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Old 26th February 2013, 07:17 AM   #1
EKUMA1981
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Interesting hypnosis anecdote

Here is an excerpt from the book, The Holographic Universe (I read it over the festive period): a very intriguing anecdote told by the late Michael Talbot...

"I would like to relate an occurrence I witnessed in the middle 1970s. My father had hired a professional hypnotist to entertain a group of friends at his house and had invited me to attend the event. After quickly determining the hypnotic susceptibility of the various individuals present, the hypnotist chose a friend of my father's named Tom as his subject. This was the first time Tom had ever met the hypnotist.

Tom proved to be a very good subject, and within seconds the hypnotist had him in a deep trance. He then proceeded with the usual tricks performed by stage hypnotists. He convinced Tom there was a giraffe in the room and had Tom gaping in wonder. He told Tom that a potato was really an apple and had Tom eat it with gusto. But the highlight of the evening was when he told Tom that when he came out of trance, his teenage daughter, Laura, would be completely invisible to him. Then, after having Laura stand directly in front of the chair in which Tom was sitting, the hypnotist awakened him and asked him if he could see her.

Tom looked around the room and his gaze appeared to pass right through his giggling daughter. "No", he replied. The hypnotist asked Tom if he was certain, and again, despite Laura's rising giggles, he answered no. Then the hypnotist went behind Laura so he was hidden from Tom's view and pulled an object out of his pocket. He kept the object carefully concealed so that no one in the room could see it, and pressed it against the small of Laura's back. He asked Tom to identify the object. Tom leaned forward as if staring directly through Laura's stomach and said that it was a watch. The hypnotist nodded and asked if Tom could read the watch's inscription. Tom squinted as if struggling to make out the writing and recited both the name of the watch's owner (which happened to be a person unknown to any of us in the room) and the message. The hypnotist then revealed that the object was indeed a watch and passed it around the room so that everyone could see that Tom had read its inscription correctly.

When I talked to Tom afterward, he said that his daughter had been absolutely invisible to him. All he had seen was the hypnotist standing and holding a watch cupped in the palm of his hand. Had the hypnotist let him leave without telling him what was going on, he never would have known he wasn't perceiving normal consensus reality.

Obviously Tom's perception of the watch was not based on information he was receiving through his five senses. Where was he getting the information from? One explanation is that he was obtaining it telepathically from someone else's mind, in this case, the hypnotist's."

Wow, what a great story, recounted exquisitely by Michael. So what was really going on? And has this ever been replicated by an experimenter and hypnotist? Hypnosis appears to be able to induce 'psychic powers' in people; in this case, X-RAY VISION!

What else can hypnosis do?! Would James Randi or others like to attempt to reproduce this? And if successful, would it qualify for the prize? Hmm...
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Old 26th February 2013, 08:04 AM   #2
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I'm sure James Randi COULD replicate the *trick* because that is obviously what it was. The prize doesn't quite work that way though. If James Randi can reproduce this then it would not qualify because he's not supernatural, he's just exceptionally keen.

I don't think you understand how the million dollar challenge works.
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Old 27th February 2013, 03:33 AM   #3
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Well, if the author's the guy I remember, he could make the million for replicating his FSM mugging... probably make the million twice! (Because he died a while ago.)

But I do believe in that very book he tells, with a totally straight face (figuratively and litera-turely) that one day while lying in his dorm bed in college, a mass of spaghetti appeared on his chest. Being a skeptic (of course, of course), he immediately looked for open windows, spaghetti flingers running away across the quad, even looked for a pot of boiling water (I guess the spaghetti might have leaped out onto his chest).

Number of witnesses: 0
Number of photos: 0
Number of similar incidents in his school: 0

Conclusion: Well, naturally enough,.... It was a manifestation of spaghetti that was due to the true nature of the universe actually being that of a hologram. Meh? I go for the Flying Spaghetti Monster. There's as much proof!

