Posted in Derren Brown News

Posted by Derren Brown News September 28, 2010 at 9:15 am

Here’s all three parts of the interview we posted the other day.

Psychological illusionist Derren Brown talks to the OU’s Nigel Warburton about how personal experiences can be misleading and how people attribute design to objects in the natural world

Part 3:

Part 2

Part 1

September 28, 2010 at 9:49 am

The funny thing is that the banana in it’s nice human friendly shape has been cultivated by humans to be like that.

The supermarket banana is human “designed” through artificial selection. <= This one was "designed" by natural selection.

September 28, 2010 at 10:19 am
Hamish says:

Nice interview.

Funny how proponents of Intelligent Design always focus on things like bananas, never on the human birth canal or the wings of ostriches.

Monty Python put it best: “All things dull and ugly, All creatures short and squat; All things rude and nasty, The Lord God made the lot”.

September 28, 2010 at 10:47 am
Chirag says:

This is such a fantastic and interesting conversation! This may be a stupid question but was this aired on TV recently? I must have missed it if it was, I was wondering if there was a full version of the whole conversation or show somewhere?

Derren your amazing.

September 28, 2010 at 10:51 am
Kirsty McCullagh says:

Derren talks of personal experience misleading you, what about his own experiences that have led him to be an atheist and to argue that there is no higher being (the Divine) that has a design for us all etc (I say Divine as I don’t there is just a male part of the Divine, I’m Pagan). Yes I believe that the world has evolved to change and adapt to survive and that in its self is amazing, but what is wrong with believing that something has planned that from the start?
If people use that to get through things (like I believe the God&Goddess has a plan for me when something goes wrong to keep going) then can’t that be classed as evolving to survive?
With the woman picking the cards, yes her ‘miracle’ was false BUT perhaps Derren was meant to understand human behaviour and pick her card?

September 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm
Rob says:

@ Kirsty


September 28, 2010 at 12:47 pm
Ken O Rourke says:

I never really believed in an all encompassing god who watches everything and that we will meet all day but an intelligent design of things does seem more than random chance at times. The one thing that really made me sit back and go ‘hang …on a sec!’ was when I was watching a nature documentary on Discovery channel and it was talking about a type of orchid called a Bee Orchid (Ophrys apifera). This flower looks and smells remarkably like the bees from the same region and uses this as its means to trick the bees into mating with it and pollinating the neighbouring plants. It brought up a question for me, If a flower has no eyes, how does it know what the bee looks like.

September 28, 2010 at 1:13 pm
Russ says:

A fascinating conversation, I would love to hear more. As for the athiest question that’s up to each individual. I have no beliefs in higher beings and have come to that over the years but I never tell people who do believe they are wrong. There certainly (in my view) is more to the world of the mind and perception than we yet know (in the scientific form of ‘know’) and years of Martial Arts has brought me to that conclusion. I’ve always been science based in my outlook but some things in Martial Arts actually require belief, they won’t work so well without it. That leaves me in a strange (but not entirely unpleasent) place.

Loved the picture of the wild nana.

Ho hum 🙂

September 28, 2010 at 2:37 pm

The query is….As much of an interesting an argument intelligent design is, I am still an atheist. However,
what if Darwin was wrong and Evolution doesn’t actually happen either?? Is there 1 species that has evolved during our lifetime? Or are we destined to simply never know the answers?

September 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm
Richard says:

@Kirsty McCullagh – drugs are bad – mmkay?

Next should come the conversation of why human begins have a psychological need to believe in a greater being. A creator. The reasons why humans struggle to fathom infinite time.

It’s a basic human understanding that things have a beginning and an end. Life, for example.
Therefore we assume (and then believe) the world was created – and then, inevitably, will come to an end. *cough* 2012 *cough*

If there is a god, who created him? What was he/she doing before he/she decided to make, and then play, with our lives??? Simple, there is no god.
And the chicken came before the egg.

September 28, 2010 at 3:33 pm
roz says:

if you believe there’s a god, there’s a god.
if you believe there’s no god, there’s no god.
the REAL problem arises when you think i should believe nothing else except what you believe.

