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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Derren Brown book test (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Seth
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Hi there, On one of his tv specials, Derren 'photoreads' a book and then is tested on it. I was wondering if this is actually a book test or photoreading. I'm not asking for any secrets just whether if it was an effect in the first place. Smile
leondo
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Muttley,
If your talking about where he was in the library and "memorized" a chosen book then is questioned about it....that is not a book test. It's a demonstation of superb memory.
BTW, it's also in Corrinda!
Ted (Leondo)
GothicBen
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Don't confuse presentation with method....
Dr Omni
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That's right. If you watch Derren Brown's video "The Devil's Picturebook", he explains that the audience should always actually see the (supposed) mind-reading. In the case of a book test, he points out, appearing to "photoread" the entire book in about 20 minutes provides a justification for selecting just one word from that particular book. Otherwise, Mr Brown asks, why shouldn't the spectator simply think of any word and the performer could name that? The process of seeming to "speed-read" is part of the presentation, also helping to create a possibly-convincing rationale for the book-test effect.

In fact, there *are* people you hear about who do seem to have phenomenal memory powers (as well being able to tell a lot about people by observing their minute body language and other feats.) We can be pretty sure that someone like Mr Brown has studied these techniques and learned as much about how to do them as is possble. He successfully combines this knowledge with old-fashioned trickery and showmanship, and his psychological forces, to give the *impression* that his perfoming such feats is real. Not only members of the public, but also many people like mentalists, magicians, cold-readers, etc, seem to think that Mr Browns presentation is the whole reality. That's a measure of what a performer he is.
Hypnotist and mentalist.
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DarkKnight
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There are methods around whereby after about 20 minutes one can perform a book test with any book. A good memory is involved but not as much as memorizing an entire book !

Mr Brown is indeed a superb performer and anything that he says should be taken with a large pinch of salt !
Dr Omni
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True. In his new book "Absolute Magic" (which is mainly about close-up magic but also is relevant to mentalism), DB makes a very good point that if the performer explicitly spells out in his patter the "story" about how he can do his effects (eg that he has psychic powers, that he invokes some demon from the "other side", or that he can read complex and subtle body language, eye-scan patterns and so on), the audience will tend to interpret *away* from that overt explanation (ie they will assume - correctly - that this story is simply patter). So the key is, according to Mr B, to let the "story" come through during the course of the show, through demonstrations, hints and so on. The audience should "see" (what appears to be) the mind-reading, and then they will deduce for themselves what the supposed techniques are (and think themselves quite clever for making such a "deduction"). It's a very powerful insight, and is demonstrated with good examples in the video "The Derren Brown Lecture" available from International Magic in London.
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DarkKnight
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Very true. I've always been much more into the 'lets try some experiments and see what happens' approach rather than any suggestion of having or using psychic abilities - plus it gives you a nice out if things go wrong. In fact the audience are often more appreciative when things do go wrong than when they are 100% every time.
Jonathan
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That's great advice! Maybe to give a disclaimer at the end to say you do them not with powers (which I claim to have at the beginning. I want to convert them before I convert them back. The reasons for this I posted recently on another topic.) and give them a vague description of how you use psychology, certain types of reading of people (body reading etc.) etc. to achieve the illusion. Maybe they will want to see it again which they will catch all the subtle clues you GIVE them in the routine that makes it look like you are reading their body or whatever. Just a thought.

BTW, I'm not proud of this but when I was a teenager and when I would visit churches I would put together an impromptu book test using the bible in the pews. I'd scan through for a page where there was only word in the top half of page that was longer than 4 letters on the first of a line (this is very easy because of certain books use a lot of short words, especially those in poetic form). I didn't know much about book tests but I came up with a quick method that was new to me at the time. I marked that page with my pinky and riffled for them to stop. Since I had all the instructions written on the front of the bulletin she had to look back to read the next step. When she did this I opened the bible and placed it on her lap, but opening it where my pinky was. I did this many times after this and never got caught, even when they were looking at it. The last instruction was to open the bulletin. Inside was the word. SHe got pale and I did this several times since then at churches.

I was visiting there to be with a girl I liked and so I wanted to impress her. I still do it in impromptu situations where I want to read someone's mind.

Again, not too proud of it. ha ha ha. Well, maybe proud of coming up with it on the spot. Smile

Jonathan Grant
A l a i n B e ll o n
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Why not be proud?

-Alain Bellon
Jonathan
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Aa ha ha. Well, being a Christian I'm not too proud of my past doing mentalism tricks during church to impress a girl. Something about using the bible for a trick during a worship service makes me frown. Smile

I used to do that stuff in high school. I convinced a teacher that she had psychic power and that I taught it to her (I made her believe I had psychic power first). I convinced my brother's friend that I could do telekenisis after finding out that he does exercises every night trying to learn how. I just floated a crumpled up piece of paper all over the place. He still talks about it, I'm his Yoda.

Ignorant and gullible people used to anger me and I'd always play tricks on them making them believe things for my own personal selfish pleasure. Not too proud of that either. Now I don't believe it is good to convince others of psychic powers etc.

Jonathan Grant
Seth
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Well thanks for all the advice guys. I am still kind of a Mentalism Newbie and have to admit that i was kind of taken in by Mr Brown's new presentation on mentalism. That seems to be a great idea for presentation for a book test though. (Any idea which book test he was using?)

Dr Omni, i must say that thank you for pointing out that bit of insight about letting the audience deduce the method.

And Jonathan, isn't that why we all took up magic? to impress the ladies. j/k
Dr Omni
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Muttley - cheers, but I can't really take credit for it!

Incidentally, those who are interested in Derren Brown might like to know that he was recently interviewed on a UK magic chatroom. Members of the chatroom (including me) submitted their questions and DB replied to them. His tips to me on mentalism were very useful, but most questions dealt with how he got involved in magic and moved from cards to mentalism. The interview can be seen at:

http://www.tricktv.co.uk
Hypnotist and mentalist.
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mclare
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I loved DB's book test- I think it's the most logical and convincing presentation I've come across, let alone trying to work out the method. Do those of us who don't like 'psychic' presentations thinks it's Ok to give 'photo-reading' explanations? Where do we draw the line?
Seth
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I agree...it seems to be the most logical explanation. Too bad it doesn't seem to be practical. (well to be convincing he took some time to memorise it and i don't think you can do that in a real performance.)
mclare
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How is it not practical? It may not work in a formal set, but as a demo in someone's house I think it would be a killer routine.
Seth
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Yeah but you would have to kill 20 minutes or so to 'memorise' the darn thing.
mclare
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But you'd be doing a demonstration of photo-reading, not a book test. Isn't it more the case that you would be 'spotted' reading a book very quickly and asked what you were doing? Then you explain that you're able to memorise books by heart... and then get cajouled into demonstrating?
Seth
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Yeah i know...but i mean that to make the photo reading look real you would have to spend like 20 minutes to photo read it ( well maybe 5 minutes at least) and i just reckon i'm too lazy to spend 5 minutes acting along...lol
Fon
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^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Then you will never achieve the same style as Derren,

:D

Fon
Always thinking..........?
Seth
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Darn...does that mean i won't be able to chat up the ladies the way he does...maybe i should reconsider. Smile
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