In these special shows, psychological illusionist Derren Brown demonstrates his unique and almost uncanny ability to misdirect, manipulate and mesmerise.
Status: To Be Determined
Runtime: 55 minutes
Derren Brown: The Specials - Messiah (Derren Brown special) - Netflix
Messiah is a Derren Brown special originally shown on Channel 4 on 7 January 2005 at 21:00. In the episode, Brown travels to the United States to try to convince five influential figures that he has special abilities in their particular field of expertise: psychic powers, Christian evangelism, New Age theories, alien abduction and contacting the dead, with the objective of getting them to endorse him as a practitioner in their field. The concept of the show is to highlight the power of suggestion with regard to beliefs and people's abilities, and failure to question them. Brown makes it quite clear that if any of the subjects accused him of trickery he would immediately come clean about the whole thing, a rule similar to one of the self-imposed rules of the perpetrators of the Project Alpha hoax. Using a false name each time, he succeeds in convincing four “experts” that he has powers, who openly endorsed him as a true practitioner. The fifth expert, the Christian evangelist Curt Nordheilm, is reserved in his response; whilst impressed by Brown's performance, he does not agree to a public endorsement without at least meeting him again. Brown concludes with his impressions of the experience and summary of how belief systems work.
Derren Brown: The Specials - Conclusion - Netflix
Derren Brown ends the episode with a monologue, describing his impressions of the experience. His conclusion is that belief systems work in similar ways: that people tend to hear only things that support their own ideas and ignore contradictory evidence; this principle is known in psychology as confirmation bias. More subtly Brown leaves viewers questioning whether, by not achieving his stated objective, he is cleverly demonstrating this principle himself: Brown admits his own scepticism is also subject to this principle and claims success because none of his subjects asked him if the experience was real, however he makes no further reference to his goal of convincing all his subjects to agree to a public endorsement.