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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » What to do with Psychologists and Skeptics (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

RangeCowboy
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Maybe I am attributing my own psycho-limitations to the audience.

When I see a card or coin trick or a levitation I always think - 'A Trick with a method' but for years I ignored mentalism and kind of thought of it as a different skill channel, not for me because I saw no obvious method (I didn't bother to search the books/sites for mental magic methods)

When I say disturb them, Yes I want to make a new surprising challenge for their heads away from simply producing silks and canes and doing 'card tricks' as entertainment to the eye.

I don't really want them running off down the street thinking I know their inner secrets - not yet anyway.
Ian Rowland
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You have nothing to worry about! Do your show and enjoy it.

I've entertained loads of sceptics (that's how we spell it over here) and scientists. Ford makes several excellent points - they are just people, like you and me, like anyone else in any audience you've ever stood in front of.

Are they going to be any smarter than anyone else, or more astute, about figuring stuff out? Well, of course, that should never be the emphasis in your show, but nonetheless the answer is a definite and resounding "NO". They may be more interested in how they were deceived than other people, in an academic and intellectually disconnected way, but that doesn't mean they'll be any smarter than anyone else at guessing how it's done. One of the best reactions I've ever had in my life was seeing a physics boffin at Dallas University after I'd just done a simple nw trick with him.

Are they going to be any more hostile? In my experience, no. And that's even IF you go around making super-strong "It's for real" claims, which I don't know if you do. In my own experience the only truly hostile and 'difficult' audience members I've ever had have been people with very strong beliefs in psychic powers, who for some reason or other wanted to belittle my own humble presentations.

Go. Do. Enjoy. Tell us all about it afterwards!
www.ianrowland.com . Working Magic.
fordkross
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Re: Mr Rowland's saying the toughest audiences were "those with strong belief in psychic powers" I hsve not had that experience. But, I may have said this before here, I know I said it somewhere. The reason mentalists not have great success with the new age movement is IMO, that they are demonstrating unique psychic powers" and saying "look at me. how great I am" The new age movement is about awakening the abilities within us all. Look how great we all are. Never having seen Mr Rowland's performances, though I have read one of his books, I can't say this is the reason he's had hostility from those groups
from
Ford
Drewmcadam
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I've never had any problem with the "intellectuals" It's always been IT engineers that have given me trouble, as they take great delight in "reverse engineering" things. Intellectuals are always full of confidence in their own abilities and go shooting off down the wrong path where they hit a brick wall, still convinced that they are going in the right direction.
Tony Razzano
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Ford makes excellent points. Ian's advice about do your show is sound, also.
I think, above all, Rangecowboy, be yourself throughout the show. Don't drastically change personnas during the show It won't sell as entertainment.

My guess is that there are skeptics, or what I call psuedo skeptics, in every audience I have. I don't care. I am out to entertain. If they enjoy the show, great.

I don't care if Dr. Smith tells his wife how he thinks I did it, as long as they both enjoyed the show. There will also be many believers, shuteyes or not.

Again, I don't care what they want to believe as long as I entertain

Best regards,
Tony Razzano
Best regards,
<BR>Tony Razzano, Past President, PEA
Winner of the PEA"s Bascom Jones and Bob Haines Awards
Allan-F
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Quote:
On 2002-04-20 13:37, Peter695 wrote:
Additionally, you might want to contact Banachek. He fooled a lab full of scientists.


Yeah, but they were parapsychologists, not real scientists. Smile
Allan-F

"What can be thought of or spoken of necessarily IS, since it is possible for it to be, while it is not possible for NOTHING to be." -- Parmenides
mysterium
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RangeCowboy writes:

"I don't really want them running off down the street thinking I know their inner secrets - not yet anyway."

Then why do a mentalism show?

Mentalism is about knowing their inner thoughts. If you don't want to create the illusion of reading minds, maybe you should go back to the card tricks and floating canes.

I'm not being callous or sarcastic here -- I really mean it. If you're going to delve into mentalism, for the sake of the art please take it seriously! It shouldn't be played as a trick/game like ordinary magic. Not that you have to *claim* it's real just please *play* it as if it's real.

If you haven't already, read some of T.A. Waters' essays on the art of mentalism.
Paradox
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I take issue with the comment by Allan-F that parapsychologists aren't "real" scientists. Physical scientists and engineers are far easier to fool than any other group I've ever come across---and I was in engineering for 35 + years.
But I do agree totally with the suggestion to read T.A. Waters' essays. They are very perceptive.
Luke Kerr
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I think that he would like to say that parapsychologists really want you to do those things. And parapsychology believes that it could be true, so it helps you. (Read the story of Banachek and see that they were very stupid for thinking him free of trickery, all because they wanted him to succeed.)
Alan Munro
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I've performed for psychologists a number of times -- they actually seem more willing to believe than most people. Just because they're scientists, doesn't make them skeptical.
christopher carter
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Psych professors often give their students extra credit to come to my shows. My experiences with these professors tells me that they are often more open to the possibilties of the paranormal than many of their students.

I also think that most people of even moderate intelligence can distinguish between things that happen in a theatrical context and things being presented outside of this context. The only people I encounter who have difficulties along these lines are, on one hand, the types of people who believe every wierd thing they hear, and on the other hand, militant skeptics. Although I don't understand it myself, there are people so extreme as to be offended by the presentation of anything which uses the paranormal as a theatrical theme. I do find that these latter folks are frequently in the physical sciences. These people are hopeless. Since there is nothing you will ever be able to do that will help them pull the steel rod from out of their nether region, you're best to just not worry about them.

