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Don't Believe In Derren Brown

by Tom Law
2 November 2012 82 Comments

Derren Brown wants to be seen as our scientific saviour - his shows position himself as a remarkable self-help guru. Speak to anyone who's been on his show however, and you'll see he's nothing more than a good director of TV....

Derren Brown’s latest Channel 4 show, Apocalypse, appears to be the product of a magician who’s bored with what he does – at least on television. His increasingly formulaic shows now involve just one real ‘trick’ – that the person selected is acting under hypnosis and unaware of their role in a TV production. If you remove this conceit, you’re left with a dull and plodding ‘reality drama’.

There’s been speculation that Steve Brosnan, the person featured in Apocalypse, isn’t what he seems; that he’s really an actor. And as usual, Derren Brown has released a convincingly vehement denial. Because as he has drummed into our heads over the years – he’s ‘honest about his dishonesty’. And that’s the trick – he’s not.

Derren Brown’s a magician who achieves his effects by any means necessary. But that’s balanced against the need to keep the mundane reality of his methods away from prying eyes. He has no need to use actors – at least not actors in the conventional sense.

It’s the reason why it’s not really possible to debunk Derren Brown’s recent shows – because there’s nothing there to debunk

To get an idea of how his illusions are created, here’s an interview with somebody who featured in one of his earlier TV shows. They wanted to remain anonymous so anything referencing the specific show has been removed but it gives an insight into the way it works. Here’s what he said:

“I agreed to take part because I thought it would be a fun experience. I enjoyed Derren Brown’s shows and it was exciting to be a part of it. I approached it as a kind of acting role; like I was playing a version of myself – rather than it being me.

“And as a piece of entertainment I can appreciate the finished item; it worked well. But it was really strange to see people’s reaction after it was broadcast; how seriously some people took it. They don’t see it as entertainment, they genuinely believed Derren Brown was demonstrating some kind of special power.

“The reality is nothing like what you see on screen. With me, they made it look like I was being secretly filmed during my day-to-day life. It’s something they often do. But that was all planned and pre-arranged with the production team. They told me where to go and what to do. There was a man lugging a big camera around right in front of me – so it was hardly secret.

When it came to the filming he was directing me from off-camera – not much different to how a producer would direct an actor

“When it came to the final scene I was supposed to have been ‘programmed’ to act in a certain way by various subliminal messages and triggers, but that was just part of the misdirection for the benefit of the viewers. The way it actually worked was that Derren was off-camera and giving me directions, telling me what to do.

“Before the filming had started he’d been through a hypnosis routine with me; although this was never mentioned or shown in the finished item. I never felt hypnotised but I went along with it.

“And after a couple of minutes Derren seemed to drop the pretence and switched to more of a work mode. When it came to the filming he was directing me from off-camera – not much different to how a producer would direct an actor.

“It was all slightly disappointing. I’m not sure what I’d expected exactly but I just thought there would be more of a ‘trick’ involved. It blows away the mystique – but it’s the viewer the illusion is being created for.”

There’s no trick being played, other than a person going along with whatever situation Derren Brown plonks them into

So in this case, it’s a real person being used but Derren Brown’s insistence that he doesn’t use stooges appears a little wobbly. Technically, he may be right in that the person was playing along with a situation in which he’d been placed – with some prompting from Derren.

But it shows that, like with most magic, the truth behind an illusion is usually painfully mundane. Derren Brown doesn’t need hypnosis or subliminal messages or ‘anchoring’ to achieve his effects, he uses the same powers as any reality TV. It’s the reason why it’s not really possible to debunk Derren Brown’s recent shows – because there’s nothing there to debunk.

There’s no trick being played, other than a person going along with whatever situation Derren Brown plonks them into; the only contrivance is their willingness to respond in an appropriate manner. It’s the reason why he usually selects people from his pool of followers, people who feel privileged to be allowed into the world of their hero and who understands the role expected of them.

And what somebody like Steve Brosnan will have found is the pressure that any performer on reality TV feels – a pressure to perform appropriately. He finds himself the pivotal figure in a big budget production, there’s an innate pressure to provide what they’re looking for. Especially when it’s the reputation of somebody he admires at stake.

The thing that needs to be understood about Derren Brown is that he’s a mentalist – that’s not an Alan Partridge insult

Here’s how the participant in a previous Derren Brown illusion described it:

“Something which is hard to appreciate, unless you’ve experienced it for yourself, is the huge pressure you feel under when it comes to filming.

“Nothing was ever said to me, but it didn’t need to be. You just know how much time and effort has gone into setting up something like this. And you know that everything ultimately depends on you to make it work. So you’re trying to give them what they want.”

The thing that needs to be understood about Derren Brown is that he’s a mentalist – that’s not an Alan Partridge insult. It’s a brand of magic which sells the tricks and misdirection as demonstrations of a genuine power. And 20 years ago, another mentalist performer occupied Derren Brown’s position, an entertainer who also shocked and confounded with his mind control ability.

The power that Uri Geller claimed to use was ‘psychokinetic’, it gave him the ability to bend metal with the touch of his finger. The power Derren Brown purports to use comes from his innate knowledge of science and psychology, something which enables him to control humans like obedient puppies.

