My prediction for Derren Browns second event…

by endlesspsych

Right the jury, in my head, is still out on whether or not I think my prediction stands or some other method was used. I haven’t seen the reveal yet (for some unknown reason my social life appears to have kicked up a gear so I can’t sit in and watch the tellybox. Nor has my busy work schedule allowed me to use on demand internet based tomfoolery. Criminey!) but from what I have read I doubt the “fixing the machine” option if for no other reason then surely that’s massive fraud?

Anyway on to my next attempt to predict how Mr Browns trickery may work…

apparently, according to the Guardian, Derren will attempt to get the nation to move up and walk away from the show (presumably their tellyboxes) and make people unable to get off their sofa. All via the power of subliminal advertising…

Well first things first, the mention of subliminal advertising is likely the misdirection portion of this trick. As research has always suggested subliminal advertising doesn’t work (although this fact never seems to dampen its appeal) indeed in “The search for the Manchurian candidate” John Marks lists a number of magic bullets that the CIA researched in an attempt to unlock the secrets of mind control. Subliminal advertising stands alongside hypnosis and drug control as failed means of creating professional killers and advertising products.

The classic subliminal advertising “study” involved the 1950’s film “picnic” – adapted from a Pulitzer winning play it recounts the tale of an ex-college football star and his attraction to a girl who is already taken. A tale of dashed hopes in the American dream and forbidden love and one of the most popular films of the day. However if you saw this film in Fort Lee, New Jersey then you would be part of an experiment in unconscious influence… Without your knowledge the projectors had been fitted with a special device capable of flashing messages onto the movie screen at such a speed consciously you would be unaware of them (perhaps similar to Tyler Durden splicing hardcore porn into kids movies in Fight Club). The theory being that these hidden messages would make you want a coke or some more popcorn. In this first study it appeared that James Vicary had been successful increasing coke sales by 18.1% and popcorn by 57.7% and the resulting interest and panic arising from this original study lead to subliminal advertising being banned in Australia and Britain. So should we be worried about the effect of subliminal advertising and messages? Are we about to become Derren Browns unwitting minions?

Well in their book “Age of propoganda” Elliot Aronson and Anthony Praxis detail the evidence and research dealing with subliminal messages. Their conclusions? There is evidence that some subliminal perception – minimal processing of information outside of awareness occurs (an example of this is the cocktail party phenomenon) but in all the research gathered by these two experts in influence there is no evidence that it influences behaviour even slightly. Not a jot. Of course as part of a concerted marketing or advertising campaign… A sort of background liminal processing if you like… Well all bets might be off then…

So what predictions do I have for Derrens second event?

Personally I think he is just playing the odds and this trick is a variation of some done by the likes of Uri Geller and the infamous BBC smell-o-vision april fools day prank.  Essentially by just making the suggestion that people cannot get up off their sofas Derren will cause a percentage of the audience to think that they can’t get up. I’d suspect if this method is used that viewers who experience this are encouraged to phone in and share their experiences. With Derren counting on the primacy and saliency of anecdote to convince the majority of folk who weren’t susceptible to the suggestion and could move that they are in the minority.  The only thing that makes me doubt this is Derrens method is that it is far, far too close to the kind of  “clock breaking” nonsense frauds like Uri Geller and other two bit psychics try to palm us off with. However this does seem to be the most obvious method…

Another potential method, on which I will be brief as I lack the proper biomechanical prowess to properly assess it, will be apparent if Derren offers us some instruction before the supposed mind control “You might want to sit forward”, “make yourself comfortable” etc.  Essentially, if such a thing is possible, he might try to trick us into a position where it is hard to get up off the sofa. I.E. contorting us so our bodies work against us. Again unsure of the mechanics of this but potentially an easy way to conduct such a trick – although not as easy as the first one.

Or maybe it will be really simple and rely on the fact that most people aren’t going to bother their arses to stand up from their comfy viewing positon just because some bloke on the TV tells them they can’t. Afterall he doesn’t know either way if you have or not? He might just use simple techniques of suggestion – “this tends to work better with attractive/intelligent people” etc… Then use some sort of Post hoc rationalisation to convince the “true believers” – “you may think I didn’t influence you, but how many of you are sure you didn’t get up just because you didn’t want to?” etc etc

Alternatively Derren could be angling for a Jamie’s’ school dinners style reinvention , akin to Paul Mckennas recent reinvention, and this show could be all about the “obesity crisis” and Derren Browns big reveal will be to admit he really wants to dress up in spandex and become the nations new Mr Motivator?

Anyway what do you guys think?

Cheers

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