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Milton Erickson has some tales about Magic, the Supernatural and ESP in 'My Voice Will Go With You' which made me smile.  Whilst reading them I thought it would be most fitting to use these kind of tales in the presentation and performance of skeptical mentalism.

Sidney Rosen, the editor, comments on the stories saying:

Most of the "ESP" feats that he describes can be explained by perfectly "normal" means.  The Communications are made by the sense of sight and touch.  In each situation the "magician" has simply trained himself to observe the "minimal sensory cues" that most of us ignore - My Voice Will Go With You page 192 

With such a presentation you invite those watching your show to consider a new way of understanding what Joseph B. Rhine termed ESP (Extra Sensory Perception).  There is much we can learn by heightening our senses and paying attention to the world in which are immersed.  Perhaps reframing the effects we perform in such a manner may offer people a new perspective from which to view the world.

Somebody once told me labels are for jars.  ESP is such a label.   When a product is not selling so well advertisers often choose to rename the item in question.  Take a book for example, sometimes publishers will give it a new title and it will fly off the shelves.  Another time they only need give the book a new cover and it'll sell like hotcakes.

Now, we've all heard we should never judge a book by its cover... but it seems, more often than not, that is exactly what we do [confused]
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Senor Fabuloso

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Soc

I sat with this for a few days and while I'm enthralled with the almost post hypnotic suggestion of having our "voices go with our participants" I'm confused, as to why this is skeptical? Would you please elaborate.

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Anthony Vinson

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He refers to it as skeptical mentalism because the performer offers a naturalistic explanation for the phenomena. I might have used the term ironic mentalism, but that's just me. Skeptical certainly fills the bill, as stated, in the it provides the skeptic a hook by which to enjoy the performance without too much inquiry.

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Anthony has taken one view of this. Without reading the book in question I guess this would be the immediate response. The title Skeptical Mentalism can also be taken another way. It is strange to think about, but also funny to see. Many performers demonstrate mental powers which they do not actually believe exist. And others use the tricks to debunk, and enlighten those who believe in such things as ESP.

Many years ago I performed a card trick for a lady who believed I used special powers to locate her card, no explanation on my part would have her believe otherwise - it seems old Dunniger really knew what he was talking about. Nowadays I've chosen to leave it all behind. Practicing Kung-Fu leads to far less confusion.
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Senor Fabuloso

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Richard O isn't really, a mentalist. He's a mental magician and a darn, good one. If you look to Live Without a Net, You will see how his program is more of a magic show than a mentalism act. One spectator even asks If Richard can "make his wife disappear". Clearly his audience see him as a magician.  In my one on one talks with him, he does in fact believe in psychic ability and magic for real. But believing something, doesn't make it true.

What is true is we humans are connected through our humanity, emotions and intellect. Because of this it is possible to understand one another through our empathy and understanding, of ourselves. Our experiences are shared and the way we perceive them, may be different but the commonality of those experiences inherently tells us, whats going on in others. Psychologically understanding our own selves and how WE perceive things gives us insights into ALL of humanity.

So psychically we are in sync. And so we are psychic. We can know what we shouldn't know by being in tune first with ourselves then with others through our own understanding of ourselves. Modern science will tell us that we can't KNOW what's in the minds of others but how often do we know what others are thinking, simply by putting ourselves in their shoes. It's how we are able to advise friends and family, with clarity and good judgment.

I present myself as psychic. Why? Because I am and so are you.

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Anthony Vinson

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Senor Fabuloso
I present myself as psychic. Why? Because I am and so are you.


At the expense of picking nits, what you describe is empathy, not ESP. No one is, or has been proven to be, demonstrably psychic. At least by common definition. And it is far from the case that we are empathetically connected to everyone else. If that were the case the states of world affairs would be far different.

Presenting oneself as a psychic is certainly fair game, but it should be understood as theatrics. Sure, there are plenty of people who flush tremendous sums of cash down the psychic reader rabbit hole, but that's a horse of another color.

Last weekend I did an impromptu performance at a local burger joint. (I was doing a couple of card tricks for friends and was noticed by the people at the next table.)The folks for who I was performing had expressed interest in mental magic, and I was happy to show them a thing or two. They had fun. So did I. But at the end of the performance, when they asked, quit seriously, if I possessed psychic powers, I was quick to tell them no.

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Magicians have created many methods for tying false knots and Houdini used these to great advantage. He spent a great deal of time working to expose the fake psychics of his time, yet some people still believed he possessed supernatural powers, could dematerialize and even walk through walls.

Perhaps Anthony was correct, maybe Ironic Mentalism was the better title.

There is always the risk that people will believe what we do is real. Even with a disclaimer some people will still believe we can read minds. The only way to be 100% certain, and to make sure nobody is confused is to stop performing mindreading. But it's only entertainment, and we cannot control other people's thoughts and actions, everyone is free to choose and believe what they will.

"For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice" - Joseph Dunnigner

This quote is fitting to both the believer and the skeptic, which reminds me... since the time of Aristotle we have engaged in a binary thinking system. We are conditioned to think in terms of opposites (right and wrong, black and white, night and day etc etc) I guess old Aristotle thought he was helping us out, by making things a little simpler... and now look at where we are!

My initial post referenced the Milton H. Erickson book and I posted a comment by the editor which I considered thought-provoking. To my way of thinking it points toward a completely new direction for understanding the term ESP. And I am not referring to presenting the standard mentalism tricks either. Modern mentalism is trapped in the past, yes some folk may be utilizing psychological presentational frameworks but they're still using outdated effects from the late 1800's.

Chris Karim posted: "I'm in the camp of we should demonstrate the (presumably) impossible, not the relatively unlikely.  Why would I demonstrate things anybody can do exactly?"

Each of us should consider why we choose to perform in the way we do.  Personally I am happy to demonstrate things which anybody could learn if they took the took the time to practice.  My aim is to inspire and perhaps offer a new perspective from which to view the world.

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Senor Fabuloso

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Reply with quote  #8 
Empathy - used to describe a wide range of experiences. Emotion researchers generally define empathy as the ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling. (https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/empathy/definition)

While being empathetic is amazingly useful in understanding each other in general, empathy deals mostly with emotions. I was talking about being psychic.

Psychic (adjective) - of or relating to the human soul or mind (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/psychic)

Psychic (noun) - a person apparently sensitive to nonphysical forces (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychic)

It's important that one understands language, before coming to conclusions.




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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Senor Fabuloso


Psychic (adjective) - of or relating to the human soul or mind (https://www.dictionary.com/browse/psychic)

Psychic (noun) - a person apparently sensitive to nonphysical forces (https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/psychic)

It's important that one understands language, before coming to conclusions.


I do understand language. Thing is, you're now refining your usage to embrace a more catholic meaning. In context you used the word in it's adverbial form. You then crafted two separate tautologies using the word as an adjective. Please don't blame your readers if you, as the writer, fail to clearly communicate your point.

Thanks,

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