Derren Brown (@DerrenBrown) is a mentalist, illusionist, magician, artist, photographer, collector of curiosities, and author.
What We Discuss with Derren Brown:
- How did Derren Brown make the transition from law student to career hypnotist?
- How does psychological manipulation and hypnotic suggestion work to make people operate counter to their own desires?
- How does Derren use his own manipulative skills for good?
- How do faith healers and psychics ply their trades so convincingly?
- What are the limits to hypnotic influence?
- And much more…
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It’s hard to classify Derren Brown, because he excels in so many fields it’s almost unfair to the rest of us. He’s possibly most well known for using psychological manipulation and hypnotic suggestion to get people to take a certain course of action, as witnessed in his Netflix specials The Push and Sacrifice.
Derren is also a world-class photographer and artist (check out his creations at Instagram), and author of several books — the latest is Happy: Why More or Less Everything Is Fine. He’s obviously a very busy man, so we’re delighted he was able to take the time for this interview in his house of many splendors and surprises. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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More About This Show
After seeing what a good hypnotist could do in front of an audience, Derren Brown was inspired as a young law student to pursue this unusual career path — with some dabbling in stage magic along the way. As someone who confesses to being insecure at this point in his life, he admits that he loved being the center of attention, but there was more to it than simply glorifying himself: he wanted to challenge perspectives.
“I think one of the reasons magicians started off being interesting and after a while become easily lampooned — fun to make fun of — is because you’re just sort of posturing and people sense that after a while,” says Derren. “There is something interesting about magic, but it certainly isn’t the magician pretending to have special powers. What’s interesting to me is it taps into the way we tell ourselves stories about what’s real and the way we’re constantly editing our experience to sustain a narrative for ourselves.”
Derren has moved away from being the focus in his latest Netflix specials and allows his unwitting subjects to take center stage like Jim Carrey in the carefully manipulated environment of 1998’s The Truman Show. In The Push, an ordinary person is socially pressured to consider murdering a stranger. In Sacrifice, we see if someone can be similarly pressured to save a stranger. An earlier two-part series, Derren Brown’s The Apocalypse, follows a man who has been convinced the world has descended into a zombie-infested hellscape.
“After we spent months putting cameras in his house, putting fake news feeds into his phone and his TV. We recorded special episodes of TV shows that he watched that would have news guests on so we could get well-known scientists going on talking about a meteor strike that was going to happen. So we ended the world, but actually the whole thing was a lesson for him in valuing what you have. There’s an old stoic lesson about to value what you have and not take it for granted, you should rehearse not having those things.”
THANKS, DERREN BROWN!
If you enjoyed this session with Derren Brown, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Happy: Why More or Less Everything Is Fine by Derren Brown
- Derren Brown: The Push
- Derren Brown: Sacrifice
- Derren Brown’s Website
- Derren Brown at Instagram
- Derren Brown at Facebook
- Derren Brown at YouTube
- Derren Brown at Twitter
- David Blaine
- The Truman Show
- Derren Brown’s The Apocalypse Part One
- Derren Brown’s The Apocalypse Part Two
- Derren Brown’s The Heist
- Derren Brown: The Great Art Robbery
- The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy: Was Sirhan Sirhan Hypnotized to Be the Fall Guy? by Tom Jackman, The Washington Post
- What is Normalcy Bias? The Audiopedia
- The Man Who Contacts the Dead, Derren Brown Investigates
- Derren Brown Does a Test to Call out Fake Psychic Healers
- Uri Geller Uses His Psychic Powers to Help England Win Against Croatia, This Morning
- Derren Brown: Miracles for Sale
- Derren Brown Exposing the Fake Faith Healing Leg Trick
- Faith Healing Scene from Man on the Moon
- The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- How the Survivor Bias Distorts Reality by Michael Shermer, Scientific American
- Penn & Teller
- Derren Brown: Miracle
Transcript for Derren Brown - Using the Power of Suggestion for Good (Episode 150)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger and I'm here with my producer, Jason DeFillippo. Man, I'm excited for this one. I have been trying to get Derren Brown on this show for over a decade, and finally, it's happening. If you heard Feedback Friday, you know that I went to his house and he's got props from his shows there. He's got all these taxidermy animals, like two headed snakes and two headed calves and six legged piglets, and his house is just like something out of Sherlock Holmes. Antiques everywhere, a secret passageways and he is just the coolest guy. I'm trying to fanboy out so much here, but I just can't help myself. This guy, Derren is a genius. First of all, if you haven't seen any of his work, imagine a magician or illusionist, I don't even know what you'd call him at this point. He convinces people to, in theory, murder someone by throwing them off a roof. Of course, the guy's harnessed in, but you know, convincing people to do that, convincing people who are racist to jump in front of a bullet for who they think is an illegal immigrant. I mean, it's just his mind tricks are insane, not to mention fake faith healing, hypnosis, all kinds of illusions. It's just absolutely, he's one of the most incredible people alive today. I'm not even kidding. I just, I just love what he does. Jason, you're obviously familiar with Derren Brown.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:01:21] I am. I was introduced to Derren Brown about seven years ago when we first met and you sent me some of his videos and I've been a fan boy ever since and I am so jealous that I did not get to come to London to meet Derren in person because I am a huge fan of his work. He's just, like you said, he's a genius. His house sounds like everything that I would expect it to be.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:01:40] Exactly, exactly. And today we're talking about how psychological manipulation works, hypnotic suggestion. We're talking about all kinds of elements of the show that you just can't get anywhere else. There's so much in this episode from how psychic fraud works, to how faith healing works, to how he comes up with his tricks and his illusions, how he tests the shows and the experiments. There's just everything, I always wanted to know in this episode and more so please enjoy. I hope you enjoy this a fraction as much as I love recording it and being able to do it, it's just, it's really incredible. And if you want to know how I get people like this in my network and create connections with people like this, well I'm teaching it to you. Six-Minute Networking course is free. It takes a few minutes per day. Check it out, jordanharbinger.com/course. All right, after trying for over 10 years to get him on the show. Here's Derren Brown.
[00:02:38] One of the things that I've liked about your work for a long time, well first of all this, this was a pleasure to prepare for it because very rarely do I get to watch 20 to 30 hours of magic and illusion. Read a good book about happiness and stoicism--
Derren Brown: [00:02:51] Well, you've done it. You've done your research.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:52] Oh yeah. And then of course go and try things that I tried 10 years ago. I was telling you before the show with the switch of the painting. And I’ll link to this in the show notes, the YouTube video where people are walking by. I remember trying this in law school, I guess I sort of failed or escape ex-lawyers, escapee ex-lawyers.
Derren Brown: [00:03:14] Oh, you’re an exactly-lawyer as well.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:16] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:03:16] Right, right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:17] We're always like, I have a hypothesis that we just went that way because we didn't know what else to do with ourselves and then went screw it, I can't do this.
Derren Brown: [00:03:24] I think it's exactly correct. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:25] Yeah, it's just sort of like we have what it takes to do something and we aim our energy in the wrong place because you can't go wrong being a lawyer.
Derren Brown: [00:03:33] Exactly, which is exactly my, yeah, everyone's telling you, because here in this country you choose -- you're making those decisions. You can do your A levels when you're 16 or 17 around already having an idea of what you're going to study at university, which causes any the one, you're one subject so that's going to be law. So at 16, you're choosing the A levels you're going to do to support that which means in the level below A levels, your GCSE is which are kind of like 14, you're already beginning to think what direction you've got to head in because you're narrowing your subjects down, and it's just ludicrous. By the time you--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:04] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:04:05] By the time you're actually old enough to know what you want to do, it's you've start thinking of always thinking in the future. Isn't it always thinking these rungs up the ladder as opposed to just you know.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:16] Yeah, of course. The one of the reasons I went was because I didn't know what else to do with my life. I couldn't get the most basic of retail jobs other than maybe selling CDs at a best buy, which I think here is called like JB Hi-Fi or Virgin Tower Records, whatever. And I just thought, well I'm not going to do that with my four year education and somebody who doesn't know you from Adam is like, you should be a lawyer. You like arguing, “Oh okay. Let me spend $120,000 in five more years.”
Derren Brown: [00:04:42] You’re unbearable you should be a lawyer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:43] Yeah, yeah, you'd fit right in with all these other people everyone hates. So why don't you join them? It pays well from what I hear, yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:04:51] So you never did it, you'd never [indiscernible][00:04:52].
Jordan Harbinger: [00:04:53] I actually did. I went through, passed the bar in New York City, went to work on Wall Street and then when this is not what I want to do but only do it for four years. And luckily, well my luck, no one else's luck--
Derren Brown: [00:05:04] How old are you? Because you look about 19, how old are you?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:06] 38.
Derren Brown: [00:05:06] 38. Right well yeah, it’s long enough to --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:08] 39 next month. Yeah. Well I pass the bar, I go and work there for a couple of years. The economy tanks and I'm doing mortgage backed securities, which is exactly what no longer works, right? The subprime mortgage loan pool things. And so they go, “Hey look, all you have to find a new job more likely, you know.” So I apply to be like a patent lawyer and they go, “Great, you've got to do all this other stuff.” And I went, “Screw this.” I just like do an interview. So I'm going to do these interviews for a little while and then once I really have to get a real job, then I'll figure it out. And luckily I'm still waiting for that moment where this all comes crashing down. I would imagine that happens with any creative career you ever wake up and go, “What happens if nothing works out for me anymore and I have to start over?”
Derren Brown: [00:05:52] I feel I've got a lot of strings to my bow now so I don't worry about it too much because actually the stuff that is least under sort of my control, like a broadcaster going, that's it. That's all the stuff I kind of sort of enjoy least anyway. The stuff I really do enjoy is just me getting not, it doesn't, not necessarily the stuff that earns me money I suppose, but it would probably just kind of enough to tick by, but I enjoy it more. So that's I kind of don't worry about it too much.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:18] Yeah. I suppose at the point of which you're doing a Broadway show, coming soon with any luck, and then double Netflix all over the UK household name. There's a point at which if everything comes crashing down, you're just like, “I'm retired. It's over.” Yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:06:34] Yeah, that would be nice. But I don't know whether I stop. What means is that you realize what you do because you have to and what you feel a bit lost without you know, I'd think I'd happily it happy not make TV, but I wouldn't want to not tour, but then if you're going to tour, you kind of need -- you need to have the presence that TV gives you. Otherwise no one wants to come and see you on stage so I don't know, I don't know how it worked, but I paint and take pictures and write, that'd be mine.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:02] How would you describe what you do? Because magician doesn't really, it doesn't seem like that's quite the same thing. You know when think magician, you think pick a card. Any card. Oh my gosh, I barely saw that. Where's the, where's the coin, right? And there's like the, not that there's anything wrong with that, but what you're doing is kind of like, “Wait, how did you convince someone to murder that man?” Right?
Derren Brown: [00:07:21] And where's the coin?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:22] And where's the coin?
