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Seth
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Do you guys think that it is actually possible to change people's beliefs through your's or another's performance? Or that skeptics will always remain skeptics and believers, believers...?
Paradox
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Yes, it is possible. I've seen it happen. Having said that, it's not probable. Most "professional" skeptics will still believe E.S.P. means "Error Some Place".
You have, however, correctly pointed out that a skeptic's "belief" is just that, a BELIEF. It usually has nothing to do with scientific proof or the lack of it.
BTW, there is PLENTY of evidence that ESP exists. Pro skeptics have usually never heard of it, or if they have, will immediately say the experiments must have been "flawed" . Perception is reality.
Mr Amazing
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Consider this; no-one is born with any beliefs. They come gradually, and are based on what we are told and what we experience.

We magicians/mentalists specialize in deception. We also specialize in doing what seems impossible.

...but it's only impossible becuase they were told so or because the lack of previous experiences have made them conclude so.

So, what we do is filling in new experiences. If they were not warned before, then there is nothing competing against the experience (and consequently they believe). If they have been told or experienced that it's impossible, then this new experience competes with that implanted belief. Then it is up to which is stronger and more convicing. In other words, if it's a convincing enough demonstration, then no doubt do we change their beliefs.

That said, we mentalists (as opposed to psychics) usually dramatically weaken our claims because we do our stuff as entertainment. The mere stage and/or entertaining presentation is a disclaimer.
CENDRE
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98 % (maybe I'm under the correct number) of our fellow magicians are skeptics ! Smile

But that's our job to fight in a battle already loosed.

Nevertheless, few times (only few times for me with my modest experience), I succed in building a strong suspension of disbelieve. That's what I explained in the bending coin topic :

You must give to your spectators the desire to follow you in your world and accept its rules.
Once they are sure they will like what they will see in that world... even the most skeptic will be enchanted to believe for 15 seconds the unbelievable.


See you soon,
Il était une fois...

CENDRE
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DonMarco
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I think you should ask yourself what your goal as a performer is.

Are you a mentalist because you want to change people's beliefs? Why do you want to do this? Does this make them a better person? Do you want this for your own self-esteem? Maybe there is a reason that I'm not clued into.

Are you a mentalist because you want to entertain? To GIVE the audience a remarkable experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives because it made them HAPPY?

I don't think there's anything wrong with either, but I do think it's important to structure your performance around whatever your ultimate motive is.

Perhaps the the best situation is a fine line between both...i.e. bringing people back into their childhood state of astonishment ala Paul Harris. This way they are entertained, and astonished, without making them question the things that make that person unique...

just a couple of things to think about. I think this has developed into a very interesting thread.
"Imagination is the Only Reality"-- Marquis de Sade
Luke Kerr
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Quote:
On 2002-10-22 08:46, Paradox wrote:
Yes, it is possible. I've seen it happen. Having said that, it's not probable. Most "professional" skeptics will still believe E.S.P. means "Error Some Place".
You have, however, correctly pointed out that a skeptic's "belief" is just that, a BELIEF. It usually has nothing to do with scientific proof or the lack of it.
BTW, there is PLENTY of evidence that ESP exists. Pro skeptics have usually never heard of it, or if they have, will immediately say the experiments must have been "flawed" . Perception is reality.


I think that it all the performing is created to do it you can change beliefs but I ask why?
It's important for enjoying the performance that they have some doubts,but not that they believe!Don't inoculate false beliefs in people.
(for esp I remember that scientifically nothing that couldn't be repeated is considered to be demonstrated and an event not repeatible is not a proof,i work in aerospace world and there are engines that work without a clear explanation,but it is repeatable)
Ted Lesley
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I think, it is possible to make sceptics to believers. When I perform my CT routine, (see my book "Paramiracles") it happens very often, that under close-up situations I say things, which are far beyond "cold reading" and don`t ask me, HOW they come into my mind. That had happened a few times in my career but it happened only when I was sitting in front of hard disbelievers! An example? Here it is:
It was a couple of years ago, that a middleaged married couple was sitting in front of me. They teased me and said laughingly: "Mindreader? Don`t make us laugh, you´re doing simple tricks only, right? You can do such a sh.. NOT with US!"