September 28, 2010 at 3:43 pm
Berber Anna says:

Ken, it doesn’t, and it doesn’t need to. Stick insects never looked at sticks and went ‘Ooh, I think I’ll evolve to mimic one of these’. One of the orchids at some point mutated enough to look roughly bee-ish, and some of the more stupid bees mated with it, thus spreading its genes and passing on the bee-ish look. Every flower that randomly managed to look and smell more bee-ish spread its genes slightly more than other orchids of its kind, and eventually the species ended up looking and smelling the way it does.

Evolution isn’t directed, it’s pure chance. Trial and error. But the errors (or less succesful individuals) eventually die off, so we don’t see those, we just see the nicely working end result and assume it’s been designed that way.

September 28, 2010 at 3:56 pm
Paul says:

@Ken O’Rourke The simple answer is that the flower doesn’t know what the bee looks like, flowers that more closely resemble the bee are more likely to reproduce and pass that attribute on to their offspring. Over time a flower that looked only slightly like the bee would look more and more like it.

I wonder a bit why there does seem to be a drive towards greater complexity, and where that comes from – look at the Cambrian Explosion and the bewildering variety of species that appeared then. I also wonder a bit about the origins of DNA, and whether directed panspermia might be true, as Fred Hoyle suggested. Evolution literally means “unfolding”, which makes me wonder what exactly is unfolding, and who folded it up in the first place 🙂

September 28, 2010 at 4:09 pm
Dave says:

nah, the egg came before the chicken… it wasn’t a chicken that laid it!

September 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Were the “nodding shots” in this series of clips created by God, or by intelligent design? (Or by a camera operator saying “Imagine Derren jus said something you agree with”?)

I type, therefore I am.

September 28, 2010 at 4:15 pm
Chris N. says:

Some theories suggest that belief in gods, religions, grew out of our natural pattern recognition ability, which are itself an important survival mechanism, but can engender magical thinking when we perceive a pattern where there in fact is none. Religion also tends to bring humans into community, and encourage them working together toward a common goal – another important factor for survival in harsh conditions – and thus religiosity itself has been a naturally selected trait. As humans continue to evolve, the conditions in which supernatural thinking was a survival trait change, that trait then becomes an evolutionary hangover, like a vestigal tail or the appendix. Nipples on men. Might take a while to grow out of this one, though.

September 28, 2010 at 5:25 pm
ReliegiousMarie says:

Yeh – I want my bananas…

just sayin’

September 28, 2010 at 5:33 pm
julie carter says:

Dearest Derren,

I have posted a few times on your site with regard to my crossing over into the light as a staunch atheist and returning with total faith in a loving intelligent creator. My last post was on 27th Sept entitled ‘100% scientific proof that there is a Creator. Everyone has a unique set of finger prints and unique D.N.A. therefore there has to be a central intelligence.’ Today I visited your site and found your interview where you say that there is no ‘Intelligent design’ Could you please tell me how you think that we all end up with these unique patterns?

The TRUTH about life is paramount to me and I do not believe anything totally until I myself have experienced it.

Several years ago I sent out invitations to local public figures to come to a private viewing of my art exhibition, which was dedicated to the ’Oneness of God and the Majesty of Mother Earth.’ Mr. Keith Watkin who was an Independent councillor came and stated that he didn’t believe in God. I explained that I couldn’t not believe as I had had so many experiences of proof. He asked me to share one with him. I told him that I knew for sure that we had a spirit that was separate from the body. I went on to tell him of the night in late 1983/early 1984 when I had astral travelled and witnessed the break in of the Post Office. I had then followed the car until the men abandoned it in the park. I must point out that I did not have a radio or t.v. in my bedroom. When I woke up I thought it had been a dream but when I went downstairs and put the t.v. on, the robbery had taken place just as I had seen it. The car was also abandoned in the exact spot.

Mr. Watkin’s face looked horrified and then he told me that he had seen that robbery as he was standing on the corner at the time. The poor man was in a total state and kept asking me why I had chosen to send him an invitation. I tried to console him by explaining that I just feel to invite certain people. He left flustered but returned the next day saying that he hadn’t been able to sleep. His final words to me was that he never wanted to hear from me again as he didn’t want to read in the newspaper that I had been found dead in my hallway!

Derren this is only one of the many many strange happenings in my life that altogether strengthen my faith that the time I spent in the light 35 years ago was real.

