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MarkTripp
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Well to begin:

Of the 3,000 tips that came to the attention of the authorities after Jessica's [Florida girl] disappearance, over 400 were from self-professed psychics or self-identified clairvoyants. Police say their information was vague and unsupported, not unlike most tips provided by psychics. But even though authorities questioned the value of such mystically-generated information, teams of detectives and FBI agents still had to be assigned to track down these leads, resulting in the use of valuable investigative resources (to no avail).
This was also the case in the disappearance of eight month pregnant Laci Peterson where local authorities received hundreds of similar tips from individuals identifying themselves as psychics. One so-called psychic Website claims that its members specialize in finding missing adults as well as lost, "misplaced," and abducted children, pets, and jewelry.

Now facts:

1. Lee Erle (sp?) says do NOT do any disclaimer, as no one wants to see a fake psychic.

2. T.A.Waters in his "Mind, Myth, and Magic" shows how to get sealed info at readings and says readings are good for people

3. You have only to go to their own forum and see how they think about us, and the idea of making money from readings and the like.

Once could proclaim that the Sun orbits the Earth and that they have seen no evidence to change their mind. This would simply show them to be a fool, and not worth debating with.

To attempt to equate a person changing a red slik to green with person who claims psychic powers is equally foolish.

But this debate becomes ad hominum and silly quickly, and is why I seldom deal with it any more.
Clifford the Red
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I don't understand what some foolish law enforcement policy of recognizing psychics as a legitimate source of information has to do with mentalism. They don't have to investigate everything. They discard the tips from fortune cookies, talking dogs and Aliens and Messages from the Matrix. They should likewise discard psychic tips to the circular file.

Are you saying that mentalists (not Gellars, entertainers which is what this thread is about) are too good and can convince people, police and FBI in particular, to be superstitious?

As far as the "disclaimers" mentioned on the thread goes...

Do disclaimers negate sin? If the scriptures speak against these acts, how does a disclaimer mitigate this in any way?

I guess it is a matter of identifying what constitutes the offender-

1)The Real Act,
2)The Implied Act,
or 3)the use of the Implied or Real Act to Lead Others Astray.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Mind Bullets
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Should government policy or legal requirements dictate what is right or what is wrong? Shouldn't we obey God rather than men? If that's the case, then I only need to know what the Bible has to say about so-called psychic entertainment or mentalism. And since the Bible does not address such entertainment directly, biblical principles must be brought to bear on the matter.

The difference between magic and so-called mentalism is artificial. Just because there are folks to who claim to have real psychic powers no more disallows mentalism than those folks who claim to have real magic powers disallow Christian magicians.

Despite his claim to the contrary, Mr. Tripp appears to be on a crusade to exorcise mentalism from Christendom, and every reason he gives for it applies to magicians as well. There are magicians who claim to have real magical powers. Does that mean magic entertainment should be disallowed in Christendom? Not according to Mr. Tripp. But that very reasoning is what he uses to reject mentalism. It's a double standard that he has yet to justify.

So if someone is going to say I'm wrong for using mentalism to entertain in a church setting, then produce the scriptural principles that I am violating, and then prove that magicians are not guilty of those same alleged violations.

Much of this has to do with what constitutes "bearing false witness." Lying is not a sin. Unjustified lying is a sin. The Hebrew midwives were justified in their lying about Hebrew babies in Egypt. Rahab the harlot was commended for lying to protect the Jewish spies. Fake magicians and fake psychics use lying in a justified context: For entertainment. There's nothing in scripture that prohibits this. Any distinction that is made between magic and mentalism is artificial and arbitrary, based on specious and special-pleading arguments.

Are disclaimers necessary? I say yes, for both fake magicians and fake psychics. Even when claims are not explicitly made, the implications of magic/mentalist demonstrations are powerful and need to be disclaimed in a tasteful and tactful manner.
GlenD
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The dilemma I have with mentalism is how to present it WELL and not encourage audience belief in "supernatural" powers possessed by myself.

I think mentalism is really cool stuff, although I never intend to take it to any kind of level where I make myself out to truly have "powers". But therein lies the crux of the problem.

I plan on adding a light mentalism type of effect, that has a lot of audience participation and is a lot of fun, into my act.

But mentalism in general is still a difficult area as far as gospel venues are concerned (in my opinion).

I always enjoy reading threads like these and the discussions they initiate.

GlenD
"A miracle is something that seems impossible but happens anyway" - Griffin

"Any future where you succeed, is one where you tell the truth." - Griffin (Griffin rocks!)
Clifford the Red
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In my opinion, disclaimers are not necessary. I am not out to claim anything and I certainly am not responsible for someone who can't control their superstitious tendencies. That what I do is entertainment is obvious to anyone with a modicum of intelligence. I am against coddling people with patronizing statements, it is insulting. I believe in expecting the best of people, not the worst.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Mind Bullets
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Hi Clifford the Red,

I have an anecdote to share. We had acquired a new employee in my office. She is a bright, intelligent, astute and outgoing person. Over the course of a couple weeks, I demonstrated a few effects. NW, a book test, some "random" number ploys, ESP cards, as well as taking full advantage of some truly random, yet coincidental, stuff that happened over time.

She was a hostile and combative participant. Very adversarial, but a fine challenge. Her lack of reaction and generally unimpressed demeanor made me think that I was losing her in the presentation; that somehow I needed to rethink how I was approaching the effects.

