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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Debunking psychological mentalists in the future (32 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Stevious
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I think I already mentioned it, but a long time ago Simon Singh wrote an article, the main reason he did it was that 'Mind Control' series were labelled as science not entertainment.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/......ind.html

I would say it's not nice and safe to fool scientists and psychologists, for example when they invite you to come and give a lecture about mentalism, and what is it about. Disclaimers can be gentle like 'a mixture of psychology, and magic'. Lying in scientific or educational context can offend your spectators, it is complicated ethically, and can also result in exposure. If spectators really want to find how mentalism is done, they already have some kids on yt explaining central t**** and other tricks.

For me, bad context would be talking for 15 minutes about real body language and psychology, and then do 'real' body reading based on pre-show work, all labelled as science at a conference. It's up to you though, you take the risk and responsibility.
solarpk
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On Sep 20, 2016, jstreiff wrote:
Run a Google Scholar report on Dean Radin to obtain a comprehensive view of his activities and scholarship. Study and comprehend the actual reports in psi research and offer a scientific explanation for the reported data. Only then is a rational discussion possible.


Well, I have indeed linked in my reply above the Google scholar report for Radin. In my reply I show where I have trawled through that exact list of publications and pulled out those published in journals that you mentioned. Of those publications I have found those which analyse results of experiments. I have then read those papers. I agree with Radin's own assessment that the evidence they show is 'slight'. However, it is clear that the methodologies used could be tightened and there is a lack of evidence that these tests have been repeated with any success.

Can I please ask - In your replies you have stated:
"The research is quite clear: psi has been demonstrated to a level of statistical significance that is orders if magnitude greater than the case for aspirin preventing heart attacks."
"The research Radin reports has been published in peer reviewed scientific journals like IEEE Journal, Physics Review, Nature, Science, Journal of Consciousness Studies..."

Given you rightly ask that everyone does their due diligence with regard to understanding the science as published, where are you getting these arguments, because they are in themselves demonstrably incorrect and/or misleading.
Steven Keyl
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It still seems to me to be an artificial barrier.

Using legitimate methods of influence on stage is a difficult proposition at best because:

-People don't act or think on stage as they normally would leading to wildly unpredictable results
-Results are never 100% guaranteed anyway

So why would it be frowned upon to demonstrate legitimate techniques (even in a scientific setting) using traditional mentalism methods? This ensures that the heightened and stimulated state of a participant won't skew the results and it provides a surefire outcome demonstrating what can be done for real in a majority of cases.

Granted, saying, "your left eye twitched, you must be thinking of Mozart!" Is disingenuous at best. But there are many legitimate techniques that can be demonstrated by surefire methods, and in those cases, I think a disclaimer is counterproductive. (Unless you normally work with disclaimers anyway).
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jstreiff
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One can find the research by starting with any comprehensive book on psi written a parapsychologist. Radin has written several for the lay audience. The book 'Irreducible Mind' by Kelly, Kelly et al is an academic text aimed at the PhD level audience. All these books contain exhaustive references to articles published in peer-reviews technical journals outlining the available research. It is these articles with which one must become familiar and analyze the technical merits as would be the case with any scientific endeavor.

When one does this exercise for a period of decades as I have, one finds a clear pattern in the data. The fastest way to grasp this is to read the meta analyses of the research, remembering that there are attempted skeptical' rebuttals which you will encounter in lit searches. But the existence of such rebuttal attempts are not themselves indicative of failure of the research. Rather they tend to represent agenda-based attempts to discredit the work to support the skeptics' a priori beliefs.

I am reasonably confident that any qualified objective individual who actually took the time to thoroughly assess the data would likely arrive at similar conclusions. I am not here to guide anyone through the maze; there are no shortcuts to deep knowledge. If you want sound bites, this is not the field to seek them.
John
Slim King
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Quote:
On Sep 21, 2016, jstreiff wrote:
One can find the research by starting with any comprehensive book on psi written a parapsychologist. Radin has written several for the lay audience. The book 'Irreducible Mind' by Kelly, Kelly et al is an academic text aimed at the PhD level audience. All these books contain exhaustive references to articles published in peer-reviews technical journals outlining the available research. It is these articles with which one must become familiar and analyze the technical merits as would be the case with any scientific endeavor.

