks" but rather psychology, techniques and even esoteric stuff... much to my surprise, he acted like I wasn't being sincere... he clearly thought that I wasn't comfortable to talk about supposed gifts. He kinda didn't believe me. I talked about it with my friend later. While I do agree that the "ticket is the disclaimer", I eventually find myself in situations where I can't hide... I have to take a position about what I do (both outside of performance and during it). People will make up their minds with or without claims or disclaimers... but sometimes I feel that taking a position is necessary for different reasons. So I guess claims and disclaimers are like presentations: what works for some, might not work for others.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 10, 2018 01:24AM)
[quote]On Jan 9, 2018, Max Hazy wrote:
I eventually find myself in situations where I can't hide... I have to take a position about what I do (both outside of performance and during it). People will make up their minds with or without claims or disclaimers [/quote]

Whether you use a disclaimer or not, yes, you should take a position about what you do (for several reasons). Just as they say a confused mind never buys, same here. Even an ambiguous positioning won't satisfy most. People want to know what they are seeing. What is interest and belief rooted in otherwise? Why wouldn't any performer take a position? And then why wouldn't they share it with the audience to create the proper perspective and experience?
Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Jan 10, 2018 02:48AM)
Apparently Tim Conover thought disclaimers were extremely important:

http://www.timconover.com/x-2/
Message: Posted by: Senor Fabuloso (Jan 10, 2018 08:28AM)
Presenting yourself as real also gives credence to the occult and other not so pious endeavors. Personally this counters my faith and would then be a sin. Even though I said in the thread about the 13 steps rewrite that step 8 should be divination and other oracles I believe that there presentation can be done from a theological prospective.
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Jan 10, 2018 09:33AM)
Disclaimers don't work, the public already knows...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMpFmxCcJks
Message: Posted by: Max Hazy (Jan 10, 2018 11:35AM)
Mindpro, I guess I can see your point better now. So I believe I can explain better the whys behind what I do, as well as what I think about my position.

The first point I have to make is that I do have a position, it's just not a polar position, but rather a middle-ground position. From a "client appeal" point of view, if I take the scientific polar position, I'll start to not appeal to "believers". If I take the pure psychic polar position, I'll not be so appealing to "skeptics". So, by standing in the middle, being ambiguous allows me empathy from both sides, which from a marketing point of view is advantageous. One could argue that it would be advantageous to pick the side of the majority and appeal to it, but I found in practice that you can appeal to both sides.

Now, one could argue that I could also achieve this "empathy" by not making any claims at all... and that makes sense, but in practice, a detail makes all the difference. When you make a claim (positive) in the middle ground, the "direction" of the claim can't be going towards the opposite position of what they believe, so they naturally assume you're coming closer to what they believe. When you simply don't make a claim (negative), they naturally believe the direction of your position is going away from their position, causing less empathy. This becomes obvious from their reactions to both approaches. They are more likely to get "disappointed" to not have any confirmations from what they believe when you don't make any claim, but when you "kinda" confirm, they get more satisfied, curious and intrigued. That's why the first approach has a tendency to get more empathy and the second has a tendency to have less, in my experience.

Lastly, I like to be honest about my work. Being dishonest makes me feel bad. If I say everything I do is real, I'll be lying. If I say there's absolutely nothing "real" about what I do, I'll also be lying.

Right now, this "ambiguous" position is what works best for me, but again, what works for some might not work for others.
Message: Posted by: Max Hazy (Jan 10, 2018 11:48AM)
I just remembered something quite pertinent to this topic. Imo, a brilliant observation from Alan Wheeler about how our own beliefs, presentation and claims can interfere with each other if they're not in tune:

[quote]On Sep 2, 2017, Alan Wheeler wrote:
Of course the key is not in the performer's inner world but what is expressed.
For example, classical stage actors used much larger movements and gestures, much more grandiose vocals and expressions, than film actors.

