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Divination

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Gray
49954.  Thu Feb 09, 2006 9:55 am Reply with quote

As you will have predicted, D is for Divination. Throughout history, thousands of people have preyed on the credulity of people by insisting that they can predict the future using a bewildering array of (and I use the term loosely) 'techniques' and subjects. The best known of these are necromancy (predicting the future by talking to the dead) and Cheiromancy, or, as it's usually better known, palmistry.

Stephen can then ask the panel what items these techniques used:

Alectryomancy - by observing a white rooster pecking at grain, which can be scattered on various letters. Recording which letters are pecked at reveals somethingorother.

Apantomancy - by getting into a trance and waiting to see which animals appear to you.

Gyromancy - inscribe the alphabet on the ground, then repeatedly spin around and record the letters you stumble onto.

Margaritomancy - by bouncing pearls into a hot pot and seeing if it kept still or carried on moving. 'Margarita' is the Latin for pearl, and Columbus named the Isla Margarita (off Venezuela) after the pearls he found on its coast. The cocktail comes from Mexico (like tequila), it appears.

Oinomancy - by wine - either the stains it makes when spilled, by its sediment or simply its appearance.

Plastromancy - by cracks formed by heat on a turtle's plastron (the undershell). From Wikipedia: "The plastron was removed by the diviner on an auspicious day and then consulted by applying the tip of a hot metal bar to the shell and examining the crack marks caused by the hot metal. The conclusions were then inscribed in one or two lines beside the spot. Thousands of these inscribed shell fragments have been found in archaeological sites, particularly from the Shang dynasty. The inscriptions on the fragments have taught scholars much about the early development of Chinese writing." Bet they couldn't have predicted that...

Rhapsodomancy - by the random selection of a line of poetry from a large collection of poetry books.

Spodomancy - by studying ashes from a fire.

Splanchnomancy - by inspecting a finely divided goat's liver.

There is also now Cybermancy - using computer oracles.

–mancy, which comes to us from the old French word mancie, which in turn comes from the Greek manteia, to prophesy, and mantis, prophet. Hence 'praying mantis', "with forelimbs raised in prayer like a prophet", is a slightly redundant.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Methods_of_divination

 
MatC
49957.  Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:02 am Reply with quote

There is also the science of telling fortunes by reading bottoms, but I’ve been unable to divine whether it has a name:

"It started about five years ago when at a clairvoyant party I said there are lines all over a person's body which can be read,"she said. "One of the women there dared me to look at her bottom and I did and several predictions I made from studying her butt came true,"said Sam." The clairvoyant, who is also a tarot card reader, is now becoming famous worldwide. "As far as I am aware, there are only two people in the world who do bottom readings, myself and Sylvester Stallone's mum.
"Bottoms have tell-tale lines just like palms and to a clairvoyant they speak volumes.”

Source

Edited to put in [url=http://www.enormouslylongURL.com]link[url]

 
Gray
49962.  Thu Feb 09, 2006 10:20 am Reply with quote

Maybe we can ask the panel to make up their own '-mancies' with a big fat forfeit for the art of predicting the future from expensive, highly-detailed goods, or 'fancy-schmancy'.

 
Frederick The Monk
50159.  Fri Feb 10, 2006 7:15 am Reply with quote

In the 1980's the best way of finding out what was going to happen tomorrow was to know what Nancy Reagan's astrologer had told her, which she then told Ronnie and he then did. This is known as Nancymancy.

 
MatC
50160.  Fri Feb 10, 2006 7:22 am Reply with quote

I'm not sure I should care to have bottoms "speaking volumes" at me. But then, I don't have the Gift.

 
Flash
50196.  Fri Feb 10, 2006 9:41 am Reply with quote

I played poker with a tarot pack once. Got a Full House and the dealer dropped dead. Spooky.

 
MatC
50468.  Sat Feb 11, 2006 5:48 am Reply with quote

How about a Divination Special? At the start, each panellist is given some fortune-telling props - tarot cards, bag of bones, some bottoms, pile of ashes - and they make predictions then and/or during the recording, out loud and/or in secret. They get extra points if any of their predictions come true (they could write down their predictions of each others’ jokes, for instance - sort of free-for-all forfeits), and of course if any of their predictions are in turn predicted by the Holy Wall of Screens then they lose absolutely all their points plus their immortal souls.

This would fit in with inventing their own mancies, Gray - anyone who doesn’t like the prop he’s been given (“What am I supposed to do with a load of bottoms? Where’s the comedy in that?”) is free to come up with his own alternative, using only what he has on or about him (including other panellists, eg Phil-o-mancy.)

Perhaps one of the buzzers could be a voice saying "42!"

 
Flash
50490.  Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:01 am Reply with quote

Excellent idea. Do you mind if I pretend that it was mine?

 
MatC
50492.  Sat Feb 11, 2006 7:03 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
Excellent idea. Do you mind if I pretend that it was mine?


You could always say you foresaw it ...

 
Flash
51539.  Wed Feb 15, 2006 12:55 pm Reply with quote

As a possible Divination / Druids link I'll post this to both threads: several Roman writers including Caesar and Diodorus refer to the Druids' practice of human sacrifice, which involved burning the victims to death inside a wicker cage and reading auguries from their death throes. Stamping out this practice was the pretext the Romans used for destroying the great druidical sanctuary on Anglesey.