Well, as it turns out, her lack of reaction was only in my presence. Whenever I wasn't around, she was freaking out, telling other colleagues how I had read her mind, how I had predicted things, how I knew information about her that I could not possibly know. She became a "believer," unbeknownst to me. I didn't find out until other co-workers told me and I became very concerned.

Keep in mind that I had made no claims of psychic power or special gifts, etc., and therefore did not feel the need to make any disclaimers.

At my first opportunity, I told her that what I did was not what it seemed. That I was using psychological manipulation and language and subterfuge. She seemed genuinely hurt and disappointed. She started running down the effects: "What about this?" I told her, "Yes, that wasn't real." She said, "What about that?" I likewise told her, "Yes, that wasn't real either." She was bummed out. So was I. I suddenly wished I could go back and do it all over again, but this time, with the disclaimers.

I don't think the disclaimers are insulting, but rather respectful. I don't think it is patronizing, but realistic, recognizing that certain people, even intelligent and generally well-rounded people, can be lured into believing something that isn't true. Perhaps, because we understand the methods, we sometimes forget how powerfully astonishing and "reality-bending" our presentations can be. Even my wife, who KNOWS I do not have these powers, is genuinely freaked out when I do a book test demonstration.

Not long ago, I agreed with Mr. Osterlind's approach: Don't make any claims, then you won't have to make any disclaimers. But after the experience I described above, I don't agree any longer. For me, the disclaimer is necessary, because actions themselves (or what seems to be actions of a certain paranormal kind) make strong claims, if only by implication.
Clifford the Red
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Interesting annecdote, although I still disagree. Disclaiming is like standing up in the middle of a movie and reminding everyone this is just a film so stop having those emotions, it is all fake. People go to be entertained to be caught up the moment and experience the emotions and perhaps even enjoy the fantasy for a while! Nothing wrong with that. Most people know the difference between reality and fantasy. I think part of the art of magic is definitely blurring their concepts of reality for a time. You are removing, at least for a minute, what they consider the boundaries of possibility. That is a message of the art that I want to protect because I believe it is a positive one. I want people to see more possibilities in their lives and less limitations. I want them to be a little more courageous and maybe seeing something impossible will give their subconscious a little nudge to say, "What the Heck let's go for it" when faced with doing something they have feared failing with in the past. Taking back that experience of the impossible now becomes harmful, in my opinion. You have simply wasted their time with a trivial display and left them with disappointment and reaffirmed limitations in their life. To me, that is what happened when you told that girl it was all fake.

This has nothing to do with the occult, which seems to be the focus in these threads - protect people from the occult. You aren't going to help those who want to believe in that schtick anyway. This has everything to do with the art of magic, the art of presenting the impossible and allowing people to take something of importance from it.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
GlenD
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One thing to remember is that in this section and under the umbrella of "gospel" magic, one needs to seriously ask themselves why they are performing.

For some gospel magicians (I would like to think most), the reason or motivation for performing is of utmost importance.

So, removing as many obstacles as possible for folks to get the message and not get off track by confusion over possible "black arts" or occultic powers is very important.

I don't mean to say that shoddy or not well prepared acts are ok just because you have a very heartfelt message to get across. Don't get me wrong. It's that performing gospel magic is a form of ministry and peoples lives can be impacted for eternity by what may be offered or shared on stage.

Just thought this might be worth mentioning.

GlenD
"A miracle is something that seems impossible but happens anyway" - Griffin

"Any future where you succeed, is one where you tell the truth." - Griffin (Griffin rocks!)
Clifford the Red
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Absolutely Glen!

I simply don't believe most people have the obstacle of assuming that anything extraordinary is attributable to some occult powers. I expect more from people and have not been disappointed. Most people are reasonable, no longer believe in the tooth fairy, and just want to be entertained. And if there is a good message, all the better.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Mind Bullets
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Hi Clifford the Red,

First, let me thank you for the thought-provoking discussion. It really helps me to think these things through, to consider all angles, and to consider differing opinions. Please do not take anything I say below as belligerent or ill-meaning (I'm told that I can come off that way). I am truly enjoying our exchange.

You wrote:
Quote:
Disclaiming is like standing up in the middle of a movie and reminding everyone this is just a film so stop having those emotions, it is all fake.
Not at all. The emotions can be had and greatly enjoyed just as much, sometimes even more when the non-reality of the medium (no pun intended) is fully known. Be it a movie, or theater, or a painting, or a musical composition, or fake magicians, or fake psychics, knowing something is not real is part of its enjoyment, part of our appreciation of it as "art." However, if the audience thinks something is real, it is no longer art. It is then a demonstration of reality, albeit, in the case of psychic demonstration, something that is not seen often or in everyday life.

You wrote:
Quote:
People go to be entertained to be caught up the moment and experience the emotions and perhaps even enjoy the fantasy for a while! Nothing wrong with that.
I agree, but note the operative term: "For a while." Had I not intervened, my co-worker would have been perpetually convinced of the reality of psychic power. She probably would (if she had not already) tell her friends and family about me, and possibly experience ridicule and derision as a result. It would undoubtedly affect our working relationship. All for what? To sustain the idea that psychic paranormal abilities actually exist? Why should I let someone continue to believe what isn't true? Shouldn't I rather want her to have a true and accurate worldview, and not one that is hamstrung and distorted by superstition?

Consider this example: Years ago, the now-famous evangelical movie "Jesus" was being played in third-world countries, amid cultures that have never seen motion pictures. Hard as it may be to believe given our hi-tech sensibilities, the missionaries had difficulty explaining to these low-tech people that the images on the screen were not real. They saw it as magical, the power of God, no less. All because of what? Their ignorance; they unawareness of the technology and methods. It is no different in principle from the anecdote I shared. Wouldn't you want to disabuse those low-tech people of mistakenly believing that the projected film was a demonstration of God's power?