The "believing" method advocated by many is probably more of a suspension of disbelief that helps communicate whatever claim is being made, even if the claim is subtext.

If the claim is supernatural, then a shut-eye expression is best.
If the claim is nuanced, a wink-eye or squint-eye expression is best.
If the claim is naturalistic, an open-eye expression is best. [/quote]
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 10, 2018 01:34PM)
I guess you wanted to share that and your opinion which is great. I think there is a lot of me-thinking around there that you have seemed to just accept, where in reality there is much you could still experience. It's this non-commital need to not want to position yourself or to be real that I find so disappointing. There is no point in being a fake mentalist. Would you want to go to a fake doctor, or have a fake plumber work in your home? If performers want to feel this way then why can they just accept that they are magicians and claim it, be proud.

If you feel uncomfortable saying what you do is real when what you perform is not, then change your performance material and perform only things that are real or that you can do for real. It can be an entirely different game altogether.

Performance is for the audience. It is their perceptions, beliefs, and expectations which we as entertainers should serve. Sure they may believe what they want, especially without framing or direction, but you may be missing how impactive it can be for them to know and understand what they are seeing. It can take their experience to an etirely greater level.
Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Jan 10, 2018 03:25PM)
Hmm, but that isn't a perfect analogy. Sure you wouldn't want a fake doctor or fake plumber for real needs but mentalism is theater... so it's like saying I only want a real doctor or plumber to play a doctor or plumber on TV.

Yes the ticket is the disclaimer for most, but there is going to be the occasional person who comes up believing what you do is a 100% real. And I think it's important - ethically and morally - to handle that situation delicately. There is a way to diffuse that situation by creating ambiguity.

For me, ambiguity is enough to create the requisite mystery. I don't need (and won't get) 100% of audiences to be willing to believe, but if they are at least questioning if it *could* be real, I've done my job.
Message: Posted by: MichaelCGM (Jan 10, 2018 05:22PM)
[quote]On Jan 10, 2018, Last Laugh wrote:
Yes the ticket is the disclaimer for most, but there is going to be the occasional person who comes up believing what you do is a 100% real. And I think it's important - ethically and morally - to handle that situation delicately. There is a way to diffuse that situation by creating ambiguity. [/quote]

Good stuff right there, Last Laugh.
Message: Posted by: Max Hazy (Jan 10, 2018 06:36PM)
Last Laugh got exactly my point. We don't need to sacrifice mystery to not be dishonest while playing for real.

[quote]On Jan 10, 2018, Mindpro wrote:
I think there is a lot of me-thinking around there that you have seemed to just accept, where in reality there is much you could still experience. [/quote]

Well I gave my arguments, you didn't quite gave examples to illustrate what much more I could experience, but I'm not even sure if that would make a difference, because as far as I know, people in your area know exactly what a mentalist is and this couldn't be further from the truth here where I live. Arguments through different situations hardly apply to each other. It would be like accepting different results as something scientific.

Btw, this "me-thinking" is coming from a guy who have played the role of a psychological mentalist for real in the past, being introduced as a magician and being asked afterwards to do a lecture on psychology. And I did, but it wasn't for entertainment purposes anymore. It would be imoral however to "pretend" being an psychological expert and accept to do a lecture about it without authority/knowledge to do so. Cases like this only happens when played for real. The "real" in me doesn't just refer to the "arcane" stuff, I'm also a credentialed hipno-therapist who uses real hipnoses as entertainment (no need to extend to further psychological approaches here).

[quote]On Jan 10, 2018, Mindpro wrote:
It's this non-commital need to not want to position yourself or to be real that I find so disappointing. [/quote]

That's ok. But I'm in this business to satisfy my clients, not to satisfy others in the business.

