Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back online for The Fall

We didn't really take a break, just got busy with some other stuff which might amuse you.

In the UK, Derren Brown predicts the lottery numbers live on tv, and the first number that comes up (in the 'real' lottery) - Yup, 23. And the announcer even mentions then that the Lottery has raised £23 million for good causes.

On Friday, Derren promises to explain how he did it, but you can watch the clip here.

His blog (All your minds are belong to us) has closed for a while, due to the amount of traffic.

Speculation (the great viral buzz) revolves around a split-screen arrangement, or special ink on the balls (activated remotely), or something else...

Or maybe he just uses magic? :-)

Follow atheist, entertainer and arch-debunker Derren Brown through Twitter, or Facebook. He uses a combination of misdirection, suggestion, psychological reading, sleight-of-hand and (probably) high-tech gizmos to achieve the effects he goes for. Persuasion, perceptual illusions, probability, he explores them all.

It seems amusing that the technical magical term of 'Misdirection' seems to have entered the common language now, even if people may not entirely understand some of the subtleties - and many people attribute his odd 'powers' to NLP, whereas that probably remains a misleading part of his patter, rather than an explanation. He retains his ambiguity about it all - while emphasising that he does not believe in psychic powers, gods and demons, etc. In fact, although he has worked as a hypnotist, he doesn't really 'believe' in hypnosis either. He claims partial inspiration for his style of performance from Martin S Taylor and his 'Hypnotism without hypnosis' show - and (although he plays down his connection to conjurors now) can handle a deck of cards expertly.

Note: he only shares initials with David Blaine by chance. He appears far more witty and urbane to me.


Bogus Magus said...

Derren dismissed out of hand (at the top of the programme) the split screen theory, and the digital/laser printed go onto other matters. Ha!

First of all he did a few trivial bits with supposedly influencing people by raising their tension levels, then went into a totally irrelevant bit with 24 people and The Wisdom of Crowds (an averaging out process which may well prove a surprising and useful tool for tangible questions like how many beans in a jar, or how much a cow weighs, but can't possibly help predict a random sequence!)

And then he finished with a mention of "the only other way he could have done it" (heh heh) which would involve scamming the lottery with heavy balls.

You'd need big balls to do that illegally, let alone conspire with the lottery as a publicity stunt! Nobody, that day, drew the right numbers, as it happens!

But as self-publicity, and getting people talking, you can't fault it! Houdini himself would feel envious. Although, whether Derren will still find himself remembered by everyone a hundred years from now (like Harry Houdini) only time will tell.

It amuses me that people don't want it to turn out as simply a camera trick (as though such things would lower their respect for Derren) when the promo for the show specifically uses backward footage, backward talking, speeded up footage and such (in a baffling combination, I have to say).

Have you watched the ads on tv recently, to see what they can do with computers if they want to?

Anyway, tomorrow he plans to pin viewers to their sofas (something tv does on a regular basis, anyway) - which presumably means the guidelines about not showing any kind of hypnotic inductions to the 'vulnerable public' (the supposed reason for banning subliminals) have disappeared.

All good fun!

Bogus Magus said...

For those of you who live outside the UK - the second week Derren did a suggestion bit, attempting to get people stuck to their sofas at home. The whole program seemed like one long induction and invite to 'play along' - complete with pseudo subliminals and other stuff.

Sadly, I simply stood up, so missed the odd sensation. Damned sceptical and knowing brain of mine...Doesn't know how to have a good time. :-)

So, 50% of studio audience, maybe similar or less at home. Still, thousands and thousands of people.

If you want to know more about this style of self-promotion, check out The Shiels Effect - a deliberate echo of The Geller Effect...

Bogus Magus said...

Week 3, and in my house we felt a little disappointed. This week - remote viewing and psychic spies.

He supposedly had no idea about a hidden design done by someone a few weeks ago, yet claimed she would be transmitting it to us all. In fact, it felt much more likely that Derren and his crew were transmitting to us...with the expanded pupils, and the inset light, her eyes looked very odd.

Having looked at the several samples people were doing, he noted the common spiral and said "or I would have called that concentric circles". Guess what the 'target' (heh heh) picture turned out as - yup, concentric circles.

We didn't get to see the 'stooge' being primed to draw, or drawing, or concealing the drawing, but one way or another Derren knew what it was...and/or had suggested she keep it simple...

I guess the sense of disappointment comes from the fact that he could do this stuff perfectly with magic tricks for a select audience, but now that he has taken on the vast lowbrow world with an 'educational' project he seems stuck between wanting to get people thinking and rational (like Dawkins) and yet manipulating and confusing them and getting famous at the same time.

The ambiguity (he plays on so well) remains.


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