Ethics concerning audience beliefs...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by JoshL8, Jan 3, 2019.

  1. I understand your point of view and how the changing of the metaphor changes the meaning. That stance still doesn't address a performers responsibilities though. The changing of the metaphor was to reflect how I stand on the issue. I think we get where each other is coming from better now.

    Understand I am not trying to change your mind here but get a feel for where I stand mostly.

    As for the bartender bit I wasn't sure. RealityOne had a smiley at the end of his similar comment :)
  2. If I read tarot cards for someone, and take money for it, (I don’t do this, but I do use tarot) is that wrong?

    Am I lying about anything? Am I manipulating anyone? I use the tool for my own self analyses and discovery. I’m not claiming my otherworldly power or even pseudoscientific logic, just following a process and talking though the clients personal situation. I would never say ‘these cards have supernatural powers’. With my magic it’s the same. I describe a belief or phenomenon, and try and demonstrate how that might look in an entertaining way.

    Now, if I was claiming to be a psychic and using the tarot cards to manipulate said client into handing over more money or doing something which indirectly benefits me, that would be ethically wrong, yes.

    Surely it depends on the motivations of the performer? I see no possible harm coming from a motivation to entertain.
    WitchDocIsIn, RealityOne and JoshL8 like this.
  3. I think it does - because the performer has no real obligation beyond providing the experience they promised to provide. Is Jon Bernthal responsible if someone decides to paint a skull on their shirt and start shooting criminals? Obviously not, no matter how cool he makes it look.

    Maybe that's a bit extreme. Is Brad Pitt responsible for all the d-bags that took his character's rant in Fight Club as an excuse to be a d-bag? Again, obviously not.

    People who use entertainment to justify beliefs will always find something they can cherry pick to continue justifying those beliefs, nothing a good performer says or does will really change that.
    DominusDolorum and JoshL8 like this.
  4. I dunno if anyone has already done this but, for the record, it's "DerrEn Brown"...

    Let's move on now...

    I do think that pseudo beliefs are easy to propagate. If you see something that really, truly, irrespective of the "Too Perfect Theory", seems impossible, you are likely to believe any 'scientific fact' proposed for it, even if the magician himself/herself does so.

    But here's the most essential thing we need to keep in mind always, ALWAYS...and that is,

    When a spectator sees a magician perform, they automatically enter a mode of "suspension of disbelief".

    So BASICALLY, when I 'explain' that I found out a spectator's card by reading their pulse, they kinda believe it's true, but the thought becomes something like, "Well, HE can find my card by reading my pulse...others can't."

    Probably I haven't phrased my thought well enough but all I mean to say is really that the audience knows that the 'explanations' aren't real. I mean, you wouldn't go to the trouble of learning to read pulses to read minds and then expose your secret, will you? They AGREE to enter a "suspension of disbelief" mode.

    And if there are some who REALLY end up believing in those explanations, well,
    Exceptions make a rule perfect.
  5. Its what the performer provides and how their performance is framed that matter here.

    The framing of Brad Pitt playing a fictional character in a fictional story kind of misses the mark because there is no attempt at blurring the lines here for the audience concerning on whats real, possible or a fictional story. Same for Jon Bernthal's situation. However these movies and shows have disclaimers at the beginning stating things like 'fantasy violence" and so on.

    A closer comparison I would think would be shows that blur the lines but make an attempt at letting people know where they do. Law and Order has an opening line that says it is a dramatized work of fiction based on real life stories for instance.

    Can we try something a in a little less grey area as an example to see where you stand? This is a measuring stick trying to see about the word "significant" here and if it will effect your answer.

    Lets say an act trying to make themselves appear credible or legitimate features slurs towards disadvantaged groups or makes jokes at the expense of certain groups. That is to say their act 'punches down" rather than up which would be satire. Having other intent besides the outcome (like not meaning them as slurs, or its a joke/act/art) doesn't disassociate the source from the negative outcomes of their actions. Having slurs being normalized against certain groups does those groups no favors, whether its based on disabilities, race or sex.

    Agree or disagree that this act wold be unethical because it exploits certain groups?

  6. From my limited understanding (it was more my wifes thing) self analysis is more what they should be used for. This assumes though that ones premises they are working off of are sound, like when you go to identify an obstacle for instance your assumptions are correct. If you put in BS you get out BS. Taking money for reading cards in this manner could be on shaky grounds if it were worded poorly but I see no reason this could not be worked around by an honest and diligent performer. Meaning no medical claims could be made like "therapy".

    Motivation of the performer doesn't change the negative/positive outcomes as much as it changes how we perceive the action taken by the performer. Much like manslaughter is a lesser charge than murder for a persons death the difference is the intent of who is responsible.