September 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm
roz says:

hey, nipples on men arent useless! 😉

September 28, 2010 at 5:48 pm
Jasper Mathews says:

Evolution by natural selection is a completely wonderful process. To all who raise questions over the details, I highly recommend having a read around the subject. It’s not a hard subject to tackle, but it is more complicated than most people realise at first. Once you start to get an understanding of the driving forces behind evolution, not only will your current questions be answered in full, but you will discover truly amazing examples of the intricate relationships that can arise.
I recommend reading about figs and fig wasps for a jaw dropping example of how natural selection can create highly specific relationships that would appear to be only possible by design, unless you had handily just been reading up on a bunch of evolution books. And yes, I recommend (early) Richard Dawkins.

September 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm
Elise says:

Oh no…got my mind spinning again. I love talking about what is possible, what isn’t, is there a god, what is god, what made god, how is anything possible, how did we become, was there nothing at some point? If so, how can something come from nothing? What does nothing look like? Then it gets a bit scary after thinking about it for too long. Don’t think my Mum likes me talking that way. But why? What is the point in anything existing…there must be one. It’s all so strange and confusing. How did it all begin???!!! Odd, odd, odd. :S
So, if something came from absolutely nothing…..who knows what else is possible….right? AAAAAAAARGH! Freaky! I’ll stop now, xxxxxxxxxxxxx

September 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm
Len says:

Well while Derren makes some good points he pretty much just touches the surface of Intelligent Design. It goes way deeper way more complex.

The example of the banana is rather ridiculous. Whoever came up with that obviously has no clue, I mean honestly. Sounds more like creationism.

I’m still convinced by Intelligent Design’s proponent’s arguments. The well educated and clear thinking ones, not the Banana ones 😛

I have loads of respect for Derren, but ultimately this is not a convincing argument, at all.

September 28, 2010 at 7:39 pm
Steve says:

Regarding the chicken and egg problem, I can verify that the chicken came first. Think about it. If the egg came first then there would have been no chicken to sit on it and it would therefore never have hatched…

September 29, 2010 at 12:05 am
Rose says:

“it is rather noisy” … Mr Brown, you are often adorable.

But on to the rather messy subject of the almighty creator. I was bought up as some sort of catholic (all the trimmings and have had the influence of devoted relatives) but has drifted away from the church in my adult years. Given I’m a fan of derren I do agree with his scientific approach and personally find the idea of god and church difficult. But I do believe that for some people it isn’t about proof and reason and science – religion is absolutely about faith. Pure blind unquestioning belief. Faith and religion is not for me, but I wouldn’t go about trying to prove people with faith wrong, just as I hope they don’t bother me and my sinful life and beliefs.

September 29, 2010 at 12:46 am
Kirsty McCullagh says:

@Rob & Richard – what?? Is it because I am the only one on this that is saying that I believe in a higher being!? and Richard science wont give you ALL the answers. So you may never answer the ‘who made the divine, if there is one?’ but as you cannot disprove that there is a divine and I cannot prove there is a divine then theres no reason to argue in a circle!
It is all about (as Derren said) personal experiences that mould our lives etc. I happen to believe (quite happily) in a higher being, that is my path, others are different. There is no way that we will find out who is right in our lives so…..
I agree that animals, plants etc adapt and change for the better, but I just believe that at the start of everything it was decided. (and I’m not trying to preach to say what I feel)

September 29, 2010 at 1:32 am
Kirsty McCullagh says:

@steve if the evolution idea is to be taken fully then the chicken might not have always laid eggs, or the flip side, it might not have always hatched from eggs, SO my thought would be that NEITHER the chicken nor the egg came first, but something else that led to the chicken/egg ….. my point is, what was that, and where did that come from? some say random, some say divine… there is NO way we can tell in this point in our lifetimes we havent seen all the stages.. also @chris N I agree with your point….ugh I wish DB would hynotise me after this discussion! lol DB cant sneeze without a debate kicking off! lol!
the kafuie bird came first, then the chicken, then the egg 🙂 so how about that goose in a bottle??

September 29, 2010 at 8:08 am
Jack cureton says:

Religeon is another name for superstition

September 29, 2010 at 8:27 am
Alf says:

Intelligent Design is the renaming of Creationism. I was watching a program on NOVA about Intelligent Design in schools, and they traced it back to the original use of the term.

