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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The March 2006 entrée: Tim Ellis & Sue-Anne Webster » » Exposing fraudsters » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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NeoMagic
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Sue-Anne, I read with interest in your bio that you, "use [your] knowledge of magic to expose the frauds who use sleight of hand and psychology to further a belief in the occult...". It reminded me of the kind of work Houdini used to do.

Could you give some examples of the kind of fraudsters you've been able to expose and how (without naming names I guess)? Thanks in advance, and welcome to the Magic Café.
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Sue-Anne Webster
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Thankyou...

I don't do a James Randi - but whenever possible I'll let the public know of fraudulent practices.

I get people asking at my walk-around gigs "is magic real?" - that they "went to a psychic and was told..." etc. A lady described my 'aura' - and some have said I was better (and more impressive) than the psychic they paid a small fortune to see. Women are more prone to chat about things like that on a first meeting with an unknown person, than men. They get excited when they see a woman doing magic and strike up these sorts of conversations. I'll certainly expose Uri Geller in my general presentation (you'd be amazed to know how many people are surprised to know about his ruses).

BTW Tim exposed Uri Geller back in the 80's when a mining company named Zanex hired Uri to wave a pendulum over a map while flying over their mine in hopes of finding gold.

I also get asked to speak at schools from time to time, to talk about deception from a Christian point of view - and how fraudulent practices can deceive the unsuspecting public and the damage it can ultimately cause. Magic demos (with no exposure, of course) are a great way of getting the point across. They're entertained and learn important lessons at the same time.
Mr Amazing
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Just curious; how do you expose Uri Geller without without exposing? Do you show that you too can perform the same effects as he did? (and then leave it at that?)

Also, what are your criteria for deciding who and what to expose?

Thanx
Tim Ellis
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Hi, the Uri Geller thing was interesting.

He had been hired by Zanex mining to find gold for them on an island they were mining. He did so by holding a pendulum over a map while they flew over the island.

My role was to appear on a current affair TV show and explain a little bit about who Uri was. I demonstrated some spoon bending (Uri had impressed the island's native chief with that effect) and made an offer to the mining company to do exactly what Uri had done for free.

But Uri's plan was perfect. Zanex was a publicly listed company. In order to justify his decision and protect his own job the CEO who hired Geller HAD to make sure Geller paid off, otherwise share prices drop and he's no longer CEO. Brilliant. Did they find gold? No. They found other minerals... but as was pointed out by a geologist, the island was so rich in minerals you could have dug anywhere and found something of value. The CEO announced that the decision to hire Geller had paid off!

What is our criteria to expose... I hate seeing people ripped off, so nowdays I tend to expose those within the magic community who copy other's creations for their own profit. (See our MAGIC FAKERS page).

Sue-Anne tends to expose practices rather than people. Often the people involved in fraudulent practices are just as deceived as their victims. (I'd better let her answer in more detail).


Actually, we met during a lecture on how to make money giving Astral Travel workshops! Smile
NeoMagic
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This might be of interest to some... a short clip of Geller on the Johnny Carson show some years back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4O90yvyTd5Y

And a longer version with James Randi http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e39fBmh2lkk

The debate continues!
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Sue-Anne Webster
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Yeah, we DID meet during a lecture on how to make money on Astral travelling by Richard Webster from New Zealand. I think all the magicians were dumb founded. Tim was beside himself worrying that he could have been my father - or husband.

Anyway - yes, I show people I can do the same stuff, rather than expose magic - because I have access to that type of material.

I do it because I cannot bear to let anyone go around thinking that some imperfect human being who doesn't know you from a grain of salt, but willing to take your money, is concerned at all about your welfare. Too many people are placing their trust in what? Too many people spend their lives focused intently on looking out for a dark haired man or somebody to walk into their lives with the first initial "M".

What a great distraction from truly important things in life. What's a deck of cards going to tell you? What's a piece of quartz going to do for you? What's a clear ball going to tell you? What are the planets going to reveal when they're already 5 degrees off their original course? NOTHING!

So, I take the opportunity from time to time, or when it's called for, as a magician who can do the same things to hopefully alleviate an unecessary burden.
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Do you guys ever find that perhaps your view on this issue is somewhat more narrow than it needs to be? Now, I am not advocating openly ripping people off, but it sounds to me that you are more lampooning those that go to a reader than you are "showing them the error of their ways". I do know one or two readers that have provided much help to those who came to them and do care a great deal for the complete strangers that come to them seeking guidance. This is no different than someone going to a priest that they do not know and asking for guidance. The only difference is the costume. All it is, is someone giving advice based on their beliefs. And here you stand saying to others that those beliefs are fake. I do hope you look at what you are doing and reconcider your approach towards this subject. I feel that it is no better than walking up to someone and telling them that their religious beliefs are wrong and they are doomed to burn just because their beliefs do not match yours. All that is likely to do is make an enemy, not bring someone to your side of the table.
Smile
JordanMalfreed
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Tim & Sue-Anne,

Greetings. Interesting discussion you have here.

