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Tony Grist

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Derren Brown's Messiah [Apr. 15th, 2012|12:40 pm]
Tony Grist
I caught up with Derren Brown's Messiah on 4oD. Actually he's not the Messiah, he's just a very naughty boy.  Derren turns up on the doorsteps of various people in the belief business (Christian, Spiritualist, New Age) and fools them into thinking he has paranormal powers. It's not very rigorous. In fact it's kind of muddled. But what would you expect of a mash-up of magic show (Derren's tricks are amazing) and documentary expose?  OK, believers are gullible, but showing you can take them in hardly proves them to be frauds- rather the reverse- and has little bearing (as Derren acknowledges) on the validity of their core beliefs.  A couple of proponents of alien abduction were persuaded he could diagnose a person's medical history by touch. And so? Alien abduction is a widespread phenomenon- troubling, baffling, well worth investigating- and I'm glad there are people out there who are doing something other than just laugh and point. Most of the marks seemed like sweet people- decent, open, wide-eyed, trusting; well, they know better now. 
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2012-04-15 12:26 pm (UTC)
I keep thinking about the documentary about the people on the remote island who thought Prince Philip was God and had elaborate rituals about him. Then they went to visit Britain. They seemed like kind, good and decent people and not fools in the slightest. While they were glad to see Prince Philip, they were saddened and horrified at the state of affairs in British society compared to their own island.

Derren Brown, Dawkins et al would no doubt snigger at these people.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-15 01:12 pm (UTC)
Did they still think Prince Philip was a god after meeting him?

Derren thinks he's got to the bottom of the paranormal because he can replicate some of its effects. I'm quite fond of him as a performer, but I don't think he carries the intellectual weight to be the kind of beacon of rationalism he aspires to be.
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2012-04-15 01:19 pm (UTC)
I am not sure what they thought about Prince Philip. They seemed to compartmentalise that belief from the other perceptions.

I have read about experiments buy a guy called Persinger which suggest that the ability to sense the numinous is an propensity in the brain - and not everybody has it.

Personally, I don't think I could embark on any creative enterprise if I were completely atheist and there were no higher point in it.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-15 03:41 pm (UTC)
I think Persinger is right. It wouldn't surprise me to learn there was a gene for psychism.

I think there's a link between spirituality and creativity. I'm not sure what it is exactly, but- put it this way- I'd be very surprised if Professor Dawkins were ever to publish a book of poems.
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[User Picture]From: ideealisme
2012-04-15 03:49 pm (UTC)
Dawkins sportingly underwent Persinger's experiment. Where others experienced deep spiritual experiences, Dawkins merely recorded a mild, unpleasant headache.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-15 04:41 pm (UTC)
Serves him right :)
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-04-16 09:56 am (UTC)
I'm reminded of the 'Amazing' Randi and his fraudulent nonsense.There are still hollow-eyed true believers out there that think his challenge proved something.

Illusionists, like any performers, are in it for the attention and the suggestion that someone, somewhere might be able to do in reality what they merely pretend to do must be frightfully irritating.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2012-04-16 10:17 am (UTC)
Houdini was another who went down this road. There's a venerable history of illusionists being fascinated/infuriated by the paranormal.
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[User Picture]From: michaleen
2012-04-17 12:09 pm (UTC)
Indeed.
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