You wrote:
Quote:
Most people know the difference between reality and fantasy. I think part of the art of magic is definitely blurring their concepts of reality for a time. You are removing, at least for a minute, what they consider the boundaries of possibility. That is a message of the art that I want to protect because I believe it is a positive one. I want people to see more possibilities in their lives and less limitations. I want them to be a little more courageous and maybe seeing something impossible will give their subconscious a little nudge to say, "What the Heck let's go for it" when faced with doing something they have feared failing with in the past.
While I agree with all of that, I believe this message and motivation can only be truly and Biblically effective ONLY if the truth about such demonstrations is known. Not exposure of the methods or technology, but of its unreality. If the belief in its reality is not disabused, it becomes harmful.

You wrote:
Quote:
Taking back that experience of the impossible now becomes harmful, in my opinion.
That's not my experience. It enhances the experience. I've described it before, and I'll describe it again. I once saw the impossible. Richard Busch read my mind. I know mind-reading is not real, but he did it anyway. I believe my reaction to that was much stronger than the reaction of someone who believes mind-reading is real. A believer in mind-reading might begin to worship Dr. Busch, see him as a guru or prophet, as someone of supernatural gifts and paranormal connections. It would only further distort and undermine true reality in that person's eyes, and further convince them of that which is not real. As a non-believer, I was thoroughly floored. The feeling was wonderful. It was inspiring, uplifting, astonishing in the Paul Harris sense of the word. It lasted several weeks, believe it or not. And I repeat, I do NOT believe in mind-reading. That was in 2002. I only learned a couple of months ago how he did it, and I'm so happy I waited to find out.

You wrote:
Quote:
You have simply wasted their time with a trivial display and left them with disappointment and reaffirmed limitations in their life. To me, that is what happened when you told that girl it was all fake.
So you would have advised me to let her continue to believe it was all real? To let her go through life convinced by her co-worker that these "gifts" and "powers" truly exist?

You wrote:
Quote:
You aren't going to help those who want to believe in that schtick anyway. This has everything to do with the art of magic, the art of presenting the impossible and allowing people to take something of importance from it.
What belies your claim is the fact that I am not a believer in the impossible, yet I saw the "impossible," knew the whole time it wasn't real, yet still took incredible inspiration and excitement from the experience. What Dr. Busch did for me is what I'd like to do for others, with their full and unambiguous knowledge that it is not real. It is theater. It is powerful. It can be life-changing, as my experience with Dr. Busch was. But it doesn't have to perpetuate untruths and a distorted sense of reality, which is what you seem to be promoting here.

:j:
Clifford the Red
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Thanks for the great discussion Jim! It is so nice to have a vigorous discussion without pitchforks and torches! I think exploring all sides helps one come to a more solid place and understand why they are there. I'm sure you can tell I'm not above questioning popular positions Smile But it is always with tongue in cheek and a sincere desire to soak up ideas and provoke thought. A Gad-fly as Socrates would say.

I understand what you are saying. Certainly there are some people who will buy anything. Just look at John Edwards sound stage before his show was cancelled. He filled the place with people begging to be taken. These people need more than a disclaimer, they need some real critical thinking skills and education. Otherwise the huckster 5 minutes later will see them coming. Come to think of it, I have a sideshow exhibit, "Alive On the Inside", right behind this tent...

And we're not talking about performing magic for some unknown tribe of Jivaro indians in the Amazon, these are people among us. Magicians don't lead people astray, they lead themselves astray. If they are jumping to wild, illogical conclusions, they made those available in their own mind long before we arrived. I'll believe in superhuman powers the day I get them, but not a minute before. Believe me, I try and talk sense into these people all the time and I end up putting myself in a straight-jacket! So no, I am not into perpetuating untruths or a distorted reality (most people already have that one). I am an artist, teaching and imparting a good message with my art. Come, see, enjoy, think, grow. If someone does take my art the wrong way, I will point them in a better direction of how to interpret my art.

I wonder how much of the need for disclaiming stems from the style of presentation. Why is the spectator concerned with your methods at all? Why didn't they just enjoy the beauty of the experience? I think that is a very important question to ponder in depth. Maybe the most important thing I've written amongst all my nonsense in this thread.

So are you saying that one should reduce a piece of magic to a stunt or a con for it to be acceptable in the gospel forum?

This begs the question then if magic is appropriate at all. Maybe juggling or a bed of nails is far more appropriate than magic. That seems to be the logical conclusion of where that would be heading.

(And I appreciate your refusal to separate magic and mentalism despite attempts to the contrary Smile
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Mind Bullets
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Hi Clifford the Red,

Please forgive the delayed reply.

Regarding the type of people begging to be bilked by John Edward, you wrote:
Quote:
These people need more than a disclaimer, they need some real critical thinking skills and education.
I fully agree. However, while I am not able to provide the latter for such people in such a setting, but I can certainly (and I feel I must) provide the former, namely the disclaimer.

You wrote:
Quote:
Otherwise the huckster 5 minutes later will see them coming. Come to think of it, I have a sideshow exhibit, "Alive On the Inside", right behind this tent ...
You're right. And this is precisely why I believe the disclaimer is important. My "sideshow" would not say, "Alive On The Inside," but rather, "Is It Alive?", and I would provide the answer, "No, it's not, but it really appears to be, doesn't it? And if you didn't know better, you'd be convinced, wouldn't you?"