Derren Brown: [00:07:23] Both. You see, that's, yeah. I started off as a hypnotist. So when I was at university, I studied law as we've said, and I saw a guy do a show which unusually for hypnotists wasn't, it wasn't a kind of embarrassing you know, festival of horrendous news, like a lot of stage hypnosis is, it was actually, it was fascinating and hilarious, but it was intelligent and it wasn't embarrassing. So I left the show that night thinking and saying to my friend, I remember, “I’m going to do this.” So that was my first love was learning how to hypnotize. So I was as student with lots of other students around me that were really interested in being hypnotized. So and I was, you know, just desperate for attention and had that performer thing in me, and I was insecure. And I think hypnosis really taps into a desire to control, obviously, as does magic in its same way. So if you don't feel very impressive in yourself, both of those really ticked that box, and so it kind of became a real passion. And then I drifted in more into doing closeup magic because it was a bit more commercial. It was a bit of an easier thing to actually make a living out of them hypnosis where you kind of want certain conditions to work under and so on. And then I wrote, I never worked as a lawyer. I was just ticking by performing. I'd wrote a couple of books for magicians, which got me well known in that world. And I drifted into this psychological type of magic called mentalism.
[00:08:58] And at the time, there I think there really only like four or five mental is around. There's a lot more now. Probably because of the shows I did in the UK because it became very popular thing in the UK, that I guess that's spread out a bit. And I got signed up by a TV company that spent a couple of years looking for someone that could do that kind of thing. This was back in ’99, 2000. The first special went out in 2000 on channel four in Britain. And they repeated the show and the repeat did quite well, so they commissioned another one and then at that point it was David Blaine had just become a big thing and I think we, in Britain wanted like an answer to that. So I think I sort of fit that niche for a bit.
[00:09:39] And then slowly it kind of became its own thing. That was 2000, so it was a while ago. And then as I grew up, the desire to kind of go, “Hey, look at me on anti-clever became less interesting.” And I realized that I think one of the reasons why magic becomes on magicians start off being interesting and then after a while become easily kind of lampooned and you know fun to make fun of is that you're kind of you're just sort of posturing and people sense that after all. So I tried to move because there is something, there is something interesting about magic, but it isn't certainly isn't the magician pretending to have special powers. That's not interesting. What's interesting to me is that taps into the way we tell ourselves stories about what's real and the way we're constantly editing our experience to sustain a narrative for ourselves, which we need to as any way we can navigate through life.
[00:10:38] But weirdly a magician is providing a really neat sort of example of how that works. You know, if you watch a card trick and you go, “Well, I picked a card and then he never touched the cards and the car disappeared.” It was in my pocket. How did you do that? You've, you probably everything you need to answer that question you've seen in has happened right in front of you. But you've edited those bits out because they didn't seem important at the time. And of course, we do this in life all the time. So I've tried to move over the last few years away from that standard remit of “Look at me, I'm clever. Do I take more of a backseat?” The stars of the shows if you like, are the members of the public that are going through normally big Truman Show like psychological experiments where they don't know they're part of a show and it's surrounded by actors and big kind of dramatic, like we ended the world for one guys that show I did back, Apocalypse.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:35] Apocalypse.
Derren Brown: [00:11:35] Yeah. So there's like quite big high concept things. He wakes up in a zombie infested post-apocalyptic. After he'd spent like months putting cameras in his house, putting fake news feeds into his phone and his TV, we were recording special edition, special episodes of TV shows that he'd watched it would have like news guests on. So we could get well-known scientists coming on and talking about a meteor strike that was going to happen, so we ended the world. But actually it was the whole thing for him was a lesson in valuing what you have. There's an old stoic lesson about to value what you have and not take it for granted. You should rehearse not having those things, you know.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:14] And you kind of forced him to do that.
Derren Brown: [00:12:15] We sort of forced that. Yeah, of course, that situation, not him, but you know, it, it worked. It was a lovely, lovely thing. So yeah, they've sort of grown up with me over the years, so it's a really long waffling answer.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:24] No, it's okay. I loved Apocalypse, and I'll back up a little because I think a lot of people are going, “What are you talking about?” What we're seeing with like Sacrifice, which is on Netflix, The Push which is on Netflix, Apocalypse which is on YouTube, sorry, we're encouraging people to like steal your production.
Derren Brown: [00:12:40] Not usually, steal, steal.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:40] The way these are, like you said, The Truman Show. If people have seen that movie, this is everything around them is sort of staged and/or fake, and so this kid wakes up, he thinks he's going to a concert or something like that with his brother, I guess. Wakes up in a fake hospital, zombies all over the place, some guy picks him up in a van, he's got a rescue this little girl who actually turns out to be, well, I don't want to spoil it, but he actually has to rescue this little girl and he sort of finds all these levels of courage that he previously never had because this is the guy who can't keep a job, sleeps on the couch, and goes drinking every night and like doesn't value a thing.
Derren Brown: [00:13:19] What I’m trying to do is find a strong dramatic hook and a good reason for doing it. That's the real message of the show. So Sacrifice, which is the new one. This is on Netflix. It's a bit more accessible. I take a guy who's a very right-wing, American guy with strong anti-immigration.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:38] Right, as he says, “I'm not racist.” I just that [indiscernible][00:13:40] for white people or something like that.
Derren Brown: [00:13:42] Yeah, yeah. I think that was actually his words.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:45] Maybe you should Google what racism is actually defined as.
Derren Brown: [00:13:49] And I have him laid down his life for a Mexican illegal immigrant to take a bullet from illegal immigrant in essentially a standoff gun fight, not a gun fight. There's one gun. It’s not really a fight with one gun, is it? But a stand-off.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:09] It’s fire choice, I believe, right?
Derren Brown: [00:14:06] Yeah. So yeah. So that's the idea. So he's part of this world. He knows that there's some filming happening because you think just part of a documentary, so I'm not completely out of it. Normal, I'm not in the show at all because obviously people know me, at least in the UK. So this was -- we had a sort of a half fiction thing where he felt he was part of one show that then finished, I was being filmed in England then he goes back home. So he's gone -- the change process has happened for him. I use these psychological techniques to change him and change his feelings about immigrants in particular, open up some empathy and change that. And then as I do this a lot with the shows, the idea is then if they know they'd been part of one show for the actual final test, there has to be no sense that it's part of a TV show at all. It has to be a real life and a life changing thing for him.
[00:15:10] So he goes back home and then a couple of months later, we've staged a thing. He doesn't realize he thinks he's going to see a friend in Vegas but gets stuck in LA, outside of LA in the desert, the car breaks down and one thing leads to another and he’s in the middle of this hidden camera, elaborate experiment where he has a gun pointed at him and he has a chance to step up and save a life by laying down his own. And it's extraordinary they’re really emotional things to go. Not a clearly, I mean clearly for the guy is these are huge emotional things, and also for us and for me going through it. They're very -- she spend like a year making these things and you know they're very ambitious and difficult because you have to sustain a whole fiction for the person going through it as well as actually do it. So yes, I've done a number of these and they've taken an interest in illusion and persuasion and just good ways of living and thinking and that whole business of the stories that we live by and trying to put them to sort of good and entertaining use.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:16:17] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Derren Brown. We'll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:22] This episode is sponsored in part by Athletic Greens. I love Athletic Greens. I've been taking this stuff for a while. Jason, I know you've been taking it for years. You're probably half -- you're probably made out of half Athletic Greens by now.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:45] This episode is also sponsored by Skillshare. Man, Skillshare has come in so handy recently. Jen's been learning a bunch of stuff. I've been cracking these things open. People are starting to make Skillshare jokes because I've been talking about it a lot. So that's how you know you're an effective brand Evangelists when people start making Skillshare jokes around you. So they've got like 25,000 classes designed business, social media marketing, mobile photography, creative writing, illustration, whatever. So if you're looking for a hobby, you're looking for a side hustle, you want to learn some professional skills. Skillshare will keep you learning and you can hit those new year's resolutions. I made personal growth resolutions. I hate the term resolutions. It's more of a plan, but I made them and I will be using Skillshare for some of that. And classes are better than books for learning actual skills. I love reading. I read several books a week, but classes are just better than books for learning practical skills and that's why I like Skillshare. Jason, tell him the deal we got for them.
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[00:19:06] Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Derren Brown. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. Thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Now back to our show with Derren Brown.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:32] What are we actually seeing here? Because I think a lot of people, when they think hypnosis, they're thinking, and I've seen this elsewhere in your work where they're carrying the guy outside and he wakes up on the lawn and he's like, “Wow, how did I get outside?” And then he walks back in or that somebody's going to walk around on the stage and then click like a chicken. We don't necessarily think of a subtle psychological manipulation or hypnotic suggestion, which is kind of what's happening with -- especially in Sacrifice where you're playing a jingle and it cues something up.
Derren Brown: [00:20:02] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:03] These sort of suggestions to get people to take certain courses of action. If you don't know anything about what you're doing. There's probably plenty of people online, and I haven't seen this, but I would imagine there's a lot of people that go, “This is just fake.” “The guy is pretending.” “It's all stated.”
Derren Brown: [00:20:16] Yeah, yeah I've always had a lot of that. I think it's maybe because it's not necessarily stuff that would work on everybody. So with most of the shows and it varies, but most of the shows, I'm using people that I've selected from a group of applicants and you see this, this is how the shows start. Here are the applicants and I've got to choose one. And I'll choose the person that I think is suitable. So in the Sacrifice, the guy Phil that we use, I needed somebody with these strong views, but also somebody who's suggestible, and also it's important with, and he's not like a monster racist guy. He's actually, although you probably start off not liking him very quickly, you kind of fall in love with the guy really is, it goes on.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:02] I felt bad for him initially. He just didn't seem like the sharpest, like something -- he'd obviously gone through something that made him dislike people that weren't white.
Derren Brown: [00:21:11] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:11] He said it was his upbringing, but it might have also been maybe couldn't get a job and he was having a rough time.
Derren Brown: [00:21:18] Easy scapegoat.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:18] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:21:19] Yeah. And so yeah, I wanted to kind of every man figured that we could kind of sort of relate to as well, not just a monster, monster racist guy. So maybe that's one reasons that people, I've totally understand people are skeptical because it is there. They're quite ambitious things, but if you choose a guy, if you choose somebody that -- if you choose the right person, it obviously makes life a lot easier. So I'm not saying that these techniques that I use will just work on everybody at the drop of a hat. They wouldn't. And I try and explain that throughout the show. Once I've got my guy, what I'm generally doing is attaching strong emotions to certain triggers. So either overtly with my involvement or completely covertly and just something that happens in the guy's life. Normally, I'll make some event happen that makes him feel something very like a strong emotion. And then there'll be a sound or a thing that he sees or something that happens in that environment that steals that -- it's like, you know when you break up with a girlfriend and there were some song playing on the radio a lot of the time and you don't hear the song for five years and then you hear it again, it brings back all those feelings, right? So it's actually very straightforward sort of conditioning really.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:39] You're incurring, is that what that’s called?
