Mind Control Guru Can Pay With Blank Sheets of Paper

By Paul Michael on 12 August 2007 (Updated 8 March 2012) 62 comments

My wife told me recently about a guy from my homeland, England, who has such powers of mind control that he can pay for almost any item with blank sheets of paper. I laughed it off. Then I saw the video and was quite amazed by the power of the human mind. (See also: The Psychology of Free, and Its Power Over You)

The video shows you how he does it, but it basically revolves around the idea that the mind sees what it expects to see. No one would dare pay for an item with blank paper, and because Mr. Brown keeps your mind busy your primal brain kicks in and concentrates on language rather than something more obvious. The result is that Mr. Brown can pay for almost anything with nothing. Quite a trick.

 

 

He gives everyone their money back. But other folks may not be so nice and could certainly use this against you if you work in a store or buy something from a market vendor and expect change.

Derren Brown also uses a similar technique at the dog track, handing over worthless tickets for large piles of cash. It's quite amazing. When interviewed afterwards most people swore blind (no pun intended) that they saw the money, or the winning ticket.

 

 

As someone who loves learning about the latest and greatest scams and cons, I think this one tops them all. Using the power of your own mind against you is quite a scam and requires little to no set up, no partners, and no real props. If you're interested in seeing just how he does a lot of his mind control experiments, check out his show on the sci-fi channel . Amazon.com also has some Derren Brown goods. But please, don't go using you new found powers for evil, ok?

Pure effect: Direct mind reading and magical artistry

Lucky for all of us the Derren Brown is merely filming TV. And by the way, I have checked, several times, to see if this is all done with plants or actors. It is not, I assure you. Certainly makes you think, doesn't it?

0
No votes yet
Your rating: None
ShareThis

comments

62 discussions

Add New Comment

CAPTCHA
This test helps prevent automated spam submissions.
Jessica Okon's picture

Mind Freeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaak! 

Guest's picture
guinness416

Interesting comments on the Derren Brown youtube about mind control, his choice of words, the banging on the window etc. Good stuff.

Jessica Okon's picture

More or less distraction vs. mind control?

Paul Michael's picture

MInd control begins, so says Derren, with learning human behaviour and part of that is distraction. But it's not all about that. Check youtube for the piece he did on making people forget their stop on the London tube. Then tell me, was it just distraction?

Guest's picture
Guest

I've been a fan of Derren for sometime now and having read all but 1 of his books. (I own his latest and Absolute Magic) and as he says in his books and at the beginning of the show should bring up a healthy bit of skepticism. As a fellow magician I understand where he is coming from in fact, my line of study is what made me a fan of Derren, seeing as what he does was in line with most of my interests.

It's NLP to some extent... but of course just not that simple.

Guest's picture
Guest

Seeing from your other posts that you are in advertising, you might like this trick Derren did a while ago: http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ZyQjr1YL0zg
Not sure he does it the way he says, but impressive either way.

Guest's picture
plonkee

I love Derren Brown. I wonder whether his job is harder now (in England) that people know who he is. I like the way that he does what he says he does, misdirection, sleight of hand, suggestion and illusion to produce amazing effects.

A few years ago he did a series filmed in America where he went to several different groups, claiming different experiences/skils like a clairvoyant, someone who'd been abducted by aliens and seeing whether he could convince experts that he was what he said. Most of them thought that he was a natural, but in fact he was using suggestion and so on.

Guest's picture
street

Very cool trick. Good persuasion tactics.

Visit The STReeTJeSUS BLoG

Guest's picture
gem

absoloutly love derren brown he kicks ass you should see the fulkl shows they will blow your mind. go onto youtube and look at the zombie one... the guy actually thought he was being atta cked by zombies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

What did do you use as proof that they were not actors?

Guest's picture
Ped666

I've seen him live many times and trust me, not one of the participants are stooges.

Paul Michael's picture

...is difficult. Both Derren Brown and the Sci-Fi channel have each stated that he never uses 'stooges' or actors, that everything you see is 100% real. If they are lying and it turns out he's a fake, well, both of their reputations would be shattered and that's not going to help anyone. In his series he also shows the failures he has encountered. Much like David Blaine, I suspect he edits out a lot of the tricks that don't actually work and uses only those people who succumb more easily to hypnotic suggestion and persuasion.

Guest's picture
neek

this is silly so you want me to believe the jewelery story guy counted out $4500 of blank bills, because he asked him where the subway was? GTFOH!!!