September 29, 2010 at 10:06 am
Mark says:

The ending was really sad 🙁

September 29, 2010 at 10:19 am
Steven Downey says:

Intelligent is so obvious if you think about it, for example, the reproduction process is a perfect process (indeed it has to be for reproduction to happen) the penis and vagina are exactly the right shape and size to fit into each other so sperm (the perfect and only thing that can fertilize an egg) comes out of the penis and travels up and one of those fertilizes an egg (which is another perfect thing needed in this process). Perfect, perfect perfect.
Now evolutionists say “things things evolved to be how they were” BUT all these things would HAVE to be perfectly formed and complete BEFORE reproduction happened!
If they weren’t NO REPRODUCTION and we would have died out after the first couple of humans!

September 29, 2010 at 10:45 am
Mark says:

Weird no-one should comment about the “hole tempting” at 1 minute 19. << My revenge.

September 29, 2010 at 12:05 pm
Berber Anna says:

Steven, that would indeed be the case if one human had been created as is, while another needed to evolve to match it. That wouldn’t quite work. But sexual dimorphism in animals gradually developed, from the laying of eggs and external fertilisation (as seen in fish today), to internal fertilisation of eggs (originally by joining cloacae), to marsupials, and eventually to mammals. Males and females co-evolved, so it’s not like there was a fully formed human female while the human male was still non-existent or vice versa. Reproduction happened all along — slightly more efficiently (for the surroundings of our ancestors) with every step, but not entirely perfect, as it needen’t be. Even today, not all male anatomy, nor all female anatomy, is shaped exactly the same. Still works though.

September 29, 2010 at 4:09 pm
mike says:

for those of you who are sure of your existence, I can quite categorically state that NONE of you exist.
I find the ‘automatic’ connection of god and religion quite annoying. All religion is absolute bollocks, end of!
god, however is the answer to everything that we don’t know, or should I say YOU don’t know. The whole point of life is for me (god) to come full circle and discover my own creation. As computing and virtual reality become ever more sophisticated, I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that ‘life’ is just a computer game (albeit a really shit one).
I now command that all you fictitious beings stop being so silly and stop knocking my banana design, jesus (whohe) you’ll be having a go at my penis next (wishful thinking).
PS, Derren, I loved your ‘half a tiger’ comment lol.

September 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm
Rob says:

I’m not sure if many of these are trolls, but anyway. One of the things Derren and others say time and time again is, don’t just believe what people say, question it!
Today this is very easy – just use google.

@Kirsty McCullagh – if I am holding a queen of hearts and I asked a million people to guess which card I have, some will say queen of hearts. They will be amazed when I show them the queen of hearts. Most will say another card. They will not be amazed.
@Tracey Miller – evolution in our lifetime:
@julie carter – last Friday I dreamt that my flight home from Spain on Saturday would crash and I would die. In the event it didn’t and I got home and had some tea.

September 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm
Rob says:

@Len – maybe you can share some of those ‘well educated and clear thinking ones’ with us, and we will explain why you are mistaken
@Steven Downey – eh? Have a read of the yeast evolution article above.

Fundamentally, just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean no-one else does. And you can’t attribute everything you don’t understand to magic/religion/aliens/whatever. Maybe you just need to realise that you aren’t as clever as you thought.

September 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm
Don says:


I wouldn’t go about trying to prove people with faith wrong, just as I hope they don’t bother me and my sinful life and beliefs.

I sort of agree, but unfortunately your hope that the religious – many of them, at least – will be content to let the rest of just get on with life is wildly optimistic.

I don’t know of any atheists who go around knocking on doors saying, ‘Have you heard the good news? God is a fictional character.’ Or who spend their free time obsessing about the sexual preferences of others. Or who think they should have political clout based merely on their lack of belief.

As long as they don’t leave us alone I’ll respond. But I try to match my tone to theirs. Courtesy gets courtesy. Anything else gets it’s arse handed to it.

September 29, 2010 at 7:16 pm
Don says:


If you are claiming ‘perfection’ as proof of ID, then how do you account for evident lack of perfection?

Consider the prostate. Or the fact that the esophagus and the trachea cross each other in the human throat and consequently we can die just by eating. Perfectly understandable if we track the evolution, but making no sense at all as Intelligent Design.

And how do you know that our reproductive organs are ‘perfect’? How many variants have you tried?

September 29, 2010 at 11:58 pm
Julie says:

Watched the whole thing now. Very interesting stuff. I’ll have a ponder before replying properly. Great comments in response too.