Derren Brown: [00:22:40] Yeah, in NLP language, it's anchoring or it's conditioning or it's triggering whatever. Yeah, but that's the idea. You're just kind of attaching emotions to triggers. So again, normally with these shows and Sacrifice is a good example. I want to get somebody into a point where they do something extraordinary and life changing for them without them knowing that that's what the show's about.
[00:23:02] So I can never approach it directly, but what I can do is break down. I kind of look at this final thing, like I want him to put his own life on the line and save a life for somebody else who's the last person who'd ever stand up for. So I kind of break that down. I think what are the components of that, that are needed? And then normally those things on their own can be framed as entirely positive and quite sort of benign things that why wouldn't anybody want a bit more of like the desire to act and to feel more empathy or be more open or whatever. So I create situations where those things can be explored and created within him and then I attach them secretly to triggers. And then in the end scenario, I can play or present those triggers at the same time, and hopefully with the rush of all those things that they come together and the situation that's being presented in front of him and this sort of opportunity that's there, hopefully he takes the bait. That's the idea. And he’s a change man because of it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:04] Yeah, I would imagine, he has to rationalize that he did that of his own free will so he couldn't possibly actually dislike.
Derren Brown: [00:24:11] Yeah. But also he did do it of his own free will. Yeah. I mean with some of the shows I did one that was about taking a very similar structure that to make people hold up a security van and steal a hundred thousand pounds.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:24] Oh, I saw that the other day.
Derren Brown: [00:24:26] Oh, yeah. It's called the heist. Again, it's an older show. It could be on YouTube somewhere.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:29] Yeah. We'll put links to all these so that people can watch.
Derren Brown: [00:24:31] Oh, great.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:31] Because I highly recommend, because sometimes they're hard to find. There's little clips--
Derren Brown: [00:24:35] You can’t watch them in the US.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:36] Like fake ones. Yeah, that one was fascinating. The one where they're holding up because I just thought all you did was, well there was all this prep but then the trigger was you're just on the phone with them and then suddenly they're walking down this empty street and they decide to hold up the armored car. And I thought “Wait a minute.”
Derren Brown: [00:24:54] Well there's like five different triggers that are going off. This color, the color of, this color has been important. There's a slogan, there's a bit of music that plays in a car that drives past, so I use similar techniques as well within it to create an assassination. So the idea was to see whether, so Sirhan Sirhan, who's the guy's still in prison for assassinating Bobby Kennedy always said that he was hypnotized by the CIA, and it's sort of become one of those conspiracy theory.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:20] Like, “Oh, maybe he was.”
Derren Brown: [00:25:22] Yeah, well, it's sort of -- the question for me was regardless of whether he was or wasn't, is it even possible? Is it even plausible that the sort of, and he laid out what they did and how they did it?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:32] Oh, he did?
Derren Brown: [00:25:33] Yeah, yeah. He's got the whole story of how they did it, which is his story. I mean he's also quite a plausible guy. So it was a really enticing premise. Could you do that? Could you have somebody genuinely believe, at the last minute? It's a blank bullet. It's not a real, it's not a real bullet. It's obviously not actually going to harm anybody. But as far as he's concerned, he’s assassinating somebody using the same techniques.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:56] Wait, you said he was on stage. Was the audience in on it?
Derren Brown: [00:26:00] The audience are not in on it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:01] So they must have freaked out.
Derren Brown: [00:26:02] Well that was another whole thing that was interesting. So yeah, so we've basically, the guy has gone through again, what do you think there's a documentary about hypnosis, which allows me to set up some of these triggers without him realizing what their thought, because I can openly hypnotize them as part of one TV show he thinks is part of, when actually there's a hidden agenda. So the situation arises when he's just gone to an event. Nothing to do with us, has no idea it's being filmed. The audience are not in on it at all. And Stephen Fry, who's his target is -- Stephen is on it and he's wearing squibs and everything.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:36] So he was scared for [indiscernible] [00:26:36]
Derren Brown: [00:26:37] He knows this may happen. So he's out on stage and then we set off these triggers and it was a polka dot dress which Sirhan Sirhan said was one of the triggers that they use. They conditioned him to feel certain things with the polka dot dress. There was a ringtone that we used, someone's phone went off and it was a little jingle, little tune that he'd also been conditioned with and would he do it? Now, he does do it. It's a spoiler, but he does do it. But it was interesting because we had this whole crowd control thing set up because what happens when the 300 people in the audience freak out?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:10] Stampede.
Derren Brown: [00:27:11] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:12] And everyone’s running out the road.
Derren Brown: [00:27:12] And they didn't because there was this thing called normalcy bias, which means in these emergency situations you sit and you look around. No one else is panicking. So you don't, and then of course the other thing, everyone going, “Oh, it's fake.” Because why didn't the audience freak out? But they didn't freak out because they don't freak out. There was a story of a Pan Am Flight that had landed in a foggy runway at night and another plane had taken off over the top of it and rip the side of this plane off. And there was a period of a few minutes that people could escape before this plane was engulfed in flames. And the only people that did were ones that had either been in a similar situation before or had training in this kind of world. Everyone else just sat there and just burned because they looked around and “Oh someone would will take care of it. It's fine.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:58] It’s almost like the bystander effect.
Derren Brown: [00:28:00] Yeah, it is. It is. It's like if you have an emergency, you know there's going to be a flood or there's going to be -- you just sort of, “Oh, it'll be fine. It's not really going to affect me.” And it's that natural bias towards it'll be fine.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:12] If this house was on fire right now and you didn't move, I'd probably be like, “Oh, it's just one of Derren's like things that he's doing in his house.
Derren Brown: [00:28:18] Oh, a fire alarm is such a great example of it, isn't it? A fire alarm goes off. The one thing you know is it isn't a real fire. The one thing you don't think is actually a fire.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:24] Right.
Derren Brown: [00:28:25] So anyways, that was an interesting aspect of it. But yeah, so that's sort of what I do. My background is in magic and this sort of mind reading area of magic. And over the years I've tried to move into this other area, but I also do stage shows. So yeah, hopefully I should be in Broadway this year. I did an off Broadway show for which we won the Drama Desk Award, which is a--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:48] No big deal.
Derren Brown: [00:28:49] A thing, no big deal. I think it was most unique hissed stage production.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:54] Unique is one of those words where you're like
Derren Brown: [00:28:56] I don't know what the word would be, but it was totally like that, which was amazing. But yeah, so I did this off-Broadway version couple of years ago and hopefully, hopefully this year, hopefully in the spring I should be there doing a Broadway version. So that is more of a kind of more traditional kind of stage show with it. But even then I try and know the last show was about faith healing. I did faith healing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:19] That was awesome.
Derren Brown: [00:29:21] This is on Netflix as well, it’s called Miracle.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:23] It's really good. I'm trying not to be super fanning all over because it's hard to [indiscernible][00:29:27] I know. Please bless my ego. That's fine. That was really interesting and that's something I want to ask about more later, but I know you were a Christian until it was in your mid 20s?
Derren Brown: [00:29:39] Yeah, yeah. It was until, yeah, mid-universities that have time, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:43] When you look at historical healers, old biblical miracle stories and things like that. Knowing what you know now about influence, persuasion, psychology, illusions, how much of the stuff -- how much are illusions high tech and how much do you think, “Wait a minute, this technology, if you will, was around 3000 years ago. This could be fake.” This could have been something somebody did to as a scam. And now it's this law that we base our lives upon.
Derren Brown: [00:30:08] I think, well, I think in terms of -- I do sort of have people ask sometimes, what did you think the miracles and the Bible are just magic tricks, I think it's sort of the wrong question. I think how those stories arrive is more, I think more to do with how those tails get formed after the event so that you can -- if you're a young Christian community growing up in some other part of the world and you kind of need your backstory to justify your response to the difficulties that you're facing in your own time so you need your stories. And it was very standard in those days to recreate stories and put words in the mouth of people. Your view of your figure, you're good as long as it's right. I think a lot of those stories are really just things that have come out since -- in order to tell a story or teach a lesson that is useful for those communities, 100, 200, 300 years later. So I think that's more than the world you're in rather than actually, how did he turn the water into wine or whatever?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:10] Oh, chemistry, which they didn't have. But now it's this. Yeah, no, that makes sense. You hear about like Roman writings then having some quote from like, I don’t know Marcus Aurelius or whatever. And then it's like, “Oh wait a minute now that was said by this prophet.” And it's like, “Well, we have this written over here in the Southern part of the world. And then it went up through your grease and then suddenly you said by this religious guy.”
Derren Brown: [00:31:32] I mean when you look at the Oracle at Delphi that people were receiving these amazing messages and there may be in all sorts of hallucinogenics involved, but essentially it seemed to be people sort of wanting to believe something and letting information sit and taking ideas that were probably quite general and symbolic and letting them fit the specifics. And that's really no different to what a medium does today. I mean I think at its heart that our capacity for self-deception or at least to form a narrative that serves us from whatever information we've been given, that seems to be ages old and just part of who we are.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:10] It is interesting to see even now something that you would think people have gotten the memo about such as cold reading and psychic fraud. There is a video you did, I don't know 10 plus years ago now. I'll show people this because they'll go -- a friend of mine goes, “I went to this fair at my university when I was visiting my sister or his Alma mater, and they had a psychic there,” and I thought, “Oh, what the hell?” And “Oh my gosh, I think maybe there's something to this.” And I said, “Let me guess. He's an Indian guy who's a graphic designer.” And I said, “Look, I'll cold read you, I'm not psychic. Here's what I got. You're parents are disappointed in your choice of occupation. They want you to be a doctor or a lawyer or professional. Your mom's really sad, but she's just glad you're happy. She really is more concerned with who you marry. Your dad however, he wishes that you could have done something a little bit more, quote unquote, respectable. They don't understand the work that goes into your craft. And he's like, “Whoa, are you psychic?” And I'm like, “I'm telling you, I told you no. You're just like every other Indian dude in America whose parents are immigrants.”
Derren Brown: [00:33:09] Every other graphic design.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:10] Literally, yeah. You didn't become a doctor or a lawyer. Part of your family's disappointed. Your mom wants you to marry a nice Indian girl and your dad is kind of annoyed that you didn't become an engineer. The end, like this is universal.
Derren Brown: [00:33:22] And then you get the -- I mean the people worst things I've seen sitting in a studio audience, the psychics that come out on a TV show and they have their audience. And then before they started filming, this guy comes out and says, “Is there anybody hoping that someone's going to come through today?” And all these hands go up and you just ask people, “So who did you lose? How did they die? What was the name? Is there some bit of information that would prove to you that it's genuinely them.” And people are just giving this information. Then they start the cameras rolling and he comes out and just says all that stuff straight back. And if you have a dose of skepticism, you're sat there going, this is so transparent. Because the lie is so ugly, it's just so much easier to believe, “Oh he must be doing it for real.” Because he wouldn't just be asking us what to say and then just saying it just to make us cry because it looks good on camera. Surely it wouldn't just be doing that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:10] Right. He don't have to be like proper pastor.
