Sunday, 11 October 2009

Derren Brown - The Events

I have watched with interest the reaction to Derren Brown’s most recent project ‘The Events’. As usual Derren uses a mixture of magic, misdirection, nuerolinguistic programming, suggestion etc and despite Derren clearly stating that he is not a believer in the paranormal or psychics several commentators have expressed views that he is somehow manipulating the known laws of science…..

The most recent episode I watched was ‘How to be a psychic spy’. In this episode he seemingly influenced people into drawing the same shape (concentric circles) that had been painted a week earlier by a volunteer from the science museum. Lots of people both in the audience at the science museum and in homes all over the country seemed to draw circles or Stonehenge.

The programme was recorded prior to it’s showing on television and I for one noticed many circles which were promanate on the programme and prior to it. In the Science museum itself there were several circles on the wall to the left of the seemingly hidden picture (signs to celebrate 100 years of the museum. There were also several circles in the architecture (the railings) of the wall that Derren stood in front of. When we were shown, very prominently, the woman’s eyes they were in a close up shot and were very striking (I initially thought she was wearing contact lenses to enhance them) which made her pupils seemed very dilated and reflected the camera which was filming her. When giving the instructions he did tell people at one point (and as part of a longer spiel) to draw ‘…multiple shapes’ he also told people to use multiple pieces of paper (if you draw enough pictures surely one will eventually draw a circle?). He also asked people at the start pf the drawing phase to to imagine a map, then imagine it's the UK, then London, then the science museum...almost as if zooming in on a TARGET (almost like a bulls-eye). There were also several adverts during the program which featured circles (this may or may not be a coincidence) also when he later interviewed Kish he was shown in a stone circe? (Maybe I am reading more into this than I should?).

Derren claimed the way he had achieved the illusion was that he put adverts into national papers telling people to draw circles (not been a paper reader I cannot verify this myself although I have no reason to doubt him) I do however sincerely doubt that this in is how he did it.

The final twist – that the isolated woman who had drawn the picture was in Stonehenge was clever but does in fact show that Derren must have ether influenced her choice of picture before she painted it or had had a sneaky peek!

However he did it was good entertainment and I for one am still a massive fan but I was intrigued and interested in the blind man called Daniel Kish who has developed a human form of echolocation. Using clicking sounds produced by his mouth and tongue he uses his hearing to build up a picture of his environment. His demonstration of this was amazing and really shows what humans are capable of when they put their mind to it.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Parapsychology Msc

This week has seen me starting my (second) masters level degree (this time an Msc) with Coventry University in Parapsychology which I am very excited about. The first module involves study of the history of Parapsychology, from the historical perspectives of paranormal events, through the growth of scientific method and more scientific thinking, through to Mesmer and his development of 'mesmerism' through to the start of spiritualism (all very interesting and fortunate for me, the topics overlap with my previous study with Edinburgh University - the parapsychology correspondence course). The next few weeks however will be much more challenging for me as we delve into the more 'philosophical' aspects of the module covering topics and theories such as materialism, idealism, natural monism and dualism; things I know absolutely nothing about. More on this soon....