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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Acknowledging it's all a trick (48 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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MentalistCreationLab
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On Jul 28, 2016, Walkio wrote:
I read in an interview between Fogel and Corinda in the 13 Steps where both seemed to suggest it's ok to let the audience believe the mentalist really does have some kind of psychic ability. Thankfully, Fogel makes it clear one shouldn't take advantage of the recently bereaved who wish to talk to their deceased loved ones etc. (I think all mediums are deplorable). But I personally think we should make it clear what we're doing is trickery. It's ok to deceive in the context of a trick if the audience expects and accepts trickery. Otherwise you're no better than Uri Gellar, a charlatan and fraud and laughing stock. What do you guys think?



I personally think all mentalist who use a disclaimer are deplorable. I happen Like Uri Gellar, charlatans and fraudsters and I was never was a huge fan of Fogel anyway note: I not saying I did not read his works or study hi construct take that as you will. And I see no point in this thread.

And while I am at it. I see no point in debunking period except in one case and that is debunking the skeptics and there hidden agenda.

The foundations upon which the early anti(XXXX) observations are based on during the 1850s-1860s (form which modern skepticism and its theories began) were rooted and based on bad, flawed and mind control information propaganda agenda for another organization to begin with in the first place. All of those fact's along with lots of proof and documentation that the roots of modern skepticism fell prey to a con are in the new tome.

If you think the people who do mentalism without a disclaimer or telling them its a trick are deplorable then mentalism may not be for you as some of these people could teach you a tremendous amount of needed and required information to perform mentalism and by ignoring them because of personal bias you will only get a basic understanding of what mentalism and its related arts are. Which is a real shame.

What I am saying is that mentalism and it related arts are not for everyone but I would never go into coin magic for example only wanting learn some of what is offered. For example, lets say I did not like T. Nelson Downs (March 16, 1867 – September 11, 1938), Ross Bertram (1912-1992), J.B. Bobo (February 11, 1910 in Texarkana, Texas- 12 September 1996), David Roth(still kicking)(hope he puts out another book) because they did said or did (whatever). Then by very nature of this I am only willing to only learn modern and traditional coin magic by using only a small fraction of what could be learned by studying the works of these above guys. Plus 95% of all the sources on coin magic site these guys for the foundations of what the others are basing there ideas for a coin routine on.In other words if you take away the foundations of the magic genre your learning then you not going to learn anything really and all your left with is a method for a trick without wonder, entertainment value and a whole bunch of other stuff.

In mentalism one finds that the so called trick is only a small part of the construct and without the other stuff mentalism is about as boring as it gets. If mentalism its not your thing find something that fits you better but please stop this you have to use a disclaimer and debunking junk. I not going to listen anyway because of one main reason is some of the most useful stuff I ever learned I learned form some charlatans and that stuff is so useful I wont even talk about it as I just use that information for myself. End rant.
solarpk
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This is a topic that has been discussed even recently in many a thread here, under different headings. The issue is not a black and white one. I believe the biggest issue is whether presenting examples which we well know are not genuine (because it is entertainment) in a context where a degree of academic rigor could reasonably be expected by an audience is acceptable, where the audience may be not be scientifically inclined, and have failed to acknowledge the blurring of entertainment and scientific discussion because of the context in which the presentation occurs. There you have the issue that such performances distort the reality to an extent whereby a spectator may, by supposed logical extension, conclude other areas considered pseudoscience are more credible than the science suggests.

It is clear that if you come away from a TED talk, having watched a mentalist, and have concluded the phenomenon exist, the clear, unambiguous yet intentionally fraudulent acts that have cemented your conclusions are a world away from, say, an apparent small statistical significance in the meta-analysis across 832 micropsychokinesis studies which parapsychologist Radin (controversially)describes, and which a layperson may likely have found notably less convincing.

In an theatre context you are expecting to be entertained and likely have an expectation that there is a fiction or some falsehood at play - there are evidently forums in which the spectators have different expectations. Certainly I believe that in presentations in an context which have even a facade of 'science' or 'academia' about them, the presenter surely has an increased obligation to be (more) honest and not fan the flames of the pseudo-sciences.