    Misinformation versus disinformation...hmmm...need a different set of words...both imply intent to deceive.
  7. And yet, people use that "snowflake" rant to justify their beliefs and actions. Ironically, usually in a way that is actually the opposite to that story's point.

    Are you saying that using hateful speech is the same as performing 'seriously' as a psychic and/or pseudo-scientific character? If so, that speaks volumes to some very skewed ideas of how those performers work.

  8. Negative there Ghost Rider. I am seeing if "significant" contribution would be sufficed in that instance.
  9. I'll entertain your scenario, even though I think it's based on emotional over reaction to something you simply don't like.

    When someone normalizes hate speech, they can embolden hateful people to be more openly hateful. The usual result of this is people who don't feel welcome, may feel threatened, and in extreme cases may be harmed by those people. However, I don't think the comedian will be the significantly contributing factor there - the hateful nature of those people is. Many of the news cases you see where someone is emboldened by a prominent public figure to act on their hatred are people who have histories of hateful behavior already. It's never the community organizer who's spent her life helping the disadvantaged youth - it's usually people who were already known racists/bigots.

    It's just further exposure of that hateful person's true nature.

    Now, what happens if someone who is a believer in psychics sees an entertainer with a psychic presentation - maybe they go see their usual card reader, and they chat for a bit and that person walks away with the same basic beliefs they had before. What happens if a non-believer decides to see a psychic after seeing a show? They probably have an amusing 10-20 minutes where they either just enjoy the experience (what usually happens when I do readings) or they mentally (or verbally) pick apart the vagueness of the reader's statements.

    In rare occasions someone will be scammed. It's pretty rare, though. The new age market is a multi-billion dollar industry. There's no way that kind of money is moving around with the number of instances we see on the news. Generally speaking those predators go after people who already believe, and/or who are grieving, because belief and grief are both easy to manipulate.

    What happens when someone who's a believer in pseudo-science (Which, honestly, is basically everyone), sees a pseudo-science based performance? Nothing changes - they still buy into bracelets with 'holographic technology' that improve your balance or 'detoxing'. What happens when someone who's not a believer in pseudo-science sees a pseudo-science based performance? They say, "Well that's clearly horse pucky, I wonder how he did that."

    Magicians, generally speaking, present a premise and pretend to prove it. If someone decides that's genuine proof of anything, the performer is not really responsible for that decision. The only time I could see it being the responsibility of the performer would be if they are presenting it "as real proof" and harping on that idea, and that scenario strays into the realm of being a fraud.

    What I think would be the far more likely outcome is that someone might hear a presentation based on pseudo-science and then try it themselves, see it doesn't work, and decide that the performer was full of it.
    DominusDolorum likes this.
  10. I think you're missing the point here. A person might use a similar structure, say the gun debate, as a way of setting a point of reference for 'measuring purposes'. We can now work backwards and see more where things change to be unethical from a point of view. Your example is "hate speech" is a bit further down the road from where I was fishing for as an example, I was thinking more along the lines as derogatory jokes about gays or based on race. Hate speech is different than just slurs because hate speech incites action.

    I think we can agree hate speech is unethical and that certainly would be something to avoid in an act. Lets move more to the grey area;

    Louie CK's latest set where he disparages trans people, the Parkland students etc. is closer to where I was aiming. We can agree that this is not hate speech?

    He isn't trying to give of any legitimacy to him or his ideas (intent), often the defense to the things comedians say is that they are comedians and they tell jokes. These are actions trying to disassociate the source of any responsibility from the negative outcomes towards those groups. These actions still punch down at groups though. I don't think just because someone may lack the punching power or they think they do that it would be okay for them to punch people who are getting hit from other areas for the thing being joked about.

    To those affected people the contribution may be more than others would rate. Certainly his contribution has some effect on an Overton Window type situation for the masses concerning what we can joke about. It is interesting to see what slurs/images are allowed when others are not. I would lean towards CK's act being unethical.

    Gilbert Goddfried 9/11 jokes after the planes hit...unethical or ethical? There was a big deal about his joke when it happened. Almost ended his career.

    I think a closer comparison to what I am looking for may be in how Sam Harris operates his media. He often has another scientist in some field like physics discussing ideas out of their expertise. He uses his position as a neurosurgeon and skeptic to give him legitimacy in areas he has he has no formal training in while undermining experts in other fields. Harris is certainly trying to blur the line where his legitimacy is concerned, are his actions ethical in your eyes?

    To be clear this is different from what Bill Nye does, he defers to the experts knowledge and sources in the areas he is not trained in. To bad he isn't a better debater or public speaker.