Oh, and he uses "quantum".... a lot.
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Old 27th February 2013, 07:31 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
So what was really going on?
He's either mistaken or lying.
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Old 27th February 2013, 08:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
He's either mistaken or lying.
Or a combination of the two, like most true believers. He cites a massive amount of woo in that book and accepts it just on the accounts of the people relating the anecdote. I think he has one about a saint who in your dying years told everyone that she could feel the Holy Ghost etching various stations of the cross (or some kind of symbols) on her heart. No, not figuratively speaking. Teh Spirit was carving images onto her heart! And..? I know... you're all on tenterhooks, right? Well, by golly, two doctors who, er just happened to be members of the RC clergy, performed an autopsy on her and have signed affidavits to the effect that THOSE HOLY IMAGES ARE ON HER HEART! And then they cremated the body, because that's what you do with proof of the holy presence, I guess... burn the evidence.
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Old 27th February 2013, 09:03 AM   #6
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A lot of skepticism from you guys. I thought you might be more open-minded to the possibility that something profound was going on. Hypnosis can affect a person's perception of the world. Isn't it remotely possible that Tom actually DID see right through his daughter? You should not rule out every explanation just because it sounds too far-fetched. Surely that is bad science.
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Old 27th February 2013, 09:13 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
A lot of skepticism from you guys. I thought you might be more open-minded to the possibility that something profound was going on. Hypnosis can affect a person's perception of the world. Isn't it remotely possible that Tom actually DID see right through his daughter? You should not rule out every explanation just because it sounds too far-fetched. Surely that is bad science.
Hypnosis is bunk. It's remotely possible that Tom BELIEVED he saw right through his daughter if Tom was one of those rare/ideal hypnosis candidates who are incredibly suggestible. Hypnosis wasn't called such in the early days of the hucksters who sold it to the public. They sold it as mind control or my favorite, "animal magnetism".

There have been too many practitioners who've turned and given away the secrets of the performing hypnotists for anyone to really take it seriously any longer. They use a combination of the power of suggestion, optimally suggestible individuals culled from the audience by pre-questioning/demonstration, and even planted subjects in the audience.

Anyone who believes such an account and puts it in a book as a charming example of things we don't understand is just plain not trying to understand. Michael Whatisface was an incredibly gullible person from the accounts in that book.

You do realize, by the way, that this is a board full of skeptics? Doubting Thomases, if you prefer. We're not going to line up to applaud complete bovine excrement.
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Old 27th February 2013, 10:43 AM   #8
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I've seen this done with what is called "dual reality" a completely mundane principle in conjuring and in mentalism. We aren't allowed to expose methods, and there would have to be something missing in the description, but the rule is that someone recounting a performance sees it with "uneducated eyes" and misses significant things they don't know are important when relaying how the performance appeared.

Searching: dual reality magic on Google should explain things better than I am allowed to do here.

All I am claiming is that the effect is possible, not that it was actually done this way -- there's no way to tell now with only the description to go by.

ETA: Turns out there's already a mention on the forum of the principle: http://www.internationalskeptics.com...ad.php?t=59206

Last edited by marplots; 27th February 2013 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 27th February 2013, 10:43 AM   #9
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I've worked as an amateur magician. I've studied a lot of stage hypnosis and some 'clinical' hypnosis. I've never heard of the effect described in the OP. Not the invisible part, which I have heard of and seen performed (Derren Brown even did it one of his tv specials, though people debate whether it was accomplished by hypnosis or not), but the part of the spectator being able to see something that should be impossible to see.

There are many, many, many folks doing hypnosis. If one of them could do this effect under test conditions they could not only win the million dollar challenge but turn everything we know about human perception on its head. The fact that no one has done this makes me feel this account was made up, mis-remembered or mis-reported.

If there was a Tom the hypnotist who could do this effect, I would think he would be very famous among hypnotists and magicians. Does anyone know Tom's last name or other names he performed under?
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Old 27th February 2013, 10:58 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
A lot of skepticism from you guys.
In "a place to discuss skepticism"? Who'd a thunk that?

Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
I thought you might be more open-minded to the possibility that something profound was going on. Hypnosis can affect a person's perception of the world. Isn't it remotely possible that Tom actually DID see right through his daughter? You should not rule out every explanation just because it sounds too far-fetched. Surely that is bad science.
Explanations aren't ruled out because they are too far-fetched, they are ruled out when they violate the laws of physics. That's good science.
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Old 27th February 2013, 11:02 AM   #11
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I readily admit to being biased toward explanations that I already have in my explanation bag over more entertaining flights of fancy. The trick is having confidence in what you put in the bag and actively trying to find more things to fit in there.
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Old 27th February 2013, 11:43 AM   #12
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I misread the OP, Tom was the subject, not the hypnotist. The fact that the author did not give the hypnotists name at all makes the whole story seem much less valid.
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Old 27th February 2013, 12:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
This was the first time Tom had ever met the hypnotist.
That would be where I'd start...
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Old 27th February 2013, 01:22 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
A lot of skepticism from you guys. I thought you might be more open-minded to the possibility that something profound was going on. Hypnosis can affect a person's perception of the world. Isn't it remotely possible that Tom actually DID see right through his daughter? You should not rule out every explanation just because it sounds too far-fetched. Surely that is bad science.
I can think of a number of simpler explanations that don't require extraordinary phenomena.

(1) As others have mentioned, his description of what occurred might not be correct. For instance, was he really holding the watch against the girls back? Was he absolutely sure Tom (the subject) couldn't see it?

(2) Is it possible the hypnotist showed Tom the watch at an earlier time?

(3) Is it possible the hypnotist was surreptitiously showing Tom a second watch with his other hand, while everyone THOUGHT he was looking at the first watch?

(4) Is it possible the hypnotist fed Tom the inscription at an earlier time? (Clearly he was talking to Tom, did he ever say anything to Tom that was not audible to others in the room?)

When an account like this might involve trickery, the tiniest little omitted detail can mean EVERYTHING. The whole reason misdirection works in magic is it doesn't seem like misdirection.
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Old 27th February 2013, 02:00 PM   #15
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Thank you to everybody who responded to my post. It's only my second one and am happy it's got you all talking. I really like this forum!

Quote:
I've worked as an amateur magician. I've studied a lot of stage hypnosis and some 'clinical' hypnosis. I've never heard of the effect described in the OP. Not the invisible part, which I have heard of and seen performed (Derren Brown even did it one of his tv specials, though people debate whether it was accomplished by hypnosis or not), but the part of the spectator being able to see something that should be impossible to see.
Max_mang: Is this something you would be interested in testing? You say you studied stage hypnosis. Have you tried putting somebody in a trance before?
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Old 27th February 2013, 02:32 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
Thank you to everybody who responded to my post. It's only my second one and am happy it's got you all talking. I really like this forum!



Max_mang: Is this something you would be interested in testing? You say you studied stage hypnosis. Have you tried putting somebody in a trance before?
I've worked as a magician and have studied stage hypnosis, but I've never worked as a hypnotist of any sort. I have toyed around with some of the basics (sticking hands to tables, etc) but nothing more than that. I'm no expert, but there seems to be 3 types of people: A very small amount of the population that can be hypnotized into a trance very easily; a much larger amount that will play along and pretend; and the rest who cannot/will not be hypnotized at all. Can anyone in the first two groups have extra perceptions not available to them un-hypnotized while hypnotized? Not that I've seen or ever heard of (except in rare, completely unverifiable reports such as the book mentioned in the OP).

I would not be the proper person to test this. I would suggest contacting some professional stage hypnotists to see what they think. Anthony Joaquin is the first that comes to my mind.

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Old 27th February 2013, 05:08 PM   #17
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Of course, it's not physically possible to literally see through someone due to their opacity to visible light, so however the effect was achieved, somebody claimed or believed that something happened that didn't actually happen...
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Old 28th February 2013, 01:48 AM   #18
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My odd story about hypnosis is...
I am a very skeptical, cynical person. Having been raised as a JW,(in my opinion one of the most controlling, dangerous cults around, I am VERY aware of being controlled, and don't take too well to it.)
However, some years ago, at a social club with a (probably second rate) hypnotist attempting to get suckers to perform-needless to say, he had no success. He made a token effort to get people to sit, and do the standard deep breathing exercise as a prelude to hypnosis.
I cant say that I was particularly aware of focusing overly much on what he was doing. However, some time later (after he had eaten a meal, and apparently given up on what he was doing), he singled me out and said, "If you ever want to do hypnosis for any therapetic reason, just do it. You would be very well at it." This was totally unsolicitated.

