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article imageRichard Dawkins discusses psychics with Derren Brown

By Bart B. Van Bockstaele     Dec 12, 2008 in Science
Derren Brown is a well-known mentalist who is also advocating a scientific investigation of psychic phenomena. He was interviewed by Richard Dawkins and the entire interview can now be seen online.
Professor Richard Dawkins interviewed Derren Brown for his documentary "The Enemies of Reason." Documentaries are made for a large public, and are therefore never quite complete, because they need to be short, and -hopefully- entertaining as well. As a result, entire interviews are usually being reduced to nothing more than a few sound bites.
Thankfully, however, this particular interview has now been made available for viewing online. I urge anyone who is interested in psychic phenomena, especially the world of mediums, psychics and such, to view this enlightening interview.
During the interview, Richard Dawkins is trying to find out how psychics work, and whether they are merely charlatans or if they actually believe that they have this non-existing ability. Derren Brown seems to have difficulties accepting this idea, and he thinks that most all psychics are very much aware of the fact that they are swindling their customers. However, he does think that the guilt that these psychics feel, in combination with the money they make, may drive them to rationalize their charlatanism into a sort-of belief that they actually have an intuitive ability.
Derren also explains some of the techniques psychics are using to fool their victims into believing that they actually have psychic abilities.
A salient point is that, as a magician, he has to work much harder than psychics to make his illusions credible, while at the same time, he is making a lot less money than the charlatans, and that this may well lead colleague magicians to cross over to the dark side and start to advertise themselves as genuine psychics. It's just easy money.
A related point is that, for some inexplicable reason, people want the psychic to be right and are essentially helping her/him by providing the information he/she feeds back to them as if it came from her/him in te first place.
Brown is also quite disgusted by the fact that psychics are essentially exploiting the gullibility of people who are in distress and he talks about the dangers for these people of becoming addicted to psychics because their charlatanism comforts them.
The interview lasts a bit longer than 50 minutes or so and is certainly worth your time.
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