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Topic: Psychic night on sky
Message: Posted by: lyndonwebb (Aug 24, 2003 03:49AM)
It was Psychic night on UK TV last night and James Randi was on with his challenge.
Keith Charles tried to take up the challenge by doing a reading to someone behind a screen who wasnt allowed to answer, only nod so that the presenter could see whether anything applied to them or not.

Well he failed to pick up anything on the person behind behind the screen but did pick up on someone in the audience.

The really annoying thing about the program was the detail that they spoke about Cold Reading it was as if they had Ian Rowland's book and were reading it page per page verbatim.

Did anyone else see this?
Message: Posted by: Caleb Strange (Aug 24, 2003 09:37AM)
Yeah, I saw this. I wasn't particularly impressed.

Also, I found Mr. Randi's reading a little awkward. I felt that he lacked the sense of sympathetic warmth which I like to see in a Reader, and I didn't think the audience responded well to him. I didn't get the impression that people had 'twigged' what he was up to before it was announced. For a Hot Reader, he came across to me as a little cold.

Actually, I'm not particularly keen on debunking. This approach of 'Hah hah fooled you, it was trickery all along', is less than effective. It alienates and offends many people. However, it did give me the following idea for a story...

Imagine a convention of sceptical magicians. Various feats of mentalism are being presented. One performer is particularly impressive, and there is much speculation as to his/her methods. Eventually, the performer comes clean, much to the outrage and horror of the audience. 'I'm not a magician,' declares the performer. 'I'm actually PSYCHIC. I was only pretending to use trickery so as to prove that sceptical types, such as yourselves, are very poor at recognising, and accepting, the real thing.'

Now, do I feel that sceptical magicians would be converted to the psychic cause by this scandalous deception? Well, no. Hearts and opinions, if anything, would be hardened; and many 'Don't knows' would be put off, I feel, by the smugness and aggressive underhandedness of the psychic. So then, if people MUST convert others to their world view (and there are individuals on both sides of the psychic-powers fence who seem to be so zealously compelled), then I would suggest that there are many better ways of doing this than wearing a grubby mask.


Caleb Strange.
Message: Posted by: MagicSquare (Aug 24, 2003 10:30AM)
To aid those who might be searching for this topic (as I was :)), the "Psychic Night" was actually on Channel 4 and the main programme featuring James Randi and Keith Charles was called "Ultimate Psychic Challenge".

PS: Caleb Strange has explained that the very same programme *was* also shown on the Discovery Channel, on Sky. So, I stand semi-corrected :) (on one leg?)
Message: Posted by: shinobi (Aug 24, 2003 11:43AM)
great point caleb, put across in your amazing storytelling style.

i'm not one for people conning or ripping people off with magic tricks, but sometimes i think randi goes a bit far.

has anyone actually seen 'the amazing randi' perform?
how amazing is he? i don't mean to sound offensive here- i have a lot of respect for accomplished and skilled people- but the way he comes across gives me the impression of someone who was mediocre, got bitter Geller was so popular, and found his fame and fortune as an exposer, then justifies it with the argument he's saving people from the evil charlatans.

like i said, no disrespect, just an impression that comes across.
Message: Posted by: MagicSquare (Aug 25, 2003 06:57AM)
I agree that Randi's reading seemed a bit un-polished, and too direct (it was a hot-reading so he already knew all he needed).

However, I was *very* impressed with the actor who was taught to cold-read over a single 3-hour lesson, and who seemed very convincing (and successful) on a real subject.

I think his acting ability helped him to achieve the necessary sense of rapport and naturalness.
Message: Posted by: Caleb Strange (Aug 25, 2003 01:08PM)

Yeah, you're right, they showed Psychic Night on Channel 4, Saturday just gone - but strangely enough, they showed the same programme (with Randi et al.) the night before, on Discovery.

I, too, found the actor segment impressive. And I agree, I'm sure his acting ability contributed to his success. A lesson there for us all.

Shinobi, thank you for your kind words; I appreciate them. As for Randi, I don't have a problem with him personally, but I do note this: according to 'Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers', Randi (using his real name Randall Zwinge) early in his career posed as an actual psychic, and worked as the 'real' thing, before he converted to debunking. This seems to be a common pattern amongst many debunkers (Houdini being the most obvious example). Indeed, many debunkers present this as a strength ('I once did this, but now I know better - I've seen the light.') Of course, people can be converted the 'other' way, too (a la St Paul).