I had the opportunity to see a highly qualified (??) hypnotist last year, for managing my teeth grinding at night, classic stress, I know
She also commented on my 'highly' hypnotizable (sp??) nature.
I can see, that even if hypnosis is 'woo', it was something that I am doing subconsiously as a result of pressures that I can't control, and that I knew I wanted to find a solution internally to cope better.
I accept that the first guy prepared me to accept it, and to expect it to suit me, so in a lot of it was my own expectations... but I'm assuming there is sch a thing, and is so I'm somewhat surprised, that such a cynical, skeptical Type A person as myself would be it.
For what it's worth, while I still DO grind my teeth, I do it a lot lot less.
It FEELS like a success to me.
Opinions, and criticisms, anyone?
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Old 28th February 2013, 02:31 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by krelnik View Post
I can think of a number of simpler explanations that don't require extraordinary phenomena.

(1) As others have mentioned, his description of what occurred might not be correct. For instance, was he really holding the watch against the girls back? Was he absolutely sure Tom (the subject) couldn't see it?

(2) Is it possible the hypnotist showed Tom the watch at an earlier time?

(3) Is it possible the hypnotist was surreptitiously showing Tom a second watch with his other hand, while everyone THOUGHT he was looking at the first watch?

(4) Is it possible the hypnotist fed Tom the inscription at an earlier time? (Clearly he was talking to Tom, did he ever say anything to Tom that was not audible to others in the room?)

When an account like this might involve trickery, the tiniest little omitted detail can mean EVERYTHING. The whole reason misdirection works in magic is it doesn't seem like misdirection.
Number 3 is a great explanation and works as a dual reality for both the audience and the subject. It's also a really simple effect and most tricks turn out to be really simple. So, two identical watches, one held behind the daughter that the audience sees but the subject can't (and, depending on patter, doesn't even realise is supposed to be there) and one held in front of the daughter in easy sight of the subject but hidden from the audience. 'Can you see the watch in my hand' then 'Please read the inscription'. Easy for the subject, gasps from the audience.

Nice elegant trick actually.
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Old 28th February 2013, 03:20 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
A lot of skepticism from you guys.
This is a forum dedicated to scepticism.

Quote:
I thought you might be more open-minded to the possibility that something profound was going on.
I'm perfectly open-minded. Let's see this ability demonstrated under controlled conditions which eliminate the possibility of fraud, bias, or self-delusion, and I'll happily accept it.

Quote:
Hypnosis can affect a person's perception of the world. Isn't it remotely possible that Tom actually DID see right through his daughter?
Not given our current understanding of physics, no. Again, if some empirical evidence that this is possible were to emerge then I would revise my opinion. But "some bloke in some book told this story" is a long way from empirical evidence.

Quote:
You should not rule out every explanation just because it sounds too far-fetched. Surely that is bad science.
The explanation has been ruled out because there is no evidence supporting it. That's good science.
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Old 28th February 2013, 06:56 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Ethan Thane Athen View Post
Number 3 is a great explanation and works as a dual reality for both the audience and the subject. It's also a really simple effect and most tricks turn out to be really simple. So, two identical watches, one held behind the daughter that the audience sees but the subject can't (and, depending on patter, doesn't even realise is supposed to be there) and one held in front of the daughter in easy sight of the subject but hidden from the audience. 'Can you see the watch in my hand' then 'Please read the inscription'. Easy for the subject, gasps from the audience.

Nice elegant trick actually.
Same solution I had but thought it might violate forum rules to post it.
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Old 28th February 2013, 03:48 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Squeegee Beckenheim View Post
This is a forum dedicated to scepticism.



I'm perfectly open-minded. Let's see this ability demonstrated under controlled conditions which eliminate the possibility of fraud, bias, or self-delusion, and I'll happily accept it.



Not given our current understanding of physics, no. Again, if some empirical evidence that this is possible were to emerge then I would revise my opinion. But "some bloke in some book told this story" is a long way from empirical evidence.



The explanation has been ruled out because there is no evidence supporting it. That's good science.
Not only is there no evidence supporting it, it is in direct contradiction of what we know about the physical world. If somebody could reproduce this under carefully controlled conditions, we would have to reevaluate what we thought we knew. A story about a trick done by a stage hypnotist doesn't even come close.
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Old 28th February 2013, 10:32 PM   #23
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Just checked the OP's other thread. I think someone above hit the nail on the head... this is one of those instances when a woo-ish (and funny, but he didn't look woo-ish) individual misconstrues the slug line on the site and thinks we're promoting this sort of stuff and not skeptically dissecting it.
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Old 28th February 2013, 11:35 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
A lot of skepticism from you guys. I thought you might be more open-minded to the possibility that something profound was going on.