Of course, you can tell people the truth, but without a strong alternative explanation they will believe what they want anyway.
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AttnPls
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Is there anyone here who believes that the performance of mentalism as being "real" in the context of a scientific discussion is not absolutely crossing an ethical boundary?
jstreiff
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To answer the question of ethics you must first clearly define 'real'. I believe this is what separates the various camps in fact.
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Ben Blau
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When I perform, the question of whether or not they are "tricks" almost never even comes up. But if it did, I have ways of answering this question honestly without diminishing the mystery of what I do.
Sudo Nimh
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I'm not a fan of disclaimers. In my opinion they undermine what you're trying to achieve and I would rather have the audience draw their own conclusions.
AttnPls
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I do not believe in disclaimers in a theatrical or promotional context either.

But really -- who here thinks that it is OK to perform mentalism "as real" in the context of a scientific talk?

I have been asked, and I have, given lectures on body language in a scientific context. However, I was extremely careful to talk only about current published scientific research studies. I would NEVER present a theatrical routine and imply that it were scientific fact IN A SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT. Who here would?
Alan Wheeler
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The contemporary magician personas are typically comic like Don Alan or skeptic debunkers like Penn and Teller.

Blaine and Chris Angel harken back to an earlier age when more people were likely to find magic believable.
In that earlier age, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed that Houdini used the spirits in performance; Houdini debunked and yet believed...

The construct of mentalism still maintains that tone of mystery, the ambiguity of the question mark, verisimilitude bordering on hoax.

Spirit theater like the Ghost Train mixes a bit of realism and history into the experience so the paying audience can live the legends...
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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jstreiff
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Here is what Tony Shiels had to say about the Business of Mentalism in Invocation in July 1975.

"I WANT THEM TO BELIEVE . . . . a Mental Act is NO GOOD unless people are puzzled to the degree that they think "Well, there may be something in it". It's NO GOOD unless a Fair proportion of the audience is prepared to go at least half way towards believing in the possibility of ESP. If they all thought - as they do with an ordinary - straight magic act - that it's just trickery, then that's what it is! . . . and there's an instant lack of respect. Mentalism, or the effect of mentalism comes closer to the sort of reaction one would expect of a real magician.

(caps in the original).
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Mindpro
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Exactly, nothing has changed.
Steven Keyl
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Quote:
On Sep 19, 2016, AttnPls wrote:
I do not believe in disclaimers in a theatrical or promotional context either.

But really -- who here thinks that it is OK to perform mentalism "as real" in the context of a scientific talk?

I have been asked, and I have, given lectures on body language in a scientific context. However, I was extremely careful to talk only about current published scientific research studies. I would NEVER present a theatrical routine and imply that it were scientific fact IN A SCIENTIFIC CONTEXT. Who here would?


I'm cross-posting this from another thread because it is germane to this discussion as well...

Why is it OK to deceive laypeople, but not students or scientists? What is it about those groups that cause some people to radically change their perspective on deception? That appears, to me, to be an inconsistency in how mentalism is viewed. If you believe in disclaimers, then you should use them, regardless of who you are performing for. If you don't believe in them, then don't use them for anyone. What I'm struggling to understand is why do scientists and students get a peek behind the curtain while no one else does?

Let me sum up by asking two questions that may serve as food for thought. These are not rhetorical. I would genuinely love to hear some answers:


  • Why is it OK to give scientists considerations that are not given to laypeople?
  • Even if it's OK to treat scientists differently than everyone else, would you agree, yes or no, that there's still a huge gray area that isn't so easy to define? (For example, what about engineers? software developers? technical managers? At what point does it become OK to deceive again?)
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IAIN
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From how I've read this thread, its being said that if you are booked to give a lecture on (for example) body language, and all you do is frame your mentalism around that - BUT you are ONLY using mentalism techniques and 'things' to achieve amazing outcomes, then you are being fraudulent... because you're not doing it for real, via real psychological knowledge and data etc...

if you are selling yourself not as an entertainment based mentalist, but doing the lecture under the guise of being "real" and the people at the lecture are there because they have been told that you are a psychological expert in *whatever* field...then yes, you are cheating them...because if you WERE really doing it, you would be working with others, writing papers on it, peer reviewed and all the rest of it...and as soon as others tested the workings, and not achieve the same results as you demonstrated - then there's the problem...

with that said, I don't think "acknowledging its all a trick" is a positive concept if you are performing mentalism, if you are doing it for entertainment, and the context in which you are working (paid tickets at a theatre) then you need zero disclaimer, and you can go for it as much as you feel able to...because all the dressings of it, indirectly nod towards the "theatre" concept...that you get taken on an emotional journey/ride, you get caught up in the drama and the mystery of it all, then you wake up next morning, tell your friends and go about your business...

if you are not fond of the psychic or psychological motifs that most people use, you have to dig deep and find another aspect to use that portrays you as authentically as you wish it to, and still allows you room to explore it as a creative process and be entertaining as well as emotive and engaging and all the rest of it...
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Steven Keyl
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Thanks for that clarification, Iain.

