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Derren Brown Investigates - Trailer / Teaser - Channel 4

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Uploaded on May 11, 2010

Message from Derren:
There are three documentaries: one with a British psychic medium, another with a ghosthunter from the US, and a third concerns a Russian system of human development that claims to cure blindness. Each has quite a different feel.

I have approached these documentaries quite openly: as a magician, and someone steeped in the world of the paranormal, I would love to find something that I cant explain. I remember a friend at University showing me an apparent demonstration of Chi that got me giggly and excited for days: he folded a five pound note so that it could stand on its side on the table, then pointed his fingers at it rapidly, willing it to move. It skittered across the table, and it did the same when I willed it to move too. When I didnt want it to move, it didnt. I was astounded, and it was only when I started showing it to other people that I realised (as did they, only more quickly than I did), that the movement was caused by the rapid air propulsion that accompanied the short, quick, two-handed pointing gesture. When I didnt do it with intention (as I was instructed) my movement was of course slacker and the note didnt budge. I had been fooled (innocently, by someone who had clearly believed the Chi explanation), and had fooled myself. Interestingly, it was probably because my friends knew me as a magician that they saw through it immediately: they were on the lookout for other possible explanations, and this mindset provided the correct answer pretty quickly. My desire to believe, and my sheer excitement at finding something that seemed to be real, had stopped me from taking a step back and reconsidering.

I approached each of these situations with a balance: of a hope to be convinced, and an understanding of how easily we can be duped. It was a fascinating journey. One curious point is the way that scepticism is absolutely seen as the enemy by many of these practitioners. Possibly this is a point of confusion on their part: scepticism is only about reserving judgement until the evidence is weighed, as opposed to cynicism, which is blinkered by pre-supposing falsehood. One would like to think that paranormal practitioners would have faith in their evidence and would then welcome a sceptical approach. I think that most well-meaning practitioners, who genuinely believe that they have real evidence, do welcome such an approach. Many see some sort of intellectual rigour as an important component of discernment. Many welcome tests, others mock them (in the same way, I imagine, that many religious believers approach the question of God with a desire to understand intellectually the theological issues at hand, whereas others would find such things largely irrelevant to the question of living in their faith). Plenty of practitioners would call themselves sceptical, for to profess no scepticism at all is to suggest that one will simply believe anything.

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