And You Wonder Why Mentalism is Popular?

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.

Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/26/07 11:18 AM

Proving yet again the gullibility of most people, CNN reported today that one in four people believe they have seen or been touched by a ghost, and that a third of the population believes in ghosts:
Click Here to Read It

This is why mentalists get paid more than magicians and find work more easily now: people believe crap like this.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 10/26/07 12:01 PM

Actually the report was about GOATS, not ghosts -- which makes the statistics even more astounding.
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Postby Guest » 10/26/07 12:17 PM

Richard,
Over the past 25 years both my wife and daughter claim to have seen a figure of as farmer standing in our hallway. I always thought they were crazy until one evening I caught something out of the corner of my eye. A definate shape of a person standing in the hallway. Needless to say this shook my beliefs, if only for a short while.
I have no doubts that there is a simple explanation, like condesation from the air conditioner, but for a split second I was a beleiver.
No doubt others have had simular experiences.

Jeff
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Postby Guest » 10/26/07 01:54 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Proving yet again the gullibility of most people, CNN reported today that one in four people believe they have seen or been touched by a ghost, and that a third of the population believes in ghosts:
Click Here to Read It

This is why mentalists get paid more than magicians and find work more easily now: people believe crap like this.
And this is exactly why the last items to ever be sold from my magic collection will be all of the Dr. Q slates, the old reliable National Magic Spirit Bell, and the old gravity Spirit Clock Dial Hand.

The situation nationwide is ready for "seances" or "getting in touch with the spirits" types of performances again. You can even claim that it is all fake and pure entertainment and they still insist that it is real. And this is why in the inner sanctum of my workshop I am quietly building a totally new version/method of the rapping hand, a modified Joe Karson Voodoo, an improved Spirit Clock Dial, improved Spirit Painting, a new type of table lifting, an incredible new type of prediction, and a surrounded/modified Karl Germain style Flower Growth (to tie in with my presentation of the Karson Voodoo).

Age is a distinct advantage when presenting these types of effects. They are believable when done by an older performer - and I'm certainly not getting any younger.

Bring on the ghosts and dollars that come with them - I'll be ready. :rolleyes:
Jim
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Postby Guest » 10/26/07 02:39 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
This is why mentalists get paid more than magicians ...
Is this true? I thought it was just the case that mediocre mentalists get paid more than mediocre magicians... ;)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/26/07 04:18 PM

hahahaha
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Postby Guest » 10/26/07 06:11 PM

Heh heh--by chance I just found this quote (not about ghosts, but I believe applicable here) in the (20th edition, 1996) "American Boy's Handy Book", originally from 1890. Chapter XXXVII. "How to make a magic lantern--a kaleidoscope--a fortune teller's box; etc."

"There exists in all countries a class of people who make their living out of the proceeds derived from tricks and deceptions practiced upon the ignorant, credulous, or superstitious portion of the population.

In the by-streets of almost any large city may be seen signs posted up on dingy houses, which, if they were to be believed, would lead us to think that the gifted race that live in these dwellings can, by the aid of spirits, fairies, or by the signs in the heavens, give accurate information of all past or future events.

Some of these so called mediums make such bungling atttempts at magic and necromancy that it is a wonder that they are able to deceive any one. Others, however, perform some really wonderful tricks.

With a little trouble and no expense any boy may fit himself out as a fortune-teller and have an unlimited amount of fun with his friends, who may be mystified and puzzled by simple contrivances..."

P.S. The Fortune Teller's Box IS actually cool.

P.P.S. It is a long-time bone-of-contention between my youngest sister and myself: She SWEARS (repeatedly, loudly, over the years) that she once saw the ghost of our dead great-grandmother. I do not believe in ghosts. "Are you calling me a liar?!" --and so it goes. Oy.

If there ARE ghosts, reading this somewhere out there, please show up just once--you can scare me, we can party, whatever you want.
Call me an idiot, but I just need some damned proof before I believe ANYTHING blindly and unreservedly.

Seriously, if HOUDINI couldn't make it back...I mean come ON.
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Postby Guest » 10/26/07 07:24 PM

This line from the report intrigued me:

"Overall, the 48 percent who accept ESP is less than the 66 percent who gave that answer to a similar 1996 Newsweek question."

I wonder what the reason is?

Terry
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Postby Guest » 10/27/07 07:14 PM

Originally posted by Terry Holley:
This line from the report intrigued me:

"Overall, the 48 percent who accept ESP is less than the 66 percent who gave that answer to a similar 1996 Newsweek question."

I wonder what the reason is?

Terry
Terry;
Could it possibly have to do with the obvious, poor, and boring presentation exhibited by so many "mentalists"? As soon as I see a guy scribbling on a tiny pad held tightly to the chest, I get up and leave. This is the presentation I almost always see done by guys trying "mentalism". They look like a third grader trying to keep fellow classmates from copying what they have scribbled on their all important little pad.

