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61605.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 9:41 am Reply with quote

I don't know whether that needs a question or is just something for Stephen to talk about, but maybe something like:

This horse (picture) is called Clever Hans. What was so clever about him?

61611.  Thu Mar 23, 2006 10:20 am Reply with quote

A friend of mine (and of JumpingJack's) used to be a theatrical promoter, and he toured a medium named Doris Stokes. He saw her act every night for months at a time, and said that he came away bemused as to how she was doing it. The sceptic James Randi has this to say about her:

And remember, these readers often go out and interview the audience members when they're on line waiting to get into the studio or auditorium. That technique was employed by the very successful reader Doris Stokes. She would feed back any data she got as if she were refreshing her memory of what had been told her. "Are you the lady who has a passed-on sister, dearie?" would of course receive assent from the victim, and ahhhs from the audience. Also, a person who approaches the reader before the TV show or auditorium meeting and says she has a question about her deceased grandmother, can then later be selected out of the audience when they're on-camera or during the live encounter, and can then be asked, "Is your question about your grandmother?" and that appears--to everyone else--like a bang-on "hit." Or, and this is very subtle indeed, people in the studio or auditorium audience--usually seated up front for best visibility--are sometimes those who have already been to the "psychic" for a private reading, and have then been asked to show up later to occupy reserved seats at the public in-person gathering "to develop more information" using the "collective power of the assembled audience." The reader then repeats previously-gleaned data, and that appears miraculous both to the audience in the studio and at home, watching, or elsewhere in the auditorium audience.

62803.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:10 am Reply with quote

If you want a 100% guaranteed forfeit, ask them who wrote that (superb, incidentally) arse poem, and fine them a million points for “Pam Ayres.”

62814.  Thu Mar 30, 2006 10:36 am Reply with quote

I love the Derren Brown flase beard gag.

Perhaps when Stephen reads out the scores at the end he can say something like
Well, Alan is in last place with minus 48, Then comes Mark with minus 26, Bill with minus 8 and (straight to camera, as if in a trance) IN FIRST PLACE IS DERREN BROWN WITH FIVE HUNDRED POINTS GOODNIGHT.

63321.  Sat Apr 01, 2006 7:18 pm Reply with quote

Lloyd's List

...of obscure, futile and ineffective divinations...

divination by flour

divination by human entrails

divination by saws

divination by asses heads

divination by smoke

divination by mirrors

divination by incense

divination by sieves

divination by bowls of water

divination by logarithms

divination by knives and swords

divination by the navel

divination by the nails

divination by shadows

divination by means of the shoulder-blades of sheep

divination by figs

divination by ashes

divination by cheese

s: DCF
s: OED

63746.  Wed Apr 05, 2006 1:10 am Reply with quote

Garrick's post about the Morgan Robertson novel Futility (republished after the Titanic sank as Futility and The Wreck of the Titan) is here: post 12630.

Robertson is also said to have invented the submarine periscope:

In 1905 Robertson's book The Submarine Destroyer was released. It described a submarine that used a device called a periscope. When the story was first published, officials of the Holland Submarine Company sent for Robertson and asked him whether he considered the idea of a periscope to be practical. In response, Robertson showed the officials a model of one that he claimed to have already patented. Officials of the company were so impressed that they purchased the invention for $50,000.

wiki, citing his obituary in the Renfrew Mercury


Johann Gutenberg, better known for his contribution to printing technology, marketed a periscope in the 1430s to enable pilgrims to see over the heads of the crowd at the vigintennial religious festival at Aachen. Simon Lake used periscopes in his submarines in 1902. Sir Howard Grubb perfected it in World War I. Morgan Robertson claims to have described a submarine using a periscope in his fictional works. ...

A simple, fixed naval periscope using plane mirrors was built by the Frenchman Marie Davey in 1854. Thomas H. Doughty of the US Navy later invented a prismatic version for use in the American Civil War (circa 1891).

The invention of the collapsible periscope for use in submarine warfare is usually credited to Simon Lake in 1902, who called his device the omniscope or skalomniscope. There is also a report that an Italian, Triulzi, demonstrated such a device in 1901 calling it a cleptoscope.

Another early example of naval use of the periscope are the two adapted on the experimental French submarine Gymnote by the Captain Arthur Krebs in 1888 and 1889

the wiki article on periscopes

And this: seems to make it clear that Robertson's claim doesn't stack up and so dies another fox.