 
MatC
55339.  Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:25 pm Reply with quote

Got to Google Image, type in "arse," and you will find a picture of a bottom being read.

(I shall be answering no questions about my research methods during this press conference.)

 
Flash
61579.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 6:40 am Reply with quote

Well I followed Mat's advice and came across this. I post it because, although it isn't relevant to our purposes, it seems to me to be written by a clever lyricist who may be wasting her talents, and I thought it worth sharing:

Quote:
Up My Arse
by Kate

There's a world that's like no other
Up my arse.
There's a big black hairy mother
Up my arse.
There's a privet and a thicket,
There's a dozen games of cricket,
There's a sofa, there's a dwarf,
There's a river, there's a wharf,
There's a bucket full of pike,
There's a vicar on a bike.
I think that you would like
It up my arse.

There's a badly wounded pigeon
Up my arse.
There's an oven and a fridge on
Up my arse.
There's a robust village squire
And a roaring fake log fire
And a pair of turtle doves,
Oh, I know that you would love
It up my arse.

There's a tiny Burmese pony
Up my arse.
There's a granny who's quite bony
Up my arse.
There's a haddock with a hat on,
A soldier with a baton,
A fish that's lost its key,
You really should come see
What's up my arse.

There's a roundabout with horses
Up my arse
There's a wealth of different sauces
Up my arse.
There's a ferret in a pickle,
Mr. Small and Mr.Tickle,
A rabbit and a gnome,
Oh, it really feels at home
Here up my arse

 
Flash
61595.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:50 am Reply with quote

I think it's legitimate to interpret 'divination' as covering fortune-telling and psychic stuff generally.

'Cold reading' is a technique used by purported psychics to tease personal information out of people in a way which can appear uncanny. The technique involves a range of tricks, together with some showmanship.

In his book The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading, Ian Rowland (www.ianrowland.com) lists 38 different ways to frame an opening statement in such a way that it looks meaningful even though it's really just a guess, eg:

Quote:
"Barnum statements" sound specific but really apply to most people, most of the time. For example: "Though you might not always admit it, you have a deep-rooted need for other people's approval, especially when you know you have done something well. You tend to be a bit more honest than many people you meet." Does this sound like you? You probably think it's pretty close. Most people would say the same.

"Rainbow" statements describe personality traits so as to cover all the bases, like this: "You have a very generous and giving nature, and can be very unselfish, although if you're honest about it, there have been times when you've acted in perhaps quite a selfish way."

"Trivia statistics" are statements that are actually more likely to hit than they at first appear. The psychic might say, "I've got the spirit of an elderly lady here, and she's mentioning a box full of old photographs or souvenirs." That sounds specific, but in fact most people have something like this in their homes.

"Fuzzy statements" like "I'm seeing the end of August, maybe the twenty-sixth of August or a date close to that, which I think is significant for you, and a man – let me think – a man related to you, who wears glasses" which may sound specific but in fact are wild-ass guesses with plenty of room for interpretation.


Another nice technique is called by Rowland "the vanishing negative", eg: "You don't work with children, do you?" - then if the subject replies, "Yes, I do," the psychic says, "Yes, I thought so." If the subject replies, ""No, I don't," the psychic says, "No, I thought not."

Then there are 'escape hatches' - eg you ask "Does the name Charlie mean anything to you", to which the answer is very likely to be "Yes" - but if it's "No" you can say "Well watch out for that name, because I think it's going to be significant in the near future".

 
Flash
61596.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 8:57 am Reply with quote

If we could get Derren Brown as a panellist for the Divination show (which would be fabulous) we could run a gag like this:

Quote:
Stephen: Do you use techniques like that on your TV show?

Derren: Yes.

Stephen: And of course on recorded TV you must use editing tricks as well?

Derren (inexplicably wearing a false beard and a different jacket): No, I'd never do that.

 
Flash
61603.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:31 am Reply with quote

In 1907 in Germany there was a famous horse called Clever Hans (der Kluge Hans) who learned to cold read. He had apparently been taught by a trainer named van Osten to tap out the answers to arithmetical questions with his hoof. A psychologist named Oskar Pfungst was commissioned to test this phenomenon scientifically, and concluded that the horse was actually responding to van Osten's body language. The trainer wasn't sending deliberate signals, but the horse was nevertheless able to pick up a change in his demeanour when the right number had been reached:

Quote:
as the horse's taps approached the right answer, the questioner's posture and facial expression changed in ways that were consistent with an increase in tension, which was released when the horse made the final, "correct" tap


It is thought that the communication of horses amongst themselves is based on the detection of small postural changes, so a horse is a good candidate as a potential cold reader, but Pfungst managed to replicate the results with humans:

Quote:
human participants sent him questions to which he gave numerical answers by tapping. He found that 90% of participants gave sufficient cues for him to get a correct answer.


This is now called the 'Clever Hans effect' by psychologists, and is the reason why tests need to be double-blind, ie neither the experimenter nor the subject knows what condition the subject is in, and thus what his or her responses are predicted to be.

There was a WWII German General called Hans Gunther von Kluge, who was nick-named der Kluge Hans ('Clever Hans') after the horse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clever_Hans
http://www.thoemmes.com/psych/pfungst.htm

 

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