Derren Brown: fraud?

I was a huge fan of Derren Brown’s Mind Control show, which aired fairly recently here in New Zealand. The show is amazing: Derren (purportedly) does a wide range of psychological illusions, like consistently beating people at what seem to be games of chance, by reading their body language to predict their moves.

I’ve done a lot of reading about the guy, and the consensus is that he’s exactly what he claims to be: not a psychic, not a magician, just incredibly skilled at exploiting the subtleties of the human mind.

Then I came across this article. The author claims that Derren Brown is basically a liar, who’s deceived his audiences. He goes on to say that "the vast majority of the demonstrations are based upon well-known magic tricks.

So what does everyone think now? The article I linked to doesn’t explain many of Derren’s other “tricks”, but he is pretty dismissive of the ones he does mention. Is there anyone out there who knows more about this? Who has been to any of his shows? Or who can give me a link to any more articles about the man?

I’m not sure if the show has aired in the States by the way, so many readers may be unaware of it

Apologies if this has been discussed before, I did try searching, without any luck.

Remember his Russian Roulette trick earlier this year? If you seriously believe that was not a trick, that he was willing to shoot himself in the head relying on his powers of “mind control”, then you’d be pretty gullible. He’s a performer – of course they’re tricks. That article is complaining that he breaks his contract with the audience… by deceiving them. But that’s what magic is all about. If you fall for a magic trick, you’re being deceived whether the performer says it’s “magic” or “mind control”. And if he says “this is not a trick” – how many magicians and illusionists imply this? I’d say pretty much all of them.

That’s what magic relies on – the element of “but… but…that’s impossible!”, which implies that the audience believes something impossible has taken place. It hasn’t, of course. The magician has tricked you. Just like Derren Brown does. The fact that he says “this is not a trick” is simply an overt expression of what all magicians and illusionists try to imply.

Check out his own site and he admits that it’s all tricks. That’s what makes it cool.

So you’re saying that he uses actors in his show? Like when he guessed the guys ATM number? Is this common knowledge? Can anyone give me a link that confirms this?

Like I said, most of the articles I’ve read seem to be written by people who have seen him in the flesh, and been genuinely amazed at his abilities.

Who said that? Wasn’t the guy at a dinner party with about a dozen friends?

Did you look at the site I provided a link to. It says

You realise that Simon Singh who maintains that Brown denies using magic and misdirection is also involved in the media as a radio and TV performer.

I have no idea how he got that guy’s PIN. If I did, I could be a great illusionist too. But I do know this: it was a trick. He is not able to read minds. He did not perform something impossible. I don’t know how he did it because illusionists are usually quite reluctant to give away their secrets. Do you know how to do the linking rings trick? He simply used “applied psychology, magic, misdirection and showmanship”, as his website says he does. And I think he’s great at it.

I didn’t see the PIN thing, but the spouse and I have fun spotting him “suggesting” things to the unsuspecting victim through verbal and visual hints. Half the time we can guess what the person’s thinking based on what Brown is doing. Of course, it’s a lot easier to spot these things from a third-party perspective.

Brown would probably kick serious butt on rock-paper-scissors.

He did it at a football match with the crowd outside. He gave everyone 3 goes and won each time then asked them to nominate whether he should win, lose or draw. He would then do as they asked. He said some people may think he was delaying to watch what his opponent was doing, so he played behind his back and got the requested result.

I feel I should add at this point that Derren and I are going to get married and have ten thousand babies. I heart him.