Derren Brown is fascinating.
One of the things I find most interesting about him is that he's a fundamentalist. In one of his books he describes his younger self as an annoying
Christian fundamentalist. When he started getting into hypnosis, his church chums started accusing him of consorting with devils and he eventually
moved from being a Christian fundamentalist to a scientific fundamentalist. He's totally convinced that because he can do what he does by what he
thinks of as trickery, there can't be enything real in any paranormal claim. Coming back to that.
The sister of a friend of mine went to see him and was blown away by the show. She actually waited to get his autograph and as he was writing, he
said he was sorry about the recent death of her dog. Now when you buy tickets, if you're paying by credit card, so I'm sure that someone with DB's
slightly OTT research and memory skills is more than capable of doing facebook searches for those involved. Still amazing, though.
Oh btw - none of the video links seem to work, one even said "this video is not available in your country", which is the UK. WTF?
The problem I have is that I've been doing t'ai chi long enough to be pretty damn sure that there are people out there who do amazing stuff without
suggestion or trickery. For example, I spent a week on a course with Bruce Frantzis (check out www.energyarts.com) and there were specific things he
did that could not have been explained by suggestion. Part of the course involved "direct transmission" in which he used his chi to affect that of
everyone in the room. If Bruce were interested solely in making money, he could have a similar profile to Derren Brown, but his avowed intent is to
teach as much as possible. Certain of his students can also transmit, though nowhere near as strongly or precisely.
Now DB would dismiss all of that as superstitious nonsense. I have to say that I was an agnostic about the reality of chi until I myself
inadvertently transmitted - I "zapped" someone without even actually intending to. Therefore there was no suggestion involved. I had no idea what
was going to happen, I felt something specific happen to me and it appeared to cause a reaction in someone else. I struggled for a long time with
what happened but couldn't escape the conclusion that there is something real about this chi business.
Now what I find annoying about people like DB and, worst of all, the appallying Randy, is their certainty about dismissing any possibility that what
one might laughingly call "psychic powers" have any basis in reality. When discussing what happened to me with skeptics, they always say it's
suggestion or that I simply am deluded or lying. There's usually an attempt to either ignore or dismiss a peice of data to weaken the case I'm
trying to make.
Just because there are a lot of frauds doesn't mean the entire field is fraudulent.
Intriguingly, there's a video of DB producing what appears to be a genuine martial arts effect on someone. Due to laziness and the poor luck I've
had playing any of the vids in this thread so far I'll have to leave the interested reader to look it up, but last time I saw it it was on YouTube
under the heading "Derren Brown one inch punch".
This label is incorrect, btw. As I understand it, the one inch punch is created by pumping synovial fluid through the joints of one's body all the
way from one's feet through one's arm and fist, producing an effect like a hydraulic ram or pneumatic drill but without having to take a swing.
What DB is recreating is known as a "condensation punch" in which you don't connect with the, er, punchee, but condense your chi outside your own
body so you can produce an effect without having to make contact. In the video DB goes into a martial arts class and fells one of the students (not
the master, he's too canny psychologically for that) by a punch to the solar plexus that stops about an inch short of actual contact. From what I
remember he doesn't just make the guy flinch - he knocks him right down.
Now I was going to try to find a link showing Chris Crudelli on Mind, Body and Kick-Ass Moves
, a programme I heartily recommend. In the clip
I'm thinking of, CC pulls someone backwards from about 15 feet away using, so he says, his chi. (I think he IS using his chi, I'm just putting it
that way to satisfy the more skeptical.) As the subject is facing away from him, accusations of "suggestion" are a lot harder to maintain.
I didn't find it but instead stumbled upon quite a rich YouTube vein of t'ai chi related stuff and I thought I'd post
this YouTube link instead.
Now most of you might not know what you're looking at. Before you post "it's just some old dude with some stooges", you might want to look at
some of the other related videos.
To explain: push hands is the way fighting is taught in t'ai chi. It starts with simple circular movements in which you try to feel your opponent's
centre of gravity and push through it to destabilise them, ideally pushing them off balance and off their feet.
There are extremely subtle and clever physical techniques involved, and if you look at some of the other videos posted on the subject, you'll begin
to get an idea that there's quite a lot to it. Actually practsing this stuff - particularly with someone who knows what they're doing - really
drives this home.
But in the link I posted, you can see that the grandmaster concerned has gone beyond the physical techniques and is doing things that don't make
sense unless you factor in his ability to control his, and others', chi.
I doubt very much that DB could do anything like this.
What interests me is the possibility that DB could have actually developed his intuitive powers through simple techniques to a point that he's
started operating on that kind of level without really understanding it, perhaps even being in a state of denial about the reality of what he
Unfortunately he's such a showman that I doubt you'd get a straight answer - and possibly such a fundamentalist that he might not even be being
completely honest with himself even when he thinks he's being at his most brutally candid.