Friday, 15 May 2009

Tricks of the Mind - Derren Brown

Advantages: A thoroughly good read

Disadvantages: You are actually being taken in to some degree

There is a saying (and I stand to be corrected) which goes something along the lines of: 

"you can cover up a thousand lies with one carefully chosen truth" 

Now consider Derren Brown. He who likes to come across as Honest Joe, short of telling you how he actually does his tricks. He who will denounce the psychics and spiritualists for the charlatans that they probably are. 

Derren will be be glad to tell you this in whichever medium he his working be it the printed page, the theatre or the TV screen. 

Derren is getting you onside, by exposing these people and by gaining your trust, he can tell you whatever he wants. He is clever and charming. 

Derren Brown would have us believe that his magic is worked through a subtle mix of "magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship", and "at no point are actors or stooges used" in his shows. 

Now I believe some of that, I won't say which. 

Derren Brown in his previous TV shows has furthered his honesty by actually showing us how some of his tricks are done - do you recall the ones where he planted suggestible images along a person's route - codswallop. 

Anyway, with that in mind, what about the book. 

The book suggest (ha ha, there it is again) that you will know his secrets. 

What the book does let you into is how to do some easy magic tricks (easy after you have thoroughly practiced them), more to illustrate points about misdirection. 

There is a section on memory, and to be quite honest it is nothing you haven't read about before in Tony Buzan and similar books. 

The next is section is about hypnosis and suggestability. Much is actually said in this book, directly or otherwise, about NLP, which I believe to be a big con and its strength lies in selling books and making business people pay large sums to think they can manipulate people. 

You will also read about unconscious communication; pseudo-science and anti-science and bad thinking. 

Any good book has an excellent index and bibliography, and this is no exception. 

Now up to this point you may have thought I am being a bit negative about this book. On the contrary, it is an excellent book. It is at once filled with genuine information and cleverly, very cleverly padded out with a load of psycho-babble. 

You will be led to think, that Derren bases his tricks on the things he has written about in this book. Nothing could be further from the truth - why would he want to tell you that - this book, in that sense is just one great big misdirection. The only thing that is being directed with any certainty is the money from your wallet into the wallets of Messrs Brown, Channel4 & Transworld Publishers. 

Don't get me wrong though. It is a cracking read, you will just need to be very choosy as to what you take for gospel.

Summary: This will satisfy the die hard Derren Brown fan

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