So I suggested that we should give it a try and did my CT routine with them. They wrote a name and a city on the billett. To get the information I needed, I started my questioning exactly as described in my book. As I found out that the person they were thinking of was NOT a relative I had the information I needed. Suddenly - and don`t ask me why - I said: "It has something to do with your neighbours, with the daughter of your neighbors, RIGHT?" and I saw that the lady got pale white in her face! That lead me to the next conclusion and I said:"There was an accident involved.....! The little girl fell in your swimming pool.....RIGHT? But GISELA from MUNICH is happy and healthy again by now......!!!"
After this statement there was a dead silence.......the gentleman of the couple was speechless and shaked his head and the lady had tears in her eyes. Afterwards the couple told everybody who wanted to know it or not, that I am indeed a "REAL" Psychic..!

A few months later I met the couple again and they invited me to work ot a private party in their house and we became very good friends.

So sceptics became believers......

Any questions? Feel free to ask!

TED LESLEY
Ted Lesley

( The "Victor Borge" of Mentalism )
Brash
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My goal is to create an entertaining mystery.

"Is there or isn't there?" "Can he or can't he?"

The questions are far more interesting than simply "Yes, he reads minds". A mystery is only a mystery when it hasn't been solved.
Jim Reynolds
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Depends on your definition of a skeptic. A true skeptic (open to possibilities) will less likely become a true believer than a "hard line skeptic" that says it's ALL fake. Conversely, a true believer can become a devout Randi follower in an instant.

Look at cults. Brian washing techniques depend on HOW a person thinks. Not WHAT they believe in. The wiring is already in place. It’s just a matter if flipping that one switch – and you have a new convert.

Easier said then done. But not impossible.
NelsonMon
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Mr. Lesley,

Do you ever start believing you may actually possess some type of supernatural insight or sensitivity? Between this story and the anecdotes in your book (particularly the Russian CT story) one has to wonder, since you can't explain these 100% away. I'm sure all mentalists who have been performing for quite a while all have similar stories (where they "know what they don't know they know" as I say in one of my routines)but might be the biggest skeptics. Just curious what your thoughts were.

Nelson Smile
Luke Kerr
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Quote:
On 2002-10-24 11:58, NelsonMon wrote:
Mr. Lesley,

Do you ever start believing you may actually possess some type of supernatural insight or sensitivity? Between this story and the anecdotes in your book (particularly the Russian CT story) one has to wonder, since you can't explain these 100% away. I'm sure all mentalists who have been performing for quite a while all have similar stories (where they "know what they don't know they know" as I say in one of my routines)but might be the biggest skeptics. Just curious what your thoughts were.

Nelson Smile


I think they call it Experience.
Smile
NelsonMon
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Quote:
On 2002-10-24 13:11, Luke Kerr wrote:

I think they call it Experience.
Smile


Thanks! LOL! Smile
Trois
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I've fried a few folks by naming the town they live in, after I ask them the name of their state. Maybe I hit it 50% of the time, but that is all that 50% needs for a shocker.
Not clever enough to come up with something orginal, or did I.
A l a i n B e ll o n
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Technically speaking you cannot turn a skeptic into a believer or viceversa instantly. The process of belief change is that: a process.

If a new concept is presented to a person it is evaluated as to how much it fits the person's current model of the universe. If it fits, it is accepted. If it contradicts accepted notions then it is not accepted.

For a contradicting concept to be accepted several internal views need to be shifted around or modified. As a person is favorably exposed to a certain concept the person may slowly accept the concept as true. And this is done by modifying and shifting around the internal concepts that make up their model of the world. It takes time.

There is one exception. Traumatic experience can generate a sudden shift in concepts by linking to something more powerful than reason: emotion and conditioning. In rare cases a mentalism performance can fall into the traumatic experience category.

When people confront a claim such as "mind reading" they will adopt a pose depending on the environment they are in. If they are surrounded by people that are believers, they may act towards believing if they feel insecure by being skeptical (or they may adopt a stronger skeptical pose if they feel more secure in that position of confrontation). Conversely, if they feel insecure by not adopting a skeptical pose, they will most likely adopt one.

So the pose adopted has much more to do with the way they want to be perceived as (to avoid being made feel stupid for not being skeptical or to avoid being made feel spiritually inferior for not believing) than with what the real beliefs of the person are.

When we notice a change in posture, we are most likely seeing a change in pose. When a moderate believer is posing skeptically, he/she may suddendly expose his/her real model of the world after being confronted with the "evidence" the mentalist provides.

