THE CORE

 

This page exists for Derren to inform you about skills and areas of knowledge that are of interest to him, or relevant to his work.  Here you can find suggestions for further reading and resources. Derren has written in more detail about some of these areas in his book Tricks Of The Mind, and will continue to add to this page as he finds material that he thinks may be of interest to you.

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL &
SOCIOLOGICAL EXPERIMENTS

 

One of the delights of making my shows for me is that I can construct, reconstruct or reinvent psychological experiments in a way that would be most likely impossible within a clinical setting. The legal and ethical guidelines for making a television programme are strict and rigorously enforced, but they are not the same as those insisted on by the ethics committees of the clinical world. If one were looking for funding to carry out a psychological experiment, it might be very difficult to secure that if it were likely, for example, to attract controversy, or if the subjects would need to be deceived. A television show, on the other hand, might revel in both those factors. Obviously the on-screen result is unlikely to be treated as serious science, but if intelligently enough thought-through, might be a good springboard for discussion.

 

 

FURTHER READING

 

Stanley Milgram: The Individual in a Social World: Essays and Experiments.

This contains the reports on Milgram’s famous Obedience experiment which has become synonymous with his name. (For those of you still unfamiliar with him, this is the supposed electrocution experiment we set up in The Heist). Aside from this landmark of social psychology, there are plenty of fascinating ideas and experiments contained in Milgram’s work. It’s an excellent read and very accessible in tone. There’s even a chapter on Candid Camera.

 

Lauren Slater: Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century.

It took me a while to like this book: Slater’s florid style does not sit easily with the academic nature of her subject. To begin with I found it self-indulgent, speculative and silly, but after a while it really won me over. Her chapter on addiction in particular is surprisingly moving. The book reads like a fiction writer’s take on the more notorious experiments of the last hundred years or so, and in that sense brings them all ‘to life’. Once you are happy to read the book as a personal and poetic take, it’s quite compulsive and lovely reading.