11/17/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Instant Conversion

Mentalist Derren Brown poses as James Lawrence who claims to be able to convert atheists into believing in God with a touch of his hand. Derren makes the following statement at the beginning of each episode of 'Trick of the Mind':
"This program fuses magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship. I achieve all the results you'll see through a varied mixture of those techniques. At no point are actors or stooges used in the show."
Part I:


Part II:

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think this guy staged this just like the real evangelists do!

Michelle said...

I tend to think this wasn't staged. Why stage something to prove that something else is false? It doesn't make sense, but that's just my opinion.

Anyway, I was totally blown away by this experiment. I think its similar to how people can be hypnotized with the power of suggestion.

I can compare it to what I experienced yesterday. I was at a funeral service, but it felt like a drawn out alter call. Emotions were running high and the pastor used this to "call people to christ," almost as if they didn't have a choice! I can see how unbelieving relatives could be emotionally manipulated by being told that the only way they could see their dearly departed would be to accept jesus. It's too bad that such a beautiful service was marred by the irritating preaching.

And isn't it strange how people feel god in their upper chest area, the same area that responds to stress, anger, anxiety, love, and happiness. How come our brains never see images of god, or how come we never hear him, we just "feel" him in our "hearts." I'm no doctor, but I bet that feeling has to do with the release of adrenalin or endorphins or dopamine, not the holy spirit.

I have been so strung out on anxiety that I literally felt I was possessed, but it was all in my mind. Our minds have incredible power to make us believe the strangest things. I think these people got caught up in the moment and mystery of the meeting, that's all.

Lorena said...

I believe our brains are one powerful machine, so powerful, that many call it GOD.

Regardless of there being a spirit behind our brain power, I believe the power is there, and this mentalist illustrated it.

He also succeded at showing how impressionable we humans are--how easy it is to get to us.

For those reasons I believe that it ain't Jesus who makes people feel emotional. It is just our brains while under the influence of our own or someone else's persuasive tricks.

Bentley said...

Michelle, It's called flight or fight syndrome and you are correct by saying; "I bet that feeling has to do with the release of adrenalin or endorphins or dopamine, not the holy spirit."

You are exactly right! Our brain responds to what our eyes sees(and our own internal thoughts)therefore our brain sends adrenalin to the blood stream in responce to our brain's perception. This allows the heart to react to the amount of adrenalin the brain triggers and this enters into the blood stream thus alowing the heart to pump more blood in faster amounts in order to escape the treat imposed by the brains interpretation of the treat.

This is the reason the ignorant Bible writers wrote about the Heart as being the center of all thought and emotion, they had no knowledge of a brain, nor chemical brain responce.

This proves that the Bible writers wrote solely based upon the reaction of their heart which was based in fear, not inspired by an invisible holy spirit!

This informantion needs to be spread all across the world!

And yes it's just a total shame that preachers jump at the chance to use an out-stretched dead body to sell their religious poison!

Reverend Jeremiah said...

I think it was staged, for the simple fact that he "pulled" the guy from behind without ever touching him. If he was hypnotized, wouldnt have to respond to a visual or verbal stimulus before responding. I think there is more to this than we may see. This man may be trying to bait miracle workers into endorsing him. He already had one evangelical endorsing him as having some "power of God" even though he doesnt believe. I have heard some Christians say that, even though you dont believe, you are still doing his work. Perhaps this is the method of bait. Once he gets enough "Miracle men" endorsing him, he might step out and admit is was staged the same way the miracle men do it.. it would be devastating to those who endorsed him.

mamawheelie said...

I can't really say whether this is staged or not, but after having watched various "hypnotisms" on the TV (haha, could be they're completely staged, too)... I couldn't say it was with any certainty.

The one thing I'm curious about, is that last person who was still standing after the end of part two. Did the show focus on her (?) at all, and that was just left out in the YouTube showing, or did he not talk to that person at all?

twincats said...

It's like Michelle said; hypnotism with a big dose of peer pressure thrown in. It's a powerful combination and used in religions throughout the world and throughout history.

I want to see him convert a true believer to atheism, though! ;)

Evelyn said...

I'd like to see how he de-converted them and how they all felt about this experience.

People can be led by the power of suggestion and a feeling of group peer pressure, if they are so inclined.

Michelle, that's awful that the funeral service became an altar call, though I remember my dad's funeral service being like a church service as he and most of my family are xians and several pastors spoke. My agnostic brother was quite broken up by our dad's death and all I could think was, I hope his wife, who is a JW, doesn't try to take advantage of this and pressure him to become a JW.

I remember an ecstatic feeling in my chest when I got into goddess worship for a brief time after deconverting from xianity. I had never had a feeling like this before, even when I was baptized in the Holy Spook. This feeling scared me so much that I quit the goddess thing.

god said...

well, these people came to a "spiritual talk" with certain expectations and in search of something, or an interest in something. Those built in expectations, combined with subtle suggestions and group peer pressure (especially when he goes thru one by one asking if each believes in god) seems to make it easy for the guy to exert pressure on their behavior.

All the behavior exhibited seemed to be standard evangelical stuff. The girl was fully expected to feel something and is asked about it in front of a group of people. Falling backwards seems to be a staple of evangelical churches.. and he completely sets it up w/ phrases like "don't worry, i'll catch you", turning the guy around and standing behind him on a "stage". The subject fully knows what is expected of him in this case.

