What brought me back to the conjurors art, as a mentalist and Christchurch magician, was watching the incredible performances of Derren Brown in his TV shows.
Spiritualists, psychics and magicians have been around for centuries In many cultures and time periods. It is difficult, if at all even possible, to separate them by definition.
Even today the psychics and their associated types, clairvoyants, spiritualists, palm readers astrologers etc, pitch themselves as psychic entertainers.
However, the thing that is common to all members of this group is their methods, all interchangeable and all utilizing tactics that have either been taken from, or investigated, debunked and ultimately taken up by, the members of the conjurors art, often, more commonly known as magicians.
In recent times these methods have also been studied by neuroscientists, in order to understand how they work, and have the effects they do, on apparently rationally thinking people.
This has led to a greater understanding and in many cases refinements and development of new techniques by magicians to perform, seemingly, impossible feats of power.
There are those magicians that embrace and claim that their powers are the result of some psychic connection, however, there is another group that makes it very clear that their abilities are the result of skills and understanding of how the mind can be fooled due to the way that evolution has shaped it; the neuro-scientific approach.
Both groups use the same or similar methodologies, however, the latter group prefers to be honest and claim no use of spirit realm phenomena.
There is also another group, within this group, that claims no connection with the psychic realm, but that claims a strong use of psychological and neuro-scientific principles.
However, they do use the techniques of misdirection, special gaffed utilities and other methods of the conjurors art to perform their feats of astonishment.
Does removing the apparent mystique from these feats lessen the value of the experience.
In my opinion, and that of countless people who have followed such performers as Derren Brown and Canadian magician Spidey, the answer is no.
I myself am far more comfortable with the neuro-scientific approach as an explanation (using the methods of the conjuror) to introduce the effects that entertain and give the spectators a memorable experience.
The spirit world claimants are openly and, although they may claim otherwise, knowingly lying to their audience, whereas, the magician is admitting this deception from the outset.
In my experience, as a performing Christchurch magician, I have found that this admission makes no difference to the entertainment value of the performance.