You wrote:
Quote:
Magicians don't lead people astray, [people] lead themselves astray.
I agree with you, but this, to me, reinforces the need for a disclaimer.

You wrote:
Quote:
I am an artist, teaching and imparting a good message with my art.
But if someone believes it is real, isn't the teaching and the good message distorted? If the low-tech people of third-world countries are bowing to Christ, not because of true faith and conversion, but because it must be his power that produces the glorious pictures of light being projected onto the screen, doesn't that become a distorted teaching and message? The message is no longer, "Come to Christ for forgiveness of sins and eternal life," but rather "Come and worship the god whose power can create giant pictures of light and whose story is communicated thereby."

You wrote:
Quote:
If someone does take my art the wrong way, I will point them in a better direction of how to interpret my art.
But unless someone tells you that they're taking it the wrong way, as in the case of my anecdote above, you may never know and will have unwittingly contributed to their belief in untruths.

You wrote:
Quote:
I wonder how much of the need for disclaiming stems from the style of presentation. Why is the spectator concerned with your methods at all?
For the person who knows psychic powers are impossible, the first reaction as the effect is unfolding is this: "I wonder if he can really pull this off." After the effect concludes, the natural response of those who know such things are impossible is this: "I wonder how he did that?" However, if the mentalist/magician used props in a particular effect, the assumption would most likely be that there was an unseen gimmick involved, and the disclaimer is not as necessary. When there are no props, that's when the disclaimer becomes especially important.

You wrote:
Quote:
Why didn't they just enjoy the beauty of the experience?
In some cases, when the effect is visual, that is all that is expected or necessary. You don't have to think about what you just saw. You just soak it in. But when the theater is in the mind and when someone like Richard Busch reads your thoughts, it goes beyond merely soaking it in. It engages the rational faculties and disarms them in a beautifully powerful way. It is not merely a visual asthetic that is being communicated by such an experience, but a profound sense of wonder and a sort of psychological vertigo. There is a poignant beauty about that, one that goes beyond the concrete realm of the senses, but confronts the abstract perceptions of the mind.

You wrote:
Quote:
So are you saying that one should reduce a piece of magic to a stunt or a con for it to be acceptable in the gospel forum?
Not at all. It can still be presented in the context of having magical powers, as long as it is made clear that it is theater, not reality. When David Copperfield flew, everyone knew he wasn't really flying under his own power, but it sure looked like he was! The beauty and grace of it, the seeming ease and flow with which he took to the air and was convincingly able to maneuver and navigate the sky above the stage was breathtaking. For some, it was just the visual beauty of it. For others, it was the profound wonder and astonishment that he could pull it off so convincingly, contrary to what one's rational faculties are saying.

You wrote:
Quote:
This begs the question then if magic is appropriate at all. Maybe juggling or a bed of nails is far more appropriate than magic. That seems to be the logical conclusion of where that would be heading.
This would be true if the Bible prohibited using art or theater to communicate truth. It doesn't. The subterfuge, technology and secret methods used by illusionists to achieve a certain *effect*, be they magicians or mentalists, are no less appropriate than the subterfuge, technology and secret methods used by painters to achieve the *effect* of three dimensions on a two-dimensional surface.

I look forward to any further thoughts you might have on this.
Clifford the Red
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Sorry Jim, I still completely disagree.

And your sideshow example would make any sideshow exhibitor cringe! And maybe that illustrates what is wrong with disclaiming. It completely destroys the illusion and the whole point of seeing the exhibit in the first place. And it basically borders on exposure. Part of what sells the show is the silly anticipation, and people know it is silly but they want the silly moment anyway. You wouldn't make much money in sideshow Jim :O

That is the same with the magic. I don't see the point to ruin the moment and scold people back to reality to coddle the few naive people it wouldn't help anyway. No I don't perform magic for some obscure tribe in the Amazon so I don't see the point of continuing to use an example of an undeveloped society. Of course if I use an example of a superior society, a disclaimer would be an incredibly demeaning arrogant insult. But our market is neither.

Arthur Conan Doyle is a perfect example of such a dyed in the wool sucker. In the face of complete and utter disclaimer by his friend Houdini, even delivered personally, he used those disclaimers as proof that the supernatural was involved. Why else would he try to presuade me otherwise, he asked. And he got taken every other week it seems, fairy pictures, spirit photos, etc. But it made him happy and those were his choices.

Once you disclaim, you turn magic into a stunt because you have removed even the mere fantasy of illusion and stolen wonder and amazement. If what you are doing is obviously now as magical as frying an egg, what's the point? It becomes a curiosity, akin to watching a cookware infomercial.

Your example of Copperfield is "wanting it both ways" because one reason his effects such as flying are so powerful is that he never, NEVER disclaims anything. Do some people think he really flies? Absolutely! Oh well. And for the layman, the method is obtuse. But they don't worry about the method, magicians are the only ones who do that. Doing that is to miss the whole point of the piece of art. There is a beautiful message about reaching for goals that may seem impossible and achieving them. I remember watching that special on TV and it was one of the most beautiful and magical pieces I had ever seen. It still is. The structure of the piece is amazing, what art!

And it appears you missed my point about why people are looking for method. If one's presentation is tuned properly, the beauty of the moment and the message is on the audience's minds, not how the magician did it. It's the job of a magician and artist to direct people's attention! If the audience is thinking about things one doesn't want, then perhaps there is a problem with one's approach - regardless of the type of magic or mentalism.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Mind Bullets
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Hi Clifford the Red,

Thanks so much for the continued discussion. This is helping me to sort out my thinking, and I'm very grateful for your willingness to participate. Also, I think it's OK -- even beneficial -- that you disagree. Conversing with those who disagree with me is how I learn.