He’s built a large and passionate following of people inspired and energised by the powers he displays. They show the same kind of faith and belief in his science-based demonstrations as you might expect from the audience of a spiritualist

To succeed as a mentalist performer requires the person to throw themselves into the role 100 percent – they have to live and breathe it on and off the stage and screen. They have to convince not only their immediate audience that what they’re doing is plausible but the whole of society needs to buy into it. It’s something Uri Geller achieved with a handful of magic tricks and his natural gift as a showman.

It enabled Geller to convince scientists, academics, media organisations and a large slice of the public that he was accessing a genuine ‘PK’ power, or at least that he may have been. The aura he managed to create was a world away from the conventional magic of somebody like Paul Daniels – but behind the packaging, it was exactly the same.

The public gradually became weary of his wide-eyed spoon bending routine and his claims to have special powers were debunked. The more he raged and railed against those who dared claim he was a fake, the more desperate and pitiful he appeared. These days Geller makes occasional appearances on the TV shopping channels where he uses his special powers to flog jewellery.

And Derren Brown is leading a similarly precarious existence, caught in the same kind of trap as Geller found himself. He has created the illusion that it’s his knowledge of science and psychology which provides the core of what he does. He’s also been able to convince society that he’s not merely an illusionist – there’s more substance to him. He’s a man of science, reason and logic.

It’s helped him to attract high-profile support from the likes of Stephen Fry and Richard Dawkins. He’s built a large and passionate following of people inspired and energised by the powers he displays. They show the same kind of faith and belief in his science-based demonstrations as you might expect from the audience of a spiritualist.

So Derren Brown continues to furiously protect the persona he’s created; he has no real choice. He has to maintain the pretence, to keep churning out the TV specials, to clobber any accusations with legal threats

These aren’t merely tricks – there’s something we need to take notice of here. It’s what he’s been telling us for the past 10 years. His latest Channel 4 shows have dispensed with the usual disclaimer about the illusions featuring a mix of psychology, magic and showmanship. He said that last year’s, The Experiments, was an attempt to move away from his ‘magic’ background. It included interviews with academics, scientists and references to real-world case studies.

And Brown has started to position himself in the role of a kind of self-help guru. Somebody who takes hapless losers from their humdrum existence and converts them into winners with the inspirational wave of his mind control magic wand. There’s really very little difference between what he does and the psychics he has used his TV show to expose as frauds and charlatans.

One claims psychic power, the other claims psychological power. The people who believe it are similarly deluded.

So Derren Brown continues to furiously protect the persona he’s created; he has no real choice. He has to maintain the pretence, to keep churning out the TV specials, to clobber any accusations with legal threats. Because the alternative is to deal with the wrath and rejection of those who have believed in him. And to face up to the haunting prospect of a 2 am slot on a shopping channel.

Enjoy this? Have a read of this:

Derren Brown: Miracles For Sale

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Eoin 11:56 am, 2-Nov-2012 it's not magic. Magic doesn't actually exist. I'm pretty sure most people understand that. And I don't think Derren Brown has ever called himself a magician. That would be stupid. But his hypnotism and mentalist stuff is still great. Some of it might be a little stage-managed for tv, but is it really worth this 'expose'.

Matt 12:18 pm, 2-Nov-2012

Does anyone really care? It's good TV. Agreed - not worth this 'expose'.

Sgt Pilko 12:32 pm, 2-Nov-2012

An interesting article, but a little one-sided - considering that Derren Brown made of point of exposing and revealing the tricks used by psychics and mediums in one of his shows... that's not to say that he doesn't employ a whole raft of tricks himself. But ultimately his shows are only entertainment - and most people with half a brain aren't fooled into thinking he has any special powers... Personally i like the fact that he's put a bit more thought into the direction of his career than say David Blane and his endless snore inducing string of endurance tests... And having seen one of his live shows a few years ago - he's more than capable of inducing a head shaking WTF reaction without directing it from behind a camera...

Jimmy James Jameson 12:33 pm, 2-Nov-2012

He's a fucking tit. Cant believe people were ever taken in by him in the first place. He's quite obviously a blagging cunt. Just shows you how easy it is to hoodwink the masses though with ridiculous amounts of self confidence and a posh voice.

Tony 12:45 pm, 2-Nov-2012

If you have such evidence about Derren from this anonymous source then bring it out in the open and show this man for what he is instead of hiding behind "comments" that you can't substantiate. Makes you as bad as everyone you mention.

legolad 1:41 pm, 2-Nov-2012

that zombie thing was garbage turned it off after he had woke up in the hozzy it was like a badly acted zombie version of hollyoaks truely truely awful

Kane 1:50 pm, 2-Nov-2012

“I agreed to take part because I thought it would be a fun experience. Derren unzipped his trousers and told me I was an Arabian prince who needed to charm a snake... I got down on my knees and charmed away!" said the source... the unknown, unnamed, unreferenced source. The irony of exposing something as fake, by writing a fake article isn't lost on me. Proof up or jog on.

