There is a British magician named Derren Brown who specializes in mentalism. He is incredibly convincing although he adamantly maintains that what he does is all trickery. Since he does not reveal how he does his tricks, it is sometimes hard to believe that he isn’t really psychic and just telling people that he’s not.
I personally know a magician who performed mentalist illusions. I worked with him every day for an entire summer. I picked up some of his techniques through repeated observation of his performance. I won’t expose these techniques. I consider myself a member of the brotherhood of magicians and we have a policy of never publicly revealing how a trick is done.
Derren Brown admits to using cold reading, misdirection, and hypnotism among the many varied techniques in his arsenal. He has been criticized by some of the people whose scams he has debunked. He has been cleared of all wrong doing in all cases. I think it is a good thing to expose people who attempt to manipulate people by lying to them.
You can watch Derren Brown’s videos online. Some of them are even available on You Tube. It is sad to learn that some of the phenomena that you thought were real are actually just confidence games. It is hard not to make excuses and say that just because there are confidence men taking advantage of people’s gullibility doesn’t necessarily mean that there aren’t real examples of the phenomena. But in the final analysis, there is no evidence that the phenomena is real. Not repeatable evidence anyway. Any evidence that can’t be duplicated must be written off as coincidence.
In the final analysis though, I classify such phenomena in the same category that I do conventional religions. I plain don’t know. I don’t have enough information to totally dismiss either religion or any other paranormal phenomena. Just so, I can’t confirm or deny anything without definitive evidence.
I can enjoy suspending disbelief in the interest of entertainment though. I just don’t intend to make important life decisions based on anything unconfirmed. It is becoming harder and harder to detect frauds. In this era of establishing truth by loudly and persistently repeating outrageous assertions, you have to remember that appeals to authority are not valid proof.
It is more than a little disturbing that this means we now have valid logical reasons to distrust our government. I guess we always did have. It’s just more blatantly true lately.
Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.