66013.  Tue Apr 18, 2006 4:23 am Reply with quote

An old post by Bradford:

Auspices were those folk learned in practicing divination by interpreting the flight pattern of birds; haruspices, ditto with the entrails of sacrificed animals. Such inquiries could get even more technical and specific: hepatoscopy dealt with the shape of and markings on said animals' livers.

Should you wish a more genteel method, there's always that old favorite, oneiromancy, augury through dream analysis; or rhabdomancy, which employs wands, somehow.

If DIY does not appeal, remember our old friends the Oracles, sponsored by different gods at various sites---Delphi, Dodona, Thrace, Epidaurus, and the like. Livy tells the Roman tale concerning the Sibylline books of collected prophecies: Tarquin was offered nine books by the Sibyl of Cumae but turned her down, so she burnt three then offered him the other six at the same price, repeating the process until he paid her the original amount for just the last three.

post 3558

67747.  Sat Apr 29, 2006 4:35 am Reply with quote

Discussing strange London catch-phrases through the centuries, Ackroyd in ‘London’ notes “A famous performing horse, Morocco [...] when asked by its owner to pick out the biggest fool in the audience, chose the comedian and jester Richard Tarleton, whose response, ‘God a mercy, horse,’ ran through London at the end of the sixteenth century. It could be used as a token of any kind of annoyance, but it had a comic touch because of its associations.”

69030.  Tue May 09, 2006 10:09 am Reply with quote

Further to the bottom-reading, Ulf Buck from Germany seems to be the most celebrated practitioner. It seems that the arse has lines similar to your palm, and the blind clairvoyant reads them to tell your future.,13005,901020722-320753,00.html

69136.  Wed May 10, 2006 5:19 am Reply with quote

In Fortean Times 210, page 17, Barry Baldwin lists a number of -mancies, including - wonderfully, and I wish we’d known this a couple of months ago - “cephalonomancy - divining from a boiled donkey’s head.”

Jim Phelps
162016.  Sun Apr 01, 2007 3:30 am Reply with quote

Flash wrote:
In his book The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading, Ian Rowland ( 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:
Er, that would be me and my book that you are referring to. Sorry, but you haven't _quite_ got that right! The techniques you are referring to and summarising aren't varieties of 'opening statements'. They are, indeed, cold reading techniques that I list and explain in my book (and have demonstrated during a live show for the Oxford University Scientific Society, incidentally). But they are not 'opening statements' (those are what barristers make - an altogether more highly paid type of charlatan!). In fact the cold reading techniques I describe may be deployed during the start, middle or end of a cold reading session. 'Opening' has nothing to do with it. While I'm here, I'd just like to add that I did after-dinner table magic once at the Groucho Club and Stephen Fry was among those for whom I performed. Honest.

162045.  Sun Apr 01, 2007 6:46 am Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Jim (though I feel I should call you something else ... I'm getting the name Ian from somewhere ... are you close to somebody called Ian? ... a family member, maybe? ... yes? ... I thought so).

I don't know whether you saw the show in which this came up. Stephen did mention the Barnum Statement technique (in the context of one of Derren Brown's routines), but we didn't really go into the business of cold reading as deeply as I would have liked. Anyway, we didn't misrepresent your book on air, you'll be glad to hear. I can't remember now why I characterised those as 'opening' statements particularly.

I haven't read (or even bought) your book yet, but I do fully intend to - it sounds fascinating.

587520.  Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:11 pm Reply with quote

I saw this episode on Dave yesterday.

Does anyone know the name of the man who didn't like the fact that the number of the beast was 616?

I couldn't write it down quick enough.
I've looked online for the episode but nowhere says anything.


587539.  Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:28 pm Reply with quote

St Irenaeus of Lyons I think.

Saint Minerva of Moon wrote:
St Irenaeus of Lyons had also seen some manuscript with 616 and just said, "Oh, it can't be right," and changed it to 666.

Check out the transcripts site, it's ace:

If you are really lucky, the webmaster will show you their scarf.

587565.  Tue Jul 21, 2009 2:46 pm Reply with quote

abcdefghjklmnopqrstuvwxyz wrote:
I saw this episode on Dave yesterday.

Does anyone know the name of the man who didn't like the fact that the number of the beast was 616?

I couldn't write it down quick enough.
I've looked online for the episode but nowhere says anything.

I had it on but not really taking much notice but Johnny Vaughan was on:


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