Nick 2:00 pm, 2-Nov-2012

Derren can only pull off his stunts by using gullible people. No wonder the informants wanted to be anonymous.

pshhhhh 2:31 pm, 2-Nov-2012

interesting article. I've seen Derren Brown on stage 3 times - first time blew me away in the sense that its all obviously an elaborate trick but quite how he pulled it off was what really deserved appreciation. Although i genuinely believed at this point there was some impressive psychological influencing etc at play from him. Second and third time of seeing him i grew a bit tired of essentially the same set up and structure to his stage shows. Ive always taken his TV specials with a pinch of salt however the "Heist" one really did impress and the almost had me convinced that he had actually convinced this person to carry out an armed robbery of their own "free will" ... dunno what my point is here ....I guess I used to think there was an element of real psychology to what he does (although never to the extent he claimed) ...but as time has passed by I have begun to think there isn't any psychology involved at all and its just a smokescreen he uses to lend his tricks validity. Considering the psychological influencing / cold reading slant was what gave him is appeal - there's really not much about the guy's TV stuff that impresses me anymore.

Tony 2:35 pm, 2-Nov-2012

Yeah proof up or jog Law because it just sounds as if you are trying to cash in on his fame for your own vehicle for career progression of one sided stories. So what's it going to be, Proof or Jog? Let me help you it has three letters and sounds like tog!

Chris 3:33 pm, 2-Nov-2012're telling me that Derren Brown is making TV shows in a format that is currently popular AND he doesn't give away all of his tricks on screen? MY MIND IS BLOWN. You'll be telling me they use special make up in monster movies next...

Tuff 7:45 pm, 2-Nov-2012

this is just piggybacking on derrens fame with a "citation"... dont waste my time!

Bryan Ferry 9:18 am, 3-Nov-2012

Derren Brown has never claimed to be a magician in every show he states that everything he does can be explained by science and psychology. Knowing how amazing and awe inspiring science really is I can believe that! The only fake here is you and your fake source!

Chris 7:32 pm, 3-Nov-2012

Two points: Firstly, to base an entire article around an anonymous source is stunningly cheap. The journalistic equivalent of what you're accusing him of. Secondly, and most importantly is this: 'He has to maintain the pretence, to keep churning out the TV specials, to clobber any accusations with legal threats.' That's a fairly dubious statement to make. You're calling the guy a phony, a fraud, that he is being deceptive in a way he claims he isn't, which is hugely damaging to his career, and you think a suit for defamation is unwarranted? Quite in fact, knowing that he has legally threatened his detractors, basically to prove what they're saying, gives me some confidence in his work.

Vizard 8:33 pm, 3-Nov-2012

Unemployed Actor or not, He agreed to be very deeply hypnotised, and was no doubt in an hypnogogic state throughout the whole of the filming, it was just a more ambitious version of the time when Brown hypnotised somebody to believe the Zombie computer game he was playing had become real. I lost interest in Derren Brown years ago, when I realized he used pre-hypnotised volunteers/stooges, who had been told to forget they had been hypnotised, so as they looked surprised, when he knew things about them. No Psychology, Body Language, Cold Reading or NLP. involved. He also obviously had a huge production team behind him. But what truly makes me seeth with rage, is the suggestion, (that even this writer has fallen for! ) that he has exposed the 'tricks' that Spiritualists use, I can assure you that what he does, is NOT the way genuine Spiritualists and Psychics work and it is very, VERY wrong of him to suggest otherwise.

Tom Law 1:13 pm, 4-Nov-2012

@Chris The person wished to remain anonymous for understandable reasons. It's a valid perspective and different to the one Derren Brown provides.

Tony 5:18 pm, 5-Nov-2012

@Tom I have a parrot with human hands for feet, no pictures though and I want to remain anonymous (you understand) feel free to write an article on that as well.

John 8:31 pm, 5-Nov-2012

An expose from unnamed person on an unnamed show says its all a trick. Colour me sceptical.Also google stamford prison experiment and behaviour psychology. Alternatively name the "contestant"!

John 8:33 pm, 5-Nov-2012

@Vizard show me a genuine psychic then we discuss how they work.

tony coffey 5:18 pm, 6-Nov-2012

Derren Brown isn't doing anything you've not seen a million times, basically his act is 'pick a card any card'. The twist comes in the various and often brilliant ways he goes around the houses to make you think you've been forced into picking that card. Yes very good but let's get to the nitty gritty here though. As an art form Hypnotism's right up there with ventriloquism and the people he (or ANY hypnotist) manages to get to rob a bank or pretend to be a chicken or eat an onion thinking it to be an apple aren't the brightest are they? Suggestible? Half of these bozos fall in to the 'Chicken Licken' category when it comes to their powers to analyse outside forces. But of course Derren's not all about the hynpotism is he? Let me take you back to a piece he had on one of his shows about a 'blind' man who could 'see' by clicking like a dolphin. Standing outside a building he sent a series of Batfink-esque clicks' across a busy road to a block of flats half a mile away and tell that someone had hung their washing out on the balcony 'pants, vest, Hello Kitty t-shirt and two odd socks'. Derren was impressed and so would I have been if I didn't know for a fact that that is a load of bollocks. For fucks sake I don't want to start ripping that bit to shreads but basically the guy's not a medical miricle, at best he's a blind bloke with an annoying habit at worst he's a charlatan. I'd love to know why Brown agreed to meet this loser as furthering the romantic myths that 'sometimes the blind can 'see' more than the sighted' or 'when you lose your sight your other senses 'compensate''. Does nobody any favours and is no better than the faith healers and bogus bastards that take money from the desperate to cure their ills. Back to Apocolypse, hours of boring, hocus-nocus that only suceeded in one thing. Making my hand subconciously move towards the remote and turn the telly off. Now when you try and stand up you will find yourself glued to your chair. And you'll fall in love with me. Send money.