Perhaps we need to distinguish between things that are obviously impossible and things that are not. A man flying or sawing a woman in half are more obviously "tricks". Offering a disclaimer in such cases might very well be insulting. I will not disagree with that. But apparently, according to Gallup, a large percentage (the majority) of people in the United States believe in psychic power and the paranormal. I would guess that a very low percentage of people believe in unaided flight or instantaneous human regeneration. Perhaps the need for a disclaimer must be gauged according to the likelihood that the audience is going to come away believing or being entertained.

You wrote:
Quote:
I don't see the point to ruin the moment and scold people back to reality to coddle the few naive people it wouldn't help anyway.
While I do insist that mentalism should not be disallowed any more than magic should in the Christian context, and for the same reason, I think there is a major difference between magic and mentalism when it comes to the percentage of people who are more likely to erroneously believe it. Sideshows and magic acts, for the most part, do not need a disclaimer because, as you said, only a few naive people would believe. But with mind-reading, it is the opposite. Only the few do NOT believe. The majority do.

You wrote:
Quote:
No I don't perform magic for some obscure tribe in the Amazon so I don't see the point of continuing to use an example of an undeveloped society.
I wasn't talking about doing magic for such people. I was talking about showing them a projected motion picture film. It is the principle I'm pointing to, not a one-to-one correspondence of performing magic for low-tech people. The missionaries were not trying to trick anyone overtly. But it should be recognized that film -- any kind of "flat" representational art -- does deceive openly. The flat image gives the illusion of three dimensions.

You wrote:
Quote:
Of course if I use an example of a superior society, a disclaimer would be an incredibly demeaning arrogant insult. But our market is neither.
I keep going back to my experience with my co-worker. She was believing something that was not true, for reasons that were not rationally grounded. It was not demeaning or an arrogant insult to disabuse her of a fallacious belief. I was helping her. I was giving her the truth, and the truth sometimes is unpleasant.

You wrote:
Quote:
There is a beautiful message [in Copperfield's flying act] about reaching for goals that may seem impossible and achieving them. I remember watching that special on TV and it was one of the most beautiful and magical pieces I had ever seen. It still is. The structure of the piece is amazing, what art!
Yes, but you didn't have to believe he could really fly to be entertained and to appreciate its beauty. Likewise, I did not have to believe in mind-reading to be entertained and to appreciate the beauty of having my mind read by Richard Busch. Just as I don't think my co-worker had to really believe that I'm psychic to be entertained and to appreciate the abstract beauty of the mental experiences I shared with her.

You wrote:
Quote:
And it appears you missed my point about why people are looking for method. If one's presentation is tuned properly, the beauty of the moment and the message is on the audience's minds, not how the magician did it. It's the job of a magician and artist to direct people's attention! If the audience is thinking about things one doesn't want, then perhaps there is a problem with one's approach - regardless of the type of magic or mentalism.
I agree where visual magic or visual theater is concerned. If someone watches the Spider-Man movie and spends the whole time trying to figure out how they made it look like Tobey McGuire was slinging webs, he ruins it for himself and everyone around him. But I don't think the distractions or misdirection of the visuals are necessary when it comes to mind-reading and the abstract theater of the mind. It is not only a natural function of the human mind to wonder how things are accomplished, particularly when there are no props or visuals involved, but it enhances the experience. The more I wondered if the mind-reader could really do it, and the more I pondered how he was doing it, the more enriching, mind-boggling, and abstractly beautiful was the experience. The wonder and astonishment were integral to the experience. I didn't have to pretend anything. I didn't have to suspend disbelief. It was deeply poignant experience, not because I disengaged my mind or my beliefs, but in spite of them. I've only experienced this sort of thing a few times in my life, and there's nothing like it, and THAT is what I want to share with others.

Perhaps to clarify each other's position I need to ask this question: Do you believe it is OK for someone to believe in psychic power and the paranormal? In my earlier post, I asked you about my co-worker who became a "believer" as the result of my demonstration. Would have advised me to let her continue to believe it was all real? Should I have let her go through life convinced that these "gifts" and "powers" truly exist?
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Quote:
On 2005-04-08 02:05, JimHilston wrote:

Thanks so much for the continued discussion. This is helping me to sort out my thinking, and I'm very grateful for your willingness to participate. Also, I think it's OK -- even beneficial -- that you disagree. Conversing with those who disagree with me is how I learn.


I absolutely agree with that!
Quote:

Perhaps we need to distinguish between things that are obviously impossible and things that are not. A man flying or sawing a woman in half are more obviously "tricks". Offering a disclaimer in such cases might very well be insulting. I will not disagree with that. But apparently, according to Gallup, a large percentage (the majority) of people in the United States believe in psychic power and the paranormal. I would guess that a very low percentage of people believe in unaided flight or instantaneous human regeneration. Perhaps the need for a disclaimer must be gauged according to the likelihood that the audience is going to come away believing or being entertained.


Perhaps it is a bit intrusive and presumptuous to do this? People take different things from art. The meaning they derive is mainly from within, not without. Art and entertainment isn't going to change anyone's belief system. Part of the reason you would be employed as a mentalist is because there is a greater interest.
Quote:


While I do insist that mentalism should not be disallowed any more than magic should in the Christian context, and for the same reason, I think there is a major difference between magic and mentalism when it comes to the percentage of people who are more likely to erroneously believe it. Sideshows and magic acts, for the most part, do not need a disclaimer because, as you said, only a few naive people would believe. But with mind-reading, it is the opposite. Only the few do NOT believe. The majority do.