When one does this exercise for a period of decades as I have, one finds a clear pattern in the data. The fastest way to grasp this is to read the meta analyses of the research, remembering that there are attempted skeptical' rebuttals which you will encounter in lit searches. But the existence of such rebuttal attempts are not themselves indicative of failure of the research. Rather they tend to represent agenda-based attempts to discredit the work to support the skeptics' a priori beliefs.

I am reasonably confident that any qualified objective individual who actually took the time to thoroughly assess the data would likely arrive at similar conclusions. I am not here to guide anyone through the maze; there are no shortcuts to deep knowledge. If you want sound bites, this is not the field to seek them.

Amen Brotha....
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
kannon
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The number of mentalists posting and advertising their products and ebooks on Facebook has already done all the debunking that needs to be done. We have debunked ourselves.
My work and the Mtangulizi here http://kannonsworks.weebly.com featuring work on drawing duplications, a fiddle-free billet tear, bar mentalism, pendulums
solarpk
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Of course, with the understanding that books are not peer-reviewed, can misrepresent the publications they refer to, and can be biased in the material it references. Books are one of the least reliable sources and is indeed why credible scientific publications will not reference them, and so one must always refer back to the primary sources.

I am disappointed that you have not directed me to any publication that will withstand scrutiny, nor directly answered my questions. The claim that 'one finds a clear pattern in the data' only after decades of study is not a tenable position. Indeed, it is indicative of operating on a 'gut feeling' which is not strongly supported by science.

Finally, I will note that meta studies should be approached with caution because there is an 'art' to applying the 'science' of meta-analysis. http://www.um.es/metaanalysis/pdf/5032.pdf (published in the International Journal of Psychological Research) describes the impact of, among others, study bias, publication bias, selection bias, reporting bias, all of which can affect any meta study. Indeed, it concludes "As meta-analyses can suffer deficiencies and biases in their development and in their reporting practices, they should be read critically."

Sadly, while absolutely willing to be convinced, I continue to see nothing of notable substance.

Quote:
On Sep 21, 2016, jstreiff wrote:
One can find the research by starting with any comprehensive book on psi written a parapsychologist. Radin has written several for the lay audience. The book 'Irreducible Mind' by Kelly, Kelly et al is an academic text aimed at the PhD level audience. All these books contain exhaustive references to articles published in peer-reviews technical journals outlining the available research. It is these articles with which one must become familiar and analyze the technical merits as would be the case with any scientific endeavor.

When one does this exercise for a period of decades as I have, one finds a clear pattern in the data. The fastest way to grasp this is to read the meta analyses of the research, remembering that there are attempted skeptical' rebuttals which you will encounter in lit searches. But the existence of such rebuttal attempts are not themselves indicative of failure of the research. Rather they tend to represent agenda-based attempts to discredit the work to support the skeptics' a priori beliefs.

I am reasonably confident that any qualified objective individual who actually took the time to thoroughly assess the data would likely arrive at similar conclusions. I am not here to guide anyone through the maze; there are no shortcuts to deep knowledge. If you want sound bites, this is not the field to seek them.
jstreiff
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The irrational move is to claim nothing exists when one hasn't even looked. The journals are available. The references exist in the books mentioned. One need not even read the book text to find the references. Any good text in statistics covers the issues of statistics which are many and the approaches taken to resolve those issues. Meta analyses are well-covered in the modern texts. Done properly they are quite viable and useful. Another source for references besides the many I have already cited is the website:

http://noetic.org/research/psi-research
John
thatmichaelguy
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While the composition of the audience and context of the presentation has been addressed so far, something that seems to have been overlooked is the expectation of the audience members.

When they enter a theatre to watch a show, there is an expectation on their part that they will be deceived. So even when an explanation is given (plausible or not) they understand that it could be true or false - that any information could be part of the greater deception that they implicitly agreed to in seeing a show.