Tamsie 3:24 pm, 7-Nov-2012

Can't comment on his TV shows as I've not really watched them but his stage shows are amazing. I saw his Svengali show recently and his "cold reading" skills are amazing. Everyone left that theatre think "how the hell did he do that?" which is worth my money everytime.

cubby777 2:43 pm, 9-Nov-2012

Of course Derren Brown is magic. In fact I bet he has something to do with this article,written to throw us off the scent,and so preventing us discovering the secrets of the evil black arts he practices.He reeks of satanism.

Vizard 1:00 am, 13-Nov-2012

@John. If you truly seek a genuine Psychic Medium. I suggest you visit your local Spiritualist Church. Do your own investigating, don't let people with their own agenda, do your thinking for you.

Vizard 2:45 am, 13-Nov-2012

@Tom Law, having read again your article, I feel I should point out the contradition in saying that Derren Brown does not have any special powers of cold-reading Psychology, etc (which I am in total agreement with) and then saying he has "exposed Spiritualist mediums as frauds" Brown says, he uses the same skills and tricks Spiritualists use, we both know he does NOT use these same 'skills', so, what is his agenda in claiming he is exposing Spiritualists ? You seem to be suggesting Brown does not have any special "psychological Powers" But, ALL Spiritualists do ?!! You can see how Brown is pretending to have these skills, but, still think ALL Mediums have them? I have studied all aspects of Spiritualism for 35 years, that's not how it works, neither do they use young, impressionable pre-hypnotised volunteers/stooges, as Brown does ! The average Spiritualist is a lot more mature and a damn sight less gullible than the average Derren brown fan!

dave 12:00 am, 14-Nov-2012

lol -"The average Spiritualist is a lot more mature and a damn sight less gullible than the average Derren brown fan!" not that much, most of your crap comes from the beatles, tim leary, alistair crowely lol! blavatski & the like with the new age blather >< "Brown's" "fans" mostly don't even listen to what he says in between tricks or bother to read the books =)

Vizard 3:13 am, 15-Nov-2012

@ Dave, lol- you obviously know nothing about Spiritualism, the Beatles and Tom Leary had no connection with it whatsoever, Blavatsky was a Theosophist and Crowley an Occultist magician, lol. Spiritualists get their information from the teachings of Andrew Jackson Davis, Allan Kardec, Stainton-Moses, Maurice Barbanell (Silver Birch) and Winifred Moyes (Zodiac) to name just a few of the best known.

Heather 11:16 pm, 5-Dec-2012

You keep comparing Derren to Uri Geller in your articles. There's a big difference between the two. Uri claimed he had magical powers and Derren is an illusionist/metalist/etc. Derren is an entertainer and Uri claimed he was the real deal.

Tom Law 1:24 am, 13-Dec-2012

@Heather. That's not true. The problem mentalists face is that for their act to work - a good number of people have to believe what they're doing is real. So Derren Brown has gone out of his way to present himself as legitimate man of science. He, and Channel 4, have said that a show such as The Assassin involved no trickery whatsoever and many people believe them.

Jessica 9:30 pm, 7-Jan-2013

I really not sure what this is all about. your artical reads like you think Derran Brown claims to be magical or controling people. you also seem to be claiming anyone who watches it beleives as such and i am not sure were this is coming from. I enjoy his show and as such pay attention to the multitude of comments about how this is not magic, or he is not psycic but how this is a TRICK!!! he uses micro expression psychology subliminal messaging perswasion (i know i cant spell before we get a comment on that) and slight of hand etc all of this can be done these are true possbil facts. Hypnosis is after all only you being open to sugestion and doin what you would anyway. He puts on a show that people enjoy using people who want to take part so your article is just silly really.

Sam 5:33 pm, 16-Jan-2013

You are very confused Tom and so is this article.

Caio 6:39 pm, 10-Feb-2013

Placebo effect is not true???? Wake up!

Legal Wrangle 1:30 pm, 1-Mar-2013

You can't 'remove this conceit', as you say, in his shows because they're what the show is about - someone doing something in a particular situation (e.g. crash-landing a plane, robbing a security guard). THAT is what the show is about, so yes, by removing any kind of thread or plot, then you would be left with something boring, but that is true of any TV show, even the news ('Good evening. And in today's news, something happened today. Goodnight.').

Pepe 11:22 pm, 26-Apr-2013

"They wanted to remain anonymous" Publish actual evidence or STFU.

Derren Brown 8:19 pm, 7-May-2013


Oggy 1:00 pm, 14-May-2013

Don't believe this article. Fake or actual interview of the guy ? Who will ever know ?

Julie 12:42 am, 18-May-2013

Well... I think that whatever negative criticism you do. You don't have a career like him or you wouldn't be bitching behind a computer :p But more seriously, I found that sometimes it's too much of a show but when you have a tv show you must adapt to television... I like what he does I think it's smart and much better than a lots of things on tv. It still for entertainment. I thinking that taking so much time to write a mean article about someone else all work and career is so useless and evil in is way. Much more hurtful than what derren brown does. I think that makes you the bad person.