Derren Brown: [00:34:12] Yeah, that'd be really nasty.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:14] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:34:15] So I think it's easier to believe the lie because sometimes the truth is so ugly. Having said that, I mean although I've spent a lot of my career debunking that stuff. Again, I think it's more interesting. I think the question of, “Are psychic powers real? Are the mediums real?” Well, I mean, no, but I think it’s not really that interesting. The interesting question to me is why are the mediums so perennially popular and what is it about our narratives around death, for example, as we've dispensed with superstition so much over the last couple of hundred years, particularly anything morbid and that now, death is now something that is to be fought off. It becomes the enemy.
[00:35:01] I mean, I'll have a system of medicine a couple of hundred years ago was still the ancient Greek medicine about humors and the phlegm and the fire and the bile and all of that. I mean it was only fairly recently. We've sort of embraced what to us now seems proper medicine and even a few hundred years ago. So given that and given the lack of cultural narrative now around death, that would provide us with a sort of real meaning, we don’t have, we don't have any meanings around death unlike a lot of cultures that do. So the only real narrative we have in place now is the brave battle that someone's fighting, that's a sort of a narrative that tends to fit into place. If it doesn't do any good for the poor person that's dying, of course, makes everybody else I think feel better.
[00:35:47] But for that one person, you're now adding failure to a long list of problems that already exist. So it kind of makes sense that at that one time when actually -- because it's the one time and you need to be most aware of the narrative that you're forming when you want to take authorship of your story because when a book finishes at last scene or when a film finishes that last scene, it makes sense of everything that's happened before, and this doesn't happen in life, right? So it just ends. So we have to really find our own stories at this time that matters most. And if there's nothing that'll help us with that, if we don't find it on our own, because there's all those narratives have sort of gone. We don't really respect that anymore. But of course, this opens up a big gap for any tawdry peddler of some semblance of meaning to come along and pack out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:33] Right. We're filling the gap--
Derren Brown: [00:36:35] Like in theaters.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:36] You see guys like Uri Geller, like outright charlatans that just have no shame whatsoever. That guy must be some kind of sociopath or something. I mean he just has no qualms about telling people that he's talking with their dead relative or taking money and going, “This is where your family member’s buried.”
Derren Brown: [00:36:50] [indiscernible][00:36:50] I think he does. I think he's avoided that. I think--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:52] Oh, he's avoiding that?
Derren Brown: [00:36:53] And he’s very just into positive thinking now. I think he’s avoiding it now.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:58] He’s more a help guy now?
Derren Brown: [00:36:57] Yeah, I don't know, but certainly there are plenty of people that do. And in one of my stage shows, I had 50 people up on stage and I would do this kind of thing. And I would do the medium ship and at the same time be debunking it. So I would be giving information that was totally correct. You know, I'd say “I've got your grandmother here. Her name's Alice. And she's saying, and then she's not saying anything. I'm lying to you. You understand this. But she's saying that she had a dog called Teddy and that used to play with Teddy when you were young. I'm just making this up, but is this true?” “Yes.” And so I was sort of trying to keep it in that interesting. It's fake. It's real. And really early on in the run, I went out to stage door and was talking to people afterwards and signing things and this girl said to me, “Can you put me in touch with my dead grandmother?” And I said, “Do you get from the show that I'm not really doing it. I'm trying to kind of debunk it and show that it's not real,” and she “No, no, Yeah, I know. I know it's not real. But could you put me in touch with her?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:51] Oh man.
Derren Brown: [00:37:51] It was fascinating. Just how -- first of all, how you can completely hold those two realities in one. And I'm just what that is just what that appeal. I mean, I don't believe in any of that, but if I lost my grandfather shortly after, as I was talking to a woman who said she was psychic and when she started to say, “Oh no, he's here, he's here in the room now.” It's hard to just let that mean nothing and just brush over you. I mean, you're either going to get annoyed about it, which actually was my response. I said, “Oh, don't, don't.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:23] It’s hacky.
Derren Brown: [00:38:23] It's just tacky. All you want it all, what is you say? You know, but it's very hard to select that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:29] Right. Like you want it so bad and that there's a 0.001% chance that this is real. Like I'm going to hear this person out and you just get emotionally invested in prep that they're feeding you, I guess at that point.
Derren Brown: [00:38:38] Yeah. And I did a documentary series called Derren Brown Investigates, and I would spend time with people that were making some sort of supernatural claims of some sort. And one of them, one of these guys was a psychic, and I think by any standards he was fake. I mean, looking back on it, I mean we just caught him as close you can absolutely, I mean you can't prove a negative can you? But it's closed, you can catch somebody cheating. I mean, we'd just sort of did again and again. So there's really no doubt about it in that sense. But despite the fact that he seemed to be clearly just getting information from here and passing it off as something else, I think in a strange way, maybe I'm just being charitable, but sort of still believed it. And if he was having people say to him, “Oh yes, you must be psychic and you're helping me by saying this.” He was sort of helping people in a not always
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:30] So he was able to rationalize this in his own mind.
Derren Brown: [00:39:32] Yeah. It just felt like Australia should have closed loop that he was in. I thought, well maybe in a weird way, maybe he is. He is the psychic. He’s playing that role and also why is he letting me in to even fill them anyway, if you know that you're just fake, why would you risk that sort of exposure? And it was interesting just seeing when you get close to it, how it's a very gray complex area from the outside. It's an easy yes or no? Is it real, is it not? Well, no, but as you get into it, I think it's a very rich, interesting area about again, how the stories that we form and what we need to hear.
Jason DeFilippo: [00:40:12] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Derren Brown. We'll be right back after this.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:39] You're an amazing performer, but I think there's a little heroic aspect in a way.
Derren Brown: [00:41:45] I'll take it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:46] Yeah, well of course, right. I've do bunking the psychic fraud and the faith healing and things like that and one of their performances was you train this, I think it was like a scuba instructor.
Derren Brown: [00:41:55] Oh yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:56] And he'd take them for like six months and you're like, you're going to be a faith healer. And he really looked the part, he had long hair and he kind of dressed up sharply in a suit and then he comes to the United States and he half fills this room because he didn't want it -- he didn't want to abuse this publicist to fill the room up massively. He's trying to convince people that he's a faith healer. And then at the end he's kind of like -- and this is completely fake and people are just crying because they wanted to believe it. And it's almost like a medical procedure on a child where you're like, I hate hurting this kid but I can't leave this tumor in his back.
Derren Brown: [00:42:27] yes, it was sensitive. It was a tricky thing. And that was, yes, that was my first taste of the faith healing. So this last stage show, which is the one on Netflix called Miracle, I did it myself because I just really got the bug for it from training this other guy. So the other show is called Miracles for Sale, which was a Channel 4 show a few years ago. And yeah, it's just a documentary following this guy, it was so interesting. I think what I learned from doing it myself in the stage show is the -- it's the psychological component of suffering. So yeah, cutting forward to the stage show that I did. So an audience that are skeptical like me, they are not coming to the show thinking there's going to be any healing, which is your biggest, your biggest weapon really as a healer. Weapon is perhaps the wrong word, but you know what makes it work normally is you have an audience of believers.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:19] That are already expecting to see something.
Derren Brown: [00:43:20] Yeah, so they're bringing up -- they're already psychologically prepared for it. And first night, I'm going out and doing this show. I've got 2000 people in the audience, something I don't -- I really don't know if this is going to work. I had enough things that I could kind of work mechanically, some of the tricks that they use. So I thought, well I can get through that section and get to the end and have an ending. But if it doesn't really work much beyond that, then I'll think of something else. And I just say to the audience, “Look, I know you don't believe in this anymore than I do, but just go along.” I'm going to play the part of the healer and just go with it because it's interesting and people did. And it isn't just -- I thought people would come up and they'd say, “Oh well, my back hurt and now it doesn't.” And there'd be these small improvements. But I had people slain in the spirit, which is when you touched them on the head and they collapse out and they're shaking on the floor and all this.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:08] Yeah, how did that work? What's going on there?
Derren Brown: [00:44:10] Well I found what did work was showing little clips of what I'm talking about, faith, and just a little clips that would just show those little scenes like that. And it's just which is--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:18] So they kind of know what to do.
Derren Brown: [00:44:19] Yeah. Which is exactly what happens at the churches anyway because you're seeing it happen again and again on stage. So you're sort of being educated as an audience member without realizing this suggestion is settling in. But I remember within the first week was a woman who came up, she'd been paralyzed on one side of her body since she was a kid and she's in floods of tears. She's 40 something I guess, and can move her arm, and night after night there were these -- it varied, but very often quite dramatic, very physical things. I mean, nothing's changing. Like if you had an X-ray before and after, clearly there's no change. But in that gray area, that's more about, again, to repeat myself, this story that they've settled into about their ailment, if you wake up every day believing, well I can't do this because I have this, does the afterworld create the problem where maybe the physical side might've -- like I had a bad shoulder for a long time, I still have. And I got so used to putting on my jacket with like a bit of a dead arm and pulling the sleeve up with this side. I still do that. I don't know if I really need to do that now. And if somebody got me up on stage and said, “Your shoulder is healed, I made a big fuss.” I said, “Now go on now put your jacket on and do it normally.” And with a bit of adrenaline that's going to kill the pain anyway. I'd probably be fooled into thinking, “Oh my God, you've just healed my shoulder. I've had that for years.” So it's that sort of process, but the results were extraordinary. And even then I started to think, “Well, maybe I could do this on a grand scale.” And I could tell people it's this an entirely secular thing and it may not work. It may only work for the 10 minutes you're on stage, or it may stay or it may, you know, but that's when you do start to go mad and get into a whole ethical world of pain because you know--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:03] Like, am I doing this for their own good? And so it's okay if I'm complaining about this?
Derren Brown: [00:46:07] Yeah, exactly. So how do you not start to go mad once you've seen that? But God! It was extraordinary and really, eye opening and literally eye opening sometimes, blind things like--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:17] Sure.
Derren Brown: [00:46:18] Okay. Not, not full like organic blindness. But--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:23] So it's like if they're kind of-- let say I’m deaf on left ear, but they're only like maybe 80% deaf, so now they're convinced they can hear out of that ear.
Derren Brown: [00:46:31] Yeah, there's lots of tricks around that that they use, then you're into the world of sort of moving out of the suggestion that makes it work into just tricks. Some of the mechanical tricks that I've sort of been put through by healers. There's a lovely one where you sit on YouTube a lot. If you type in leg lengthening.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:47] Oh, that's the one.