When the audience is part of a TED conference, university lecture, etc. they have an expectation of being dealt with truthfully because that is the entire purpose of their being there. Unless they've been told that it's purely a performance (which brings along an expectation of deception) then to lie about how an effect is achieved is dishonest. You would have violated the implicit understand that they are expecting to be told the truth in this context or you would have failed to establish an implicit understanding that you are going to lie to them.

Besides, there is a wealth of actual psychology legitimately at play in mentalism that's worthy of discussing in an educational setting.
jstreiff
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I agree that in an educational setting the audience rightfully has an expectation of being dealt with truthfully unless a disclaimer is made to the contrary.

On the other hand, in magic and mentalism things may be a bit more blurred. Many nights I have stood outside the exit door from the Closeup Gallery at the Magic Castle and overheard people who I know to be quite intelligent say things like "those were good card tricks, but when he read her mind, That was the Real Thing!" Remember, these are intelligent successful people who came to be entertained at the Magic Castle and are used to seeing magic.
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WDavis
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As the TED talks came up initially, I erroneously thought ted stood for technology education and design. Instead it stands for technology entertainment and design.

This single word difference does murky the waters, as others too may believe the "E" stands for education.
Dr Spektor
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As Max Maven once said and I concur - psychology is part of every mentalism routine. Its part of every magic routine too. Often the difference between a good and horrible performance lies in not considering psychological elements.
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jstreiff
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Reflecting on what has been said before here and elsewhere, perhaps another response is "I use a blend of intuition, psychology, entertainment and dumb luck" (said with a smile).
John
tomd
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Quote:
On Sep 28, 2016, Dr Spektor wrote:
As Max Maven once said and I concur - psychology is part of every mentalism routine. Its part of every magic routine too. Often the difference between a good and horrible performance lies in not considering psychological elements.


Yeah I feel that. I know when I put emphasis on psychological framing, the reactions are 10 times better. I'm not influencing them to think of a word, I'm influencing them to think I'm influencing them to think of a word.

I think Maven worded it better then me lol
Stevious
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On Sep 22, 2016, kannon wrote:
The number of mentalists posting and advertising their products and ebooks on Facebook has already done all the debunking that needs to be done. We have debunked ourselves.


What is worse, some magicians or just amateurs have a rather strange need to upload videos presenting things like thumbwriters or instructions on tearing. Mentalism is more deceptive, dishonest and controversial art than classic magic, due to reasons mentioned above in this topic. So exposing mental things is more damaging, I don't even want to mention how much classic magic is exposed on yt.

The difference is that in magic people know that things don't simply fly, they know they are being lied to. If they know the trick it is no big deal. In mentalism they aren't sure what they see, and that's how it should be. If they know the trick, they might feel offended and lied to.

A good reason for being more honest, less dishonest or honest about being dishonest at confernces, interviews (those more scientific, not entertaining, yes I know it's never that obvious) is not to give spectators a reason to write an ugly article explaining things on the Internet. Indeed it is a pesimistic vision of mine, caused mostly by the easy access to information online.
Stevious
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Quote:
On Sep 28, 2016, WDavis wrote:
As the TED talks came up initially, I erroneously thought ted stood for technology education and design. Instead it stands for technology entertainment and design.

This single word difference does murky the waters, as others too may believe the "E" stands for education.


I also thought it is 'education', despite the name 'TED', it looks educational and scientific. Videos from those conferences are uploaded among other videos about real psychology, body language, sometimes it is just someone's opinion or interesting story, sometimes it is scientifically supported research.

'I'm not influencing them to think of a word, I'm influencing them to think I'm influencing them to think of a word.' I've never heard this phrase, the true power of suggestion, it's great if someone really had to explain his work. For more number/math related tricks I sometimes said 'I'm using advanced guessing techniques'. Magic/mentalism are both based on psychology, suggestion, just not in the way people think they are.
Chris K
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Great topic, interesting posts.

As a life-long scientist, with a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, I am finding it interesting how people are arguing the scientific merits. I'll stay out of that except to point out the following quote:

"When one does this exercise for a period of decades as I have, one finds a clear pattern in the data"

That is a very dangerous, very misleading, and very "unscientific" statement and approach. If you have to look over decades to find a pattern, you've most likely engaged in what's known as "apophenia". Additionally, since you don't point out the nature of the patterns (aside from what you conclude), it's probably hard to verbalize/communicate, also indicative of apophenia. The final test is whether you would say the following if you were trying to convince somebody: "If you look hard enough, you'll see it".

It doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong, by the way, but if you look at any data sets for extended periods of time... ah, what does it matter. I just don't think it was a meaningful comment, at least not meaningful in the way it was intended.

Having said that, again this is a relatively great conversation.

As somebody who works in the science field (in the lab most of the day no less), I have an acute appreciation of balancing the aspect of entertainment with being "honest" (for lack of a better term). It's actually been good for me and I have a specific persona when I perform for coworkers that avoids all of this drama. And no, I will absolutely not share it, it's been years of work and I am extremely pleased with it and I don't want to see anybody else use it. Ever! lol.

Best of luck,
Lem
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On Sep 29, 2016, Lemniscate wrote:
Great topic, interesting posts.

As a life-long scientist, with a degree in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior, I am finding it interesting how people are arguing the scientific merits. I'll stay out of that except to point out the following quote:

"When one does this exercise for a period of decades as I have, one finds a clear pattern in the data"

That is a very dangerous, very misleading, and very "unscientific" statement and approach. If you have to look over decades to find a pattern, you've most likely engaged in what's known as "apophenia". Additionally, since you don't point out the nature of the patterns (aside from what you conclude), it's probably hard to verbalize/communicate, also indicative of apophenia. The final test is whether you would say the following if you were trying to convince somebody: "If you look hard enough, you'll see it".

It doesn't necessarily mean you're wrong, by the way, but if you look at any data sets for extended periods of time... ah, what does it matter. I just don't think it was a meaningful comment, at least not meaningful in the way it was intended.

Having said that, again this is a relatively great conversation.

As somebody who works in the science field (in the lab most of the day no less), I have an acute appreciation of balancing the aspect of entertainment with being "honest" (for lack of a better term). It's actually been good for me and I have a specific persona when I perform for coworkers that avoids all of this drama. And no, I will absolutely not share it, it's been years of work and I am extremely pleased with it and I don't want to see anybody else use it. Ever! lol.

Best of luck,
Lem


Thanks for sharing this very insightful and well articulated post.
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Roslyn
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Bore da / Good morning!

I'm still relatively new to the mentalism scene, in a previous incarnation I was an escapologist and I find the two areas to be quite similar in that both portray what appears to be a specific skill or set of skills. Unlike other areas of the magical arts escapes and mentalism play as real. With escapes some of it is genuine. It is possible to free oneself from a regulation straitjacket without employing any trickery. But an escape artist may also use magician's techniques to assist them to get out.

I notice the same is true for mentalism. Sometimes the mentalist may employ genuine techniques of memory or psychological process in their routines. Other times they use deception to achieve what they want.

These two areas of performance are therefore not really magic as such, but more akin to the work of the stuntman. By that I mean a stuntman in a movie will use hidden methods to create something that looks real. If we see a person in a movie get shot on a rooftop and that person then falls from the roof to the ground below it (should) look real to us. The same is true of mentalism. If someone sees a mentalist reading minds in a theatrical setting tthen it should look real.

The problem for us is that mentalism straddles the line between the theatre and the real world. Going back to my stunt performer analogy, if we were to go shopping and suddenly gun shots were fired and a body is seen falling from a building we would assume it was real. Without the theatrical context of a movie or stage show the stunt becomes a lie.

To deceive an audience that knows it's being deceived is one thing. But to deceive an audience that doesn't even know it's an audience is something else completely.

But of course, all that's easier said than done. Plus, who wouldn't be tempted by doing the falling stunt in public to get people talking?
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jstreiff
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I know of no field of scientific study that does not require years if even decades to fully understand the data. There is a reason Einstein worked on his theories for decades. There is a reason the well-known physicists like Susskind, Smolin, Penrose, Puthoff, Haisch and even Carroll are older and not younger.

Examining data for decades is what the serious theorist does. It may be possible to be an experimentalist with limited study, but that does not hold for theory work. It is the expansive nature of the data that requires the time. Thus the statement is entirely in line with the real world work.
John
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