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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Your preference: The psychological approach vs the paranormal approach. (17 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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IbiMania
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I just realised that this has sort of become "Psych" vs "The mentalist". Both are lovely TV series.
Marmen
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It may well be a geographical thing. I still remember seeing Jon Tremaine getting rousing cheers and almost a standing ovation in a London night club of long ago with his excellent mental act. He always played it for real without any magic tricks and like Bob and others looks down on "mental magic". Anyway the act went over extremely well although I have no idea if people believed it was real or not. Perhaps they did.

However, a few years later I saw him work in Northern England where the populace are a trifle more down to earth. He did EXACTLY THE SAME ACT as he did in London but the response was completely different. Fairly lukewarm in fact. I heard people afterwards say, "Who does he think he is? Trying to tell us he can read minds" and "What a load of old cobblers! There is no such thing as mindreading" and "This is an insult to the intelligence trying to tell people he can read minds"

This happened in Blackpool. The populace don't believe in anything there. I would love to know what they think about Derren Brown nowadays!
Ben Blau
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On Jul 24, 2014, IAIN wrote:
@Ben - its come across that you consider the stats provided (the gallup and bob's own) that the percentages are not significant in any way, despite them being (roughly) 1 in 4 people...but statistically speaking, it is...say you were at a big dining table, 12 people...three of those are gonna be believers, mixed in with a few who are open minded to the idea of believing in "something"...so now we're talking near to half of the 12 being very interested in psychic presentations...

that's what its felt like to me at least...


I think what's happening here is that I have a poor ability to express in writing what I am trying to say, as I suffer from impatience when thumbing characters on my iPhone to quickly respond to posts, when instead I'd be better off sitting down with you and having an actual conversation.

Let me put it this way, regarding Gallup polls. If a street interviewer with a microphone walks up to someone in the street and asks, "do you believe in ghosts?", a certain percentage of people will say that they do. Of that percentage of people, a much smaller percentage ACTUALLY believe in ghosts, in the sense that they know for sure that ghosts are real. It's casual belief, not profound belief. What they really mean is that they do not know, whether they realize it or not.
IAIN
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mastermindreader
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Marmen-

When Tremaine gave his estimate, very few mentalists used a purely psychological presentation. Hence the breakdown into thirds.
Mike Ince
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, IbiMania wrote:
As I previously mentioned, the purpose of starting the thread was not to give a conclusive answer to which one is better but to just view each side's reasons for using their premise.

I can safely say that people who use the science premise do so because of their belief in it being more convincing...


When I perform (at this moment I'm on sabbatical if not retired) I prefer to imply psychological phenomena. In my personal life I don't believe in psychics or fortunetellers, so my choice not to present myself as one has little to do with believable presentations - I know I could find and entertain audiences who believe in ESP, psychic visions, etc. and validate their beliefs by appearing to be a psychic or mystic. I may even win a few skeptics over. I'm an actor; I could do it as easily as Benny Hinn does (though he doesn't do it for entertainment). But there's already enough confusion in the world. I just want to entertain. The audiences I've had in DFW don't understand psychic entertainment the way we do. Too many understand it as validation of real abilities that could possibly give them the answers they're looking for. If you believe in psychic abilities and want others to believe in them (even though you use deception to have a successful show), a psychic or mystical character makes sense. It's not for me. Why would I want to even accidentally lead thirsty people to a well that I think is dry? I'm not saying most psychic entertainers intend to hornswoggle audiences in a damaging way.

I also don't believe a performer could use only psychological techniques to accomplish what I can in a show, so implying super (yet not supernatural) powers could also lead to harmful reliance on psychological tools that aren't trustworthy. I think it would cause less harm. It isn't that I disbelieve in the supernatural. I do believe in the supernatural and my show ain't it. After doing Q&A several times, I had to stop. It was the strongest effect yet it felt too real to people. That's dangerous ground, I think.

I want participants to enjoy the show, believe for a half-hour or so, then step back into reality once it's over. Some of them are going to believe my demonstrations are legit regardless what I say. If they do, I would rather they lean more on psychological explanations than on mystical ones. That's because I'd rather people visited a psychologist than a fortuneteller. (I get the entertainment angle on palm-reading and such, but I don't believe in harmless palm-reading or divination. I know that's offensive to some readers but that's my opinion). My reasons are my reasons. You have to pay attention to your own conscience and follow it.

