York Brights talk magic

Last week I headed down to York Brights for their monthly meeting. It was the second time I had been to the city in a month, having visited North Yorkshire Humanists two weeks prior.

The topic of much of this week’s discussion was Derren Brown. Derren has done amazing things for reviving the art of magic, but it always a divided opinion in the skeptics community because although he says it is all magic, he then goes on to pretend a lot of what he is doing is real.

Take the example, when he correctly predicted the lottery numbers. Of course, he didn’t, it was a simple camera trick. But be started the show by saying “this is all magic” and then took you on an hour long journey about the wisdom of crowds, which is of course nonsense. I spoke about this at Skeptics in the Pub in 2009.

One of the group members, Michael, went on to explain just how much of Derren’s material relies on this. Take for example his TV show Trick of Treat, although he claims to use no actors, they almost certainly did, partly because some have been identified as actors but also because you just can’t morally do a lot of that stuff to unsuspecting members of the public.

You could argue of course that that is part of the show though. When we watch fiction or magic, we suspend our disbelief for the purposes of entertainment (deep down, we all know there probably isn’t a man traveling around space and time in a vehicle disguised as a blue police box but it’s fun to pretend for those 45 minutes), and maybe it’s just part of that.



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This entry was posted on Thursday, May 26th, 2011 at 2:10 pm and is filed under Distractions, Life, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.