Thursday, January 12, 2012

Jerusalem and Raanana Session Reports; Hypnotism

Raanana games played: Power Grid.

Jerusalem games played: Jungle Speed, London.


I was in an audience with a practicing stage hypnotist. I don't know what I was expecting, but I was not expecting my reaction: I was disgusted. I walked out.

The subjects were made to forget their names, the number three, etc. When they could not (or would not) count, the audience laughed. The subjects smiled sheepishly. The hypnotist did not use any hypnotic induction; he just passed his hand over their heads and held it in front of their eyes for a moment, and then announced, out loud, what the subjects were going to do incorrectly.

My first thoughts were that, of course, this was bunk. But, then again, not necessarily. Although magic is bunk, some odd things about the human mind and body have some truth to them, even if the stories that surround them are nonsense. E.g. acupuncture apparently does have some real effect on reducing pain.

My second thought was that the performance, whether real or fake, was obscene. It's one thing to laugh at TV people being idiots for fun in a sitcom, or people in power (like politicians) being idiots. It's another thing to laugh at friends who are under the influence of suggestion. Even if they agreed to be hypnotized, they are being made to look like fools while helpless. It's embarrassing, like laughing at the handicapped. If it was a serious demonstration, I would have found it interesting ... scary and creepy, but interesting. But not for entertainment. So I walked out.

I asked the subjects after the fact, and they both denied any sort of collusion or trickery on their part. Neither was embarrassed at what had happened.

The odd part is that Israel is one of the few countries where stage hypnosis is absolutely illegal. I don't know how this guy gets away with doing it in public. He was a good stage magician, so the hypnosis wasn't necessary for his act. I have no problems with magic acts.

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