Why do magicians dislike mentalism?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Karlabos, Jan 19, 2018.

  1. A lot of magicians seem to look down on mentalism. Some famous magicians even say so while on tv.
    I take it one argument is that all mentalism tricks are the same... Are they though? Each one has a different mechanism behind it so I doubt it. Also if same premise equals same trick can't that be said about most magic tricks? In 90% of them you make an object which is on a certain state become in another state which is unlikely, therefore 90% of the tricks are the same? So I don't agree with that argumentation...

    I just wanna point out mentalism is not my magic kind of preference so it's not like I'm trying to defend myself or anything... Just curious too know the arguments
    So... Exacly why is it a lot of people seem to hate this branch?
  2. 1) Probably because a lot of magicians get into magic because of cards, but the laymen would rather watch mentalism (or at least think they would). So in short: most magicians are jealous?

    What do Audiences Really Think?

    "This is the next question we gave to participants: Imagine a magician approaches you right now and offers to show you a trick. What would you rather see: a card trick, a coin trick, a large-scale illusion, or mindreading? Mentalists rejoice — mindreading was the most popular choice by far. Fifty percent of everyone surveyed wanted to see mentalism over cards, coins, or illusions. Illusions were the second, cards third and, sadly, just three percent of the public preferred coin magic."

    2) The other reason might be because some people actually try to pretend and get people to believe that they have mystical powers. Some magicians/people might find this to be unethical.
  3. Personally I think a lot of it has to do with the entertainers approach and personality. If he or she comes off as arrogant and displays oneself of someone who has special powers who can just provide secret information then it gets a bit boring. For example: My wife and I watched Banachek at the last Criss Angel show and she didn't think he was very entertaining at all just rattling off information about people in the crowd. I like to allow the spectator to be in control of many decisions in a mentalism type effect. Let them truly feel like they are making choices leading down a one way street. They don't know there are "outs" all over the place for you. Ha!
  4. Magicians, and any other creatively based skill/art, like to draw these lines and then argue over which side of the line is better. Don't sweat it.

    I mean, don't get me wrong, I think it's really important to understand the classic verbiage and definitions, so you can learn all those rules - once you learn the rules you can comfortably break them with purpose.

    I will always maintain that mentalism and magic are related, but distinctly separate approaches to performance. Magic encourages the suspension of disbelief (sometimes unwilling). Mentalism actively encourages belief (in whatever the process is).

    But I'm not going to be upset if someone skillfully mixes the two into an amazing show.

    The end goal, and most important factor, is creating an amazing show.
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  5. Great question. I personally love mentalism, but I think the reason magicians do not appreciate mentalism (from what i have heard) is that there is no "sleight of hand" or "skill" involved. Obviously there is skill involved, but a different type of skillset is used. Personally a good mentalist will fool me much better than a magician because there is less to see in terms of technique. It also can be pretty powerful if a good mentalist is performing.
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  6. I really can't think of one instance where a magician "hated" mentalism. Uninterested maybe, but not hate.

    When I first started out it never interested me, but as I progressed I discovered a few sources that changed my perception, and made me want to integrate some mentalism in my repertoire.

    I know magicians and mentalists hate when people are using these techniques and claiming it as "real powers." That's a whole other matter though.
  7. Depends on the 'group' you're in. I know several mentalists that claim the real deal and have a strong dislike for those who give disclaimers. But you won't see those guys on stage, really, they work totally different markets.
  8. What's their dislike for those who put a disclaimer?
  9. It's a bit complicated.

    So, there's basically two camps. One camp is the cynics like Randi. These are the folks that not only believe that there's no such thing as the supernatural, they have made it their life mission to make sure you agree with them. These are magicians who saw "mind readers" and decided that was the battle they were going to have, for whatever reason.

    The other camp is people who are old school. Originally mentalism wasn't entertainment, per se. It was the reader at the psychic fair who could tell you more about yourself than you thought was possible. It was the Spiritualist medium who brought messages and sometimes apports from the other side. It was "real".

    So Camp One insists that anyone who's doing a mentalism demonstration -must- declare to the audience that everything they are doing is fake, tricks, and that there's absolutely no evidence for psychic ability (even though there are some very compelling studies that disagree with them - nothing concrete, but it warrants study). They think one should do this, because if the audience sees a convincing display of mind reading or whatever, they may run straight out and give all their money to the next psychic they see.

    Camp two thinks that giving a disclaimer instantly trivializes what you are about to do, and that magicians only insist on that because they're jealous of the power of a good mentalist performance. They think that telling an audience it's all fake and they shouldn't believe in it is condescending and patronizing, and they trust the audience to be intelligent enough to make their own decisions about what they see. They also believe that it doesn't matter what they say - believers will continue to believe, and skeptics will continue to doubt.

    That's a pretty black and white way to paint it, btw, there's obviously a lot more nuance involved - but really, in my opinion, it doesn't really matter unless you decide you really care. I do not give disclaimers beyond the line, "I am not here to provide proof or change anyone's beliefs. You're all smart people, you can decide for yourself. I am here to give you a unique experience that you can tell your friends and family about later." Done.

    My opinion is that if someone buys a ticket to see my show, and then walks out believing I really did what I said I was doing every time, then they made that decision before they saw me and anything I say will not change their mind.

    As a side note on the jealousy thing - I'm not saying this is definitely it, but there's a bit of history to consider. Back in the 60s/70s I believe, "mentalism" was often a very cheap product. Pay $5 and learn a center tear or whatever. But a good performer could take that $5 technique and turn it into an hour long miracle. Remember what happened when Blaine got a million dollar TV special doing the coin bite and Invisible Deck? Same thing, in my opinion. "Why should this guy get so much attention when he's just using a $5 trick? I could do that."