@Mark I saw the hole and I was tempted.

September 30, 2010 at 1:33 am
Kirsty McCullagh says:

@rob I am not a troll and (yes I will most likely get insulted for this) do not know how you can get classed as one (I believe it is repeatedly taking the micky out of people etc) I see your point about the cards, BUT not everytime is a ‘guessing game’ (I understand there is more to it than that but for ease I am calling it ‘guessing’ as the person didnt ‘know’ off the bat) I believe there is deeper levels to everything (simliar to the rule of 6.. everyone connected to everyone else by 6 people) if I am a fool for this, then I am a happy fool 🙂
@don I agree with you, choices should not be shoved down anyones throats.
@mark you deserve 2 points as you got me on facebook and on here… ugh lol.. did see Derrens one, I see them everywhere now (Mr&Mr Smith- angelina does it on the stairs!)

September 30, 2010 at 1:43 am
Kirsty McCullagh says:

September 30, 2010 at 6:59 am
spiderabc1 says:

@Marksays Was it the live show with the banana thief and the hole tempting game? Great pic!

September 30, 2010 at 8:13 am
Len says:

@Alf: Nope not the same thing. Well not as such, but I understand how people would draw that conclusion as I suppose ID claims that it appears that all things were “created”.

@Rob: “and we will explain why you are mistaken”. LOL well, this whole ID vs Natural Selection war is an ongoing thing, and I’ve lost interest in getting seriously involved with them. I’m somewhat on the fence, both sides make interesting arguments. But I’m yet to read or hear a convincing argument in how natural processes could lead to what appears to be irreducibly complex biochemical systems, and the origin of life – the first living cell. (Even Dawkins had trouble with this in an interview). But as Derren says, just because things “look” designed to us it doesn’t mean it is. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t.

October 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm
Steven Downey says:

My whole point was in order for a member or members of a species to reproduce means that they would have to be already perfectly capable of reproducing. To slowly evolve the ability to reproduce (be it with the opposite sex or through eggs as previously mentioned) would mean that there would need to be lots of generations of the species, over time developing the ability to reproduce.. but they can’t because that ability hasn’t developed yet!

Lots of other obvious and logical reasons. we are supposed to have slowly evolved from the smallest of bacteria gradually into fish and then into land creatures.
The big question is WHY!
Evolutionists say creatures adapt to their environments but why on earth would a bacteria need to adapt to slowly become a fish? why would a fish need to adapt!?

October 1, 2010 at 9:57 pm
Berber Anna says:

Steven, bacteria can reproduce both sexually and asexually, so sexual reproduction doesn’t need to be entirely perfect to develop further, As long as the sharing of genes offers a marginal benefit, it’s going to happen more and more often. Asexual reproduction still occurs in some species of fish and reptile, so it’s not something that only fairly primitive creatures are capable of.
If you want to go back even further, to the reproduction of single strands of DNA, well, they did randomly take on the ability to reproduce. That’s how life came to be.

Why? Well, in order to fit into an unused niche. Take the fish — lots of predators in the sea, none on land. Legs and amphibious life meant not getting eaten as quickly, thus being able to produce more offspring who were also amphibious,

October 5, 2010 at 12:18 pm
Steven Downey says:

Berber Anna, I’m afraid you post doesn’t make any sense.
You say that things don’t need to be perfectly capable of reproducing before they reproduce, erm yes they do!
There are thousands of other examples where a lifeform would have to be perfect right from the start and not evolved, the giraffe has a value in it’s neck so when it puts it’s head down to drink water the valve stops all the blood rushing to it’s head and killing it. So that ability must haver been there from the start and not evolved.

Ok so lots of fish were dying in the sea so they gradually grew legs and they ability to breath air. If that did happen there must have been some intelligence behind it. The fish can’t things oh were dying lets grow some legs!

October 31, 2010 at 10:41 pm
Lawrence says:

Unlikely that God exists? It’s also statistically unlikely that the universe would exist. Philosophers and theorists baffle me, all those ontological, cosmological, rad-sceptic ideas and arguments – you’re all asking the WRONG QUESTIONS! The only question that matters is WHY DOES ANYTHING EXIST?

Think about it…….

I don’t have an answer but I know that’s the only question worth thinking about.