Guest's picture
william

i noticed in the jewellry one as he gave over the money he concluded the subway story with the phrase "take it take it its fine"

i think thats the trick.

Guest's picture
Guest

yeah, he does some pretty crazy stuff... but i bet that he wouldnt be able to stop stumbling. haha

Paul Michael's picture

as completely unbelievable as it may seem, it's legit. Of course, like I said before, he probably didn't show you the many people who said "oy, where's the real money?"

Guest's picture
Guest

He did in that episode actually. he tried to buy a hotodg from a street vendor, and he noticed and had a bit of a go at him, so darren gave him the actually money before he got the hotdog.

Guest's picture
He's the real deal.

I've also been to watch his live shows and I can assure you that everything he does is real.

First of all, to select participants, he threw a ring in to the crowd, in totally random places, and his throws weren't carefully directed. He then moved on, in the second half, to people writing a note and placing it inside an envelope in a bowl on stage in plain view of everyone, what he did with these was truly amazing... Awe inspiring even... He then bandaged his head up at the end of the show and got someone to check he wasn't wearing an ear piece and went on for about another fifteen minutes totally blind with the same act.

If you watch his shows, read his books and watch him on T.V. you can learn how to do a few of his tricks... I can make people pick specific cards out of a deck of cards purely by suggestion and I'm a programmer, not a magician...

If you get the chance to see him live, don't miss it!

Guest's picture

Great, at least until he gets caught and gets the sh** kicked out of him!

Guest's picture
Guest

If you have been in retail you would not find this guy's trick unbelievable or even that interesting. Any old till-tipper, counterfeiter or basic short change artist does a version of this in each every retail establishment. They may not go as far to demonstrate it with blank paper but 17 year old cashiers (and 40 year old managers)often get caught on the unawares when giving back the change of a fifty when the customer gave them a ten. It's easier when there is a second person (a distractor)but alone is more common. As a person who has caught many a scum bag at this kind of game the dead give away is when someone is trying to short change you and they appear loud/obnoxious, extremely talkative/friendly, or just plain weird. That's the time to really start paying attention.
As far any one who finds these scams interesting because they would like to add it to their reportoire of scams you should just dig a hole right now and jump in.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can't see how that is real. How do they know what change to give him. That's ridiculous.

Guest's picture
steve

I have worked behind a retail cash register for 30 years. Based upon my experience, I have no trouble believing he could pull this off. There are many, many times I have mistakenly handed someone change for a 10 instead of a 20 and they have walked off before I realized I mischanged them and called them back and gave them the correct change (it helps that I leave the cash on the till until the customer walks away, religiously).. It's because if you convey the transaction smoothly as if it's legitimate (which, if it's an honest mistake, you will believe it is legitimate), the person will often go along with it. As to how cashiers would give him change back in the video, the guy who was selling the fish would have given him change for a 20, which would have been his most common bill that he receives from a customer and which is close to the $18 purchase price. How distraction plays into this is that the more engaged your conscious mind is in attending to the novelty of someone keeping you distracted with conversation (and, in this guy Brown's case often changing the subject and interlacing phrases that double "subconscious commands"), the more the teller/cashier will rely on their rehearsed rote response, in this case paying out cash or giving change or just completing the transaction. When you handle cash tens of thousands of times over decades, you develop all kinds of "habits" (like giving change for a 20 as a reflex).

i second the guy who wrote in, whenever someone is acting over the top, or has a friend talking to you at the same time, is the time to stop and pay attention. I have been known to actually stop them with a "hold off" hand gesture, saying "just a minute, I need to stop talking to you for a second so I make sure I give you the right change"--stoppping the distraction. which makes it sound like it's for their benefit, when in reality I am focusing on getting it right for both parties' sake, particularly mine if I sense they are trying to get one over on me. Then you have to physically look at the bills and recount them, make sure you don't put their money in the till until they are out of the store, etc. Also you can make a show of counting the change out saying, "ok, you gave me a 20, here's 5, 10, and 10 make 20. OK?" and look them in the eye to get agreement and confirm that there is no misunderstanding or weakness of understanding on your part.

Paul Michael's picture

As I've said before, it's not fake. But feel free to think different.

Guest's picture
Zero

This man is simply one of the brightest con-men that I've ever seen. It's all about tricking people in short hand and being quick on your feet to get away before they realize their short fall. @ guest: for the change all he does is assume that the clerk assumes that he is giving him round dollars, i.e. if something is $5.78, the clerk thinks the guy gives him $6.00, thus the change from it. They don't look at the money because they are too distracted in the first place.

