> On Wed, 21 Sep 2016 23:10:27 -0000
>> It's all about misdirection, and subtle cues.
> Yes, but there isn't anything extraordinary about it. He's
> simply trying to distract his target. There isn't any profound
> scientific principle or insight behind that.
I don't really think of it as all that profound, honestly. To me, its
trivially obvious by looking around that people aren't primarily rational.
It's obvious that con-men can play all sorts of games, trick people, play
on emotions and psychology, and bypass people's reason.
To me, this is simplistic, and clear. As it should be, to you.
> In that same video he fails to scam a guy who sells hotdogs -
> as a matter of fact the hotdog guy is rather pissed off. But
> then he sucessfuly steals $4500 from a jewelry store? Not
> believable at all, not even as staged entertainment.
Apparently you've never spent any time in New York. I found this amusing,
and it didn't surprise me at all. People who work on the streets in any
capacity, are often quite aware, and aren't easily hustled.
And again, it doesn't work on everyone. I've said this from the outset.
> The point is that you are advancing an anti rationalistic view
> of human nature, and apparently presenting as evidence stuff
> that...isn't convincing.
To you. You have a strong rationalistic bent, and you're very tied to the
notion, ideologically. Libertarianism is rooted in the notion of rational
And, to be clear, I wouldn't say I'm anti-rationalist. That is too strong.
People CAN BE rational, but they are not NECESSARILY, or PRIMARILY. Should
people be more rational? Yes, I think I'd agree with that. But I'm not
dealing in shoulds, and wishes here.
My intention with using Derren as an example is that his work, in terms of
highlighting the effects of NLP, shows how rationality can be bypassed in
certain conditions, with certain people.
> Magic tricks don't have much to do with this. Magic tricks rely
> on exploiting shortcomings of perception, "the hand is quicker
> than the eye", that sort of thing.
Some does. Some is just about misdirection, getting you looking at the
hat, expecting a rabbit to pop out, while the magician walks across the
stage and pulls a lever. No slight of hand involved.
> But indeed nobody believes
> that those magic tricks are 'real' magic. If anything they prove
> that people are rational and know that magicians can't make
> rabbits dissapear - they know it's 'illusion'.
There are plenty of people that get amazed, confounded, and think the
tricks of a David Blaine, or Chris Angel, and so on are - in fact - real
But that is besides the point. I'm not even talking about superstitious
people and nonsense beliefs.
> OK, so maybe handing the bottle of water makes it more likely
> that they other guy would hand something in return. A neat
> trick, which might work. Sometimes. Still, this is no sound
> philosophical principle.
I'm not claiming anything in this as a philosophical principle. This
particular strand of conversation started at Tom's suggestion that people
have to, at some level, rationally think over what they do when they hand
their wallet over when someone puts a gun in their face.
It's nonsense, and with just a little bit of clear thought, its obvious.
Ever been driving a car, taking a route you often take, space out a bit in
your thoughts and 10 minutes later you realize you've been driving for
miles, taking multiple turns, without "paying attention" to the road, at
all? You'd been "rationally thinking" about something entirely else, maybe
a project at work that is stressing you?
You don't need to THINK about your actions, to perform them. The rational,
conscious mind, fades out and goes on vacation regularly with just a tiny
amount of stress like that. Induce large amounts of stress, and it can be
lights out, for all practical purposes.
Derren's illustrations with the wallet aren't even inducing stress. He's
just trying to select people walking along that look spaced out, and in
their own thoughts a bit.
If a person was walking along, thinking in their mind about a logical,
deductive argument, or rationally problem-solving an engineering issue, or
something like that the trick probably wouldn't work. Almost certainly.
But if the person is remembering things, calling up old details, and their
minds are not engaged in critical problem-solving, its more likely to
It's all about the state you're in before he approaches.
And muggers know the same thing. Best way to avoid a mugging? Well, don't
be in a shitty section of town.. but second best? Be aware. When you see
someone approaching, look them square in the eye, with a slight smile. If
someone pops out of an alleyway, doorway, or somehow comes up on you
quickly .. once you're in earshot, keep that eye contact and be the first
to talk. "Hey, Front Street is up this way, yeah?" Or "Hey got the time?"
Whatever. A simple question, as soon as he processes that question, toss
out a compliment "Nice hat, by the way."
Why is this? First, the mugger is looking to get you unaware. He wants the
script to run this way: the first time you notice him is when he threatens
you. He wants you looking at the gun, or the knife, and not his face. He
wants you surprised, and scared, so that you won't remember much of what
he looks like. He wants your adrenaline to dump, and time to dilate for
you. Every beat cop has heard "I didn't get a good look officer, it
happened so fast."
So you need to notice him before he threatens you. Be aware. He doesn't
want you to know what he looks like. Look people in the eye.
Talk first. This is key, because it means you're setting the stage, not
him. When you ask him what time it is, you're throwing his rhythm. The
compliment makes it likely his ingrained response will be to say "Thanks."
Before he knows what happened, he's thanked you, and your on your way, and
it makes it "difficult" for him to run his mugger script the same way.
> So he failed 50 times and then tricked one guy for 10 seconds.
> Is that evidence against rationalism?
For the purposes of our discussion, yes. Because we're talking wide-scale
I'm not worried about the con-men of the world doing this one-on-one, or
Derren Brown getting a small number of people to do something egregiously
irrational, like handing over their wallet to a stranger.
But skilled person can use NLP type techniques, through media, to persuade
people at an emotional level, on a wide-scale. It doesn't have to be so
egregious as handing over a wallet. It can be combined with argumentation
that, strictly speaking is poor, but sounds kind of plausible and then
buttressed with persuasion techniques like this.
In that way, which I see advertisement and politicians do regularly, there
are very real limits to how effective rationality is.
And again, I'm not trying to attack rationalism, as such. Rationalism is
GOOD. But we have to understand that, for many people, its a bit fragile.
It can be bypassed.
> As in you can trick some people under some special
> circumstances for a short period? Yes. But I don't think there
> are wider implications.
If you only choose to focus on issues with one entertainer, and the
limited scope of the examples presented, sure. But if you look at how
others use NLP techniques, how people can get biased by speech to make
certain choices that seem to them "random" and "free" and yet were
selected for them, there are pretty huge implications.