Are you absolutely certain you know what "skepticism" means?

Quote:
Hypnosis can affect a person's perception of the world. Isn't it remotely possible that Tom actually DID see right through his daughter? You should not rule out every explanation just because it sounds too far-fetched. Surely that is bad science.

Unlike some people I won't say it is impossible, in the same way that Carl Sagan didn't claim that stochastic ooze is impossible. I will say that it is orders of magnitude more likely that one or more persons in your story are lying or mistaken. Until that has been ruled out, it seems sort of pointless to investigate the possibility that hypnotism can give a person X-Ray vision, doesn't it?

Interesting card trick anecdote: I once saw a card trick performed at a party that so freaked out one of the partygoers that I thought the poor guy was going to have a nervous breakdown.

Disclaimer: The above anecdote is not evidence of wizards.
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Old 1st March 2013, 02:25 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by marplots View Post
Same solution I had but thought it might violate forum rules to post it.
Whoops! Er Mods, if this is true please feel free to delete my post.

I was aware that posting solutions to magic tricks was frowned upon but I thought that was more in relation to other magicians posting what they knew was the solution. Guess I didn't equate it to complete magician numpties like me posting a theory on one way a vaguely described trick may have been done...
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Old 1st March 2013, 06:33 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Ethan Thane Athen View Post
Whoops! Er Mods, if this is true please feel free to delete my post.

I was aware that posting solutions to magic tricks was frowned upon but I thought that was more in relation to other magicians posting what they knew was the solution. Guess I didn't equate it to complete magician numpties like me posting a theory on one way a vaguely described trick may have been done...
I can understand why Randi put that rule in place, but this thread is a perfect example where I think it does more harm than good, and I really liked your post.

When someone seems to truly believe that stage-variety magic is paranormal, it's way more effective to show how even an audience member could guess at a mundane solution, than be forced to vaguely reply, "It's just a trick," and stop at that. To a convinced believer, saying no more than "just a trick" can seem like hand-waving to avoid giving a solution because even the skeptics are stumped.
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Old 1st March 2013, 06:58 AM   #27
marplots
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Originally Posted by Ethan Thane Athen View Post
Whoops! Er Mods, if this is true please feel free to delete my post.

I was aware that posting solutions to magic tricks was frowned upon but I thought that was more in relation to other magicians posting what they knew was the solution. Guess I didn't equate it to complete magician numpties like me posting a theory on one way a vaguely described trick may have been done...
I think you've hit on a critical distinction. If I post a solution, known to the conjuring arts, the solution is derived from real world techniques I've come across as a magician. If you post it and came up with it yourself, it should be OK.

Odd situation, but I can see how the distinction matters. I'd be spilling the beans on something another conjurer might be selling or relying on to make a living. Proposing a solution by way of deduction (as you have done) is, as you say, "a theory."

All that said, I agree with Pup and think we should be able to show how the miraculous could have been done using mundane methods, regardless of how we came to that knowledge. In a skeptical forum, I shouldn't have to rely on an appeal to authority: "I'm a magician and here's how a magician might do it." We should be able to access the "educate" mode instead.

One other difficulty at my end though is that while I agree with your solution as workable (and is in fact in practice in other effects), I can't say for sure that that's how it was accomplished in this instance. A solution may not be the solution, so I would risk exposing a technique that may not have been in play. It's the old, "many ways to skin a cat" deal.
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Old 1st March 2013, 07:03 AM   #28
Soapy Sam
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There is room for some degree of open mindedness about the effects of hypnosis. There exists no such leeway regarding optics.

That a post hypnotic suggestion could have someone fail to see his daughter stretches my credulity slightly. I've seen hypnotised folk do odder things. How much is just "going along with" the hypnotist, I don't know.