Derren Brown: [00:46:47] Yeah. Have you seen it?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:48] The one where they just loosen up the person's shoe just like the most obvious thing.
Derren Brown: [00:46:50] Yes. Well, it sort of, yeah. Again, if you believe it, it's such a stupid trick that I think if you approach it as someone that believes it, it looks like someone's -- so you're showing, here's a guy with a short leg, which is why they limp, and now we're going to lengthen -- the Lord's going to lengthen this person's leg. And as you look this person's leg, I mean the healers -- sort of in the healers, palms like this. You see this leg stretch out and then they walk without a limp. And it's one of the oldest tricks in the book. And I have sat on stage and had the guy do it to me. You choose someone with shoes that you can loosen. And actually what you do is you, everyone's watching this leg lengthen, so you don't do the trick on that leg. You do the trick on the other leg, you've pulled-- first of all, they don't limp, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:38] Right.
Derren Brown: [00:47:37] There was no problem with the leg. You just say, “Look, they’re limping.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:41] Oh, so they just sort of go, “Well, I didn't see him limp,” but he said he was limping so he must be limping.
Derren Brown: [00:47:45] Yeah, so I must have just missed that, you think you've seen it. Then they hold the feet like this and they pull out one, so the other foot, the other shoe is just pulled off the heel a little bit. So now it does look like if you measure the legs that this leg is a little longer, therefore this one's too short. Actually this leg is fine. This one you've just pulled the heel off and then there’s everyone's watching this foot and you're saying this foot is lengthening. You're just slowly pushing this heel of the shoe slowly back onto that foot, but it does look like if you're watching the other leg, it kind of looked like--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:18] Oh, because I'm watching the short leg.
Derren Brown: [00:48:20] Yeah, you're watching, you're watching the other ones. It's sort of believable. Interesting. And then you get into a run around and say, “Look, no limping. They can run around fine. And everyone thinks the healings happen. They could run fine anyway. And I have been brought out the audience and had this done on me by a quite big main healer in Dallas while we're making that documentary show. And the really interesting part of it I left with was it isn't remotely fooling for the person going through it and just how oddly kind of insulting that is. There's no sense of it doing any good for that person. It's just about the showmanship. It's just about creating an effect for the audience. You're really kind of, I mean, I wasn't bothered by it, but you're exploiting a potentially very vulnerable person who's there wanting a healing. God knows what's wrong with them, for just that. I mean, it was a sort of quite ugly, ugly thing but yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:06] It reminds me of Andy [indiscernible] [00:49:08], you know this Andy [indiscernible] [00:49:08]?
Derren Brown: [00:49:08] Yeah, Andy [indiscernible][00:49:08] that's right.
Derren Brown: [00:49:08] Yeah, Andy that's right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:10] He goes to the Filipino, or I don’t know, like Thailand healer. And he just starts laughing because he's looking down as this guy sort of like scrapes bloody chicken meetup has guts and he's like “Oh man.” Same thing, right? Since it's being done on him and he sees it, he just goes, “Ah, this is all bullshit.”
Derren Brown: [00:49:28] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Which I've done. I've done that on stage as well. That's all the chicken from filling out, pulling out the bits of, I used little bits of sponge. It was a bit less gross to do every night, but yeah, otherwise chicken and trails is what gets you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:39]Oh my gosh.
Derren Brown: [00:49:40] Yeah. And you're kind of reaching into someone's stomach and pulling the stuff out. And again, not always very convincing for the person.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:46] Yeah. Because it's like, “Oh, I'm not feeling anything. Oh, well, I have a magic spell. So you don't feel the pain, is just your cancerous.”
Derren Brown: [00:49:52]Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:52] Bad stuff. Where do people learn this stuff? There's the camp -- I haven't looked online, but I assume there's no school for like, “Hey, you want to become a con artist? Here's a bunch of faith healing tricks.”
Derren Brown: [00:50:02] Yeah. And again, do you know that really for me, the interesting part of it, it's a strange parallel between that and say, the secrets, the Rhonda Byrne--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:13] Right, the manifesting thing. Oh God!
Derren Brown: [00:50:15] Yeah. The message is, and it's a sort of a faith model, but the message is like, you know, throw your pills away. The Lord has healed you and if any point this illness returns, which of course it's going to, right? That's because you didn't have enough faith. Maybe you even thought about taking a pill again or what, but either way it's your fault, certainly isn't the Lord's fault. And it certainly isn't the healer's fault. It's your fault because you didn't have enough faith. And in the secret, she explicitly says that, it is your fault. You didn't believe enough. You didn't -- you know how you're supposed to visualize whatever it is you want, which is sadly always about money and jewelry [
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:56] And a Ferrari. Yeah, I want to be really good.
Derren Brown: [00:50:58] New necklace.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:58] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:50:59] And then you have to act as if you've already got the thing. You have to totally commit to it, which I think is such a damaging – a, it's the same thing. The problem is it just creates anxiety and the feeling of failure and self-blame when of course, that is sometimes not going to work. That model of believe in yourself, ignore all the haters, ignore the haters, ignore the naysayers, believe in yourself, have a vision and stick to it is occasionally a model of success. It's also a perfect model for failure. The trouble is we never read the biographies of the businessmen who failed because the, you know, we don't read those.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:35] I think it's called survivor bias.
Derren Brown: [00:51:37] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:38] Someone says follow your dreams and it's like, “Oh, that sounds great.” Look, Mark Cuban [indiscernible] [00:51:41]
Derren Brown: [00:51:41.8] Sounds great, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:42] Some of this rich entrepreneur says it, “Well, there's a 10,000 others people for each one of them who is out of home with their mom's couch. Like the guy from Apocalypse. He’s gone, I'm following my passion, but I just not making any money.
Derren Brown: [00:51:53] Yeah, exactly. And you don't tend to read. I got lucky. I got really lucky.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:58] Right, right, yeah. No, no, we see the guy who spent 30,000 hours trying to figure out how to get people to be persuaded by a jingle and a fake news story and other psychological triggers. How much practice do you think you've had altogether? Like 40,000 hours, 30,000 hours. Have you ever tried do the math of those?
Derren Brown: [00:52:16] No, I don't, I don't know. I started when I was 20, and I'm 47 now. Very soft skin.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:24] Looking good.
Derren Brown: [00:52:25] Thank you.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:26] Yeah, It's a lot of practice and a lot of trial and error, I would imagine.
Derren Brown: [00:52:31] Yeah. I remember having a real seminal moment in -- people would come to my rooms as when I was a student and I'd hypnotized them. And I remember I, I'd leave them if they were responsive, if they were good. I'd leave them with a suggestion that if they came back and I said sleep and click my fingers, they'd go straight to sleep.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:50] You need that. Jen needs that. We got jet lag for days.
Derren Brown: [00:52:52] She's gone. She's gone. sorry. That's not a toy. And I had this guy come back and I thought I'd hypnotized before. And I said, okay, sit down, look at me and sleep. And he went straight out and then we did whatever the hypnosis was. And then afterwards I realized I'd never met him before. So then I'm thinking, well, how did you--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:11] So none of the groundwork with him.
Derren Brown: [00:53:11] No, none of the groundwork was there. So why did he respond to me clicking my fingers and saying sleep? Which clearly there's nothing magical about doing that. And then I thought, okay, well it was actually just my belief and my confidence at the time and the fact that luckily he was very suggestible made that work. So things like that just come not from necessarily the hours and hours of, I mean they do, I guess, but then it's not about technique per se, other than just realization of, I think all I do is all -- everything I do is about seeing the thing from another person's point of view. And just that's the toolbox. That's the tool kit is someone else's ongoing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:53:50] What percentage of the population is that suggestible where you think maybe you can just get them to sleep or maybe not quite that suggestible, but?
Derren Brown: [00:53:58] It probably ties into people that respond well to placebo. It's probably you're dealing with the same kind of in the Venn diagram of those things, it's probably a 30% maybe something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:08] Okay.
Derren Brown: [00:54:08] But like when--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:09] It’s a lot.
Derren Brown: [00:54:09] It’s still a lot, but then it depends what you want. So when I'm doing my stage shows and I've got a couple of thousand people, like with the Faith Healing that I was doing, I might get 300 people come forward from an audience of say 3,000, and then I might get like the best 10 up. So now you're dealing with such a small percentage anyway. They always going to be an X. That 1% in the room is always going to be a kind of extraordinary, isn't it? So that helps. That kind of thing helps. It doesn't mean, they might feel like the whole audience is responding to something. Whereas the reality is you're whittling down to do the best so you can create the illusion of it'd be more successful than it is.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:46] Yeah, that makes sense. What are you looking for with these suggestible people? Yeah, like in The Push for example, you test them, “Hey, who stands up and sits down when they hear the bell, and you see this something on the Netflix, but other things, where are you ever just walking down the street and you see somebody and you go, “This person has these nonverbal characteristics of a highly suggestible type of person.” Is that, does that exist?
Derren Brown: [00:55:05] I've done it for a long time. And I've given up trying to do that because I'm always surprised by -- I mean openness and a natural tendency to sort of go along with ideas and so on. Feels like it should be a good signifier of suggestibility. And a lot of the time it is, but I know how I am socially with people. I probably seem like that because I'm not a very good hypnotic subject, but I probably I’m quite responsive to maybe things I perceive there or things like I don't know, just an expert that I admire telling me stuff that I'm going to absorb and take on as my own, which is another form of suggestibility, but I'm not very responsive to a hypnotism, hypnotize me. I think something in my ego sort of--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:49] Maybe, yeah.
Derren Brown: [00:55:50] Blocks that. And likewise people that seem very standoffish and seemed very kind of, you know, detached arms folded like the last person you'd think would respond. Sometimes that all comes from an oddly insecure place and if you get them into the right sort of type of interaction that hypnosis is, they suddenly become hyper-responsive side. I've given up trying to predict it. I do it in situations where I can throw it out over a large number of people and work with the ones that--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:16] Right, and look for the right responses, yeah. Interesting. How do you come up with some of the tricks or the illusions? Did you just kind of like, you're walking through the mall with your partner and you're like, “You know, what if I made something like that come to life and then vantage?” That would be pretty cool, right?
Derren Brown: [00:56:31] No, I don't know. Maybe, no, I normally have a two week period where let say with the stage shows it's like maybe a month, but the TV shows maybe a couple of weeks where I've got to think of an idea. So with the TV has nothing to do with like magic effects of any sort. It's something like what can we like in The Push, for example, she's another other one on Netflix. We were thinking about coming up with new ideas for sort of plots for one of these things to put somebody through and then out of a sort of frustration, or can we just -- it's a big party, everyone's an actor apart from one person and can we make that one person throw someone off a roof? Yeah, just so sometimes out of a, Oh I can't, we just blur. There's an idea that is like, Oh actually that's quite, it's quite cool. So now it's an exercise in social compliance. So the first thing there are -- so they're helping out at the party, the first thing they're asked to do is to mislabel meat filled sausage rolls as vegetarian sausage rolls. So there's that little bit of a kind of you get your foot in the door with a little thing they're asked to do and then bit by bit could you build that to the point that they would actually kill somebody because they're told to.