Guest's picture
Fred

When I've worked at cash registers, the more talkative people became, the more I learned to concentrate on the money. The faster/louder/pushier, etc., they were, the more focused I became. I do wonder as someone else did here about how the one merchant knew what change to give without the visual cue of the denomination. I suppose the answer is that he was given some audible cue???

Guest's picture
Darren Brown

Yeah I am a genius at mind control. I knew I possessed this kind of skill when I could influence my teachers. If you do follow my tricks you can be seeing rewarding benefits.

Guest's picture
Derren Brown

That's not Derren Brown. I'm Derren Brown.

Guest's picture
Guest

Except Darren Brown would probably spell his own name correctly...

Guest's picture
Guest

It's spelled DERREN. With an 'E'.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can accept it all, but this one in the Mind Control series:
How can he tell the exact amount of cash in my wallet, when I rarely know that myself? Just by asking non-essential questions.

I can't imagine any mechanism. Unless he sees - in my voice and body language - what I did the last week (or two) with the 100 euro I took out of the cash machine AND make calculations based on the things that I payed for.

This is either done by cheating or he made 1000 attempts and guessed wright few.

Guest's picture
Guest

... are:
1. He has a TV crew behind him. For most people that is a HUGE distraction. They are put in a strange, INTENSE situation and their brain is mostly involved not to get embarassed etc

2. There is this effect of . People, when exposed publicly, tend to help the authoritive figure by doing what is expected from them in order to spocially comply to the man with the higher social staus.

This is a HUGE help. It deos not explain it all, but all the cash teller mistakes (the loosing ticket at the dog race, paying with blank money) - for sure.

Guest's picture
Kylie

How on earth would anyone not notice the paper was plain!!! It could never happen here in Australia where our money is brightly coloured plastic. The jewellery store was especially hard to swallow. I have a feeling it was set up or something.

Guest's picture
Alec

It's obvious that Derren Brown is an exceptional individual with finely developed skills. But, the more I'm exposed to his work, the more I wonder - exactly what skills are those? I once read an interview with DB conducted by a stage magic periodical in which the interviewer asked him to explain how telling the audience that he's doing something using NLP or "Photoreading" was any more ethical than telling them it was done using genuine psychic powers. The implication was that DB uses NLP, Photoreading, body language, and other "pop psychologies" as a form of conceptual misdirection. Once the audience has accepted the explanation, they stop looking for the real technique. In other words, he's using the same stage magic techniques of old, but has repackaged them in a more modern presentation. Those of you familiar with DB probably know that he's a strong advocate of critical thinking, which is why the interviewer was asking him to address the hypocrisy of criticizing other people for claiming psychic powers when he's similarly feeding the audience a different load of BS.

Makes you consider how the average person these days is probably much more willing to swallow an explanation couched in technical jargon borrowed from the field of psychology than an explanation based on the paranormal. Science is the new religion, etc. Anyways, sorry I can't find the link to that interview, but there's discussion of a similar nature out there on the web.

Guest's picture
Haim

Nothing new...
Uri Geler did the same few years ago..

Guest's picture
DiegoP

I dont believe on filmed "mind control" "magic tricks" shows

Guest's picture
Guest

He's on the sci fi chan for a reason. Almost everything this guy does involved interacting with other people for a trick to work and ALL of them are actors. You have to be pretty dense to believe the stuff he does is magical or whatever. Look up the video of him having a staring contest. That just makes me laugh.

Paul Michael's picture

that both Derren Brown and the Sci-Fi channel are blatantly lying to us when they say no actors or stooges are involved at the start of each show? Are they allowed to do that? Genuine question, not being combative, I'd love to know if that's something you can do in TV.

Guest's picture
Dan W

whoever compared derren brown to criss angel obviously has no idea what derren brown is capable of... i would definitely encourage people to go to any of his shows, the tricks derren brown is capable of are amazing! much better than criss angel anyway...

Guest's picture
Geoff Agnew

Derren Brown is the best in the world at his field. he is totally honest about his skills - never claims he can do anything like twats like david blaine

Guest's picture
Guest

Reminds of the 80s movie The Grifters, honestly.

Guest's picture
Greg

I knew Darren (fleetingly) when we were at Bristol University at the same time (early '90s). It probably wouldn't surprise you to know that his patter and style was just as good then as it is now. He's a very likeable fellow!