That such a suggestion could affect the physics of light transmission is simply nonsense. At that point I know the story is false in that aspect. It is therefore more probable that other aspects are also false.
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Old 1st March 2013, 07:26 AM   #29
Pup
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
Tom looked around the room and his gaze appeared to pass right through his giggling daughter. "No", he replied. The hypnotist asked Tom if he was certain, and again, despite Laura's rising giggles, he answered no. When I talked to Tom afterward, he said that his daughter had been absolutely invisible to him. All he had seen was the hypnotist standing and holding a watch cupped in the palm of his hand. Had the hypnotist let him leave without telling him what was going on, he never would have known he wasn't perceiving normal consensus reality.
To go along with what Soapy Sam said, the first part sounds strange to say the least, but once one gets to the bolded part, it sounds similar to the famous basketball-players-and-gorilla video. A person staring intently trying to read the fine print on a watch, and not seeing his daughter, might be like the people trying to count the basketball tosses and not seeing the gorilla.

Edited to clarify: in other words, there is a brain mechanism we're aware of that makes obvious things "invisible" (mentally, not actually), and perhaps it's possible to invoke that in other circumstances.
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Old 1st March 2013, 09:32 AM   #30
Michael C
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
Isn't it remotely possible that Tom actually DID see right through his daughter?
Of course we should consider this possibility. We should, however, consider all possible explanations and weigh up which are more probable. I've highlighted a few words to help explain why I consider that it is much more likely that this was a simple trick.

Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
"I would like to relate an occurrence I witnessed in the middle 1970s. My father had hired a professional hypnotist to entertain a group of friends at his house and had invited me to attend the event.
Talbot's father hired the hypnotist to entertain. The hypnotist was not invited to allow his unusual skill to be scrutinised, much less to be scientifically tested; he was paid to give entertainment.

Quote:
Tom proved to be a very good subject, and within seconds the hypnotist had him in a deep trance. He then proceeded with the usual tricks performed by stage hypnotists. He convinced Tom there was a giraffe in the room and had Tom gaping in wonder. He told Tom that a potato was really an apple and had Tom eat it with gusto. But the highlight of the evening was when he told Tom that when he came out of trance, his teenage daughter, Laura, would be completely invisible to him. Then, after having Laura stand directly in front of the chair in which Tom was sitting, the hypnotist awakened him and asked him if he could see her.

Tom looked around the room and his gaze appeared to pass right through his giggling daughter. "No", he replied. The hypnotist asked Tom if he was certain, and again, despite Laura's rising giggles, he answered no.
All this, including making somebody believe that another person is invisible, is standard stage hypnotist's stuff. Here's master trickster Derren Brown making himself seem invisible:

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I AGREE


Quote:
Then the hypnotist went behind Laura so he was hidden from Tom's view and pulled an object out of his pocket. He kept the object carefully concealed so that no one in the room could see it, and pressed it against the small of Laura's back.
(Here I wish to point out that I am not a magician and I don't consider that what am about to do violates forum rules about revealing magician's secrets: I'm simply giving my own very simple idea as to how the hypnotist could have tricked his audience)

Imagine the situation. The audience sees, in profile, Laura between Tom and the hypnotist. The hypnotist apparently takes something out of his pocket with the hand nearer to the audience and holds it against Laura's back. In the meantime he has secretly placed a watch in the hand further from the audience. He puts this hand near Laura's waist: for the audience it is hidden by the girl's body, but Tom can see it. Tom mentally blocks out Laura: he cannot see the hypnotist's hand behind her, but he can see his other hand next to her.

I'm not saying for sure that this was how he did it, but it's a possible way that doesn't need any particular skills in sleight of hand. No duplicate watches needed, no special preparation. The idea of keeping the "object" concealed from the audience ostensibly serves the purpose of making sure that nobody spills the beans, but in fact makes the trick very easy to perform.

It's quite possible that he was holding nothing at all in the hand pressed against Laura's back: nerve endings in the back are not very close together, and through clothing it's impossible to tell if somebody is holding a watch, a penny or just their hand against your back.

Quote:
He asked Tom to identify the object. Tom leaned forward as if staring directly through Laura's stomach and said that it was a watch. The hypnotist nodded and asked if Tom could read the watch's inscription. Tom squinted as if struggling to make out the writing and recited both the name of the watch's owner (which happened to be a person unknown to any of us in the room) and the message. The hypnotist then revealed that the object was indeed a watch and passed it around the room so that everyone could see that Tom had read its inscription correctly.
If the hypnotist was using the technique I've imagined, Tom would have been looking slightly to one side of Laura's stomach. If the audience wasn't too close, people wouldn't have seen the difference, especially if the giggling Laura was moving around a bit. Once Tom has read the inscription, the hypnotist can quickly and inconspicuously pass the watch from one hand to the other. As a final flourish, he then reveals that the object is a watch and passes it around for inspection: this really looks like the ending of a well-prepared trick.