For the record, I love watching psychic entertainers and mindreaders who are clearly out to give the audience a good time. I know it isn't real, maybe the audience doesn't. Who knows? Who cares? We're having a good time. We're laughing and bewildered. It's fantastic. I can watch and love it but can't adopt that kind of persona without my OCD bothering me. I struggle with scrupulosity which at times is paralyzing.

I have faith that the rough roads beneath our feet will smooth over as we live according to principle, making our life journeys easier. That's the reason for my chosen persona. It sits better with my conscience, which gives me an energetic, playful confidence that I need to give my best performance.

Thanks for posting this thread, and for reading. Once I start writing I get too lazy to stop.
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
IAIN
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, Ben Blau wrote:
Let me put it this way, regarding Gallup polls. If a street interviewer with a microphone walks up to someone in the street and asks, "do you believe in ghosts?", a certain percentage of people will say that they do. Of that percentage of people, a much smaller percentage ACTUALLY believe in ghosts, in the sense that they know for sure that ghosts are real.


but HOW do you know this?! what evidence is there? if none, and its just your opinion, fair enough...but for me, you can't put your own caveats on data to suit your own world view...otherwise anything can be dismissed that I don't agree with by me saying "yeah? well...they're just saying that...they're not being honest"...

to quote the big lebowski "yeah? well..that's just...like...your opinion, man..."

btw - I am an officially ordained dudeist priest...
IbiMania
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, Mike Ince wrote:
Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, IbiMania wrote:
As I previously mentioned, the purpose of starting the thread was not to give a conclusive answer to which one is better but to just view each side's reasons for using their premise.

I can safely say that people who use the science premise do so because of their belief in it being more convincing...


When I perform (at this moment I'm on sabbatical if not retired) I prefer to imply psychological phenomena. In my personal life I don't believe in psychics or fortunetellers, so my choice not to present myself as one has little to do with believable presentations - I know I could find and entertain audiences who believe in ESP, psychic visions, etc. and validate their beliefs by appearing to be a psychic or mystic. I may even win a few skeptics over. I'm an actor; I could do it as easily as Benny Hinn does (though he doesn't do it for entertainment). But there's already enough confusion in the world. I just want to entertain. The audiences I've had in DFW don't understand psychic entertainment the way we do. Too many understand it as validation of real abilities that could possibly give them the answers they're looking for. If you believe in psychic abilities and want others to believe in them (even though you use deception to have a successful show), a psychic or mystical character makes sense. It's not for me. Why would I want to even accidentally lead thirsty people to a well that I think is dry? I'm not saying most psychic entertainers intend to hornswoggle audiences in a damaging way.

I also don't believe a performer could use only psychological techniques to accomplish what I can in a show, so implying super (yet not supernatural) powers could also lead to harmful reliance on psychological tools that aren't trustworthy. I think it would cause less harm. It isn't that I disbelieve in the supernatural. I do believe in the supernatural and my show ain't it. After doing Q&A several times, I had to stop. It was the strongest effect yet it felt too real to people. That's dangerous ground, I think.

I want participants to enjoy the show, believe for a half-hour or so, then step back into reality once it's over. Some of them are going to believe my demonstrations are legit regardless what I say. If they do, I would rather they lean more on psychological explanations than on mystical ones. That's because I'd rather people visited a psychologist than a fortuneteller. (I get the entertainment angle on palm-reading and such, but I don't believe in harmless palm-reading or divination. I know that's offensive to some readers but that's my opinion). My reasons are my reasons. You have to pay attention to your own conscience and follow it.

For the record, I love watching psychic entertainers and mindreaders who are clearly out to give the audience a good time. I know it isn't real, maybe the audience doesn't. Who knows? Who cares? We're having a good time. We're laughing and bewildered. It's fantastic. I can watch and love it but can't adopt that kind of persona without my OCD bothering me. I struggle with scrupulosity which at times is paralyzing.

