Sunday, 13 September 2009

Reflection on Smoke and Mirrors

If you live in the USA you may know of Derren Brown. You may not have known of him before last Friday. The UK’s star illusionist had promised to predict the lottery live on TV and to explain how he did it.

The public was disappointed with the result. A padded hour of flim flam showed us people who had been brought together in the preceeding week to deliver the wisdom of crowds whilst Derren interpreted the ‘deep mathematics’.

Accusations flew of cheap post production tricks, and of no real explanation as to how he ultimately revealed all the pre-slected balls to be correct. YouTube reruns have been forensically examined. Professors of mathematics have spoken.

Derren’s in - crowd were pretty convinced their wisdom had delivered the numbers. A large part of the UK population now believe that he fixed the lottery in advance. The BBC on Saturday morning ran the story in its main news. The Sunday papers are full of Derren Brown. And as the story grew on-line over the weekend Twitter search now returns a lot of ‘who is DB?’ from accounts outside the UK.

That's a lot of tricks delivered - including the gall of saying that no matter how shabby this looks – people will believe. Misdirection. The biggest trick that Derren Brown pulled off was to understand how media works today - and to go global.

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