I have always tried to evaluate anything that I might use in my performances using my "who cares" criteria. If I feel the audience will not be interested in nor care about the outcome of an effect, it does not go into a performance. Most of the stuff seen by "mentalists" falls into what I consider the "no one cares" category. A winning and friendly personality will not come through if a performer is hiding behind a little pad like an insecure child. If people do not care what the performer is doing nor like the performer, they start to analyze his/her every move. When this happens, the ESP being exhibited is seen for what it really is. Perhaps this has to do with the drop in believer numbers. Perhaps audiences are better educated having been exposed to obvious fakes?
Jim
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Postby Jeff Haas » 10/28/07 03:04 AM

This is why mentalists get paid more than magicians and find work more easily now: people believe crap like this. [/QB]
This must refer to the middle ground of performers. Is there a mentalist making more money and being more visible than David Copperfield, or Penn & Teller, or Criss Angel?

I guess Derren Brown would fit into that class, too.

The other thing I can't reconcile is, in my experience, when people hire entertainment for a company party, they want something fun. Most mentalists don't qualify.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 07:07 AM

The human brain operates as a pattern recognizing mechanism. Jeff's experience is exactly how we "see" ghosts: out of the corners of our eyes.

I remember seeing the "ghost" of my favorite pet dog, long after she had been killed by a car, but only out of the corner of my eye where I would see something that was similiar to her shape. My brain and memory would then "fill in the blanks" and I would "see" my dog.

Of course, when I turned to look directly at where I thought I saw my dog, the image would resolve properly in my mind.

There have been a number of tests over the years to determine just how little information is necessary for the brain to recognize a pattern and fill in what is needed to make the patter "whole." Perhaps the most famous is the surreal painting "Lincoln in Dalivision" where Salvador Dali used a minimalist image of Lincoln that had been created by two scientists I believe, that originally appeared on the cover of Scientific American.

Just an arrangement of black, white and gray squares, we "see" it as Abraham Lincoln.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 02:21 PM

Originally posted by Terry Holley:
"Overall, the 48 percent who accept ESP is less than the 66 percent who gave that answer to a similar 1996 Newsweek question."

I wonder what the reason is?
I would guess the folks moved on to Christian fundementalism, which appears to be on the rise since prior to Y2K. Many who consider themselves Christians also believe in ESP, but more conservative doctrines don't allow for that belief so depending on which Christianity you found you might have to give up on ESP as part of your belief system.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 07:02 PM

Does anyone on here believe in ghosts? I won't go as far as to say that I do believe in ghosts myself, but I am hesitant to say with absolute certainty that they don't exist. Just wondering if anyone else shares my agnostic attitude regarding ghosts.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/28/07 07:30 PM

Oh, I think it's pretty easy to say they don't exist.
THEY DON'T EXIST.
There is no tangible proof that anyone has ever seen a ghost. It's very easy to fool yourself into thinking that you may have, but you can't prove it. Without proof there is no science, merely faith.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 08:07 PM

Or as Ashley Montague once said, "Scientists believe in proof without certainty; most people believe in certainty without proof."
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 08:09 PM

Originally posted by Slavatron:
Does anyone on here believe in ghosts? ...
sure, all sorts of things are believed and based upon faith and anecdotal evidence, tales and ... let's say anchors to meaningful sentiments.

But if you mean in the scientific sense where a thing is only introduced when necessary to account for what is known in the most elegant possible manner... not in the storybook sense. Ghosts as shared stores and memories and a facade for the unconscious are viable but internal entities rather than things we can treat as shared reality measurables.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 08:24 PM

So Mr. Kaufman, to be very clear, you're saying that if there is no tangible proof of something, then it does not exist, correct?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/28/07 08:39 PM

Gee, why do I think that's a trick question ...
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 10:35 PM

I think the thing this people desperately want to believe in something so they are willing to buy into ghosts, ESP and the like.

Anyone who has done a show for college kids knows they hate "magic" but love mentalism and hypnosis because it's "real".

Tony Brent
Outta Control Magic Show
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Postby Brad Henderson » 10/28/07 10:55 PM

Tony,

I disagree. College kids love magic if presented intelligently. They are fascinated by both the psychological and aesthetic elements, and appreciate the historical context of its development.

Now, if you're just doing the Bandana Bannana...maybe.
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Postby Guest » 10/28/07 11:14 PM

If not a "trick question" Iain's question is certainly loaded cheekily.

There was no tangeable proof a human could run a four minute mile--until somebody did it.

I am willing to go out on a limb here, and willing to risk becoming one of humanity's greatest laughing-stocks, by putting into black and white, and onto the internets for all time, "Correct: Until someone produces a ghost, I say there's no such thing."