Do you use a disclaimer when you perform?

Have you personally conducted any scientific study of the specific individuals who you are exposing, or is your evidence anecdotal in nature? If you have done any studies, please tell us about it, and point us towards your research. I'd be very interested in reading it.

Do you know how everything in the world works and which beliefs are correct with no doubt whatsoever? If yes, then how did you come to this conclusion?

It's interesting that you both met at an astral travel workshop, yet you seemingly would denounce such an event as bad. Why would you tell someone something is wrong and bad when you personally know that some there are wonderful things that can come from it? It seems to indicate a conflict you have with yourselves.

Following the protocols,
Jordan
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Hello Tim and Sue Anne, I did enjoy your dvd's and the sense of fun that you conveyed.It was great seeing Tommy Wonder on holidays!
As well as fun with magic though I also like to feel like sometimes what I have seen may be 'real'.I mean when I saw Uri Geller bend a spoon it was so powerful that it was such a different feeling to just watching a 'trick'.Sure he has'nt written a book or released a dvd about his methods but that is something else I like about him!Anyway good luck and thanks's for sharing that Crazy Man's Handcuffs as an opener idea.
''In memory of a once fluid man,crammed and distorted by the classical mess'' -Bruce Lee
rikbrooks
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Quote:
On 2006-03-07 11:23, JordanMalfreed wrote:
Have you personally conducted any scientific study of the specific individuals who you are exposing, or is your evidence anecdotal in nature? If you have done any studies, please tell us about it, and point us towards your research. I'd be very interested in reading it.


Jordan, I find it hard to believe that you didn't mean what I just quoted to be aggressive and confrontational. You don't need a scientific study to demostrate how something done by someone that is claiming supernatural powers can be done with sleight of hand. You don't need to publish studies. I was alive in the 70's and Gellar claimed that he used supernatural powers to bend spoons. I watched him on television and remember his making the claim. I read books by him where he taught us all how to expand our ESP.

Quote:
Do you know how everything in the world works and which beliefs are correct with no doubt whatsoever? If yes, then how did you come to this conclusion?


Now THAT was confrontational and deliberately so. These are our guests and I take umbrage at your confronting them in this manner.

Quote:
It's interesting that you both met at an astral travel workshop, yet you seemingly would denounce such an event as bad. Why would you tell someone something is wrong and bad when you personally know that some there are wonderful things that can come from it? It seems to indicate a conflict you have with yourselves.


Jordan, you have demonstrated a grievous misunderstanding of two of the most ethical magicians that I have ever encountered. You have misjudged them and misconstrued. Your words betray a very narrow mindset. Normally I would just ignore you as being not worth my time refuting, but you are confronting people that have been there when I needed them and are, in my opinion, above reproach.

Tred lightly, Jordan, you are among people that love this couple and they have earned our love and respect.
Tim Ellis
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Hi guys, 8.30 in the morning here now and I see the discussion has been progressing along nicely. Smile

SAMUEL - You have some very good points but no, neither Sue-Anne or I lampoon those who go to readers, we are very cautious because so many people have such faith in things like tarot, astrology, rune stones, clairvoyants, auras etc...

I had one lady come up to me at a show, she was the head of Direct Marketing in Australia, and she explained to me that I had a "black aura", my magic was real. I explained that what I did was purely trickery, sleight of hand etc, but she insisted and went on to say that I was resorting to tricks because I hadn't yet released my "true abilities". I asked her how she knew that, she said she was a fairy....... Long silence..... waiting for punch line.... none came and she was deadly serious. She explained that she, as a sideline, ran a series a fairy shops where parents would drop kids off for fairy parties, and they'd do tarot and ouija boards and other fun stuff. You can't lampoon someone who truly believes this but, she was sharing her beliefs with me, so I took the opportunity to share my beliefs with her.

These sort of situations happen to us all the time. It's really quite odd but we often end up having discussions about beliefs with the people we are entertaining. They are seeking something, a higher meaning, a purpose for life. Everyone has an empty space inside them they need to fill with that purpose - sometimes they fill it with work, family, the quest for fame or money, the spirits, new age, or religion...

Sue-Anne and I are both Christians. We fill that space with a desire to understand God and to try to live in the way Jesus taught. We fail miserably CONSTANTLY, but we keep on trying. Part of that life is to spread the gospel. We don't feel that we have been called to evangelise in the way that Andre Kole does, but who knows what lies ahead? We also don't feel the need to initiate conversations with people to try to "convert" them, but when people start asking questions, we try to reply as honestly and as openly as possible.

