Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
I disagree completely that mentalism generates more impact. Good magic done very well should totally freak people out. Overgeneralizatons like Sebastian's make for faulty reasoning. It's got to be a case by case basis for EACH person doing magic versus mentalism.
I'll say it again: good magic done very well is just as strong as mentalism. (Anyone who does mentalism and claims to have real powers is eliminated from the equation because they're simply con men.)
I know I'm coming into this topic really, really late (it's only been a year, bear with me).
Yes, it seems that any time we're talking about the performance arts, really meaningful comparisons only from from case by case examinations. However, some generalizations can be made.
I have a friend who's a very active and talented mentalist. For a long time, he put a disclaimer at the front of his shows, telling the audiences to not get too involved, that he accomplishes his feats by normal methods. He eventually dropped the disclaimers because he found it didn't make any difference.
I went to many of his shows, and time after time, even when advised that what he was doing was fakery, people would approach him afterwards and ask him if he could really read minds, if he could contact the dead, and how he obtained his "powers." I was particularly struck by one incident where after the show a man approached my friend. He had tears in his eyes, and he explained that his son was missing for over a decade. He asked my friend if he could help locate him or find out what happened to him. My friend had to explain to him (for the second time), that he really had no such ability, that it was all fakery. When the man finally understood, he was heartbroken.
Yes, good magic can freak people out. The difference is that these days hardly anyone believes in magic, but a lot of people are open to the potential of the mind. No matter how amazing the magic was, people will almost always presume that there's a method involved, but with even adequately performed mentalism, many people are left wondering -- and sometimes convinced, even when the performer isn't a "con man," even when the performer actually disclaims his own performance.
All other factors being equal, mentalism is inherently stronger than magic. It can be so strong that it's scary.