If that were true, I should be the Emperor of the World by now! Alas, any belief that may occur is really not a hard-core belief, but more like a short-lived fascination for most people. Tricks without fancy boxes are more fascinating because it is not obvious as to what is going on, they stimulate our intellect.
Quote:

I agree where visual magic or visual theater is concerned. If someone watches the Spider-Man movie and spends the whole time trying to figure out how they made it look like Tobey McGuire was slinging webs, he ruins it for himself and everyone around him. But I don't think the distractions or misdirection of the visuals are necessary when it comes to mind-reading and the abstract theater of the mind. It is not only a natural function of the human mind to wonder how things are accomplished, particularly when there are no props or visuals involved, but it enhances the experience.


My view is that the presentation directs attention away from not only the method, but the fact that there is a method. Spiderman, using your example, was so good, that the how was completely irrelevant when going through the experience. If the movie was off, that would be the first thing your mind would shoot to - something that isn't right. That is the same for mentalism and magic. Much of mentalism is often challenge-based and that is the whole performance. Of course there is a tendency for the audience to seek method when challenged. But it doesn't have to be that way, that is my point. People are more than willing to play along and lend you their imagination if properly stimulated. They want the experience. For example, I've been to theater with nothing but a chair on the stage, no visuals. But that is not what I experienced, it was quite vivid. And there was no magic involved! Each person created the magic themselves. The actor was basically the conjuror and did it through "incanting" the experience.

If the minds of the audience aren't being directed, they will move from the emotional mind to the logical mind and begin searching for method, cross-referenced with belief. That is the point where some may fall prey to their own acceptance of the paranormal and project that onto you. Primarily because they don't simply want to admit you may be smarter, and they, inadequate. A disclaimer directs the spectators mind from your presentation and back to the business at hand of figuring your trick out!
Quote:


The more I wondered if the mind-reader could really do it, and the more I pondered how he was doing it, the more enriching, mind-boggling, and abstractly beautiful was the experience. The wonder and astonishment were integral to the experience. I didn't have to pretend anything. I didn't have to suspend disbelief. It was deeply poignant experience, not because I disengaged my mind or my beliefs, but in spite of them. I've only experienced this sort of thing a few times in my life, and there's nothing like it, and THAT is what I want to share with others.


That sounds wonderful Jim! Bravo, Those moments are true art and why I believe this is an art, not just some trite entertainment.
Quote:

Perhaps to clarify each other's position I need to ask this question: Do you believe it is OK for someone to believe in psychic power and the paranormal? In my earlier post, I asked you about my co-worker who became a "believer" as the result of my demonstration. Would have advised me to let her continue to believe it was all real? Should I have let her go through life convinced that these "gifts" and "powers" truly exist?


I do not presume to manipulate another's beliefs. They make choices in their life of what to believe. I can offer them different choices and they can accept or reject them. I believe they have that free choice. I can't "let" someone believe anything. They believe what they will. I'm not going to bully them into believing my way, coercion is certainly not scripturally appropriate. I do think believing that I employ the paranormal to do my magic is foolish, and when I think about it, a little insulting! I work hard to do this schtick! I am not going to share credit with any two-bit psychic entities or nonsensical ethereal energy. I think believing in the paranormal outside of my performance is also a poor choice. I would hope they would be open to better choices, but they have the final decision.

Given the context of your interaction with that girl, she was already a believer of the paranormal. You were just the current manifestation of that belief in her mind.

Let me ask you -

If it took exposing magic to have a chance to convince someone that what you were doing was not real, would you expose?

What if it wouldn't affect their actual beliefs at all, just the context of your performance, would you expose?
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Mind Bullets
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Hi Clifford the Red,

You write:
Quote:
Perhaps it is a bit intrusive and presumptuous to do this [to give a disclaimer according to the likelihood that the audience will come away believing]?
Does it concern you that your performance may be the straw that breaks the camel's back, convincing an audience member once and for all that magical powers truly exist?

A couple years ago, working the night shift, I did a card trick for a guy who was on the cleaning crew in my office building. It freaked him out quite severely. He had never seen a close-up, in-their-hands kind of card trick before. The next time he came into my office, I showed him another trick. Again, it really had a strong effect on him. He semi-jokingly said,, "Are you in league in with Satan?" I laughed it off. The third time I had an opportunity to show him something, he was obviously being polite, but was clearly reluctant. I could see the sweat forming on his forehead. When I asked him to hold a card for a second, he would not take it. The sweat started to run down off of his face and even dripped onto the card I was trying to hand to him. The look on his face was one of fear. I then tried to assure him, "Look, none of this is real. It's just illusion. We don't have to finish. It's no big deal." I never showed him anything from that point forward. I considered showing him how the effects were done just so he could be assured that there was nothing demonic or supernatural going on.

I don't want my performance to be the reason or impetus or influence that would incline or convince a person of things that are untrue. Now, I may or may not have reassured the aforementioned gentleman of anything, but I don't want to be one who exacerbates an already-existing false belief.

You write:
Quote:
People take different things from art. The meaning they derive is mainly from within, not without. Art and entertainment isn't going to change anyone's belief system. Part of the reason you would be employed as a mentalist is because there is a greater interest.
But "greater interest" is not the same as "majority belief." There is a greater interest in the WWF than curling (the Olympic sport), yet not many (I hope) believe the WWF is real.