Chris Aubeck 10:18 pm, 25-May-2013

It is very unusual these days for people to write using semi colons on the internet. The author of the article does, and curiously so does the anonymous source.

Robert Harding 9:26 am, 4-Jun-2013

This is prob derren browns article all set to mess with our minds!

BrandonD 11:41 pm, 9-Jun-2013

Great article, I completely agree.

Bev 3:16 am, 18-Jun-2013

Tom, it is clear you have no talent. You're obviously ignorant to Derren’s abilities and jealous of the fact that he is a master of his craft (something of which you would know nothing about). Where did you get your degree from? The back of a cereal box? What do you know about entertainment? I've been writing this comment for the last hour and a half because I keep nodding off during your incredibly boring article. We're all drowning in your sea of contradiction's Tom! Derren's shows entertain and bring joy and mystery to people all over the world. Your infantile attempt to sabotage that and him is pointless because nothing you say has any merit to people who are educated. You're just throwing your toys out of the pram like a little brat because you can't/could never comprehend the man's intelligence and charisma. As for the "Anonyms" (not so anonyms) sheep who openly admits (and I quote from your article) "I approached it as a kind of acting role"....What kind of a muppet just goes along with something that someone tells them to do? only a muppet who desperately wanted to be on television..!! Is that not what you're accusing Derren of doing you hypocrites? You have admitted to the world that you are incapable of original thought! I cringe at the thought of you standing there in front of the cameras, lying to the nation because you were so desperate to get on TV that you deceived Derren by not admitting from the start that it wasn't working for you. You've made a public idiot of yourself by doing that. YOU chose to deceive Derren, to waste his time and to lie to the nation so take ownership of that fact and stop blaming him for you not having a backbone. As for your toilet paper for an article Tom I’d like to challenge you on one of your many clumsy statements "Derren Brown wants to be seen as our scientific saviour”. Is that a fact Tom...? Then provide the evidence that Derren Brown himself actually said that. Sounds like Derren has good grounds to sue you for slander and I hope he does! Time to give up this charade of being a writer Tom and answer your true calling…. the universe has many a toilet that needs cleaning!

Marcus 9:23 pm, 3-Jul-2013

It's entertainment. Derren has always said just this. Don't take it seriously.

ThinkReal 5:37 am, 12-Aug-2013

Hmm regaurdless of what you believe about derren brown you cant say he doesnt debunk spiritualists like a boss. deluded religious folk will sit here all day denying it. If spiritualist could cure aids we would employ them at hospitals.

T.o 11:51 pm, 14-Aug-2013

He's a good skeptic and a showman. Stupid article. Tom, no matter what you tried to achieve with this article, you failed, except....if you tried to help Derren get more publicity, you at least helped him a tiny tiny bit. In that case I would salute you as a cunning person. I fear you're not though...

Thor 1:41 pm, 17-Aug-2013

Doesn't the audience always feel cheated and the tricks simple when explained to them?

Thor 9:53 pm, 17-Aug-2013 So one trick he uses is to find easily hypnotized volunteers, suggest to them (off camera it seems) the outcome before or after he hypnotizes them, let them act out his suggestions try it on many, edit out all but what is success and voila, he tricks you (or not) into believing he has done something stupifyingly amazing by using suggestable people under hypnosis but not actors or stooges (free dictionary says to stooge is to So one trick he uses is to find easily hypnotized volunteers, suggest to them (off camera it seems) the outcome before or after he hypnotizes them, let them act out his suggestions try it on many, edit out all but what is success and voila, he tricks you (or not) into believing he has done something stupifyingly amazing, by using suggestable people under hypnosis but not actors or stooges, literally; to stooge means to fly or flap around restlessly according to online dictionary google was kind enought to point me towards, he never says who is being misled, the volunter or the viewer. Maybe he uses the assistance of pickpockets when guessing contents of wallets but when I saw it my thought was that this was or bordered on the paranormal and it was very entertaining. Then I started searching for explanations for how this stage hypnotists/magician does it and may have kind of ruined for myself. Still, he might still outdo his former performance.

Thor 9:55 pm, 17-Aug-2013

Sorry about last botched comment, I was editing it in a text editor but apparently did something very wrong.

Czech David 11:51 pm, 23-Aug-2013

The author of the article presumably haven't seen any other show apart from that one (Apocalypse). But remember, Apocalypse was just a show, more like a movie, Derren wasn't really involved in it. If you check all of his live shows and, more specifically, him being guest of some TV programme, you can see real Derren Brown. He is pulling off great "tricks" which, in core, is just very (VERY) masterfully executed and applied knowledge of human mind put in place. It's the same like if you didn't believe a piano virtuoso he can play Rimsky-Korsakov's Flight Of The Bumblebee. Even if you could hear or see playing. "It must have been some swindle! Sound engineers are somehow involved!" So the question arises: Either Derren Brown is a cheater or the hundreds and thousands of people who closely witnessed his skills are all dumb idiots or liars. Which means the author is very bold (euphemism used here) to speak his mind like this or unbelievably bright-brained... Well, think what you think, it's your opinion after all. Howgh

Roman 5:53 am, 2-Sep-2013

After watching tons of derran brown videos online, Ive come to the conclusion that some of his tv shows could be plausible, and if played in reallife could work but perhaps on saving on time and money uses TV magic to get the same effects of doing it the real way.

