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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Are mentalists as gullible as everyone else? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Jonathan1000
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Until recently, I would have bet the farm that mentalists would be universally skeptical about the existence of ESP. My reasoning went like this: We invest loads of money, devote hour after hour in practice, and read, gossip, create and connive – all in a grand effort to SIMULATE powers we see we don’t actually have. So, my logic went, that kind of evidence should make us the first to acknowledge that paranormal powers don’t exist.

It appears I'm wrong. It appears that many of us do believe in esp. I have no way of knowing what percentage of Café members are believers, but you can find pro-esp statements scattered through this board. See, for example, these two current threads in this Penny for Your Thoughts section:
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......5&23
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......5&38

If any group ever had an incentive to make esp work for real, it should be us. And if any group ever had direct and prolonged experience that esp doesn’t work, it would also be us.

So why do so many of us continue to believe in ESP?

And can any of you suggest a way we could accurately determine what percentage of us are believers?
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals." -- Homer Simpson
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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You're on the verge of preaching.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
Tom Jorgenson
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Ummmm...just ask?
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
Bill Hallahan
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Quote:
My reasoning went like this: We invest loads of money, devote hour after hour in practice, and read, gossip, create and connive – all in a grand effort to SIMULATE powers we see we don’t actually have. So, my logic went, that kind of evidence should make us the first to acknowledge that paranormal powers don’t exist.

While I don't believe in psychic powers, I don't understand your logic.

Simulation and belief can be totally independent.
Humans make life so interesting. Do you know that in a universe so full of wonders, they have managed to create boredom. Quite astonishing.
- The character of ‘Death’ in the movie "Hogswatch"
R2
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We all believe in Extra Sensitive Perception!
Why don't you Jonathan?
Banachek
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If you had said magicians/mentalists I would have to agree. Look how many fell for Derren Brown 's explanations. It is quite amazing when you think about it and look at the posts even here on this board. I am even fairly sure that it probably took Derren by surprise.

Whether the "explanation" is psychic or psychological, many want to believe, even those who should know better.

Don't get me wrong. I am not saying there is no such thing as psychic phenomena but it is amazing how many want to believe those who say they are not using tricks when it is quite obvious they are. The rational is usually something like "just because they are using tricks sometime it does not mean they are using it all the time."

Well yes, who can argue with that? However, I would think those in the know would suspect that more than likely because "they" are using tricks quite often, that more than likely the odds are "they" are using tricks all the time and the few lucky hits are just that, lucky hits and the odds working in their favor. You do this stuff every day, you are going to have some things you just can't explain. If this did not happen, that would be odd in itself.

As for the question of ESP belief, I think there are many different levels of belief. The only problem I see is that those who believe ESP is possible, use the belief of it possible on a small scale and rare examples as "proof" that someone can do it on demand on stage. I have not seen that "proof" yet and have worked and seen the best. I have worked with the best, including Geller on stage and I have not seen anyone yet who did not cheat. Sad but true. As a result, I do say that anyone doing this stuff on stage is probably cheating. Do I say ESP is not real, I can't say that at all.

Just my two cents for what it might not be worth.
In thoughts and Friendship
Banachek
Campus Performer of the Year two years in a row
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Bambaladam
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Please allow for the possibility that what others believe and you don't isn't an indication of gullibility. It will make your life a lot easier. I am not certain there are many of "us" who agree on anything. I am sure there are a lot of mentalists who feel that the militant fundamentalist sceptic ideology that dominates this message board is not good for the art of mentalism.

Also, what someone else believes is very much their business. Please show some respect.

Stop believing anyone who sees more than you is automatically wrong.

/Bamba
MentaThought
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Quote:
On 2004-11-20 00:42, Banachek wrote:
I have worked with the best, including Geller on stage and I have not seen anyone yet who did not cheat.


Banachek and Geller on the same stage?
Am I the only one here who would like to find out more about this occurrence?
I sure hope this event was recorded!
"A good mentalist ... will teach you a miracle because he understands the subtleties ..." -- Banachek

"If this works it'll be BEAUTIFUL!" - The Amazing Kreskin on a stunning effect he performed on his 1970s television series (PS: it worked)
RJE
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Jonathon, I'm with you.

I don't call the believers gullible, rather I see them caught up in a belief that is reinforced by others. I call it "evidence by numbers," Angelo Stagnaro in his book "Something From Nothing," (a great little book IMO) calls it "Communal Reinforcement." Whatever, let the believers belief and this includes the performers and the audience. Remember that truth and reality are irrelevant, it is only what people belief is true and real that matters. If it weren't so, how could we make a living???
Cheers! Rob
landmark
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. . . yes.



Jack Shalom
brianp
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Study Rae Hyman and his successors for good insights into ESP and mindreading and how it affects both the reader and client.
As mentalists it doesn't really matter whether we believe or not. All that matters is that our audience/client believes in psychic phenomena.
For the record put me into the non-believer column, Geller is a great showman.
Jonathan1000
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Using the word "gullible" in the title (only) of my post was a deliberate provocation on my part, intended to get this topic read and responded to. I sincerely apologize if I've offended any believers on this board, since that wasn't my goal. Smile