I have faith that the rough roads beneath our feet will smooth over as we live according to principle, making our life journeys easier. That's the reason for my chosen persona. It sits better with my conscience, which gives me an energetic, playful confidence that I need to give my best performance.

Thanks for posting this thread, and for reading. Once I start writing I get too lazy to stop.


This was a good read, thanks for the insight. This is the sort of thing I started this thread for.
Ben Blau
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It was stated as my opinion, though I strongly suspect that I am correct. My evidence comes from my observations of how people actually conduct their lives according to the beliefs they genuinely deem to be the most reliable.
Marmen
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, IAIN wrote:
Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, Marmen wrote:
Another estimate is that of Jon Tremaine a noted British mentalist who stated that a third believe, a third don't believe and a third are not sure. And he said "It is the controversy that keeps you working". Mind you, he didn't take into account people from California.


and the evidence will certainly indicate very similar thinking...
http://www.gallup.com/poll/16915/Three-F......mal.aspx


I have done thousands upon thousands of psychic readings so I know a large segment of the population believe in this kind of thing. However, it is a different matter when you see some chap on a stage who is obviously a showman. As a matter of fact believers in psychic stuff can spot a fake on stage faster than greased lightning. They do know the difference you know. And another thing that has to be taken into account is obvious clues like a mentalist performing on a bill with other magicians. I bet not a single layman at the magic castle believes any mentalist who performs there is the real thing. Oh, sorry......I forgot.............the Magic Castle is in California. Forget everything I just said.

Another thing that mitigates against belief is the popularity of mentalists. When the public see a mentalist on every street corner it does stretch credibility a bit that they ALL have strange powers.

But I don't like the psychological approach either. The only one who got away with that quite splendidly was Chan Canasta. With other mentalists people will argue if he has powers or not or more likely will think he hasn't and that he is some sort of magician. People aren't daft you know. However, Chan Canasta was the only mentalist (and I am not even sure if you could really call him a mentalist) who everyone TOOK FOR GRANTED that he was the real thing and was everything he claimed to be. Nobody even considered the possibility he was using trickery. The most they could say was that he had a fantastic memory or perhaps they fell for the psychology nonsense.

But Canasta was an exception. I don't think anybody else comes close. If you are going to do this stuff go full out and play it as if you are the real thing or play it as if you are a magician and this is just another trick. Both ways will work and be just as entertaining. The first has a better sub text I suppose.
IAIN
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@ben -Could that be confirmation bias?
Marmen
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, IAIN wrote:
Derren in blackpool...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOdYgEDSm7E


Don't believe everything you see on television!
Ben Blau
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On Jul 24, 2014, IAIN wrote:
@ben -Could that be confirmation bias?


Of course it could! I don't believe anyone is immune from this, myself included.
Scott Soloff
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, Ben Blau wrote:
Even many (if not most) people who "believe" in god actually do not.

Let me make an analogy. Lots of people have jobs, and bosses. They know that they need to be good employees, in order to not get fired or demoted. So, they abide by the rules, and try to make the best impression they can, ESPECIALLY when the boss is around.

Now, consider this same person, who also claims to believe in god. In many mainstream faiths, god sets out the rules to live by, and to do otherwise will condemn you to an eternity of hell.

This person, if he REALLY believed in god in the same way he believes in his directly observable boss at work, would never sin. To do so under the ever watchful eye of a supreme being would be far, far more terrifying than showing up late for work.

People's claimed beliefs in the supernatural are tenuous. Their actions in life portray this, and their behavior tends to more reliably reflect that which they can directly observe and experience. Sure, lots of people claim to believe in psychic phenomena. I assert that deep down, they know it's BS, but enjoy the fantasy of it all.

I suspect that this post will annoy some people here. It was not my intention, and apologies if I've offended anyone. I'm just being honest about what I believe.


Ben,

Of course you're free to believe what you want. But I believe that you are conflating some issues here.

It is certainly possible for a person to believe in God and simultaneously break the rules. People have been known to act against their own best interest.

Similarly, those who believe in ESP and psychic phenomena would not necessarily seek the counsel of such people. And even if they did, and they believed what they were told, they still may not listen. That's not lack of belief, that's human nature. Did you ever do anything that you knew was wrong and did it anyway?