To my way of thinking, whether its billed as strictly entertainment (come see Billy the mind reader!) or you are claiming to be an expert in body language, doesn't change how you present your performance. You're cheating them either way. To quote Iain, "because if you WERE really doing it, you would be working with others, writing papers on it, peer reviewed and all the rest of it...and as soon as others tested the workings, and not achieve the same results as you demonstrated - then there's the problem..."

I don't see the problem. When you perform for laypeople without a disclaimer and get them to believe in what you're doing, they're going to try the same things too! The only difference is that a scientific group (if you're truly able to deceive them in the first place) will test these findings under more rigorous and strict conditions. But if you don't believe in disclaimers for one group and believe in it for others, I still see it as an artificial distinction.

I understand the general consensus, I just don't agree with it. Best wishes to all, and to all a good night.

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Perhaps it is because he hears the beat of a different drummer
Let him step to the music he hears
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"If you ever find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause, and reflect." --Mark Twain
Dr Spektor
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It boils down to context - if someone is hiring you because you claim you are an expert at body language and they want to see who is honest, a liar, etc. for job interviews, etc. and all you really do is logic puzzles and everything but actual body language tech... well that is being dishonest without tacit agreement....

If you are an entertainer that performs things in a context of theatre it has a built in agreement "I am here to deceive you for your entertainment - but not to humiliate you etc."

If you are the (still not really well defined) mystery performer - the key to a disclaimer is that you do NOT claim its "real" or "fake" either way - you are working in the realm of ambiguity - but no one can accuse you of claiming you have "REAL" powers as you never do... hence I like the term mystery performer... as mystery cannot be solved, only experienced and reflected upon.

I usually end up between entertainer and mystery performer. I sometimes need to make things clear it is entertainment because some audience members can be devastated by effective presentations and I have sworn to do no harm or the least harm.

As opposed to someone who states they have true psychic abilities and are not using it as pure entertainment e.g. to avoid any attack, I am stating I speak of those who say they are psychic but are not, know they are not, and are not accidentally really psychic from some ironic twist from an M. Night Shamalan film Smile....

And I know this brings up the concept of readers - which to me is another zone.... some can be charlatan con people - but there are the shut-eyes who I actually like a great deal - because they are doing often (IMHO) roschachian / reflective techniques with people.... being in my field for years, I understand how one accumulates templates and profiles of people one sees in therapy and can then appear to be "psychic" because of your experiences...like Sherlock sometimes was thought to be, only because one picks up a gazillion tell-tale clues. If a psychic needs to rely on billets and peeks.... well.... ugh. Hence why I like reading systems versus just "cold reading" books because systems allow a (yes) systematic approach to doing an assessment of a person.

Please note, I do not know if real psychic powers exist or not - so my current explanation for great readers is more a psychological approach which perhaps the reader doesn't even realize they are doing... love that subconscious...

Acid test - if the people you are working with ever did discover that you were using deception as part of whatever you were doing with them - will they not mind because that is OK and they understood it was for their benefit - or feel betrayed and that the deception was more in the realm of manipulating them for your own ends.... answer that truthfully for what you are about to do and then it becomes clear

IMHOtep..
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jstreiff
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It may come down as well to expectations of the audience or the booker. Disclaimers seem to be bit more common in corporate settings. It is harder to sell the psychic angle there apparently. This seems to be more a matter of acceptability in that market than anything else. The implication being that one will be not be hired if one is perceived not to be a true psychic or expert psychologist. It seems the corporate bookers don't want someone who misrepresents themselves. Thus may extend to the academic market as well
It would be good to hear from performers who actively work those markets.
John
David Thiel
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Having worked corporate almost exclusively for years, I don't think disclaimers are more common at all. What IS common is to say nothing either way. When asked I tell them that I am not doing anything they couldn't do. I explain that I accomplish what I do by using a combination of method, technique and intuition. This is absolutely true.