You write:
Quote:
Alas, any belief that may occur is really not a hard-core belief, but more like a short-lived fascination for most people. Tricks without fancy boxes are more fascinating because it is not obvious as to what is going on, they stimulate our intellect.
Exactly, and that is the kind of magic I enjoy. But this is not true of mentalism. The majority of people have more than a short-lived fascination when it comes to the paranormal. The majority believes in psychic powers.

You write:
Quote:
My view is that the presentation directs attention away from not only the method, but the fact that there is a method. Spiderman, using your example, was so good, that the how was completely irrelevant when going through the experience.
But it's different from psychological entertainment. Spider-Man is visual. You can just observe and soak it in. As a mentalist, I want my audience to wonder how I did it. That is part of the enjoyment, astonishment, and wonder I want them to experience. If they just sat there and soaked it in, they would be merely spectators. I want them engaged. I want them invested. I want them to have contorted faces and furrowed eyebrows. As another mentalist once told me: Stunned silence is preferred to thunderous applause.

You write:
Quote:
Much of mentalism is often challenge-based and that is the whole performance. Of course there is a tendency for the audience to seek method when challenged. But it doesn't have to be that way, that is my point.
I agree with you, but some mentalists are quite successful using the challenge approach to their performance. Some employ the challenge aspect in a limited scope, specific to a certain effect or two. My point is, wondering "how" and wondering "if" are not necessarily bad, and on the contrary, can be quite good for a performance and for the overall experience of the audience. I know that magicians, generally speaking, do not want the audience to look for method, but that's because it is visual primarily. When it is mental and psychological, the search for a method is part of the astonishment.

You write:
Quote:
People are more than willing to play along and lend you their imagination if properly stimulated.
What if they can't help but play along? What if the effect is so powerful that no imagination is necessary? If I say, "I'm going to try to read your mind," and then tell them exactly what they were thinking, I haven't asked them to imagine anything.

You write:
Quote:
They want the experience. For example, I've been to theater with nothing but a chair on the stage, no visuals. But that is not what I experienced, it was quite vivid. And there was no magic involved! Each person created the magic themselves. The actor was basically the conjuror and did it through "incanting" the experience.
I, too, have experienced the propless, setless theater. And you're right, it is quite vivid. But the fact remains that the enrichment of the experience depends on visualizing what is not there. That is not true or necessary where mentalism is concerned.

You write:
Quote:
If the minds of the audience aren't being directed, they will move from the emotional mind to the logical mind and begin searching for method, cross-referenced with belief.
This is exactly what I want to direct their mind to do. Search for the method, and be astonished.

You write:
Quote:
A disclaimer directs the spectators mind from your presentation and back to the business at hand of figuring your trick out!
That's exactly what I want them to do.

I previously wrote: The more I wondered if the mind-reader could really do it, and the more I pondered how he was doing it, the more enriching, mind-boggling, and abstractly beautiful was the experience. The wonder and astonishment were integral to the experience. I didn't have to pretend anything. I didn't have to suspend disbelief. It was deeply poignant experience, not because I disengaged my mind or my beliefs, but in spite of them. I've only experienced this sort of thing a few times in my life, and there's nothing like it, and THAT is what I want to share with others.

You write:
Quote:
Those moments are true art and why I believe this is an art, not just some trite entertainment.
But do you see that the experience would not have been as profound or as poignant for a believer in the paranormal? The fact that I do not believe in mind-reading or precognition is exactly what made the experience all the more astonishing and wonderful.

I previously wrote: Perhaps to clarify each other's position I need to ask this question: Do you believe it is OK for someone to believe in psychic power and the paranormal? In my earlier post, I asked you about my co-worker who became a "believer" as the result of my demonstration. Would have advised me to let her continue to believe it was all real? Should I have let her go through life convinced that these "gifts" and "powers" truly exist?

You write:
Quote:
I do not presume to manipulate another's beliefs. They make choices in their life of what to believe. I can offer them different choices and they can accept or reject them. I believe they have that free choice. I can't "let" someone believe anything. They believe what they will.
But if I've persuaded someone, whether by words or by actions, to believe in something it isn't true, should I at least try to disabuse them of that false belief?

You write:
Quote:
I'm not going to bully them into believing my way, coercion is certainly not scripturally appropriate.
No, but persuasion of the truth and exposure of falsehoods are scripturally appropriate. So is the importance of living by example. Hence, the vital importance of distinguishing entertainment from reality in the case of the fake mentalist/mind-reader.

You write:
Quote:
I do think believing that I employ the paranormal to do my magic is foolish, and when I think about it, a little insulting!
Perhaps, but there are those who do think this, and will come away from your performance more convinced than ever of the presence and influence of Beelzebub or paranormal phenomena in world of magic. Because of you, people may more strongly believe in falsehoods. Sure, everyone can choose what they want to believe or disbelieve, but biblically speaking, wouldn't you agree that we are accountable for what we communicate through our words and actions to others?

You write:
Quote:
I think believing in the paranormal outside of my performance is also a poor choice. I would hope they would be open to better choices, but they have the final decision.
True, but again, if I have anything to do with it, my words, example and performance will not be used by that person as reason to believe in lies and falsehoods.

You write:
Quote:
Given the context of your interaction with that girl, she was already a believer of the paranormal. You were just the current manifestation of that belief in her mind.
Perhaps, and that is no longer the case, thankfully. I don't want her to believe I have psychic power. If you were in my situation, would you have continued to let her believe that about you?