Guest's picture
Guest

Derren Brown has admitted on more than one occasion that his tv shows are staged...

a bit like jesus

Guest's picture
Luke

I believe the last bit was set up. The man was possibly hyptomised prior to going to work, or it was totally set up. Having worked a cash register and sold some relatively high priced items 500-1000 dollars. If someone is buying a high priced item they rarely pay cash, and I'd assume it would be very rare to buy a 4500 dollar ring with cash. The first thing you think is why is the person paying cash, is it fake. You would examine every bill and test it with the marker. Come on...4500 in cash...and they guy doesn't count it or check it at all, what about the sales tax! it isn't going to be exactly 4500 dollars...I don't care who you are, there is just no way!

Guest's picture

I just wear my lowest-cut blouse and make sure to use it on straight men only.

Guest's picture
Guest

Derren Brown does use actors even in episodes where he claims not to. It's just another trick in his toolkit. But he does it very smart (for example he will always add one clip where his trick does not work which will be either with an actor or with just any regular person) you have to give him that much.

The trick with the change in the wallet is very simple. You steal the wallet, count the money and put it back. Another (less illegal) way is to perform a trick off camera beforehand that involves the wallet and gives you a chance to count. Counting is relatively quick: It takes only a few seconds to count the bills and if there are a lot of coins you simply take them out and replace them by a set amount.

Why do I give out the trick? Well, because you will still wonder whether that dirty, brute force way can really be the secret behind such an elegant performance. :P

Guest's picture
Guest

Untrue, if you examine the videos of "count the money in the wallet without seeing it" closely, you will see that the piece of paper that derren has "written" the amount of cash in the wallet on is in fact blank - another case of the mind sees what it expects to see. That is why the piece of paper is in an envelope and why Derren always gets it back soon after the trick is done. By then, a crew member will have already written the correct amount on another piece of paper, which is then held up to the camera in the post-trick interview.

Guest's picture
Guest

It's not mind control

Guest's picture
Guest

Whenever someone waits on me that's chatting with a co-worker or on a personal call when they should be doing their job, I sometimes tell them I gave them a bigger bill than I did, and they always have to believe me because they weren't paying attention to their jobs. I only do it in cases where I felt my service could have been better if they had been focused on their job and not their social or personal lives. I admit it's spiteful of me, but that aside, it's distraction, not mind control, and they are the ones distracting themselves. I would think they would be easy marks for anyone who wanted to deliberately try to distract them (and I would frankly rather have faster service than the extra cash).

Guest's picture
Guest

+100!

Guest's picture
Guest

following that path can lead to some bad stuff

Guest's picture
Guest

The above post about the count the money trick was a reply to the comment "Derren Brown does use actors".. post 43.. should have clarified that :P

Guest's picture
Guest

I enjoy seeing shows and series with Derren Brown. Not only because I find it rather inspiring and fascinating, but also because I am going to start a new education soon.
I have read the threat, and I think it is totally waste of time to discuss wether DB uses actors or not. Even if he does (and even, if he says he don´t) he has skills that are unreacheable for anyone at the moment.

I am from Denmark, and in Denmark it is legal to promote and do shows with hypnotism. As far as I know, it is not in England???
Mind (what a word... in this thread), that Derren Brown first of all is an educated hypnotizer. This should stop the discussion about "mind-control or not"...
But besides that he have shown cardtricks and cardskills, that I have never seen before. So smooth and elegant, that its impossible to tell for a fact if it is tricks or just skills.
And furthermore he are intelligent and knows about both art in generel (with skills) and music.

Isn´t that enough? I find it revealing, that he in several occations tells us, that there is nothing mysterious or magical about, what he does. (well, it would allmost be easier to believe if there where...)
I can accept if accors are participating... but I must say, that I didn´t see any actors (besides the actors he actually told about). If there have been actors, they would be even more skilled, than Derren Brown himself. (IMHO)
Cheers...

Guest's picture
Guest

I love.... people's reluctancy to believe, which i've encountered on youtube, that Derren is able to tricks alike to this and then the extreme defensive stance the same people take upon messiah - saying it was unfair to debunk these things.

Paranormal?
Religious?

= Nutter

Guest's picture
LR

...all I have to do is set my 3 children on someone and they can have them distracted to insanity in minutes.

No, seriously, I can see how distraction can be effective on trying to get change for a higher denomination bill than what you gave over...I happen to be a chatty person and I have a cashier try to give me change for a higher bill at least twice a year. Other times, the cashier will shove something in the plastic bag that didn't get rung up. It's not like I am trying to distract them, it just happens. In total, it happens several times a year. The other direction also happens: the cashier tries to charge me twice for something, or over rings or doesn't apply a coupon or discount.

