Monday, September 29, 2008

Illusionist Derren Brown achieves unsettling results with a staring contest. Any idea how he does it?


Rand said...

I've seen quite a few of his shows, in a few of them he's pretty transparent about how he does what he does.

He seems to spend a lot of time working the crowd, planting suggestions all working towards the final trick.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he prepares his victims beforehand, sort of like brainwashing them. It is a recurrent theme, from what I've seen on youtube, googlevideo etc. and it's plausible I suppose.
At least... that's what he likes us to believe. ;)

Anonymous said...

I liked this one: "The System", because there is no trickery involved and if you are smart you should be able to figure it out before he explains it. :)

p.t. "intense" barnum said...

Oh, yes, he's a master of neuro-linguistic programming, he has psychic powers, he's magical, he's...uh, simply, a cheat.

He uses shills. Plants. Pre-briefed, pre-selected co-participants.

Here's proof: and

Why, how does he do it? Mr. Brown depends on your gullibility, willing suspension of disbelief, and a simple lie, which is itself a form of "misdirection," common to "mentalists" -- "I use no stooges" -- do you believe him, or not, now? By your answer, you reveal your character.

"Now, step right this way to view the egress!" ---P.T. Barnum

Rand said...

Great find p.t. nice to see some follow-up from an actual participant of the show. Wish that happened more regularly.

Anonymous said...
In his book Tricks of the Mind, Brown writes, "I am often dishonest in my techniques, but always honest about my dishonesty. As I say in each show, 'I mix magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship'. I happily admit cheating, as it's all part of the game.
Brown claims he has never used actors or stooges in his work. In Tricks of the Mind he offers the defence that such a ploy is "artistically repugnant and simply unnecessary"

Considering the enormous risk of being exposed and losing all credibility and the enormous amount of different people he's worked with in his shows, I'm fairly satisfied with the above quote and willing to believe he doesn't use stooges.
If he does use them there must be many and even if they are bound by non-disclosure agreements I would think that at least some of them would have come out by now, especially considering Brown's notoriety and the fact that everybody wants to know how he does things.

That "tough guy" from the staring competition, sorry, but that's just not enough, more likely he's just trying to save face.

One way to make a lot of his acts work is to try them out on a whole lot of people and only show the clips where it actually worked. :)

Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part. I don't mind cheating, all magic is cheating one way or the other, but stooges would be cheap (anybody could do it, there is no skill involved) and I would be disappointed if that were true.

dedroidify said...

Thanks for this, and thanks to "PT Intense Barnum" for the links too!

intense as barnum said...

"...willing to believe he doesn't use stooges" and "Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part."

Yes, exactly. The will to believe. I think you've made my point.

Now, would you like to see the Egress? It's right behind this door...