It's not as if nobody's been trying, by every means devised, unsuccessfully, to contact ghosts for 150 years or so...

I swear:
The day that 1st ghost shows up (I can vaguely picture it being Lou Gherig) I will be there, and will kiss the patootie of every single person that comes by and says I told you so.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 03:07 AM

I was at a college show a client had booked and introduced the crew.

In a private moment, I was asked by the sound engineer if I had ever met Criss Angel
(..yeah)
then the "COLLEGE" student then tried to impress
me with how he knew the secret to Criss' levitation.

I humored him by listening and prepared to shrug my shoulders.

As it turns out, (and I wasn't familiar with this method), Angel has powers of mentalism that allow him to sense where the soft spots of gravity will soon be on the Earth (due to how the planets are constantly changing alignment),
and he sort of catches them just as a surfer catches a wave.

I just looked at him, depressed, knowing that he would eventually breed and also recognizing the fact that his future votes will cancel mine out
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 03:11 AM

Originally posted by Chris Ritter:
powers of mentalism that allow him to sense where the soft spots of gravity will soon be on the Earth (due to how the planets are constantly changing alignment), and he sort of catches them just as a surfer catches a wave.
I used to use that method. But it seemed like cheating - not real conjuring - so I started using a harness instead.

Dave
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 05:50 AM

Originally posted by Chris Ritter:
powers of mentalism that allow him to sense where the soft spots of gravity will soon be on the Earth (due to how the planets are constantly changing alignment), and he sort of catches them just as a surfer catches a wave.

That statement reminds me of a line I use occasionally, when I drop something during a performance:
"Oh, I see, the power of gravity is rather strong here."
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 06:13 AM

Originally posted by Bob Farmer:
Actually the report was about GOATS, not ghosts -- which makes the statistics even more astounding.
Oh my!

My 'adult' PK Touches has been a secret for so long. now you let the goat out the bag Mr Farmer.

Bah.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 06:29 AM

Hey!!! We're trying to have a serious conversation here! :whack:
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 07:08 AM

As far as I know all are welcome to an inner world full of whatever we desire. Whether or not the things in that world are reliably shared is where we get into scientific method.

The question begged by accepting anecdotal or storybook things as "real"* amounts to facing this:

Let's presume the existance of ghosts for a moment here. How, specifically, can you tell that the thing you wish to believe is a ghost of X is not actually a ghost of Y presenting itself to you as X for its own purposes?

The larger question which most people shy away from is "how could you tell which X it is you are listening to or speaking for?"

Those are some of the questions which can help distinguish the childlike fantasy world from a more adult world concerned with certainty and consequences.

* the criteria for X being "real" in a modern sense includes things like other people being able to detect X, a reliable procedure for eliciting X and some significant statistical measure of distinction between the X and random perceptions.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 07:45 AM

Unfortunately, we can't use physical science to detect or measure non-physical things. So what else do we have?
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 08:31 PM

IMHO the reason Mentalism is popular, IF it is, is because as an entertainment form mentalism allows suspension of disbelief much more easily than watching a guy in a cheap suit with a pair of Hippy Hop Rabbits.
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Postby Guest » 10/29/07 09:14 PM

You know, I want to jump in here, partly because this thread and the article interests me, but mostly because I cannot think of any other time I will ever be able to say this.
Science pretty much begins with math. Scientists were able to predict black holes with math far before we found them. Science was able to predict planets and moons far before we found them.
but in all the years I have been interested in the occult. In the years I believed in it, the year I was a part of it and all the years since where I have been a watcher, I have never, ever, ever seen anyone anywhere claim that they can predict the occult with math.
If ghosts exist, and can be detected, then there should be some math somewhere to prove it.
There is, to the best of my knowledge, none.
I would, of course, be interested in seeing someone try.

On the other hand, I have yet to see someone predict with math a decent Hippity Hop Rabbit routine either, so take with it as you will.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 08:10 AM

There is also no mathematics to describe dark matter which makes up 96% of our universe. Yes, 96% of what is there cannot be observed because it does not reflect light. Why? Because it is made of a different molecular stucture. But is it there? Yes. I wonder what that 96% does? Who knows, but one thing is for sure- we know very little about this realm, regardless of how much we think we know.
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 09:02 AM

Originally posted by Scott Priest:
There is also no mathematics to describe dark matter which makes up 96% of our universe. Yes, 96% of what is there cannot be observed because it does not reflect light. Why? Because it is made of a different molecular structure. But is it there? Yes. I wonder what that 96% does? Who knows, but one thing is for sure- we know very little about this realm, regardless of how much we think we know.
Actually there is a lot of math to describe dark matter. We wouldn't have a theory of dark matter without math. But perhaps an example is in order HERE.