[00:57:40] So that that became, that became the show. So it's that really it's trying to come up with a fun, strong hook and then make sure that the shows kind of got a good reason and a good message. And actually the show on social compliance, that one, The Push went out in Britain a few years. I've quite 2000, I don't know 16 or something, but some over the last few years. That idea of like good people doing bad things and how we can get persuaded by these narratives that we buy into is sort of become more relevant. So it sort of became a different show somehow and when it was put on Netflix.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:18] The Push is probably one of my favorites, if not my absolute favorite--
Derren Brown: [00:58:20] Oh, that’s nice.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:21] Because of the social compliance aspect. And because when you watch that, unless you are really good at rationalizing things to yourself, even I who, I know it's certain extent what you're doing with the little vegetarian flags or like getting people to sort of dig a little deeper into the lie that they're telling. Unless you are really, really in denial, I think all of us can watch that and go “Shoot, I could have probably done up to this point.” Like, “Oh I wouldn't have killed the guy, but you know, I would have given the speech about how I'm the donor.” Or “I probably would've like not hidden the body or I wouldn't have kicked the dead guy, but would I've kicked the dead guy? I mean he's dead. I didn't think anyone was watching.
Derren Brown: [00:59:02] Well, through most of my career, I've had people say to me, “I wouldn't do this, or I had done that, but I wouldn't have done that.” And I think what's interesting to me is how we think about what we would do with a sense of a self that we have, which we think of in isolation. We think of ourselves, and again, this is an enlightenment idea that stuck around that we are sort of these-- that we should be these separate entities that are not being influenced by other people around us. That we should be--
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:33] Well, that separate smartness.
Derren Brown: [00:59:33] Independence. Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:34] This wouldn't work on me. I'm too smart. I'm too principled, I’m too insert good positive quality here. This guy would never be able to fool me.
Derren Brown: [00:59:42] And of course that that idea of the self-light that was born at a time when it was important not to be influenced too much by the church or the King. There was actually a making a statement of saying, look, we should be free individuals is important. But we bought so much into that idea that we miss that actually the self, I think is a verb. I think we, self, it's something that's very active and it expands out fluidly into our environment and into our relationships. And it's very hard to make judgements about what you would do in a situation when you're not in that situation. And that's even something that extreme as murder. You just can't judge and you can't judge from a distance and say, “Well I wouldn't, I wouldn't do that.” Because you're making that decision in isolation, and it's totally different. And that's when you're there and to me that is, it's fascinating because I mean the shows, it's funny and it's a bit like, is it a weekend at Bernie's. That was the kind of inspiration from it. And then the guys called Bernie, the character that dies in it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:46] Oh, that’s right. I never caught that.
Derren Brown: [01:00:48] Oh, you go, but actually at its heart was, I think to me it was this thing of what it -- yes, how far can compliance go, but also what our sense of self is and how that drastically changes from context to context.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:07.5] How do you test this kind of stuff? Because I'm imagining, you know, how do you test whether someone's going to rob an armored car? You can't really?
Derren Brown: [01:01:16] No.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:16] Right?
Derren Brown: [01:01:17] No.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:16 I mean the whole thing could just end up not working.
Derren Brown: [01:01:19] Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. So then well, there's different ways of doing it. So in some shows, we can be following four or five people.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:26] Yeah, you’re just hoping that one0--
Derren Brown: [01:01:30] It doesn't need to work on all of them because either way you've got, you know, that's your result. If it worked on one out of five, it worked on one out of five. In a show like Sacrifice, which is the current one. If he doesn't do the thing at the end, there's no going back and doing it again. You can't say we're going to retake that. So you'd have to find a way of letting that failure sit within a narrative that would then maybe continue and find another way of going or a way of finishing that we're still leave you with a satisfying ending. So that's the joy of TV. It's not changing what happened, but you can let what happened sit within a story that can of course, you know, continue and you can be truthful but still make the story satisfying. So failure is important and there are failures within that show, Sacrifice, are part of it. And they sit fine within it. It’s a bit like a juggler dropping a ball actually occasionally, it's good to be reminded these things aren't, just going to happen.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:26] Like with the guy, the guy didn’t want to jump off into the rock or whatever thaw was.
Derren Brown: [01:02:29] Exactly, yeah, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:30] And that's all right. That failure. But like if he was like, “I'm not taking a bullet for that guy.” Shoot him, shoot him camp, you know, and then now what do we do with the production, where he just looks terrible.
Derren Brown: [01:02:41] But it would have been, I mean it would have been amazing to watch that and see it fail and then you'd be like, “Fuck, what are they going to do?” How are they going to get out of that or so, and then so that's still an interesting dramatic and interesting place. Is that up to us to make sure that we do something interesting.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:54] I was without nervous for you. When I see that though, because I'm imagining you're in this control room going, just shoot him and then jump in there, please. You know, I've got to go to the bathroom, hungry, desert shithole town for like three weeks filming this. Just shoot him and get it over with, man.
Derren Brown: [01:03:10] Shoots him before I shoot myself.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:11] Yeah, yeah, shoot him or give me the gun. Yeah, exactly. Have you had ever had any close calls where it's like someone almost blows it, like they're setting something up and the guy gets home from work early and you're like, “Don't leave the shed.”
Derren Brown: [01:03:22] Oh, we've had, God don't leave the shed. There was actually one of the show in Apocalypse. So this is the end of the world one.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:29] The zombie one.
Derren Brown: [01:03:30] So yeah, so we had, it's just a glimpse of like how much work goes into these shows. So we recorded a special episode of a TV show that you watched. I don’t know, it wasn't that, it was the electrical interference from the meteors. So we were taking things out of this car. This car wouldn't start and the phone, his phone would die and the TV suddenly just died, right? As they're watching it, and it's all been explained by, there's been mornings on the radio about electrical interference. So to make that happen, we've got two guys in the shed in the garden. I don't know why we had to, but we did who are going to pull the -- just the cable, but they couldn't then leave this little garden shed to go because the room that is watching TV and backs onto the back garbage and you might see them, his bedroom does the same, so they had to sleep. These two guys had to sleep in this shit. This is after like three months without a day off anyway because the sheer level of work on these is just enormous.
[01:04:22] For this one at the moment that no one really remembers from the show is not a great part of the drama. It's just a fun little bit. So yeah, it does happen. But the other thing is, which has sort of, I've realized over the years of making them that we're all a lot more nervous about the fiction being rumbled than we need to be because if you were having dinner with Jen here, perhaps in a fashionable London restaurant and you spotted a camera behind a curtain, you wouldn't think, “Okay, all right. This whole thing is fake. All these people are actors.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:55] I’m on a TV show. Where’s Derren Brown? I would be excited if I, yeah,
Derren Brown: [01:04:59] You'd be like, “Oh this is weird.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:01] Oh, somebody left a camera here, that’s a weird.
Derren Brown: [01:05:03] Exactly, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:04] That’s going to get stolen.
Derren Brown: [01:05:04] We've had a couple of near misses like that, that we've all been, you know.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:10] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [01:05:11] Like that about that actually hasn't--
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:12] I love that. I've never seen that expression, but I know exactly what that means. I am definitely going to use that for those of you who couldn't see that, it's this.
Derren Brown: [01:05:20] The question to that. I spent a lot of my career like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:25] I can't believe I have -- what have I done my whole life not having this exact hand gesture.
Derren Brown: [01:05:30] No, you haven't.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:31] To civil like, Oh, couldn't be more perfect. Yeah, because I'm imagining and imagine those two guys in the shed going, you know, I think I'm going to apply to that job, that office job after all. Freezing their ass off in the shed in the middle of winter.
Derren Brown: [01:05:44] Yeah, that was a tough, it was a tough job for everyone that because yeah, it's eight months and there's never enough budget for those things. So this just, everyone's living it and God, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:53] Who writes all the dialogue? Because for people to really understand this, it very much is the Truman Show. Like there's a fake charity -- in The Push, there's a fake charity gala, there's security team for the gala, there's catering team for the gala, there's all these gifts, there's all these people attending, there's car service, there's the assistant, and there's performers or whatever, and the hotel, everybody's in on that. You can't have people wandering in that aren't part of it.
Derren Brown: [01:06:15] No. Well that's part of production team is really helpful.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:17] But they have to be like secret production team.
Derren Brown: [01:06:19] Oh yeah, yeah. And the other thing is like you're putting somebody through something potentially quite dark, even if the end result is a positive one, less so in the Push. It was all quite dark. So you've got to make sure that they're robust enough psychologically. So there's a whole vetting procedure that has to happen with those people as well. But again, they can't know that, that normally they tell they're not being used as they applied to be part of the show, then they're told, “Sorry, we're not going to use you.” And then by that point they've signed, the thing that lets us use them and then months later it'll happen so you have to vet them. So they have to go through and sort of independent psychological procedures with a psychologist to make sure they're robust enough because if they're going to like witness a car crash, for example.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:59] Oh, yeah.
Derren Brown: [01:06:59] You can't have them having witnessed a traumatic car crash when they were younger, that sort of thing. So you've got a psychiatrist who knows, or a psychologist who knows the plot, but you've got to -- they have to do that but also believe that everybody else is doing that because otherwise it would tip to them that they're being used for it. So totally out of things that you'd never even see in the show. But just the level of work that has to exist around it to make sure that, and all the people that like, you've got to have that person's wife or girlfriend or boyfriend, whatever involved to make sure that they actually go to this event that we've stayed. What did they change their mind at the last minute?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:35] Right, I’m kind of have a headache, I'm going to bail on this. Why don't you go instead, bring the checks.
Derren Brown: [01:07:41] Just so much, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:43] Oh man. It reminds me of a surprise birthday party I had in Germany in like 1998, and I wasn't going to go out that night and I told my friend Peggy, who'd set the whole thing up, I said, “I didn’t really want to come out tonight. What were you going to do if I was like, nah, I got a headache.” And she's like, “Yeah, we thought about that because you know, I'm Mister, I don't want to go out tonight.” Like back then I was like, “Oh, it's far. I don't want to get on the bus. It's cold.” She's like, “We had to--
Derren Brown: [01:08:05] I got all the way to Germany.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:06] Yeah, yeah. We had this elaborate plan of her coming over and being like, she had a whole big idea. She was going to like, she said, the idea that was in her back pocket was she was going to tell me that her friend and her wanted to like give me some sort of special birthday present if you will. And I was like, “Yeah, that would have worked.”
Derren Brown: [01:08:24] Keep it close to the truth. Close to the truth is always, always good, isn’t it?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:27] But I would have been really disappointed if all I got was this surprise crate.