Now, such people can be very eloquent and persuasive, and they can become passionate advocates for their newly acquired world view - crusaders of 'truth', if you will. However, as an apostate myself (I was going to be a Methodist minister, but my beliefs changed), I'm not sure that the 'converted' (and I include myself in this) necessarily make the best guides to life and its mysteries. We can have issues of guilt, can suffer from a tendency to preach (you may have noted this in me!), and can become zealous to the point of intolerance. Of course, I'm not saying that this is necessarily the case with Randi; I'm just noting the pattern.

I will say this, however. I am really not sure about the efficacy of debunking as practised in its present forms. For instance, 'Psychic Challenges' seem, to me, either to preach to the converted, or to shout at those who cannot hear. It reminds me, not a little, of this Mulla Nasrudin story...

Looking for keys.

One dark night, a policeman found Mulla Nasrudin in the town square. 'It's late, Mulla,' said the policeman. 'What are you doing out here?'
'Looking for my keys,' said Nasrudin, who was rooting around in the gutter. The policeman bent down to help him.
'You drop them here, did you?' asked the policeman.
'No,' said the Mulla. 'I dropped them in my house. But there's more light out here in the square.'


Caleb Strange.
Message: Posted by: MagicSquare (Aug 25, 2003 02:40PM)
Thanks for the clarification about the showings on Discovery Channel *and* Channel 4.

As for Randi, I'm not aware of him ever pretending to be "the real thing" without then self-exposing to prove a point. Perhaps others know better, however...

From my limited knowledge of his early activities, I believe that, for example, he once got a job as a newspaper astrologer:

He simply took other astrologers' predictions, and swapped them about randomly (assigning the Virgo scope to the Scorpio column for example) --- and, nevertheless, apparently scored highly as an accurate practitioner of this "ancient craft"!

And, as I say, he self-exposed after the point had been made.
Message: Posted by: lyndonwebb (Aug 25, 2003 02:44PM)
Secrets of Psychics finally revealed is on Sky one at 9 oclock, is this gonna be a Fox tv special and have the masked palm reader or something.
"I can see that when you were younger you were smaller"
Just a thought?? :bat:
Message: Posted by: MagicSquare (Aug 25, 2003 02:57PM)
Or, "according to your life line, you are still alive"?
Message: Posted by: the_great_stupido (Aug 25, 2003 04:01PM)
Just finished watching 'Secrets of Pyschics Revealed'. Not too much to worry about! It revealed such 'psychic phenomena' as the self folding bill(!?), very, very briefly touched on cold reading, and had a ridiculous explanation for a blindfold card prediction type-thing, using a secret sliding mirror in one of his shoes! Pah. It was the usual Fox nonsense, all in all.... :rolleyes:
Message: Posted by: Caleb Strange (Aug 25, 2003 04:58PM)

In the interests of fair play, I chased up a couple of other references to Randall Zwinge's apparent early career as a 'pyschic'. Here's one quotation:

'Born Randall Zwinge in Toronto in 1928, 'Randi' was a child prodigy who devoted his teenage years exclusively to the art of deception. In his early twenties he achieved local celebrity status by posing briefly as a psychic, imitating telepathic, clairvoyant and precognitive abilities; whether he was exposed or not is uncertain, but it is clear that he became a regular magician and within ten years was renowned as one of the best escapologists in the world, following in the footsteps of his idol, Houdini. Like the latter, he developed an unquenchable distrust towards mediums - he has since expended a large part of his energies endeavouring to expose them all as fraudulent.'

Further to that, in the 'Strange Powers' book, there are references to Randi 'succumb(ing) to the temptation to pose as a psychic', and one or two further details.

Now, I have no idea whether these statements are true or false (in this contentious area, the fact that there are several references to this 'history' means little other than the fact that there are several references!) But Randi aside, I do feel there is an established pattern (in all areas of belief, I hasten to add) of individuals converting from one set of beliefs to another. And often, I believe, these people become loud advocates of their newly acquired world-view. For example, I'm sure we all know at least one former smoker who is now zealously anti-smoking.

I suppose one of the things I was trying to say with the story is that most people (myself included) tend to look for truth in areas that are convenient, well-lit, and familiar. And sometimes, that can mean seeking to impose the pattern of our life (in this case 'conversion') on others. I'm kind of with Groucho Marx on this one; I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member. :)

Warm regards,

Caleb Strange.
Message: Posted by: lyndonwebb (Aug 26, 2003 12:14AM)
I liked the way how they explained the spirit slates taht you have a hidden accomplice under your chair to write a message on the slates.
Ok no real damage done but i must admit it could prove fatal for some seance entertainers.
In fact i have even done most of the "tricks" at some time or another.
Maybe it might make some Magi, look at there own presentations.