--Christopher Carter
Huw Collingbourne
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Quote:
On 2002-09-17 10:10, Alan Munro wrote:
I've performed for psychologists a number of times -- they actually seem more willing to believe than most people.


Interestingly, this is a point that's made by the psychologist, David Marks, in his book 'The Psychology of the Psychic' (a skeptical look at the claimed evidence of psychic phenomena). Marks says that he first became interested in this subject when he did a poll of his own psychology students. To his astonishment, no less than 80% believed in telepathy! Although he did that survey in the '70s he says that similar polls have been done by others recently and have shown little difference in the number of 'believers'.

Sounds to me like psychology students would be a very good audience! Smile

best wishes
Huw
A l a i n B e ll o n
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I should take a shot at this topic being that I am a physicist and used to perform for audiences composed of scientists.

While scientists tend to be more systematic observers, they seem to be as attracted to the supernatural as any other person. The studies show that professorship has a higher tendency to believe in things of the paranormal. (I have a post on the forum citing the studies and the specific numbers, but don't recall which one)

For those scientists that were skeptics I had to work harder on little details to give a baffling demonstration. Things like touching billets was a complete no-no, for example. They always assumed that if the paper containing the information was touched (or even approached) then the info could be acquired. Even if they didn't know how. So my performance had to create the illusion that no paper was touched. (when working with billets of course)
Also when working with skeptic scientists, tests need to have higher odds. A one out of five is not impressive at all to them (and it is my opinion that 1 of 5 effects are pretty weak in general... but not all).

On the other hand there is the believers section. Non-skeptical scientists are interesting since they consider themselves smart, so if you show them something they cannot explain they immediately consider it the real thing. "Heck I am a physicist, so if I can't figure this as a trick then it must be real."

Furthermore, these people (scientists) are as "entertainable" as any other audience.

So to answer the original question...

What to do with psychologists and scientists in general? Nothing, really. A few change in details is all that needs to be done. Understanding how they "believe" is sufficient to accomodate.

What to do with skeptics? Again nothing, really. They will be skeptics no matter what. It's a mistake to spend energy and try to convince that one skeptic in the audience... the rest gets bored in the mean time.

-Alain Bellon
Darmoe
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Quote:
On 2002-04-21 22:20, mysterium wrote:
RangeCowboy writes:

"I don't really want them running off down the street thinking I know their inner secrets - not yet anyway."

Then why do a mentalism show?

Mentalism is about knowing their inner thoughts. If you don't want to create the illusion of reading minds, maybe you should go back to the card tricks and floating canes.

I'm not being callous or sarcastic here -- I really mean it. If you're going to delve into mentalism, for the sake of the art please take it seriously! It shouldn't be played as a trick/game like ordinary magic. Not that you have to *claim* it's real just please *play* it as if it's real.

If you haven't already, read some of T.A. Waters' essays on the art of mentalism.



Smile I'm having flash-backs of some of my early shows doing mentalism... argh! Smile

Southern California hosts its fertle lands for growing Granola... if you have an idea and can even slightly hint at some kind of novel ability, you can build your own cult following. I discovered how easy this was at the booming age of 23, when I'd done a weekend's worth of shows in Palm Springs and the public's reaction scared the He-- out of me!

For no other reason than maturation, I believe "true" mentalism is very much an "adult's" art. That is to say, a few years/decades of actual "life experience" can prove one of your greatest assets. Granted, you can learn a lot from books, but it's LIFE that greatest of universities, that prepares us for situations of this kind.

LIFE is also what seems to seperate those that are honestly dedicated to the full scope of the craft we call "Mentalism" vs. the wannabes that love to stradle the praverbial fence and not commit to anything other than the role of being a clown doing tricks. Smile

Now... Before all those overly sensitive types go off on me for using such a comparison, let's consider what Mysterium has implied here and what was taught and practiced by all those gurus of Mentalism I hear everyone quoting and referring to... The common thread of thought being to entertain your audience but leave them overwhelmed with doubt -- UNCERTAIN if or not you are real.

Sorry, but few can do a bit like the old Dr. Rhine Outdone routine and make it sell to the average audience, as a Psychic Miracle.

THE REASON: It's a $35.00 Magic Trick presented in Kiddie Shows (some versions I've seen sold even have the Sesame St. Characters on them) by Joe Shmuck the Barber, that does $50.00 Birthday party gigs and intentionally undercuts any of the local aspiring pros no matter what. To top it all off, he does the TRICK poorly!

Mentalism, when done "right" has a consistency and solidity about it that comes out through the performer's "image" and personal philosophy. Now, if you're still wanting to do a Thin Model Sawing or one of Stinemeyer's lattest big box effects DON'T DO MENTALISM! Stay away from it for a while!

This is not to say you can't be novel, commercial, theatrical and entertaining when doing mentalism... You Can!

I've written articles and several posts on this idea... what I refer to as being "Metaphysically Themed Magic". Believe it or not, through this "philosophy" you actually can blend major stage effects with mentalism & spiritual type bits, and it all works! I'll not go down that path at this point but know that it is NOT a new idea and given the nature of cyclic law, it very much could be something that is due to come back on the horizon.

Smile Later!
"I firmly believe that of all the Arts and Crafts of Mentalism, there is nothing more satisfying than one who is a first-class Reader. It is the ultimate in Mentalism..." - Tony Corinda * 13 Steps To Mentalism
Greg Owen
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I am both a psychologist and a skeptic Smile

I would ignore this fact and just do my show.

- Greg Owen
Author of The Alpha Stack ebook - the balanced memorized stack
gobeatty@yahoo.com
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