And a quick Google search of DARK MATTER MATH brings us 1,760,000 results, some of which provide various mathematical calculations on dark matter.

Gord
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 02:55 PM

Closer to home, there is no math to represent the functioning of the human brain. Sure, we can mathematically represent the aggregate behavior of a gazillion humans (more or less); we can mathematically represent the behavior of a single neuron; but practically everything in the middle is quite mysterious. Sleep? Dreams? Language? Love? Wonder? Emotion? Morality? Genius? Art? Attempts to reduce these things to mathematics have all failed, and are likely to continue to fail far beyond our lifetimes. You think that math will eventually explain all these things? That invokes one I failed to mention: faith.
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 03:29 PM

Doug
You may be correct in saying that there is no math in describing the human brain. (I only say "may be" because I don't know, not to belittle.)
But, to look at things another way. We know the brain exists. We also know what the parts of the brain do. We know where in the brain things such as reasoning, movement, emotion etc happen.
We also know how the different parts of the brain communicate with each other to form the whole that is a person.
As for such esoteric things as Love, I don't need faith to know I love my wife. Actually, I would go as far as to say that after seeing all the love in the world, from my parents to my family to my friends to me, that there is enough of it around to prove it exists. (But don't take my word on it.)
But as for ghosts or ESP, two things that should be a little easier to prove than Love, there is nothing, nada, zilch, zip amount of scientific proof.
And that there is pretty much where the period goes.

Gord

BTW: As for anyone who is interested in the brain and it's functions, I found this nifty web site HERE.
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 04:40 PM

Robert A. Baker and Joe Nickell have written a helpful book titled "Missing Pieces", dealing with how to investigate ghosts, UFO's, psychics and other mysteries.

It contains a humorous story on how to "ghost-bust."

Terry
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 05:57 PM

Originally posted by Iain Hamilton:
Unfortunately, we can't use physical science to detect or measure non-physical things. So what else do we have?
What we have are the start of tools to look at what's happening inside a person when they are seeing a ghost or having a "paranormal" experience.

And IMHO science does not begin with math. Mathematics may be the Queen of the sciences but it all begins with observation.

We don't have a science of invisible flying elephants which eat phantom trees which grow from the bad dreams of three headed cats because we have yet to observe the three headed cats, phantom trees and the elephants are not so cooperative either. ;) IMHO science started with procedures to reliably reproduce an observed finding.
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 06:22 PM

Originally posted by Gord Gardiner:
But as for ghosts or ESP, ... there is nothing, nada, zilch, zip amount of scientific proof.
How about dreams? The best we can do is monitor brains to be able to observe that a subject is "experiencing" during a dream. Does that constitute scientific proof of dreams? How do you know that ghosts are any different than dreams? Would a 24x7 brain monitor "observing" someone's reaction to a ghost be scientific proof of ghosts? (FWIW, I am not an advocate for ghosts; but I am an advocate of clear thought ;) )
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Postby Guest » 10/30/07 06:32 PM

Originally posted by Doug Peters:
...Would a 24x7 brain monitor "observing" someone's reaction to a ghost be scientific proof of ghosts? ...
It would be a record of what happened while someone claimed to be experiencing ghosts. Get enough of that data from enough people to start using the mathematics and you might get a hypothesis about what happens in the brain during the time folks have an experience they report as X - whatever X is.
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Postby Guest » 10/31/07 03:49 AM

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
...get a hypothesis about what happens in the brain ...
This would only be sufficient for qualiophobes. ;)
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Postby Guest » 10/31/07 08:53 AM

Originally posted by Gord Gardiner:
Originally posted by Scott Priest:
[b] There is also no mathematics to describe dark matter which makes up 96% of our universe. Yes, 96% of what is there cannot be observed because it does not reflect light. Why? Because it is made of a different molecular structure. But is it there? Yes. I wonder what that 96% does? Who knows, but one thing is for sure- we know very little about this realm, regardless of how much we think we know.
Actually there is a lot of math to describe dark matter. We wouldn't have a theory of dark matter without math. But perhaps an example is in order HERE.

And a quick Google search of DARK MATTER MATH brings us 1,760,000 results, some of which provide various mathematical calculations on dark matter.

Gord [/b]
Well played, Gord. I have several books on Quantum Physics, But I was refering to what Dark Matter does, not if it is there. There are theories on what it does, but only theories, no absolutes. Until then, we can only ponder. There is also a theory for the existence of a shadow universe (See the book: 'Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything' for an intresting read.)
Personally, I am not sold on string or superstring theory but it does make for interesting debate/study. But, back to the subject at hand. If there is such a thing as a ghost or spirit it would seem that it is relative to the observer as to what they would appear to be. Our world looks the way we observe it be, so it would logically follow suit that if such things are 'real' then they would also appear in the form that we give them.... hmmmm.
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