Derren Brown: [01:08:30] Yeah, yeah, great. And where's my sorry, there was a present.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:33] Oh, that was fake? I'm going back home now. You often show that people are being primed to pick the giraffe or to draw something. How much of it -- and then you say, look, here's how we primed them. This display, this billboard had a giraffe on it and this kid's t-shirt had a giraffe on it. And then when they were on the bus, there was the word draft was written on the window. Is that the real explanation or is that like, “Oh crap, we did this trick and now we've got to show the audience why this person did this.”
Derren Brown: [01:09:02] It really varies. And this the sort of stuff that I used to do years ago and haven't done for a long time now, but in the same way that when Penn & Teller would reveal a trick, it wasn't just a witless reveal or here's how we did it. You'd show the method when the method was more interesting actually than the trick. So what you go away with is, “Oh, it was amazing! They showed how it was done.” It was really clever and it was probably more clever than how you have to do that, right? Because the overall effect that you want to communicate is the joy of watching how it's done. So that was sort of the approach that I took as well with those things. So they're a mixture of kind of real or sort of tweaked, I'd say certainly theatrically kind of tweaked because ultimately that's the bit that, you know, that's going to be the really fun part of seeing how it was done. And also you can only really show the stuff that's sort of visual because it's like that's you watching it on TV and some of the stuff is when you're trying to tell a story very neatly of how you did, it doesn't always lend itself to those, you know that kind of clear visual narrative. So yeah, it's sort of a mix, but I kind of figured I had license to approach it with the same kind of a sense of theater as the truth itself.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:10:16] I think you have to, right? Because if the answer is “Oh, well that's just the guy with my same building a mask,” it's like, “Oh.” But if it's like “No, this group of kids had the t-shirt,” and then there's the sign on the pub. As they were driving, they saw three billboards and they've been here all weeks driving back and forth. So it's been repeated in their brains, and of course they pick, it's just like the principles are sound enough that they would feel radically have worked. So that's a better explanation than well actually, they picked a bunch of other things in this draft happened to be like the most convenient item for them to pick up at the time.
Derren Brown: [01:10:45] It can be a mixture. It can be a mixture. I think, I think that's part of the fun of it for me particularly with that early stuff was kind of some of it's real, some of it isn't. And what was the -- because my background is hypnosis suggestion, all that stuff that's real in whatever real means. But that's real. It's not like people sort of playing along or it is what it is. And then the magic side, the conjuring side, tricks decide where you're going for an effect and you're going for the an illusion. So everything was sort of sitting somewhere in both of those worlds. And I think sort of what made it fun, I hope, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:24] Yeah. I like the idea of that. Is it perception without awareness?
Derren Brown: [01:11:28] Perception without awareness.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:28] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [01:11:29] PWI.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:29] Is there something that we can do? Should we even think about this or is there something that we can do to counteract that because it seems a little dangerous if we're so easily influenced by these things, should we strive to maybe pay attention to that because not everybody is doing it and then goes, “See now your life is really happy. Now you value your family more because of this fake zombie apocalypse.” There's going to be plenty of other people that go, “Now we're doing this horrible thing as a country because we were all convinced that it's the Jews.” Or like “Now we're doing this horrible thing to this because it makes us all money. Forget it. It's scary to think that we're so easily influenced and we don't understand it.
Derren Brown: [01:12:08] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:09] And we're not able to counteract it.
Derren Brown: [01:12:10] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:11] Is there kind of like a self-defense for this?
Derren Brown: [01:12:13] I think there's no obvious self-defense. I think a lot of those things that happen sort of environmentally, those kind of influences and things that are going on that we don't realize are influencing us have their parallels within us psychologically. You know, Carl Jung said that the greatest burden a child has to bear is the unlived life of its parents, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:34] Yeah, that’s worry about with my kid, to happen to them.
Derren Brown: [01:12:36] Not with their parents.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:37] They're going to have every -- welcome, I've got a lot of insecurities. Get a notebook.
Derren Brown: [01:12:42] Yeah. So that's the starting point. And then from an early age, we developed these templates of what relationships should be, what love is, who we are in relation to this world. You know, we get essentially the message, you’re small and weak, and the world is big and strong and this is all a kind of priming, isn't it? It's the same thing that happens environmentally and then you grow up and all of that feeds into, well you have relationships, most obviously what you demand from your partner, what you project onto them, the things that you try and hide from yourself. And those things always come back and bite you in some way or the things you overcompensate for it become addicted to, you know, it's happening all the time within us. And the best we can do is try and be more conscious of those things that are essentially unconscious because they only own you when they're unconscious. And the moment you have some sort of conscious appreciation and they lose some of that power. I think that's the best that we can do and we can only do that within ourselves. That we can only work on ourselves and do the best we can. So I think there's a parallel there. I think it's just -- and you can never entirely that union path of individuation as he call it. You never quite get to the end when you've become the self that you're really, truly supposed to be outside of all these influences, it's only your journey. And I think there's the best we can hope for in that parallel example of what's going on environmentally.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:14:12] If we have all these influences around us and we have hypnosis that is not fake, right? It's realistic, and we're creating compliance in people, at what point do we decide that humans and our level of free will is maybe a lot more limited than they would like -- do you believe in freewill? It's those sort of more philosophical concept. I think but.
Derren Brown: [01:14:33] Okay. I think in life what we -- a big part of growing up is realizing that things in life are ambivalent and they are ambiguous and they're complex and they're messy and they're active. Things like happiness, we reduced to nouns and when we do that they suddenly become neat things that we can put in the box. And then no, happiness is really, it's an active, it's a messy verb thing. And likewise we love and hate things at the same time, things are right and wrong and hard as it is to accept. Left and right are both doing a valid and important thing. The right wing world is protecting the group and the left wing world is protecting the individual. And we do actually need both of those things in some form or another. So life's complex and ambiguous. And I think where simple, yes and nos and simple right and wrongs exist and that the point is both of those things need to exist.
[01:15:33] So my answer is the freewill thing is, I think both. I think I'm very happy to let both sit. I think in some ways, of course, you can argue that everything is caused by the previous things that makes no sense to talk about freewill. But then the trouble with that is it's almost too easy. You got, okay, all right then makes no sense talking about free will. So then why bother doing anything or try to change anything about yourself or trying to gain any mastery of anything least of all yourself? So I think then it also makes sense to talk about it as if it is real. And I think they're just two models for understanding the same thing. I don't think it -- I just don't think it quite makes any sense to go yes or no, and then ended there. I just don't think it's useful. I don't think it's a reflection of how we live. The dangerous of course of that approach, you just end up agreeing with everything. But I think it's reflects more the reality.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:25] Is there a way to use some of these, some of the mentalism for either personal growth or I think self-defense was one of the uses, in The Heist, there was the guy gets caught shoplifting. He says something like--
Derren Brown: [01:16:37] This happened to me.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:38] The wall around my house is not four foot high. Guys like “Whatever, man.”
Derren Brown: [01:16:42] Yeah, yeah. Well that’s a good example of it. This actually happened to me in real life. I wasn't shoplifting, but I was-
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:48] I’m sure you weren’t. You’re just borrowing it.
Derren Brown: [01:16:48] I was borrowing. I was walking from one hotel to another quite late at night. I was at a magic convention in Wales. I was wearing a three piece of velvet suit.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:01] Because why not?
Derren Brown: [01:17:01] Because why not? And I mean short of having punched me hard in the throat, tattooed across my face. I was clearly looking to be fought, and so this guy is, you know, he's really drunk and his clearly looking for a fight and he is with his girlfriend and all his adrenaline's kind of, you know, up here. And he starts shouting at me and says something like, what are you looking at or what's your problem or something. So I, and again, my only tool kit is just the other person's experience. It's really all I can work with. So I said to him, because in that situation you can't respond with, “Oh, I'm not looking at anything because then you're on the back foot and they've got power,” or “Yeah, I'm looking at you, what's your problem?” Because either way you're going to get hit probably, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:50] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [01:17:50] You're sort of your furthering that dynamic that they've set up where you can just not play that game right from the outset. So I said the wall outside, my house isn't four foot high. So where this phrase came from, because I said it on that time, that occasion, so it makes sense as a statement, makes no sense within that context.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:18:07] Right.
Derren Brown: [01:18:08] So he now feels his missed something. So now he's on the back foot. So his reaction to that is a bit of a pause like “What?” And I said all the wall outside my house isn't four foot high. When I lived in Spain, the walls there were quite high, but here they’re tiny I mean they’re nothing. So he then -- I think there's a martial arts technique which is an adrenaline dump. The similar thing I think where you, before you strike, you make somebody relax, you essentially take them off guard. So this is what happened to him. All his adrenaline just kind of dumped. I was hoping to just basically confuse him and then stick his feet to the floor or do something more overtly hypnotic because that confusion state renders is very suggestible. But what actually happened was he just went off, “Fuck!” and started crying. His girlfriend walked off and he sat down by the side of the road. I sat down next to him and started asking about what had gone wrong that night. I think his girlfriend had bottled somebody that'd been some fight. And where did that, I'm giving some advice, but it only happened because I'd been talking about what to do in those sorts of situations at Q&A things that I'd been doing after hypnosis shows. And I'd sort of said the only reason why it was in my head and ready to go to, to play it like that was because I'd sort of spoken about it theoretically. So the idea is have, I mean, it can be a song lyric. It can be -- it's just not playing that game that the other person is setting up and making them feel that they've missed something. And then the dynamics completely changed immediately if they're running you with a knife, all right, there's not much room for this kind of thing, but it's like if you're on a train and you want to keep the seat next to you free, don't put your bag there because that's what everybody else does. So they know what you're doing and they're going to get annoyed. Pat the seat, nod and smile at people as they, but no one's going to want to sit there.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:55] Sit here. Just unbutton your shirt while doing it. Yeah, I'm ready. Have a seat.
Derren Brown: [01:20:00] So yeah. So that ended up being my sort of self-defense technique was have a song lyric or something or I was to this friend of mine about this thing and he's an artist and he used to walk home from his studio late at night through rough bit of London and there were always these kinds of like gangs on one side of the road. So who'd always crossover away from them. And then of course they'd always see that and it was always this horrible, uncomfortable, intimidating thing. So we spoke about it, and then the next night, he crossed over the road to them, and said, good evening as he walked past them. And of course they left him alone because he just seemed like a strange.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:20:36] Yeah. He's crazy.
Derren Brown: [01:20:38] He's just weird.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:20:38] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [01:20:39] Good evening, so yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:20:41] Who wants to see a magic trick? No thanks, man. Get away from us. What do your parents think about your career interests? Like I'm imagining they're watching your show and they're like, the audience is oohing and eyeing and they're like, “Oh, you think that's a surprise?” Our son, the religious Christian boy.
Derren Brown: [01:20:57] You haven’t picked up up his pants.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:20:59] Yeah, he's a gay atheist now, if you want a surprise, that was a surprise.
Derren Brown: [01:21:02] Gay atheist. I'm claiming atheists now.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:05] You said the trademark that.