I would be curious the guy would have been as likely to fall if he was told that there would be no one there to catch him, or that God himself would slow his fall and prevent any injury.

None-the-less, is was an impressive display of suggestion and people reading. I would bet that man is an excellent reader of people, and chose both of the first two participants very specifically. Just as modern day illisionists and magicians do. Also similar is that he is almost constantly talking in a rather soothing and hypnothic tone of voice, which I believe either further hypnotizes the crowd or serves as a sort of sleight of hand distraction.

In any case, it would be interesting compare how successfully he were able to obtain the same results if he were to meet each person one on one, w/o any other observers.

Also interesting is that each one responded to believing only one "god" which rather betrays their current mindset. They don't seem to entertain the possibility that it could be another god, or gods, or esp or some superhuman power. The power of suggestion? peer pressure? or ignorance?

Anonymous said...

forgot to add that because it was all standard stuff i'm sure they've all seen (falling backwards, etc), it would have been twice as interesting to see if they would still profess a belief if they were suggested to quack like a duck, start stripping, or suggested to feel a different emotion such as anger or sleepiness.

i would have been impressed if the standing guy suddenly started acting a monkey =)

Dano said...

These are the same people who work for David Blaine, the mindfreak guy. Before the show, he tells the girl :"I am going to hold my hand close to your cheek and you act like you have just experienced something spiritual" She says "OK"

He tells the guy that, "when I say I am right behind you, you fall backwards and I will catch you. That is your cue to act like you have been transformed, etc..."
After a quick rehearsal, they start taping.
Then he tells them "After we view the tape and edit it, you all will get your $50."
Easy!, Dannnnno

Steven said...

it could be staged, but i confess to have done the very same thing when younger, under the instruction of a guest speaker. He told us to go out evangelizing, but instead of arguing over theology, to instead ask them if you can pray for them. They would almost always say, "sure." Then we were instructed to tell them to picture Jesus in their mind, as a loving, accepting Spirit. Then we would tell them that Jesus is going to come and touch them by the power of His Spirit (all while their eyes have been dutifully closed). Then we would touch them gently on the forehead, and say, "touch, Jesus," and they would either fall back (we had catchers with us =]) or tell us afterward that they felt something amazing, like heat or electricity flow through them. I can attest that this form of evangelism was much more effective.

god said...

psychology and biopsychology are of great interest to. the mind is amazingly weak as it is strong.

anyway, i did a search on the "derren brown" on youtube and turned up more interesting videos. Especially check out the voodoo, psychic, messiah, bmx and subliminal ones. also do a search for his name on google to find out background and controversy over what people think of what he does. then look up nlp, hypnosis, etc. The wiki page provides quite a bit of background as well

Anonymous said...

This isn't stanged. Derren Brown has a show in the UK that focuses on the susceptibility of the mind. All Christians and most ex-christians don't know that most evangelism and preaching (especially when in front of an audience or on a platform) is ALL HYPNOTISM. There are MANY different forms of hypnotism and many ways to influence the mind (which is the access to the emotions, sensations, and everything else). This is why Christianity and mostly all religion in general is a form of mind control. Human Consciousness is understood very little and there is great power as well as great weakness in the conscious and subconscious minds. People can be put into a hypnotic state extremely easily without any real "show" of what most people think of hypnotism. Softly talking to a group in a controlled environment like we see in this video can easily hypnotize most people. You still think that you have your own mind and no one is influencing you but they are.

Anonymous said...

This isn't staged. Derren Brown has a show in the UK that focuses on the susceptibility of the mind. All Christians and most ex-christians don't know that most evangelism and preaching (especially when in front of an audience or on a platform) is ALL HYPNOTISM. There are MANY different forms of hypnotism and many ways to influence the mind (which is the access to the emotions, sensations, and everything else). This is why Christianity and mostly all religion in general is a form of mind control. Human Consciousness is understood very little and there is great power as well as great weakness in the conscious and subconscious minds. People can be put into a hypnotic state extremely easily without any real "show" of what most people think of hypnotism. Softly talking to a group in a controlled environment like we see in this video can easily hypnotize most people. You still think that you have your own mind and no one is influencing you but they are.

Lee said...

Listen to the prosody of his voice as he speaks to the audience...those trained in hypnosis are VERY adept at using the voice to lull the hypnotees into a sense of great relaxation. Even I could feel the stress leaving my body as I listened through my crappy earphone speakers...add to that, the acoustics of the room, the English accent (thought by many Americans as soothing, BTW) and you have a recipe for a suggestive audience. This Mr. Brown is VERY good, but no better than those hypnotists you see in Vegas who get the hypnotees to eat a raw onion as if it were an apple or to dance like a stripper...it's just MUCH more controlled, insofar as there are no real "bystanders" to witness their hypnosis, gaining entertainment from it.

I thought the demonstration powerful, since it exposes the seemy underbelly of an age-old con, when one thinks of a savvy, charismatic preacher who brings the spirit into the hearts of a congregation (most of whom are there for the very reason of receiving the holy spirit and accepting jesus as their savior, anyway).

I think ALL converts at megachurches should see this, personally

Lee