I realise I’m wasting energy dissecting the third episode of Derren Brown’s The Events to any great depth.
They show a close up of this woman’s eyes and ask people to draw a shape, and then the letter “O” draw itself on the screen as a slowly appearing circle, etc etc. And then, astonishingly, Brown even instructs people who drew concentric circles to text in, as if after doing this people texting this is some sort of useful evidence.
Once again Brown muddles half truths and glimmers of things we’ve experienced with ludicrous over-played nonsense. So we’re expected to believe he can make a man fall asleep and then steal a TV by drinking his tea at the same time, while insultingly claiming the remarkable, verified ability of some blind people to use echolocation to be in any way related. Of course, most of it, were it not in a programme in which the presenter psychotically flipflopped back and forth between declaring his disbelief in psychic powers and announcing things are happening because of psychic powers, would have been fantastic magic tricks. Here it all feels like part of the propaganda that contributes to his crazed misinformation campaign.
So much is so much rubbish. But what’s most peculiar about this third episode in what we can only desperately hope is a four-part set-up is how ridiculously he overreached on the final reveal. The most idiotic claim Brown makes is that somehow the tricks in the show in any way relate to his claims of “remote viewing”, something he debunks and confirms with every other breath. This ranges from simply confusing – how does the light bulb trick possibly relate to anything? – to disgustingly insulting – the aforementioned echolocation. None of it relates in any meaningful way, other than his mealy-mouthed semi-debunking of the ridiculous fraud. (It made me so sad he stopped so far short of denouncing him.) Instead, it explodes into a trick too huge to make any sense.
The problem we have is Brown’s claim to not know what was drawn. Now, he’s of course done a thousand other tricks where he claims to be able to influence what someone draws – this time we’re asked to forget that. His mark is asked to draw anything she likes, but it must be a simple pattern or shape. There’s fairly limited options at this point (all the people who merrily agreed to draw a train seemed to forget that bit), but still too many for Brown to guess. But while he claims to not know what’s drawn, and denies the ability to remote view, he also has her placed in Stone Henge which we’re told she sort of saw her image representing (this was strange too – she added it on to the end of her description in a way that didn’t relate, and made no sense). Then we also get shown the persistent close-up of her eyes representing the pattern she drew – again requiring knowledge of what was on the canvas to be successful. So obviously it’s impossible without either knowing what’s on the canvas or causing what’s on the canvas. Too many things, too much going on, all of it relying on absolute prior knowledge of the drawing, and none of it having anything to do with the gibberish of choosing to display some texts from people who drew a circle.
Again, had he not bothered with the anti-scientific bedlam of this bipolar presentation of “remote viewing” and simply done a magic show, it would have been a splendid trick with a superb punchline. Instead it’s an embarrassing mess of bullshit. This evening became reduced to “Here’s some concentric circles. Draw a shape.”
So sure, I hope next week he confesses to all this. Because this is not the man from the Dawkins interviews, nor the guy who wrote a book debunking the sort of idiocy he’s been advocating for three weeks. But it’s too late, isn’t it? Millions have already seen him take his position as a respected debunker and use to it promote unscientific gibberish, and saying, “Ha ha, I was just kidding!” at the end of it won’t undo that.
Oh, and a PS of something brilliant my sister said last week. “Someone who thinks Brown’s explanations for how he does his tricks are at all true is like someone believing Paul Daniels was really sawing Debbie McGee in half.”