    Yeah. But ya didn't.
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  10. I've never really been interested in learning mentalism, but it's not out of hatred for it, the psychology of it all still amazes me and I like having that one part of magic that still fools me.

    I can see a show and spot sleights and think "wow that move was awesome I barely saw it" and then a mentalist will come on and will blow my mind, and I'll have no idea how he did a thing.

    I like having that one part of magic there to get the same feeling laymen get when they see stuff I do.
  11. I think there is a dislike of those who profess to be psychics -- that might be traced back to Houdini. However, I've never heard of any magician who looks down on mentalism.

    I'll agree that mentalism encourages belief. I think most magic encourages disbelief. The reactions that people are looking for are the "that's impossible" "how did you do that!" "no freaking way!" In my performances, I want the audience to suspend belief - in other words forget what you think is true and experience the possibilities that magic presents.

    I had worked with a friend developing a mentalism show. What we decided to use for him was, "I do not possess any special psychological powers. By the end of the show, you may doubt the truth of what I just told you."

    After my friend's charity show in a packed New York City theatre, the person in charge of the charity was talking to me. She said that she was disappointed she couldn't have been one of the people who was called up on stage. I asked her if she wanted to try something. I picked up a book that had been used in the show and had her turn to a page and think of the first word or phrase. I very slowly revealed the phrase she was thinking to her (my style is like the folks on Wheel of Fortune who "talk out" the puzzle in the final round). From her reaction, I can guarantee you that she has retold that story many times.
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  12. Well there were some legitimate reasons why these people made it their mission to debunk the psychics (I'm grouping mediums and other sorts of spiritualists here for the sake of saving time) and I firmly believe in their cause. One example is simply deceiving people out of their money by telling them they can speak to their dead relatives, which also prevents them from moving on and mourning them properly.

    I completely respect the opinion of how putting a disclaimer trivializes the show though, and how people already decide for themselves what they believe in. If they're there for a show then why spoil the fun before you get started? I've "read minds" and acted it out but if anyone ever came up to me and honestly asked if any of it was real, then I would tell them honestly, no.

    I don't believe in any supernatural phenomena but I can't make a certain statement that it doesn't exist at all.

    Thanks for your reply, I appreciate the different point of views you presented.
  13. I don't dislike mentalism, tbh...
    But now you mention it, I think I have heard many magicians say they dislike it.
    Now the reason MAY be essentially the same effect. In that case what you said abt different principles being at work doesn't matter, because whatever the principle is, the audience does not (and is not supposed to) know the principle. So for an audience, layman or expert, same effect=same trick. Now, magic however does have a variet of effects!
    But I have seen a variety of different metalism tricks and they do kinda impress me! I can't really tell what variety has got to do with this problem since, as I said, I don't dislike mentalism.
    Also, mentalism primarily means mind reading and mental 'magic' (forgive me, I am speaking from a layman's POV)...so how much variety one expects there?

    Few reasons I'd rather watch a magic performance than a mentalism one is (holds true for most people I know) is that they are very complicated.
    Even if they are not complicated, they are boring.
    Even if they are not boring, (honestly, I don't think anyone can actually call Derren Brown boring...provided am not being ignorant and he really is a mentalist) they try to project themselves as real. The worst mentalists make it seem like they are God, but the best ones are not actually that better.
    In a magic performance, the audience is ready to suspend their beliefs. But in a mentalism performance, when the mentalist repeatedly says what he is doing is true and there really is a scientific principle that helps others know what number you are thinking of by taking your pulse...the audience does feel there intelligence insulted a bit.

    But of course, the thing is I dunno if laymen can tell a mentalist from a magician, or even cardist from a magician (let's face it, both of those art forms--now separate maybe--but they did stem from magic as a whole)
    Ultimately it is the performer. If the performer is good, I don't see why laymen or magicians should dislike mentalism.
  14. I'm willing to bet you've never seen a good mentalist, other than maybe Derren Brown. Yes, he mixes magic techniques into his work, but he approaches it like a mentalist.

    Again - the primary difference between mentalism and magic, is the theatrical approach to the performance. And again, I'm not saying one is better than the other, they are just different approaches.

    In the end a mentalist will probably be called a magician by laymen, at least a portion of the time. Because laymen don't know our terms and the closest word they have to describe someone doing this sort of miracle is, "magician" or maybe "mind reader".

    Though LordMagic's post does remind me of another factor I have noticed about magicians and mentalism. Because of the distinction between theatrical approaches magicians often have trouble with mentalism material. They simply don't know how to get the best reaction out of the work, because it requires a different approach than they are used to. So they see someone who knows how to deliver the material get huge reactions, buy the material, realize it's an incredibly simple method, and then just do the method and expect the same response, but don't get it. Then they get frustrated because they think they're doing the same thing and not getting the same reactions.
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  15. Personally speaking, I think that mentalism, (when done well) can be looked upon as wonders. Think about it, you just did the impossible (yes this may sound like any other magic trick) however, this is something magicians can only do with a deck of cards or coins, or gimmicks, etc. But to be able to read someone's thoughts I.E. a loved one, a word they are thinking, what they had for lunch, will definitely leave a greater mark on them (in my opinion) that a magic trick. And this is coming from the perspective of a card magician. Magicians might look down at it in general because they probably don't regard it in such a high fashion that a mentalist might just due to their own preferences. Think of it this way, if you are a teacher who is very happy with your job that gets paid well you might look at a job like a dog walker lets say. And you think to yourself, man that job must suck picking up after them and walking them. At the end of the day, it really does boil down to perspective and the perspective of others. Hope that helps!
  16. Wow - this is good and very true I think

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