Sometimes it's been so much in my favor that I wonder how much stores lose not to shoplifting, but to a brain-dead idiot running the register.

If the mistake is small and I don't catch it until I am walking to the car, I blow it off. If I catch it while it's happening, I say something. One time I had to nearly argue with the woman, and finally I gave up and let her give me $16.00 off of an item when the coupon for it was $15.00 off. She had it stuck in her mind that the coupon was for a free item...and my item was $15.99. It was good for up to $15.00 off...so she rang up the item as $15.00 so she could take the $15.00 off and give the item to me for free! This was AFTER I had corrected her about the coupon being only $15.00 off when she rang the coupon as $15.99 off....

So in these cases, I give up. But it happens way too often for me. I wonder if it's because I am a direct and chatty person. People look at me and their first impression is that I am an honest person, just by the way I look.

Con artists must really use first impressions to their advantage. Nice looking people are not always what they seem...

Guest's picture
Dave Plimsoll

I just read your blog and you're a mug.

Watch the clips again. DB doesn't pay with paper at all. He pays with real banknotes. He just says he pays with paper, and because you trust him, you believe him. You never see the transactions at all - just a bit of camera-based mis-direction. It's obvious all he's doing is a normal cash transaction, but you're not seeing it because you have believed all his psycho-babble.

The only time he tries to pay with paper - to buy a hot dog from a street vendor (fancy that being the only one that 'failed'), the guy hands it straight back to him and asks for real money. Just as anyone else would.

Watch it again and think about it.

The guy is conning you and everyone else who watches this sham and actually believes it. He's not smart enough to con anyone into actually accepting blank paper instead of real money, and so he cons you, the viewer, instead.

It's cheap, it's shoddy, and it's shameless.

Guest's picture
Guest

ha ha ha look he is on the scifi channel TAPS is on the scifi channel , that has been proven too be staged , check it out on youtube they do 2 or 3 takes of a scene but yet still say its all genuine , most haunted is staged it had too be moved too entertainment from the science listings check out BD shows are listed as entertainment so in other words they can say its all real and no actors ere used without getting in trouble

Guest's picture
Stephanie

I only watched the first one, but it didn't seem ligit at all. I have worked in retail before and I always count the money, as most people do. This is fake. Sorry guys.

Guest's picture
Guest

all he is doing in the videos is making the people lose their concetraition.he talks about the subway and then he pays with the paper and not real money.you will see what im talking about if u listen carefully when the guy goes into the jewlery store and buys the ring.

Guest's picture
Guest

I suspect that what he does is a massive combination of things, both conning people on screen, and viewers at home. I believe that he doesn't use actors or stooges because that would come out too easily, and it is possible to do things like this, just highly improbable, without actors or stooges.

Some have suggested because it's on the Sci-Fi channel that it must be fake. In the UK he is on Channel Four, one of the five huge mainstream channels. I doubt that Channel Four could get away with a claim like that.

Anyone who has seen the System will note his idea of how he can flip a coin to come up with ten heads in a row. To this end he recorded for nine hours until a row of ten heads came up. It is improbable but possible, and probability states that it will work at some point.

In 'paying with paper' he will probably have tried this hundreds of times and shows the viewer the successful ones with a failed one (and a different subliminal message that the more observant will notice and use that as an explanation of the failure). To even get this to work once is phenomenally impressive, but I think there is manipulation of the audience at play. Paying at the jewellery shop is harder to explain, but he may have gotten lucky, or used sleight of hand, or hypnotised the guy beforehand. I can't explain it, but it is worth remembering that the impossible is seldom impossibly: just highly unlikely.

Guest's picture

He has misunderstood his audience recently. He tried something here in the UK to try and predict the lottery numbers, which of course he did.
He explained as a mathematical problem but I just don't buy that otherwise plenty of other (far more intelligent math boffins)people would have figured it out years ago.
Think it was one stunt too far and he lost a lot of credibility with that.

Guest's picture
Guest

This guy is not a magician...he is a pure NLP specialist who uses this to lull his 'victims' into a relaxed state along with the power of suggestion. Clever but not a magician in any way shape or form.

Guest's picture
Guest

derren himself says he uses a blend of magic, misdirection and psychology... the way he is using the embedded command of TAKE IT is really just misdirecting you... this is an effect invented by a mentalist magician named luke jermay called "big spender." where it appears you are paying with blank paper or monopoly money, its a magic trick and an illusion. look it up... believe me i was just as bummed as you are going to be