VivLee 1:46 pm, 5-Sep-2013

I don't know what this article is complaining about. I really don't see how he's deceiving anyone. If every magician was honest and told people how they did their tricks, there'd be no magicians. He does have some very cool "powers", like an excellent memory and an ability to read body language well. And cold reading is an actual thing that people actually do. Add to that that he brings important psychological experiments to a usually unwitting public, and he debunks ridiculous psychic and spiritualist claims, and I find it very hard to see how he's hurting anyone. Like everyone else on here, I think if you're going to base an entire article on a source, you should probably not have it be anonymous. It reminds me of when the tabloids say "a source close to the celebrity said...". Absolute rubbish.

James 3:21 pm, 9-Sep-2013

One person reporting a different set of events than stated by another person is considered hearsay in courts and not admissible as evidence. One man stating it as fraud does not make it so just because you believe his story is true. I'm not saying I believe either story, just that more evidence is required. My research of scientific papers on hypnosis show the viability of what Derren does; however.

gus 5:42 pm, 12-Sep-2013

shit article. theres nothing to debunk about derren brown you said so yourself. so...when he does tv shows, he's hands on in directing the behaviour of people involved...and the reality of the situation isnt quite as it seems in the final edit. thats your article? big fucking whoop, does anyone really think otherwise? honestly? does anyone really give a f***? his live shows are undeniable and his tv shows are light entertainment. and theres nothing to debunk. so do us all a favour and find something interesting and insightful to write about instead of whining about how david bowie's shit and derren browns not magic. jesus titty fucking christ.

Jonathan 6:27 pm, 18-Sep-2013

So you have one anonymous source claiming that Brown is a hoax, and this person doesn't even give you any specific details. Then you follow this with a bunch of conjecture, and call it a story? I've seen better reporting on Fox news. No wonder I've never heard of this website before.

Danish guy 12:36 pm, 6-Oct-2013

Good article, another fun thing i have observed as a mentalist myself is how easy it is to trick skeptics. You actually trick them the same way spiritist tricks 'faitful' people but you change the terminology. Instead of calling it 'psychic power' you call it 'psychology', but in the end you use the same methods. I love how he pretends to be able to read peoples body-language when in reality he only uses Cold Reading hahahaha Derren Brown is 100% mentalist, he pretends to be good at certain things vy claming to do them in a certain way - which always is false.

banana man 6:59 pm, 27-Dec-2013

This doesn't even address his live stage shows. If he's such a phony, how do you explain that? Are people just going along with it for the cameras? Clearly not, because then only one of the shows on the tour would be enjoyable at all, and they wouldn't be winning as many awards as he has for them.

AlwaysWright 6:40 pm, 8-Jan-2014

What does it even mean to "believe in Derren Brown"? Everything on TV is fake. Derren explains he's faking. There are videos where he shows how some of his explanations are fake. Some of his tricks are simple stage magic. Some are video-editing. All this makes for a great show.

Look into my eyes 8:18 pm, 20-Jan-2014

Those who can, DO! Those who can't, critique! How sad are you to make your living from trying to undermine an entertainer, who by his own admission, admits to using misdirection etc. Well woopdy do, you wasted 20 minutes on your typewriter. Get a proper job, hack!

Anon 2:11 pm, 25-Jan-2014

He debunks nonsense.. with other nonsense. And that he makes people believe he's anywhere near being a sceptic or scientific, that's what pisses me off. @LookIntoMyEyes: being a con-man doesn't qualify as someone who "can". I think it's OK to critique con-artists and assholes, even if they have the "talent" to get rich off of it.

fair's fair 11:29 am, 10-Feb-2014

Lets keep this in proportion. All stage magic is fake. It becomes fraud when the perpetrator tries to mis-use its effects upon the gullible. Unless you are a half-wit, you should be able to view, even participate in it without getting sucked in to some scam and enjoy it for what it is - simple entertainment. At least his tricks are considerably more spectacular and entertaining than card tricks! Yes, DB does talk at length about psychology and such but consider - no magician/mentalist wants to reveal how his tricks are done, particularly the bigger spectacular ones, so he dresses it up in gobble-de-gook. I will say that whilst he stays clear of the reality/hypnosis style, I do enjoy his presentations. At least he treats his volunteers with civility and respect which is more than can be said for many magicians/hypnotists/mentalists who treat them (and refer to them) as victims.

Godbluff 5:43 pm, 10-Feb-2014

What a piece of character-asassination garbage this is. The guy is a thought-provoking entertainer who never claims to have any powers whatsoever. So the first assumption here is ridiculous. The main 'evidence' here - that of two anonymous people taking part, could just as easily been invented to fit the biased requirements of this written piece. Try balancing this with the testimonies of people who go to his shows and are genuinely amazed. In fact, include some of the DB skeptics who go along and are still amazed. You will find plenty of them commenting online. This is just an attack an nothing more. And to compare him with the rentlessly unimpressive Uri geller is idiotic.

Helllllen 11:32 am, 7-Mar-2014

I don't think you can believe anything you see on TV really, even the news can be a bit 'woolly'. I think you have to take everything on TV with a pinch of salt. I do find it interesting how he manipulates the entire UK and yes he's skilled in that sense, but why are people sticking up for him so much on here? He doesn't care about you, he cares about his money and remaining at the top. He's not some bloody messiah, he's not got magical powers, he is simply TV entertainment... calm down!