I also don't think that someone gifted with psychic abilities would volunteer to be a lab rat for the betterment of humankind. I sure as s@#* wouldn't.

I just deleted an entire paragraph because I don't have a polite way to say what I think. The ideas that you put forth are very rational. But they suggest either a lack of worldly experience (youth?) or insufficient critical thinking skills.

Dude, I'm sorry. Like I said, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. I hope the mods delete my post.

Best wishes,


Scott
p.s. I think that we have entirely too much time on our hands!
'Curiouser and curiouser."
Ben Blau
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I know that I am entitled to my opinion. Please don't make assumptions about my age or range of experience in life just because we do not agree. I'm not threatened by your opinions, and you shouldn't be threatened by mine. Frankly, I'm surprised by the general reactionary tone in response to me expressing my views, which only come from a place of absolute sincerity.
George Hunter
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Sorry Ben, but believing someone who says that they speak "from a place of ABSOLUTE sincerity" (emphasis added) requires more of a stretch than to believe that they are psychics or psychologists!

Most human behavior is driven by multiple motives, some conscious and some subconscious. Everyone has needs and agendas. We sometimes do things we do not want to do, and fail to do things we want to do, and sometimes act in contrast to what we believe, including those of us who believe in God. At times, each of us is a mystery to himself.

Admittedly, sincerity is important in its absence. Fred Allen, the radio comedian, once observed that "You can take all of the sincerity in Hollywood and stuff it in a gnat's navel, and leave enough room fort two caraway seeds and an agent's heart!" Out life together is, of course, better when we are essentially sincere. But none of us is likely to achieve "absolute" sincerity in this life. (In any case, performing as a mentalist with a chosen persona involves a suspension of sincere self-presentation while performing.)

George
Marmen
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This is too intellectual for me. I am off to the little darlings section where they know how to talk just like children. They talk just as much nonsense as they do here but at least I can understand it.
Waters
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Ben,

You make a good point about the separation between how people act and what they believe. A proper theological understanding of Christianity asserts that no one is capable of doing so, thus it cannot be the basis of one's approval from God. Not offended, just clarifying.

I think people who may privately assert (on a survey) that they believe in the possibility of PSI are indignant if questioned in public. I cannot claim this is true, but merely offering a possible explanation of seemingly inconsistent messages. This type of occurrence has explained many an unexpected political outcome.

Best Regards,

Sean
Scott Soloff
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Quote:
On Jul 24, 2014, Ben Blau wrote:
I know that I am entitled to my opinion. Please don't make assumptions about my age or range of experience in life just because we do not agree. I'm not threatened by your opinions, and you shouldn't be threatened by mine. Frankly, I'm surprised by the general reactionary tone in response to me expressing my views, which only come from a place of absolute sincerity.


My bad. I apologize.

Best wishes,


Scott
'Curiouser and curiouser."
Ben Blau
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If I may, I would like to try one last time to clarify my point, which evidently I haven't made very well.

In response to the question of whether one approach to mentalism is inherently more believable than the other (psychic vs psychological), I attempted to give my reasons for thinking that the psychological approach is so.

In all of the stats provided by those who posted, the raw percentages indicated that while some report that they believe, a greater number do not. I also stated, as an OPINION, that among those who claim to believe, that I suspect that many do not, in the strictest sense of the word. To me, "belief" implies something that comes close to absolutely knowing something to be true. It's different from simply being open minded to a possibility.

I strongly suspect that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe, but cannot say that I believe in it, because I can't know if I'm right.

So, even if I disregard my own opinions (maybe "opinions" isn't the right word - I mean "things I suspect are true, even though I might be wrong), the statistics suggest that more people don't believe that psychics are real. And since I'm part of that majority, I'd much rather present my mentalism in a way that is in consonance with the beliefs my audiences come to the table with, as well as my own.

I'm really, really sorry if I've ruffled any feathers, and mean no disrespect to anyone. I accept that I could be completely wrong, but I can only draw from my own observations and frame of reference. I also don't think that it would be healthy if we all agreed on everything.

Much respect to all who have made great points in this thread. Let's all try to learn from each other. Hopefully we've all at least given each other some good food for thought.

-Ben
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