    I think "scam"by intent is unethical in general or it at least denotes bad intent. I mean if someone believes in what they are doing it operates in the same realm of ethical from their point of view. Most people know what they can and cannot claim by now so they employ warnings that say not proven etc. when concerning the claims but they still sell them saying things like "promotes creativity" ,"gives energy", "healing". They may be ethical in their own eyes for sure.

    Is a crystal with a disclaimer that says not proven but still claims "heals" just as ethical as claim of "crystal that heals cancer" that also has a disclaimer that says not proven? One claim definitely has more potency concerning the targeted group and the end effect. If you google either "crystal healing" or "crystal heals cancer" you get tons of new age sites.

    What about the ethics behind the claims "heals" versus "gives you energy"?

    To me all those ideas are hung with the same hook.

    The "term new age" is pretty broad encompassing some pretty disparate views under that term. If you had a specific example thats more of what you wanted to illustrate please go ahead.

    I get your part about peoples beliefs not changing much and agree.

    Our point of views differ on whether the contribution is significant or not and the strength of the outcomes. These areas are a bit subjective and hard to measure.

    You earlier pointed out that movies like fight club, a lower bar of credibility...its not trying to blur the lines, still get people using its language to (ironically) justify their stances. I don't see how a magic act trying to blur the lines of credibility doesn't have any similar contribution here from a movie save for its reach. If thats the case it is a claim that it doesn't punch hard or not sufficient contribution and that still doesn't change the outcome for me that they shouldn't punch. If its people are going to punch anyways (part of your stance) then my position is the same.

    Thats why my examples are are in the grey area to the other side of fraud/scam or hatespeech etc. Yeah we beat that idea of intent (fraud/scam) to death and looked a bit at outcome (hate speech's outcomes) because they're point of reference more easily agreed upon. We have a pretty decent understanding of each other position concerning magic acts I assume by now.
  11. The problem with hypotheticals and examples are that you start arguing about the hypotheticals and examples. On the main topic, here are my thoughts:

    1. The number of people who see a mentalism show where the mentalist claims true ESP or claims to use pseudo-scientific explanations and then take an action that is detrimental to themselves is extremely low.

    2. The chance that a disclaimer will change that outcome is even lower.

    3. The main reason for this is that there is a tacit understanding that such shows are entertainment.

    4. If the performer does not do anything to harm his audience (steal their money, convince them to quit their job and join a cult, etc.), there is no ethical issue.

    5. Any secondary impacts that are not reasonable foreseeable are not the responsibility of the performer. Let’s say I use flash paper in an adult show and a 30 year old male tries to replicate the effect using construction paper soaked in gasoline and, rather predictably, burns down his parents house. Am I responsible? What if a person who has been going through some tough times has been seeing a psychic on a monthly basis and is finding hope in the physic’s positive readings and predictions. That person sees a show debunking psychics, realizes that they have been hoodwinked and then they lose hope and fall into depression or worse. Is the performer that debunked psychics responsible?

    6. Finally, it is not our responsibility to police what other people believe. Once you go down that path, where does it stop? A disclaimer? A signed waiver saying that they understand that it wasn’t real? A follow up call from the performer three days later making sure they didn’t buy any of their BS? Or, is the solution to prohibit people from using false explanations in mentalism (and magic acts)? Or maybe we give an IQ Test to the audience and only if they score high enough (so that they are intelligent enough not to be duped) they can watch the show. Other than the disclaimer (which wouldn’t work and which reduces the entertainment value of the show), the solutions are worse than the cure.

    I assume that adults are intelligent enough to make their own reasoned decisions in life and if they are not, then that is their problem, not mine.
    DominusDolorum and JoshL8 like this.
  12. As magicians, we are, at the bare minimum, actors. We lie about what we're doing.

    ie: I'm going to take the 3 of clubs and put it in the middle of the deck. The 3 of clubs was already switched with an indifferent card that is inserted into the deck.

    So we lie about certain things for the sake of believability.

    Derren Brown, even though he discloses that he uses certain methods and it's all trickery could be chalked up to lies as well. Andy Kaufman was the world's best "magician" in that his life was such a blur between real and fake, no one knew what to think.

    Sorry for the rant.. did I miss the point?
    JoshL8 likes this.
  13. Sure, I tried to be vague so people could fill in their own blanks with their own examples but I did have an implicit leaning. In your example I still have the same answer even with its leanings.

    When we are talking if something is sufficient concerning the groups we are often using a utilitarian measure and I am not very utilitarian. For the sake of being pragmatic I see the usefuleness of such thinking and agree with its use here with things like the idea of informed consent and the audience (#2 and 6 in your examples are aimed here).

