Tricks Of The Mind by Derren Brown
Derren Brown’s amazing television and stage performances have entranced and amazed millions. His baffling tricks and stunning illusions have set new standards of what’s possible, as well as causing controversy. Now, for the first time, he reveals the secrets behind his craft.
He delves into the structure and pyschology of magic. He tells you how to read clues in people’s behaviour and spot liars. He discusses the whys and wherefores of hypnosis (which he says doesn’t exist) and shows how to use the powers of suggestion and massively improve the power of your memory. He also investigates the paranormal industry, exposes a few charlatans and looks at why some of us feel the need to believe in it in the first place… Woven into this are autobiographical stories about Derren’s own experiences and beliefs, told with characteristic humour and engaging honesty. This extraordinary book lifts the lid on the deepest darkest secrets of magic and explores the limits of what can be achieved by the human mind. A must for Derren’s legions of fans, it will amaze you, entertain you and expand your mind at the same time… (via Goodreads)
Back when I was reviewing Conversations with Kreskin, I might have thrown Derren Brown into the same pool charlatans who wrap tricks in the trappings of non-science or pseudoscience and claim some special powers (or in the case of Kreskin, kinda, sorta, maybe not). I don’t think it came out in my review of that book, but probably in my discussion of it with Eric. I will say that I was wrong about Brown…well, for the most part. I still think that Brown is vague in the disclaimer before his TV shows.
Brown uses a combination of magic, memory tricks, psychology and suggestibility in his act. Each part of this book addresses one of those things in good detail. Brown is forthcoming about the techniques he uses as well as ones that he’s tried and found not to work. He’s also very honest about his beliefs, past and present. I was surprised at how vehement a skeptic Brown is. The last fourth of the book addresses pseudoscience and, as the book puts it, “bad thinking.” As a master manipulater, Brown knows how vulnerable everyone is to bad thinking. Our perceptions are hackable yet we don’t want to admit that to ourselves, generally to our detriment.
I was impressed with the book though I found the chummines of the narration a little annoying at times. Brown offers a lot of good information without the flim-flam of Kreskin’s book.
Why did I choose to read this book? Interest in magic, mentalism, etc.
Did I finish this book? (If not, why?) Yes.