Sunday, June 7, 2009

Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown Book Review 6

Derren Brown is an English illusionist, mentalist, magician or whatever name you like to call guys like that. Yes, Derren is how he spells his name!! He would be like David Blaine or Penn and Teller if you have not heard of him. I first saw him on TV specials such as The Heist and The System. The Heist was a programme where he basically influenced regular people to rob a security van by implanting ideas into their heads. The System was where he let one person bet on a horse that he would select and it always won. He kept doing this so that they were betting all of the money they had on each horse. The Messiah was another programme where he went to the USA and made people believe in God and that that he had psychic abilities also. He does not have either but he knows how to make people believe that he does. He had other specials too like The Seance and Russian Roulette and you should try and see all of them as he is very good at what he does.

As I like his shows a lot, I picked up his book called "Tricks of the Mind". This is not a magic book and it does not tell you how to do tricks. This is more of a discussion of what he does and what he thinks about magic and anything related to it. He talks about his own experiences and how he came to be a magician or 'illusionist'. So the book is part autobiography and part discussion. He reveals quite a lot about what he thinks and he takes the reader on a thoroughly entertaining ride. The book is divided into six parts. He goes through each part in detail and the parts are called Disillusionment, Magic Memory, Hypnosis and Suggestibility, Unconscious Communication and Anti Science, Pseudo-Science and Bad Thinking.

In the first part- Disillusionment, he describes how he was a Christian but he began to question his beliefs over time. He saw a hypnotist show and wanted to learn more so he read everything on the subject. He then read magic books and learned how to do magic tricks. His new love of magic taught him to question his beliefs and not just take them at face value. The second part- Magic, deals with tricks such as coin and card tricks and using suggestion on people. The third part- Memory was one that i found incredibly useful. I can't remember how to do it now, but it was useful! No, really it was very good as he goes through systems and methods for remembering long lists or names of people. Part four is Hypnosis and Suggestibility and he goes through his ideas on hypnosis. I found this part very heavy going and this part requires a re-read as he goes into hypnosis in depth. Neuro-linguistic programming is talked about and is obviously very hard to explain. It has something to do with communication and personal change and claims vary from the simple to the ridiculous. This was a bit too heavy for me but would require me to go back over it a few time to try and understand it more. He gives advice on how to use it in your life also.

Part five is Unconscious Communication which deals with reading body language and how to spot if someone is lying. Part Six is called Anti Science, Pseudo Science and Bad Thinking and it deals with problems. A very relevant thinking problem could be compared to the Swine Flu. If we assume a disease affected one in ten thousand people and it is lethal and you take a test for it.
The test is 99 percent accurate. You get the result and it says you have the disease. You would be devastated. But Derren Brown shows us that you really should not be worried. It is a mind-boggling idea but he shows us that we all tend to think incorrectly about things. He goes into depth about psychics and he reveals them all to be fakes and charlatans. They are just cold-reading people and he shows that we dismiss what they guess wrong and only remember the correct things. This is why people believe in them. When they guess something wrong, they can get out of by saying that we will know what they meant in the future or that we are not getting their messages. They win by throwing the onus back onto the person listening to them.

Derren Brown ends the book with his final thoughts and some hilarious reprinted emails and letters from weird fans. I would thoroughly recommend this book as it is a very interesting ride and you do learn a lot about magic and why we think the way we do. He did lose me a bit in part 4 where he talks about Neuro-linguistic programming and it got a bit tedious trying to follow along.This is probably due to the fact that the subject is hard to explain and complex though.All in all Tricks of the mind by Derren Brown is not only funny but interesting and informative so go read this book now!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tricks of the mind - Derren Brown (8/10)

You can order this book here at

You can visit Derren Brown's website here.


Anonymous said...

Great review.Definitely need to read this!

Magician said...

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