    I assumed as much from your previous posts. Although I see how it fits in your framework I think number 6 is a bit off from my position. Its not that I feel we have a responsibility to police what others believe I feel we have a responsibility to curate our content in a do no harm/least harm manner. That is I don't need to confront every belief I disagree with nor change minds but I should not encourage certain beliefs with my act.

    I think your bit on IQ is hyperbole along with some other slippery slope stuff? If not I would just like to say very intelligent people can be bamboozled or led astray.

    In your number 5 I would place the onus on the enablers, the psychics, not those exposing truths. Although in this case I think we can agree, not many people would change their minds over a single show but that show doesn't occur in a vacuum and there must be lots of other stuff out there. Would you blame people putting the truths out there for that persons debacle? It seems odd to place the blame when you look at it the other way.
  14. Ultimately, I think the answer lies in the quote above. Absent a harmful intent, each performer is responsible for curating their content in a way they feel comfortable with. Some devoutly religious magic performers are uncomfortable with lying in any way (i.e. @Deryn's the 3C is on the top of the deck). Some magic performers are comfortable with providing a false explanation of a trick in slow motion to Chariots of Fire. Some mentalism performers are comfortable using a pseudo-psychological explanation. Some mentalism performers want a disclaimer (and typically as @ChristopherT said, most of them couldn't convince anyone they had psychic powers). Some performers don't feel a disclaimer is necessary or helpful and that a disclaimer detracts from the illusion of the performance. I'm in the last catagory.

    Hyperbole is a way of life :cool: My point was that a disclaimer is the best you can really do and that it isn't too effective. Anything else is not practical or just downright silly.

    In #5, I don't place blame on any of the performers. Their act did not harm the person and the ultimate consequences were not foreseeable. Additionally, if someone get "taken" by a psychic who is a bad apple, I don't blame anyone but the bad apple physic and the victim who wasn't smart enough to avoid being taken (yes, I know it is politically incorrect to "blame the victim" but I just have a strong belief in personal responsibility).
  15. I think we have a decent understanding of each others point of view and how it applies.

    This bit here though has a slight odd rub for me. Just comparing and contrasting...

    A strong belief in personal responsibility for victims...but not for performers?:) I kid a bit, I think we give different weight to the contributions and the outcomes due to our world views. This of course will inform our other decisions.

    I am sure you know this but where I stand is both parties share a degree and are at fault. The performer bearing some responsibility doesn't mean the audience doesn't have any. Of course how much responsibility either party owns depends on lots of factors some already discussed here and there in this thread.

  16. Barely a rant...I mean I didn't even have to scroll. :)

    I think RealityOne summed it up well in his last post. Anything I add to that would be just minor fleshing out some grey areas for me.
  17. My opinion is based on my sense that it is not foreseeable that a reasonable person would react to the performer's show in that manner and that the intervening actions of the "bad apple" psychic are the real cause of the person's injury. I understand that your opinion is based on your sense that any contribution to the potential outcome by the performer results in some level of responsibility. The difference is in part based on our views of the significance of the performer's contribution (which you and Christopher have thoroughly discussed) and, I think, a difference in our world views (which is probably beyond the scope of this forum).
    JoshL8 likes this.
  18. Which is why I'm about done with this thread. It's drifted into the realm where it's impossible to come to a conclusion, whereas I already have one that is perfectly serviceable and is being ignored.

    Which is a big part of why I get tired of these discussions, which I've participated in many times. Everyone's vague - no one gives concrete reasons for their worries, but they certainly have concrete assurance that the worry is valid. Show me where the evidence is that backs up the claim that people who are not already prone to belief in psychics/pseudo-science become prone after seeing a show. A proper study, if you please.

    See, here's a problem I have with "Skeptics" (who have a surprising amount of faith in their ideas for people who claim to question things). Even a fraudulent "psychic" has the ability to provide comfort to someone. The "Skeptic" would rather remove that source of comfort in the name of a non-existent Objective Truth, than allow the psychic to continue doing their thing. Therefore, that Skeptic is removing a source of comfort and replacing it with ... nothing. Therefore, the Skeptic puts the so-called 'victim' in a worse emotional state than when they started, and therefore, the Skeptic is doing more harm than the Psychic.
    NinoIng likes this.
  19. In summary - Read David's list above if there's any more confusion on the subject.
    JoshL8 likes this.
  20. Yeah I think we covered as much as we can in these forums without heading into territory thats not about magic.

    Soooo see ya'll next thread?

    RealityOne likes this.

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