But I'm fascinated that some people found my words so bothersome. Suppose I'd said you were gullible for believing that the coriolis effect causes water in the northern hemisphere to exit toilet bowls with a clockwise rotation? Would some of you still be telling me to "Please show some respect?"
It would appear that for some of you, belief in esp takes on the quality of a religious belief. Or at least you react to assaults on your belief in esp similarly to the way people react when their religion has been attacked.
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals." -- Homer Simpson
Joshua Quinn
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What fascinates me are mentalists who count themselves as believers (define as you will) specifically because of one or more intense, personal experiences which they're convinced have no mundane explanation. I could understand such a rationale coming from nearly anyone else, as it's a very normal, if flawed, human reaction. But it seems to me that if any group of people should understand the inherent unreliability of personal experience (no matter how apparently irrefutable and inexplicable) as an indicator of reality, it should be those whose job is to cause other people to spend the rest of their lives believing to their core that they experienced something which they didn't really experience. How those two things can coexist in the same mind is a complete mystery to me.
Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. Unfortunately every problem also contains the seeds of an infinite number of non-solutions, so that first part really isn't super helpful.
Jonathan1000
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Elegantly stated, Quinn.
"Weaseling out of things is important to learn. It's what separates us from the animals." -- Homer Simpson
Bambaladam
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Quote:
On 2004-11-20 16:14, Quinn wrote:
What fascinates me are mentalists who count themselves as believers (define as you will) specifically because of one or more intense, personal experiences which they're convinced have no mundane explanation.

You might need to offer a quote or something to make that statement relevant.

/Bamba


Posted: Nov 20, 2004 7:13pm
----------------------------------------
Quote:
On 2004-11-20 14:09, brianp wrote:
Study Rae Hyman and his successors for good insights into ESP and mindreading and how it affects both the reader and client.


I would not call them great insights, but they do represent one of many possible explanations. To get all the facts use other sources too and THINK FOR YOURSELF.

Quote:
As mentalists it doesn't really matter whether we believe or not. All that matters is that our audience/client believes in psychic phenomena.


I couldn't agree more, but I think an open mind will help you relate to your audience.

/bamba


Posted: Nov 20, 2004 7:15pm
----------------------------------------
Quote:
On 2004-11-20 14:11, Jonathan1000 wrote:
It would appear that for some of you, belief in esp takes on the quality of a religious belief. Or at least you react to assaults on your belief in esp similarly to the way people react when their religion has been attacked.

In fact, if you read my posts carefully, you will find I avoid making any statements regarding any of my beliefs. I have a big problem with people who attack other people's beliefs though. I find it disrespectful, ignorant and most of all arrogant.

/bamba
Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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It would appear that for some of you, belief in esp takes on the quality of a religious belief. Or at least you react to assaults on your belief in esp similarly to the way people react when their religion has been attacked.

Some react that way when their empirical/skeptical stance is disregarded as well. Beyond personal frustration, I don't see why they need to react that way. If one dismisses the metaphysical out of hand, sees no inherent meaning in life beyond its biological self-continuation, and can accept that not everyone grasps that reality-of-futility, or even will if presented with that viewpoint, what is there to 'crusade' over?

If I were an existentialist (a stance I once considered years ago), I would just chuckle at such matters and walk away, knowing that everyone is spinning their wheels, that few realize it, that trying to force others to my viewpoint is a waste of what little time I have, and that whether I convince them or not means nothing in a universe with no ultimate meaning.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
asmayly
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I think mentalists who perform get rare opportunities to actually conduct experiments on ESP and sometimes find themselves surprised with results that they think are examples of it.

Mentalists know that what they do is entertainment; it's ESP rarified and packaged for on-stage consumption (what Banachek alluded to)--ESP would never happen that often and audiences know that but suspend their disbelief for the sake of being entertained.

But performing this art runs irrespective of ones personal experiences and beliefs.
NJJ
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I would suggest that mentalist has ever conducted a true scientific study into the existence of psychic phenomena. Like laypeople, they rely on anecdotal evidence of personal experiences instead of conducting legitimate scientific studies.

Descartes suggests that we should only believe in that which we can prove. However, at some point, everyone must believe in SOMETHING without 100% proof. Scientists themselves have faith that the systems of science and Cartesian rationalism are correct and will offer them facts and truths.

99% of most mentalist’s acts consist of tricks and routines presented in the form of a show or entertainment. A cold reading psychic or faith healer has at their disposable a huge range of techniques that can not be duplicated on the stage that would render the skills of a mentalist redundant.
RonCalhoun
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Quote:
On 2004-11-19 18:47, Jonathan1000 wrote:
Until recently, I would have bet the farm that mentalists would be universally skeptical about the existence of ESP.

If any group ever had an incentive to make esp work for real, it should be us. And if any group ever had direct and prolonged experience that esp doesn't work, it would also be us.


Jonathan1000

You are right about this “If any group ever had an incentive to make esp work for real, it should be us.”

I canNOT prove something does not work. But if anyone ever wanted to know, you're right, It would be us.

Ron Calhoun
Alan Wright
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Quote:
On 2004-11-19 18:47, Jonathan1000 wrote:
Until recently, I would have bet the farm that mentalists would be universally skeptical about the existence of ESP. My reasoning went like this: We invest loads of money, devote hour after hour in practice, and read, gossip, create and connive – all in a grand effort to SIMULATE powers we see we don’t actually have. So, my logic went, that kind of evidence should make us the first to acknowledge that paranormal powers don’t exist.



By that same logic, the people who build, say, airplane sets for the movies shouldn't believe there is any such thing as a real airplane.

The concept of mind-reading and ESP had to start somewhere, and for all you or I know it was, if not is, real.

I've read of some accounts of amazing coincidences that seemed almost too good to be true. I'm not saying these are not all lies. Nor am I saying that ESP must be real. But I am saying that I'm open to it, and there really isn't any reason not to be.

Just because we have ways of faking ESP, doesn't mean the real thing isn't out there.

The way I see it, we aren't gullible because we are open to ESP, something which there is no SOLID proof for or against, but it's stupid to say it CANNOT be real.

And yes I know, you claim you said gullible only to get people to read this...

No. You called people gullible. If you really didn't mean it you would have said that BEFORE people brought it up.

Have a good one.
-- Alan
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