I call myself a mind reader because, ultimately that's what I am. Using techniques, methods and intuition, I really can reveal what you are thinking...and I can honestly say that I feel exactly ZERO percentage of guilt about this.

Saying "Gee...what you've just seen is all tricks" would strip the mystique away from the performance...and that would be deadly from a marketing perspective. Let me say (again) that part of the appeal of mentalism is the tantalizing possibility that what's happening in front of them just might be real. And on the heels of that "Hmmm....if he can do that, maybe I can too."

What do you think the number one "super power" would be in the minds of a corporate audience? They would LOVE to know what their clients/coworkers/bosses are thinking. Presenting this on stage is doubly fascinating to them for this reason.

I don't do a disclaimer. I don't say what I'm doing is a literal presentation of psychic power. I just do a show. As long as the show remains fascinating, it's going to sell.

For ME -- and only me -- I would say that presenting a mentalism show and telling people it's a real thing that I can train them to do is stepping over the line...so is the notion that that I really am contacting the dead...that I really can predict the future etc.

That "line" for me is anything that steps across the "performance" stage and into other commercial ventures. Does that make sense?

But nothing shines a bright light onto the key differences between magic and mentalism -- their intents and worldviews -- quite like a conversation like this one.

David
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Mindpro
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On Sep 21, 2016, jstreiff wrote:
It may come down as well to expectations of the audience or the booker. Disclaimers seem to be bit more common in corporate settings. It is harder to sell the psychic angle there apparently. This seems to be more a matter of acceptability in that market than anything else. The implication being that one will be not be hired if one is perceived not to be a true psychic or expert psychologist. It seems the corporate bookers don't want someone who misrepresents themselves. Thus may extend to the academic market as well
It would be good to hear from performers who actively work those markets.


As a performer that works corporate and an agent that books corporate markets, they do not want magicians (or anything they view as magic) when hiring a mentalist. That is the #1 concern I hear when a new corporate client inquires. The psychic approach does work very well in the corporate market. Look at Ross Johnson, Ted Karmilovich, Richard Osterlind and others. No, they do not want someone that misrepresents themselves. They want the real thing.
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Quote:
On Sep 21, 2016, Mindpro wrote:
Quote:
On Sep 21, 2016, jstreiff wrote:
It may come down as well to expectations of the audience or the booker. Disclaimers seem to be bit more common in corporate settings. It is harder to sell the psychic angle there apparently. This seems to be more a matter of acceptability in that market than anything else. The implication being that one will be not be hired if one is perceived not to be a true psychic or expert psychologist. It seems the corporate bookers don't want someone who misrepresents themselves. Thus may extend to the academic market as well
It would be good to hear from performers who actively work those markets.


As a performer that works corporate and an agent that books corporate markets, they do not want magicians (or anything they view as magic) when hiring a mentalist. That is the #1 concern I hear when a new corporate client inquires. The psychic approach does work very well in the corporate market. Look at Ross Johnson, Ted Karmilovich, Richard Osterlind and others. No, they do not want someone that misrepresents themselves. They want the real thing.



Richard's context is his he doesn't give a claim or a disclaim - he just does "things" and my favourite line since I grew up in the 60s and 70s .... "Isn't that cool!?!?!?" I love it. I also like the fact by not having to say one thing or another, you don't create potential dead time boring patter - which is often one of the complaints not-so-great mentalism is charged with.... its get straight into the goods as soon as possible and chop away anything not needed - like all great entertainment.

I would also assume no one would want a magician if they hired a mentalist! Its like I would not want a juggler either if I wanted a chocolateer! They want a real mentalist! That is so (note that doesn't mean someone with real psychic powers - but the ability to perform mentalism!).
"They are lean and athirst!!!!"
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...and what most consider mentalism to be.
Olympic Adam
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People will for the most part think what they want. And for the most part won't change their minds.

This, I believe is one of the areas people spend far to much time thinking about and not enough time actually creating/performing.

If you don't want to lie - tell them it's a trick. The ones who really believe will see you with a wink in your eye.
If you want to be a liar - tell them it's real. The sceptical ones won't believe you.

If you want to have fun, just do your act. Let them think what they want.
Protection for mind readers and mentalists: http://tricksofthemind.com
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