Brendan Moore 10:42 pm, 20-Mar-2014

Derren Rocks.....your lame

A psychic debunker 7:58 pm, 7-Apr-2014

@Helllllen, that is why he's been successful at fooling fu**cking UK people.

Hannah 3:51 am, 6-May-2014

I like how he says, "I never felt hypnotized but I went along with it." Obviously, he's never been hypnotized before. It just means you're more suggestible because Derren's giving you permission to act a certain way. Actors often go into hypnotic states because the setting they're in tells them it's okay to act a certain way. The pressure of being on camera only adds to it. How many people do you think say, "No. I'm not going to do that." to Derren when he tells them to act a certain way? Unfortunately, on television, it can be hard to tell when Derren is cheating. For example, the voodoo doll video where he wraps a woman's legs. He may have told her to do that off camera, he may not have. It's impossible to tell.

I'M REALLY ANNOYED RIGHT NOW! 6:09 pm, 4-Jun-2014

@Helllllen @a psychic debunker I cannot believe how ignorant people can be. Firstly how many times do we have to say it, NOBODY BELIEVES THAT DERREN IS MEAGIC! Secondly you both need to grow up. Nothing on TV is the 100% truth and that includes DB's shows. The fact that you two assume that people who enjoy Derren's shows do not understand that is absolutely outrageous. @helllllen when have you ever met Derren Brown? Who are you to say he is soley focused on money? Your argument is offensive and crude. You say it yourself he is only an entertainer so why are cruel enough to comment on a work that you do not enjoy? @a psychic debunker say what you will about Derren but the fact that you chose to insult an entire nation says enough about your persinality. I have seen Derren live and it is clear to me that while he can't perhaps do all that is estimated of him he is a more than capable hypnotist.In all fame comes different opinouns and i respect that, but at least have the decency to be polite.

Bob 10:20 am, 18-Aug-2014

He has no special powers. Obviously his tricks are just that. He his highly skilled with powers of suggestion and showmanship. I feel as though he's always been quite open about these things. It seems to me that the misinterpretation comes from some the article itself and some of the dim-whitted comments on here - @Jimmy James Jameson - truly pathetic!

Dave 7:24 am, 15-Sep-2014

Amazingly, you people all don't get it. It's not that we ever thought Derren had real magic or powers. It's that he uses the equivalent of paid actors who simply say and do whatever he wants to give the illusion that he is some incredible hypnotist. He is a sham. If I tell you "pick a card any card" and you are working for me, and it's already planned that you are going to pick the three of diamonds.. then there is no trick, just a lie. That's not even magic, it's petty con man stuff.

Michael 8:29 am, 16-Sep-2014

I completely agreed with the article and believed every word of it Tom! ...Unfortunately an angel who didn't want to verify himself (for obvious reasons) let me know that Derren Brown has been given magical powers by God all-mighty. Apparently Derren Brown actually has the power to destroy all life on Earth unless he develops a large enough cult. If you consider the amount of years that Derren has been working and the number of high-profile celebrities he has used then I think I would like to find out that he has been using stooges this whole time (Which he probably does but may not.) Because if he can maintain his reputation for this long while using those cheap tricks without having someone speak out he is a better con-man than his stage persona could ever be.

Nicki 5:13 pm, 22-Sep-2014

Another James Randi,no more nor less ...

fizvizard 6:25 pm, 25-Sep-2014

I agree wholeheartedly with most of this article, I used to admire Derren when he first appeared on our screens, but, it soon became obvious that his claim to use NLP, Psychology and cold reading were part of the misdirection. BUT, the problem with saying he has used these pretend talents to expose Psychics and Spiritualists, is that he is saying that all Psychics and Spiritualist mediums use the same 'talents' he uses, and we know, and he knows, he does NOT use these 'talents', so, how can he expose Spiritualists as using Cold Reading, Psychology, body language etc, when he does not really use them himself ? No doubt some Psychic frauds do use these tricks to fool people, but, they are never as accurate as Brown always is, and you won't find them anywhere near a Spiritualist Church. He is lying in order to convince people he is using logic and science to debunk Spiritualism, that is immoral, people should research the Scientific evidence for the afterlife and the history of Spiritualism for themselves, and not get their opinions from self-promoting tricksters like Derren Brown, or Randi for that matter.

Johne235 3:30 am, 28-Sep-2014

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Anthony Smith 1:37 pm, 29-Sep-2014

Illusionist, best describes Derren Brown. I have seen his show live and it was better than I expected. I am a long time fan and know how he prformed one of his illusions. Manely the one with the vinegar bottle! Go see him live and sit back and enjoy

Emma 2:18 pm, 8-Oct-2014

There is nothing in this article that proves anything, these anonymous comments could just be made up, no one should take anything written in this article as fact

lakawak 9:50 am, 20-Oct-2014

Matt...that is the ISN'T good TV. If it was good TV, it would stand on its own, even with the viewers being told they were playing along. The fact that he has to trick gullible people like you into thinking it is real and that he has real TV to make it interesting shows that it is bad TV. Your entertainment is coming from the fact that you are stupid and gullible. Not from the quality of the writing, or production. Emma..the burden of proof is on the people who claim that bulls*** is real. IT doesn't matter that you choose to go through life as an idiot. I understand that may make your life easier, so you don't want to break your delusion. But those of us who matter to society feel differently.