Christianity itself can be seen as a "narrow world view". Even the first of the Ten Commandments says 'You shall have no other God but me'.

But, and I want to be clear on this, we are not out their in judgement of other people because they believe different things to us (hey, even Teller is a good friend of ours!) the Bible clearly tells us not to judge others at all. However, it also does warn against involvement in the occult, fortune telling, etc... and we've seen the dangers of such involvement at first hand.


So, in a very big nutshell Smile , Sue-Anne and I are happy to expose the "frauds who use sleight of hand and psychology to further a belief in the occult...". It's tragic to think that someone's belief system could be based on a centre tear. But to those who are in the occult or the new age and are still searching for meaning, we're happy to share with them.
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JORDAN - The Astral Travel Lecture we met at was part of a magic convention given by Sean Taylor in Sydney. The convener of the lecture was Richard Webster. It was amazing.

Richard made it very clear that this was simply a way to make a lot of money with little effort. The majority of the magicians present sat slack-jawed as he explained that he doesn't believe it, but many people do, so why not take their money.

One guy asked "What do you do if they pay the money and don't experience any Astral Travel?" Richard replied words to the effect of "That's great! Then you tell them they need to do more practice at home and you sell them some books and tapes and book them in for more sessions."

The guy who asked is really into making big money, but even he thought this was going a bit too far.

If you're going to preach it, you should at least believe in it yourself, not just take people's money because "Hey they're going to give it to someone... why not me?"

(And yes, there are many, many people out there masquerading as Christians doing the exact same thing, taking money under false pretences, it's all pretty bad stuff).
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MARKYMARK - You are absolutely right. Geller's performance looks amazing! Why, because he says it's not a trick, it's real. Try doing a centre tear or a cold read on someone and present is as real and you'll be amazed at how much stronger the reaction is (though, not quite as effective with 'Sponge Bunnies'). It's an easy way to get better reactions - like the wrestler's "Cheap Heat".

Glad you enjoyed the rubber band intro for strolling magic. It's SUCH an effective way to break into ANY group... I love it.


RIKBROOKS - Thanks so much for your support, we really do appreciate it.
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Quote:
On 2006-03-06 22:27, Sue-Anne Webster wrote:
I also get asked to speak at schools from time to time, to talk about deception from a Christian point of view - and how fraudulent practices can deceive the unsuspecting public and the damage it can ultimately cause.


This may set the cat amongst the pigeons but I’m actually quite interested in the answer. Sue-Anne how do you criticise fraudulent practises based on the belief of the susceptible customer using another faith based system such as Christianity?
JordanMalfreed
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Tim - Thank you for responding to some of my questions. Richard Webster is a very nice man and a fascinating guy. It's interesting that you met at one of his lectures.

rikbrooks - I don't think you clearly understand what I'm writing, so I apologize if I was not clear enough. Our special guests here made some pretty strong statements about what other people believe, and I wanted to more fully understand what our guests believe and why. That is why I put forward my questions. I am looking to understand them and their views. Questions and discussion is one of the ways that I work to increase understanding. Readings for example, can be a perfectly legitimate and deceiptless way for people to come to a greater understanding of themselves and the world.

Following the protocols,
Jordan
Sue-Anne Webster
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Thankyou Rik, for your support... it is truly greatly appreciated.

Tim pretty much covered my answer, but I'd like to add my reason for the strong opinion I have... and it may cover a few questions above.

After turning my back on Christianity at 15, I spent a good 21 years experiencing just about every aspect of the New Age Movement in search for truth. I used everything I found to critisize Christianity. My natural curiosity, involvement in the Spiritist church, and association with my brother's in-laws had me learning and/or experiencing just about everything from ouija boards, mediums, clairvoyance, crystal readings, pyramid power, alternative health therapies, psychic healings, channelling, divination, dreams, kirlian diagnosis, naturopathy, tarot cards, etc. etc. etc. and finally, the very dangerous tantric practises in yoga, raising kundalini.

During this time I felt more and more hatred towards Christianity and began to openly critisize it. At the same time, nothing ever came of anything I learned or did in the New Age Movement, except that my life began to fall apart and my brain was going weird (I can't describe it any better). I also learned a little bit about other religions, but they didn't really make any sense to me. I also must add that I love science and was also trying to prove Christianity wrong with scientific facts.

Finally, in my last efforts to prove to Tim that Christianity was a load of crap, and desperate for the truth, I picked up the Bible to try and understand who this Jesus was and what on earth did he die on the cross for. I couldn't understand a word of it - but - after praying to God (yes, people in the New Age believe in a "universal intelligence"), desperate to know the truth - right then and there, my whole body literally shook with what I can only describe as a revelation.

