By Derren Brown
Publisher: Channel 4 Books, a division of Transworld Publishers
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Zuckerman said on Nov 25, 2014, 17:00
If you were ever impressed by an episode of John Edwards's Crossing Over or if you imagine there is something inexplicably freaky about the "power" of hypnotism, then this book is the cure. Only another professional magician can debunk certain kinds of "magic" bunkum.
I had my doubts about this book having seen Derren Brown's television shows. He obviously claims things for psychological techniques that are impossible - he seems to use traditional tricks and pass them off as psychology and vice versa. So, on one hand he claims to be open and honest about what he is doing, but on the other, he is clearly not being honest.
I was thoroughly pleased therefore when Derren explains right at the start of the book that he dupes his audience by mixing psychology and magic and by sometimes lying about when he is using which. He does this, he says, to improve the theatre of the Magic Trick, to boost the awe factor, the thrill of the seemingly impossible. He then goes on to reveal much of what he really does and how he pulls it off!
Derren is very honest in this "tell all" book and the theme is surprising: he abhors magicians who pretend they have real supernatural or psychic powers, and who freak their audience out with claims of the paranormal. Derren can do what these other magicians do but he claims no extraordinary powers. He is there to entertain not put the Fear into people or make them believe silly things.
The result is a book by a master duper that debunks much of the paranormal and supernatural, and illuminates the frailty of the human experience when it comes to be taken in by seemingly really weird phenomena. He shows how easy it is to fool people and why it works.
I can thoroughly recommend books like Richard Dawkin's Unweaving The Rainbow, but a book by an accomplished magician, a master of fooling people's minds and playing on their preconceptions cannot begin to be matched by a book from even the most brilliant scientist. If you really want to pull back the veil and glimpse the weird and wonderful world of human superstition and gullibility then a book like this is essential reading.
He also writes about the memory techniques that are used in a variety of "magic" tricks and he gives the reader exercises to try which prove that the techniques actually work as advertised. Forget the infomercials on "improve your memory" books or tapes - this is the real deal from an accomplished card counter.
By the way, Derren Brown writes very well and with extreme and often quirky humour. This book should have you in stitches in addition to teaching you an awful lot about the rubbish people fall for.
Ramnagel said on Apr 22, 2009, 13:51
*** This comment contains spoilers! ***
This is the sort of book that defies categorisation. It's an extremely interesting read covering quite a variety of topics (magic, memory, hypnosis, NLP, alternative therapies and charlatanism among others).
It's well-written - informative, well-reasoned and quite funny in places (especially the rhino in the bedroom).
Athene1710 said on Apr 03, 2008, 19:13