Derren Brown: [01:21:07] Are they seem proud and happy? My neither parent went to university or anything like that. So I think when I came home and went, I'm not going to be a -- I actually had this conversation. I'm not going to be an international lawyer, so I was doing more in German. I'm going to be a magician. My mom said, “Oh great, that sounds lovely.” I thought she was so okay with it that I thought, “Ah okay, maybe I need to rethink that.” Maybe that's a bit of a rash decision on my part, but yeah, it all work out.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:33] That's where the persuasion comes from, right? Like, “Oh yeah, that's a good idea.” What'd you tell them when you said he was going to become a magician? I told him it was a great idea and he's never going to do it now.
Derren Brown: [01:21:40]Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:41] Yeah.
Derren Brown: [01:21:41] Yeah. But as it turned out I did. But yeah, there was at a very relaxed approached. I wrote them a letter in my first year at university because I was with all these law students that were feeling terrible they weren't going to pass their exams, not for themselves at what their parents might think and I've never experienced that. So I wrote them a letter saying, “Thank you so much.” I realized that you just let me do what made me happy, which I just assumed everybody did. And I see now that isn't, that isn't the case. So thank you.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:22:09] So you think all have kids at some point, is that in the cards for you?
Derren Brown: [01:22:12] Oh, I don't know. We've been talking about that. So I'm 47, our families are very caught between that. You know, our niche has spoke about become who you are so there's that. What I think of as a vertical sense of like, this is my life and I need to be doing that. And everything else needs to clear out the way and it's all quite selfish. But there's that urge which doesn't sit well with taking on other responsibilities. I've got two dogs and that's kind of enough of an affront to that urge. And then the other urge, which is the sort of leveling vertical urge of, or maybe that sense of self becoming who you are as already in the relationships that you have and these things that are maybe that's who I am and you know. So I'm of an age where I think is partly what middle-aged is about, isn't it? When you can kind of get a bit caught between that, your ego, your ego has to step down. Again, union terms, you’ve slayed the dragon in the first half of your life and now you have to rescue the princess. Second half of life, I think it's about serving something else, finding the thing that's bigger than you, and finding meaning in that. I think it's the quietly, which kids naturally will sort of do. I just haven't quite made my peace fully with that idea. Some I at the moment no, but it's a discussion, but I'm still a so many things I just do and demand my time that I don't know.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:23:34] And you've got all this whiskey out there.
Derren Brown: [01:23:36] I've got a lot of whiskey to drink as well, which isn't compatible with having children.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:23:40] Not necessarily, no. Although kids--
Derren Brown: [01:23:42] The reason why they hit hard by the way is they don't drink that much, otherwise they would all be all be that gone just before I passed myself off as an alcohol.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:23:48] Right. Yeah, yeah. You might have to -- that would be a different, there's a whole lot of whiskey in here. People can't see it, but well maybe we'll do some B rolls [indiscernible] [01:23:56]
Derren Brown: [01:23:56] [indiscernible] [01:23:56]
Jordan Harbinger: [01:23:57] Yeah. Well thank you for using your platform as well to help people because a lot of TV is, I mean to say the least, it doesn't help humanity and you see things like Apocalypse, The Push, Sacrifice where -- these people's lives are changed as a result of this.
Derren Brown: [01:24:10] Yeah, yeah. Well thank you. Well, there'll be the things that, Amond will be proud of is a, you know, television as a fairly fatuous occupation. But if you occasionally, when something happens in the real world that's helped that person that is genuine is a nice thing. I don't do these shows so often that people are just being churned out in some kind of conveyor belt of some sort of make-over practice. I only do like one of these things a year. All these people that become friends, you know, I've stayed in touch with them and part of me wants to make sure that the work of the show continues.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:24:48] Right.
Derren Brown: [01:24:49] That they do actually, it isn't just a show that they did and they felt great for a bit and then they went back to where they were. So that's important to me as well. So yeah, thank you.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:24:58] What are you designing now? A Broadway show, you said was a show that you'd done before. Are you constantly designing new things or thinking of new illusions or new tricks that you can put in somewhere?
Derren Brown: [01:25:10] Okay. So where am I now? So I'm hoping for a Broadway show in the spring, so I'm just waiting to hear on a theater for that. So it could suddenly happen and I might be out there in like April not, it might be later in the year or not at all. I'm starting a new book or getting my head around a new book. So I wrote this book on happiness.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:25:30] Great, which re good.
Derren Brown: [01:25:32] Called Happy.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:25:32] It will be linked in the show.
Derren Brown: [01:25:33] Thank you. So that's available in America now, which is quite a new thing and a lot of it's about stoicism and an approach to happiness is very different from the sort of normal self-help book approach. So I'm starting to get my head around a second book around those kind of questions. If you know what it is to flourish and be human really. And then I guess there'll be another TV thing that'll, at the moment there are three shows on Netflix. There's The Push, which is the guy getting pushed off the building story. Miracle, which is the stage show or the faith healing. And Sacrifice is the new one. So we working on a forth, there's a real projects for this year. And then maybe even looking at sort of Europe, there are some other sort of countries that seem to, they've had my TV shows for a while, but I've never gone over there and performed. That'll be fun. So yeah, there's lots of fun things to explore. Broadway is the, I mean I enjoyed myself so much out there before that would be great.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:26:30] I’m shocked that hasn't happened yet. It seems so I've gone to some Broadway shows that are nowhere near as interesting as watching something that you would do live.
Derren Brown: [01:26:38] Oh, lovely.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:26:38] But I've also been really surprised at how long it's taken us to go. Hey, this Derren Brown guy kind of knows what he's doing. Because I used to find these things on YouTube 10 years ago or whatever, maybe not even YouTube, maybe some other video 10 years ago. And I was like, “This is amazing. How was this not more popular?” And I would be sharing these things. And then I'd say, “Have you heard of -- you've heard of Derren Brown, right?” And people go, “Oh, I don't know.” And I'm like the guy in the Netflix. And then of course, now I show people and they're like, “Whoa, this is incredible.” I'm thinking like how long is it going to take for people to get it? Like what is going on here?
Derren Brown: [01:27:10] It was partly, so we sort of held the shows back a bit from the state so that we sold them into around Europe, but we held back from the States because it meant that we could kind of do that properly at some point and in a more kind of concerted effort, make it all happen part of a plan at some point. I have no, I never had any ambition or anything with these things at all. So I leave that to the grownups that sort of, you know, planned my career like that. I just like to do what enjoyable or fuels worthwhile at the time. But that's why, we actually held it back in the last few years. We've sort of gone right, it’s studying and stuff. So that's why it's slowly now.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:27:47] Well, that's exciting. That’s exciting, I mean because essentially a household name in the UK.
Derren Brown: [01:27:51] Yeah, yeah. Well, I don't know, but yeah, so certainly no one knows me in the States. You and Jen.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:27:55] Yeah, yeah. And Jen, and now a lot of other people as well.
Derren Brown: [01:27:59] Yes.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:28:00] Thank you very much.
Derren Brown: [01:28:01] Lovely to meet you.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:28:02] Likewise.
Derren Brown: [01:28:02] Thank you so much for having me on. Thank you. Thanks Jen.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:28:08] So Jason, this episode did not disappoint, I assume.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:28:11] Oh absolutely not. I've listened to it twice so far, but that's also my job. But it was still, it was one of those pleasures that I get to go to work in the morning and listen to you talk to Derren and hear about the behind the scenes of how he makes these amazing shows and it's fascinating. It's utterly fascinating.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:28:27] He's just one of the most brilliant entertainers slash magicians alive and it was just awesome to be in his house with all of the atmosphere of his house and his secret passageways and his two headed six legged animals and stuff like that in the house. It's just absolutely incredible. And his art is up all over the place. You got to check out DerrenBrown stuff. We're going to link to a bunch of his videos in the show notes. If you have Netflix, which I assume you do, search Derren Brown, D-E-R-R-E-N, and watched The Push, watch Sacrifice. You will just be blown away.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:29:00] And also he's an amazing author. I read his book Happy. I've read it twice so far, so I highly recommend checking that out. That'll be linked in the show notes as well. It is a great treatise on stoicism and what it takes to be happy and you know how to deal with the thought of death and all. It's a deep book. It's an extraordinarily deep book that I did not expect when I opened it up because it title is Happy on the front. So it was a really amazing book and definitely check out his work on Instagram. I had no idea he was such an amazing photographer and painter as well.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:29:33] Yeah, the dude's good at pretty much everything. I assume he's, you know, sucks at billiards or ping pong or something like that. There's got to be, it's got to be a balance somewhere, right?
Jason DeFillippo: [01:29:42] I don't know.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:29:43] Yeah, I don't know either.
Jason DeFillippo: [01:29:44] Seems like he’s not.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:29:44] Now I'm not sure. And he's a lovely, lovely guy. I really enjoyed meeting him. He's just an amazing, amazing person and I'm looking forward to seeing everything that he does in the future and keeping in touch with them for a long, long time. And I'm very excited for his Broadway show coming up. We'll let you guys know about that. I'm maybe going to bring a group to New York once that opens up because I just can't wait to see what that's all about as well. And if you want to know how I managed to book great people like Derren and create a network with people like Derren in it. Well systems, that's how you do it. Tiny habits, a little bits each day, and I'm teaching you how to do this for free. The Six-Minute Networking course is over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't kick the can down the road. Don't lie to yourself and tell yourself you're going to do it later. You're not. Dig the well before you're thirsty. Jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:30:31] Speaking of building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway here from Derren Brown. I'm @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode was co-produced by Jason “Taking a Bullet” DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger. Show notes by Robert Fogarty. Worksheets by Caleb Bacon, and I'm your host, Jordan Harbinger. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every single episode, especially this one. So please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. Lots more coming up in 2019. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:31:10] A lot of people ask me which podcasts I listened to and/or recommend, and one that I listened to and often recommend is called The One You Feed. And Eric Zimmer, the host of The One You Feed is here with me today. You recently did an episode about meditation called The Mind is Your Teacher with Ralph Delarosa. You want to tell us a little bit about that one?
Eric Zimmer: [01:31:29] Yeah, he wrote a book called The Monkey is the Messenger and most of us have heard of this idea that like, you know this mind that's always running is called kind of a monkey mind. And he's sort of talking about why that monkey is actually our teacher, that monkey mind. And that, that mind that just runs and runs and runs, it drives us towards meditation. And then it also drives us away from meditation because we sit down to do it and it doesn't work. Our mind just runs and we think, “Oh my mind's got to be quiet to meditate.” But I found it so fascinating because he's saying, you know, for those of us that meditation doesn't come easy to, it might be even more important for us to do it than people who sit down and whose mind quiets very quickly and easily.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:32:11] Great. And if people want to find that, there'll be a link to the show notes. And of course, you can always search for The One You Feed. It's the two headed wolf icon in any podcast app.
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