Ed 2:04 pm, 20-Oct-2014

I have studied Derrens work for a long time, read pretty much all of his written work, (His early books such as pure effect are far better for understanding his 'tricks' than his later books). Derren's greatest trick of all is creating this type of debate. Derren is probably the most versatile magician working today. He uses simple slight of hand, stage magic, many many mentalism gimmicks as well as aspects of Hypnotism, suggestion and NLP. I'd put it at 60% traditional magic, 30% Hypnotism AND 10% NLP, suggestion and all the other techniques he admits to. Its a clever technique for him to give away 10% of his genuine technique if it draws his viewers away from the other 90%! In that sense he really does use misdirection. Having said that I will finish by giving an anecdote about when I went to his something wicked this way comes show. He actually selected my dad for a mentalism trick of his. He put my dad 'under'and correctly predicted the name of my dad's first crush as a child. When my dad was 'under' he described a similar feeling to what was being described in the article. That he could do what he wanted and snap out of it but should probably 'play along' for the show. As for the correct preicition I believe it was a simple impression pad trick. (Yes a simple magic trick) but 99% of the audience went away thinking they'd seen something beyond comprehension and THAT is something that Derren should be congratulated on not demonized for.

Soupastar 12:45 pm, 24-Nov-2014

I've got a suspicion that Derren *may* have used a stooge at his 'Svengali' live shows in 2012: At one point in the show, Derren deduced the writer of a note written by an audience member by asking a number of questions in relation to what Derren thought would be the profile of the note writer. Audience members had to sit down if the profile point raised by Derren did not apply to them. Towards the end Derren correctly targeted a man in a white, short-sleeved white shirt from the centre of the back of the stalls as the note writer. All very impressive. Until, that is, I watched a TV-recording of the show made on another night of the tour at another location: The correctly targeted note-writer on that night also happened to be a man wearing a white, short sleeved shirt located at the back of the stalls in the centre of the row. I began thinking that this was too much of a coincidence. Isn't it handy that white shirts at the back of the stalls can easily be identified from the stage? And how many people actually wear plain white, short-sleeved shirts? And it got me thinking that the deduction process - during both shows - had been remarkably fast. Now, I'm not saying Derren uses stooges. I know he claims that he doesn't use stooges. But, it got me thinking that coincidences in Derren's shows may not be coincidences.

Clockwork 3:09 pm, 9-Jan-2015

The early comments really hit the nail on the head: the accusation that Brown hires paid stooges is the most inflammatory part of this poorly considered article. He has denied it often and vigorously, his live shows use clever randomisation techniques of participant involvement, and most importantly, no-one has ever publicly come forward to admit their paid involvement (which would surely secure large sums of money for exclusive reporting rights). Making this accusation is libel, and needs much stronger evidence than a single anonymous and absent "witness". The rest of the article seems to be redundant; anyone who has seen enough of his work will know that it is blatantly showmanship, and he often literally explains it as such. It is designed to entertain and illicit wonder at the workings of the mind, while simultaneously debunking the tactics of real charlatans like psychics and spiritualists. You are - of course - free to not like his work, but without evidence of your libellous claims this article reads as both childish and (that most cliched aspect of today's desperately ironic online hack) contrarian. Good day sir.

Nick T Webber 6:23 am, 13-Jan-2015

Obviously Derren Brown is a fake however its always the ability to sell oneself and DB sure knows how to bullshit a gullible audience. I also note he regularly singles out young males possibly for gay sex after the staged sham is over that's possibly where the real "magic" happens hey presto poof.

Nick T Webber 4:53 pm, 13-Jan-2015

Anyone who thinks illusionists or what the fu*k they prefer to be know as are "real" deserve to be duped. Derren Brown is just another in a long line of iffy ones that becomes quite boring & predictable after a short while. Here's one stunt he can never preform before a live audience. Suck off a real horny ghosts big hard throbbing cock and have spoof magically appear spraying Derren on his stupid gay fraudulent face. Although with Derren I'd bet he'd love for it to be possible. Now that'd be real magic man & honestly who wouldn't pay to see it.

Nick T Webber 5:19 pm, 13-Jan-2015

I note some of the posts here strongly in support of Derren Brown have a pomposity that could only come from latent homosexual privileged private school boys that hide a secret desire to have that "special moment" with DB. Hey don't you fret young man your gay day will arrive & you to can experience the complete "magical works" that's is Derren Brown especially the one where he makes you feel all warm inside although this "act" will be a private one on one with DB as Derren always does his best work in secret away from the cameras.

Ed 12:12 pm, 19-Jan-2015

Wow Nick Webster just wow... I don't know where you're aparrent infatuation with gay bashing comes from (perhaps your laughable and non existent religion?) But its clear you have some serious deep seated issues.

shoreditchmods 7:40 am, 11-Feb-2015

So you're accusing Mr Brown of being blatantly deceitful and dishonest, yet the apparently damning evidence you have against him is conveniently an unreferenced quote from an anonymous person who we are just expected to believe has been on one of his shows.

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