You write:
Quote:
Let me ask you -

If it took exposing magic to have a chance to convince someone that what you were doing was not real, would you expose?
I don't view it as "having a chance" or "opportunity", but rather an unfortunate necessity in the extreme and rare case of someone who is visibly distraught and adversely affected by the belief that I actually have paranormal powers. If someone were obviously shaken by my performance and insisting that I have special powers, I would affirm to him that it's not true. I'm just a man. I have no psychic power, no supernatural skills. If he were clearly upset and unable to get a grip, insisting that I must be supernaturally empowered, I might take him aside and tell him, "If I showed you how I did this, you would see that I don't have these powers. But you might also be incredibly disappointed. But if it will help you to get hold of yourself, I will show you how I did it." A person's sanity and peace of mind are more important to me than a mentalist's secret. I know of another mentalist who feels this way and has gone as far as exposing for the sake of another person's peace of mind. I think he did the right thing. But I don't think such an extreme scenario would be very common.

You write:
Quote:
What if it wouldn't affect their actual beliefs at all, just the context of your performance, would you expose?
Absolutely not.

Again, CTR, thanks so much for this intriguing discussion. As someone who aspires to perform professionally someday, this is most beneficial to the formulation of my thoughts and desires from a performance (and audience) standpoint.
Clifford the Red
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Yes this was some great dialogue!

No, I am not concerned that I am "the straw that broke the camel's back" by my magic or by making an amazing ham sandwich. I love your examples, you have some pretty wacked out people you've done up!

I appreciate your focus on a certain type of approach for your performance. My point is perhaps some of the reaction you cite is from that puzzle-based approach. Mentalism is not confined to that approach, trust me. That is your "zone" and that is fine! I just think some of our areas of discussion relate to perhaps our differening approaches and characters we have defined for ourselves. I don't necessarily create the dilemmas you have found yourself in.

If we were painters, you would be an M.C Escher and I would be more on the traditional spectrum of art. You see an Escher and it evokes a "Wait-a-minute! What is going on here!" type of response, where as on the traditional spectrum the effect is more emotional. People don't worry about method, they are involved in the emotion of the art. Both are wonderful!

Regarding your answers to the exposure question: You answered differently, but being that you can't read minds, you can't really know if your exposure would change their mind. So would you always choose to expose????

I think that false representation of powers to promote Christianity is equally as, if not more harmful and promotes the tendency to fall prey to other displays of power. Having secret knowledge, does this behoove Christian magicians to expose the internal as well as the external false displays powers?
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Reuben Dunn
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Quote:
On 2005-03-28 15:18, mentalvic wrote:
Perhaps a safe and reasonable way to introduce mentalism into a routine would be to use it in a play? A mentalist would make a great Barjesus or some other sorcerer or false prophet. (See Acts, Chapter 13 for more on this.)

A mentalist in a Christian routine, one who pretends to speak to the dead or read minds or levitate, etc. certainly would be a hard sell,


That's where I see the problem.

For some reason the only area of mentalism that some here focus on, and I'm not speaking of you specifically here; is that of "mind reading". There's more to it than that.

As far as levitation is concerned that is more magic arena than mentalism; at least I don't seem to recall Annemann, Corinda, Cassidy, Osterlund, Banacheck, et al practice levation.

I have however seen Doug Hemming and a few years later, David Copperfield fly through the audience, at one point taking along a passenger,and at another point, have seen him, Copperfield slice himself in half with a buzz saw. I've seen Harry Blackstone Junior do the same thing.

No one believes that Copperfield flew, or Hemming, or even Blaine. No one believed that Blackstone Jr. really cut his wife in half, even though he apparently "healed" her by making her whole.

Some here on this forum has tarred the mentalist arena with a blanket statement that is attributed to Lee Earle, that of not giving a disclaimer. However there are many, many others, far higher in the mentalist food chain who takes the opposite view.

My interest in this topic is rather obvious, given what I perform. I've felt that the skills that I've got, that of doing a centre tear, book tests, using "predictions" could and does have an application in the Christian community.

I'd be more interested in the level of diaglogue here, and on other similar topics, if this specific issue could be discussed. It's easier to tell someone why something won't work, rather than tell someone why someting will work.

Take it for granted that the performer, myself uses a disclaimer, e.g.,

"For the next few minutes we will use our five senses to creat the illusion that there is a sixth." Note the use of the word "illusion". Larry Becker uses a similar phrase at the beginning of his act; as does Robert Cassidy.

Now, with that proposition in place; namely that what I will do has nothing to do with "psychic" powers, anymore than the ability to turn water into wine using a trick jug is using divine power, how about taking things in a new direction.

Is it possible to do a mentalist show for a Christian audience? Take it as a given that doing cold readings will not be done, so that leaves out the use of talking to the dead. (Although I noticed that nobody here has mentioned that there are "Spiritualist" Christian Churches too that believe in such things.)

It is possible?
Good Thoughts.


Reuben Dunn


www.reubendunn.com
Leland Stone
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Hiya, Ruben:

Not just "Spiritualist" Christian churches -- both the Eastern and Western branches of the Church (Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic) believe in the 'continuity of the Church,' and each practices or tolerates some form of communication with the Saints.

Just one more reason to affirm Protestantism, IMO.

Leland
drkptrs1975
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It all comes down to where are you getting your ability, is it really from God. Does Scripture really say that God would gives people gifts. I do believe that God will tell you to go tell some don't do that or do that, or go there or don't go there. But if you go too far with it, then I see objections.

But if you use a slight mind trick for entertainment, then that I have no problem with.
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