Also keep in mind that a person that may believe in feats of mentalism does not have to be a full believer, but just needs to contemplate the possibility of those feats being possible.

Finally, I am skeptical but not a denier. I have been in both camps and thus respect and understand both belief and skepticism.
xersekis
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Check out the work of mathematitian Polya - to learn about beliefs and being convinced. It's worth it to deviate from our field to learn to use things relevant and essential to our field.

Enjoy!
Rex
A l a i n B e ll o n
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The works of George Polya are indeed interesting. Nevertheless, most of his work relates more to strategies for problem solving (heuristics) than to the actual structures of psychological belief.

Of course lots of ideas can be extracted from his treatment of belief systems as the use we make of concepts (knowledge and heuristics). It is the collection of knowledge and the techniques to manipulate it that constitutes our model of the universe. (a parallel extracted from the mathematical concept of "domain")
shrink
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We are continuouisly being bombarded with millions of pieces of information. In order to be able to cope with this we delete distort and generalise in coming data to prevent sensory over load.

Decisions are created during significant emotional events followed by the belief. If some one forms a strong belief and it is re-inforced a number of times they will begin to delete any information contrary to that belief and allow in information that supporst the beleif therefore re-inforcing it.

It may even turn into a conviction which leads the person who holds that conviction to feel emotional pain when those beliefs are challenged.(hardened skeptics or hardened beleivers).

It is possible to change beleifs conversationally by getting them back to just before they made the initial decision and "pitching" the new perspective while they are in that place.

A language pattern called the decision destroyer.
A l a i n B e ll o n
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"It is possible to change beleifs conversationally by getting them back to just before they made the initial decision and "pitching" the new perspective while they are in that place."

I am not convinced that it can work so easily. Here are my reasons:

When a person holds a certain belief, there are a series of concepts and world views that work jointly with that particular belief.

Now, we pretend to change the belief to another one that contradicts the series of concepts, world views and other beliefs that surround the one we are changing. To do so would mean that the individual is to be left with no solid concepts to both understand and predict the world. This situation would create a great level of anxiety and emotional distress. It highly improbable that an individual will force him/herself into that situation.

While we can certainly create the initial push towards a change in beliefs, I really don't think you can just "insert" a world model changing belief that has instant action. A person may make a shift intellectually to some degree but the emotional and conceptual momentum from the original belief will not allow for a REAL belief change to happen immediately.

From a neurological perspective, neuronal connections do not change instantly. We develop new abilities, and learn in general, with time and practice. It is the same case with belief acquisition. We adopt concepts as we are favorably exposed to them time and time again. A shift in world paradigms would require a substantial change at the neuronal level for everything to make sense and work conjointly.

Yes, instant changes sound nice and appealing, but I think NLP (or what NLP has become now) suffers from "Goal Anxiety", inherited from western culture. We are "trained" to look for 1-2-3 formulas and magical Fix-your-problems-in-7-days solutions. Oriental cultures appreciate much more the value of walking the path. The understanding that profound changes need time to happen.

Of course, I am focusing on world changing views (like believing or not believing in the supernatural, which is something that alters a large portion of our understanding of the world). For "smaller" beliefs, instant change may be possible, as there are less implications.
Bob Baker
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I just got back from voting (US).

Choice of candidates was enough to convert a believer to a skeptic...

B
saglaser
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The process of changing a belief may be gradual but the change itself may happen in an instant. This may have to do more with styles of belief than with what is believed.

There are those who need to be True Believers. It is, ultimately, less important to them what they believe in than that they believe in something with utter certainty. It could be a religion, political dogma, or even an "all that stuff is BS" apparent refusal to believe in anything -- in which case they devoutly believe in disbelief.

It may take a lot to change them, including logical attacks, peer pressure and emotional assault, but when they change, they flip over instantly.

Many of them are easy to find and are usually thrilled to identify themselves by telling their stories:

"I used to be a godless Communist cocaine smuggler and then my sister took me to a meeting where I discovered Jesus."

"I used to think that science was everything and that paranormal experiences were bunk and then I watched with my own eyes as a guy bent a spoon using only his mind and told me things about myself he couldn't possibly know."

"I used to think that I was doomed to misery and failure and then I discovered Amway."

A True Believer might believe ANYthing. But he *must* believe. and when one rug is yanked out from under him, he'll cling even tighter to the next.
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