There was more meaning to life in those first few seconds of knowing Jesus than there was in 26 years, since my search began with my first question at 10 years of age: "Does science and the Bible agree" (BTW: the answer is yes).

Now, everything makes perfect sense and I'm finally content. Of course, I still have troubles like everybody else and I constantly fall down in my Faith but, the idea is to get back up and try, try again.

I have a great empathy and love for those who seek answers in cards and clairvoyants and for those who practise these things when their goal is to earnestly help others. I try to be gentle but firm when I 'expose' fraudulent or occult practises. The practises have a meaningfulness of - minus zero, and they are destructive to the core. I say this from experience.

But, there is NO excuse for those who deceive others KNOWING they are using trickery.

Please forgive me if I've offended anyone by my earlier comments - I've only spoken from my personal experience.
JordanMalfreed
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Sue-Anne,

I'll have to respectfully disagree with your statement that, "The practises have a meaningfulness of - minus zero, and they are destructive to the core. I say this from experience."

The practices when used wisely can have a great meaning and can help.

I can understand that you don't believe that they worked for you, but that doesn't mean that they should be completely thrown away.

I'm not trying to convince anyone to change their world view or religious beliefs, I just would prefer if you did not propagate such negative stereotypes. Also, just because you were involved in it in past doesn't mean you know everything about it. You're using a computer to read this, but I doubt you know everything about that. Most people on this board couldn't tell a SYN from a FIN or a NACK from an ACK...but that's another kind of protocol.

Be well.

Following the protocols,
Jordan
Tim Ellis
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One of the "experiments" we did when we were performing a season of 'Cunning Stunts' in an intimate theatre (seating 12 around a table) for the Comedy Festival was something we saw James Randi do.

As people arrived we gave them a questionaire to fill out with all sorts of details like birthdate, sign, favourite colour etc. Near the end of the show we gave them each a computerised print out of their astrological chart based on the information they gave us.

We asked them, "How accurate, on a scale of 1-5 would you say your chart was?"

Most people replied 4 to 5.

Then we got them to hand the charts around. Laughter started to ensue as they realised they all had the exact same readings.

We then spent 5 minutes explaining the history and basis of astrology and how, due to the way that the planets have shifted out of their original astrological houses over the years, the system doesn't even operate the way it was designed to anymore.

After the show a lady came up and thanked us and told us she was never going to read her horoscope in the paper again. She understood what we'd explained and realised that the alignment of the planets had no real influence on her, it was all fake... except for HER astrologer, he's VERY GOOD not like all the other fakes we spoke about.




Jordan, just curious, what are your beliefs?
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Quote:
On 2006-03-07 16:53, Tim Ellis wrote:
Christianity itself can be seen as a "narrow world view". Even the first of the Ten Commandments says 'You shall have no other God but me'.


You might find "Collosians Remixed: Subverting the Empire" by Brian Walsh & Sylvia Keesmaat (InterVarsity Press, 2004) most interesting in the context of this discussion
JordanMalfreed
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Tim,

Since you didn't specify which of my beliefs you'd like to know about, I'll present some of them. Certainly we don't have time or space for all of them...even without getting into the size of the universe or time if those constructs actually exist.

I believe that humans are probably so incredibly limited in their capacity to observe and to think that they (yes, we) cannot understand what anything is.

I believe we should live and let live. I think too many people are telling other people what is right and wrong rather than tending their own gardens.

I believe that people see everything from the point of view of their belief system whether that belief system is their personal interpretation of what they think Jesus, Buddah, scientists or anyone else said.

I believe that people too often focus on what makes their beliefs different rather than what makes their beliefs the same, and that it would be better if they reversed that.

I believe that most people define themselves by their limitations rather than their possibilities, and that is quite a shame.

I believe that most people think their beliefs are right when in fact most of their beliefs are wrong, including my own. I believe that people do this even though they usually have a great deal of skepticism and questioning still left internally about their own beliefs.

I believe that working to see things from a variety of perspectives can aid understanding, and that includes trying to view things from random or chance means such as tarot, coin flipping, I-Ching, whim or others as well as trying to view things from a specific fixed point of view. Shifting perspective is important. I believe that when people limit the way they view the world to one particular way that it criples their ability to see things clearly.

I believe that things are very complex at the same time that they are very simple.

I believe that I also probably don't know anything just the same as everyone else, and that anyone who assumes they do know a lot probably does not.

Also, I usually question as much as possible of most everything as much as I am able, but I am aware that I am limited in my ability to do this.

I believe that human beings are pattern seeking organisms to the extent that we find patterns even where none exist.

Following the protocols,
Jordan
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