[quote]On Jan 10, 2018, Mindpro wrote:
Performance is for the audience. It is their perceptions, beliefs, and expectations which we as entertainers should serve. Sure they may believe what they want, especially without framing or direction, but you may be missing how impactive it can be for them to know and understand what they are seeing. It can take their experience to an etirely greater level. [/quote]

I see. Like me, you must have the same vision of Bob Cassidy about not mixing magic with mentalism. Even a blatant magic trick "card through window" Bob would play for real, entering what he called "miracle class", listing his reasons in Art of Mentalism 2. In my case, I've learned to [b]separate clearly one thing from the other.[/b]

Furthermore, I can be ambiguous both during the presentation and outside of it. If I played the 100% real during presentation, outside the presentation I would have to deal with 2 issues: 1) keeping my words, making me a charlatan by definition. 2) Go out of the 100% real, breaking the mystery. Bob Cassidy would use trickery played for real under theatrical context, but I have different premises... I want to be Max Hazy not Bob Cassidy.

I think if I wasn't serving people's interests, they wouldn't show interest in my work, which isn't the case, so I can't agree with you there. Now that I have incorporated esoteric/arcane stuff in my work, I have to be cautious, because even if indirectly (and specially when directly), people's personal beliefs will come into play. I wouldn't have to worry about it if I didn't play for real, but I do... and people do believe it... and I do care about not being dishonest about my work. Imo, being "impactive" should be achieved through presentation, not through dishonesty, specially under entertainment context.
Message: Posted by: Mindpro (Jan 10, 2018 09:28PM)
Ok, sure.
Message: Posted by: Rocketeer (Jan 13, 2018 01:32PM)
I like Philemon's "disclaimer," which is an inversion of the late Tim Conover's disclaimer: "I use my five senses to create the illusion of a sixth." Conover's disclaimer in particular always dismayed me and it was him I had in mind when I wrote my OP.

Hmm. I think I just might have come up with mine:

"Some of you are a little uncomfortable with the idea of a sixth sense or supernatural powers. If you're one of them, just keep repeating to yourself, 'It's only a show... It's only a show... It's only a show..."
Message: Posted by: MichaelCGM (Jan 13, 2018 02:51PM)
[quote]On Jan 13, 2018, Rocketeer wrote:Hmm. I think I just might have come up with mine:

"Some of you are a little uncomfortable with the idea of a sixth sense or supernatural powers. If you're one of them, just keep repeating to yourself, 'It's only a show... It's only a show... It's only a show..." [/quote]

Again... the Cafť needs a LUVIT button! :o)
Message: Posted by: Senor Fabuloso (Jan 13, 2018 03:00PM)
[quote]On Jan 13, 2018, Rocketeer wrote:

Hmm. I think I just might have come up with mine:

"Some of you are a little uncomfortable with the idea of a sixth sense or supernatural powers. If you're one of them, just keep repeating to yourself, 'It's only a show... It's only a show... It's only a show..." [/quote]

It's just great entertainment might do more for your career? it's just great entertainment. It's just great entertainment. Has a hypnotic way about it don't you think?
Message: Posted by: Last Laugh (Jan 13, 2018 03:38PM)
[quote]On Jan 13, 2018, Rocketeer wrote:
I like Philemon's "disclaimer," which is an inversion of the late Tim Conover's disclaimer: "I use my five senses to create the illusion of a sixth." Conover's disclaimer in particular always dismayed me and it was him I had in mind when I wrote my OP.

Hmm. I think I just might have come up with mine:

"Some of you are a little uncomfortable with the idea of a sixth sense or supernatural powers. If you're one of them, just keep repeating to yourself, 'It's only a show... It's only a show... It's only a show..." [/quote]


SOOO good. Wish I had thought of that!
Message: Posted by: Rocketeer (Jan 13, 2018 07:03PM)
You, know, as soon as I finished typing it, I had second second thoughts about "publishing" it here. And then I thought, what the hell--at least I'll be on record here as the originator of the line. And I've certainly stood on the shoulders of giants in assembling my act.