So what is more likely:
A. The hypnotist really has the power to give somebody X-ray vision, but only uses this power to amuse and amaze people in a stage act, or
B. The hypnotist has no such power, but as a professional entertainer uses simple and effective tricks as part of his act?
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Old 1st March 2013, 11:20 AM   #31
Garrette
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I am not sure I can add to what has been said, but heck, I do this for fun, so why not?

I have Talbot's The Holographic Universe. A more misleading piece of gullibility masquerading as objective research would be hard to find. My version is paperback, but I don't think it was ever hardcover, and it says first edition. The anecdote related in the OP begins on page 141.

First, there is absolutely zero reason to believe that the author recalls the event correctly, assuming he is not making it up out of whole cloth (for the record, I do not think that he is). There is, in fact, ample reason to think he actually is misremembering. He says it happened in the "middle 1970s" when he would have been about 22, without a background for objectively observing; the book was published in 1991, about 16 years later. Are we to believe that the author took copious and accurate notes on the evening of the performance in anticipation of his later career as a purveyor of mystical pseudo-science? I doubt it, particularly given the detail of the account. He recalls, ostensibly perfectly and without error, exactly what the subject and the hypnotist did, and yet he does not recall (at least he does not reveal) the hypnotist's name. But even if accurate, it smells of deceit on the part of the hypnotist (by this I don't mean the bad kind of deceit but instead the good kind practiced by entertainers which the hypnotist was hired as). Despite all the claims amongs the hypnotist community, people are not put into a deep trance within seconds. It is called rapid induction and some hucksters make a mint off the claim, but it does not exist in reality. This is not to say that the appearance of it does not exist, but the reality of it does not.

Second, even if he is recalling it accurately as initially observed, there are at least three ways (each with myriad sub-methods) to accomplish this effect without resorting to any mystical or holographic or physics-busting explanation. The most likely one has been explored in this thread already, and I will decline going further into it. The other two involve varying and distinct degrees of the subject's involvement. Again, I won't go into them as it could be seen as a rules violation.

I'm rambling a bit, which I tend to do, but the description fits exactly with what is expected from a hypnotism entertainer, not a quantum-holographic-genius-who-can-trascend-physics-in-a-parlor-show. Read the description about the hypnotist spending time finding the most suitable/susceptible subject; this is classic; it is what the pros do. They are not finding someone they can hypnotize; they are finding someone who will go along, even if unwittingly.

Note: I am making no comments on the value or lack of value of clinical hypnotism; I am not qualified to comment on that. I am, however, a knowledgeable layman regarding hypnotism as a performance art.
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Old 2nd March 2013, 02:46 PM   #32
EKUMA1981
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Well, I guess there's only one way to know for sure what happened and that would be to reproduce the experiment. I'd love to get to the truth of it all. I'm also trying to get Don Barnhart (stage hypnotist) interested in this via FB. I'd try it myself but I'm no hypnotist, just a deep thinker, lol.

Whether it was a trick or something more profound, don't know. I just want answers!!

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Old 2nd March 2013, 03:31 PM   #33
Michael C
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Originally Posted by EKUMA1981 View Post
Well, I guess there's only one way to know for sure what happened and that would be to reproduce the experiment. I'd love to get to the truth of it all. I'm also trying to get Don Barnhart (stage hypnotist) interested in this via FB. I'd try it myself but I'm no hypnotist, just a deep thinker, lol.

Whether it was a trick or something more profound, don't know. I just want answers!!

Reproducing the experiment will not tell you what happened back in the 70s. As I and others have pointed out, it's certainly possible to create the effect described in the story with various techniques, but that doesn't tell us what technique was used back then.
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Old 2nd March 2013, 03:47 PM   #34
Garrette
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Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
Reproducing the experiment will not tell you what happened back in the 70s. As I and others have pointed out, it's certainly possible to create the effect described in the story with various techniques, but that doesn't tell us what technique was used back then.
Precisely. Ekuma, I strongly suggest you read this post repeatedly until it sinks in. It is a key in developing true skepticism.
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