Highly intelligent, and ferociously honest about the failings of his fellow-practitioners, and his own deceits, Derren Brown is also witty and often rather clever. What he sets out in this book is more like a potted philosophy, interspersed with tips about improving the memory, simple conjuring tricks and a devastating condemnation of Spiritualism.
Those who have seen his TV programmes for Channel 4 will recognise the sheer mouthiness and brio of his delivery - he writes like he performs, a mile a minute with naughty asides. It's captivating to watch, but it can be a little overwhelming to read. Luckily, however, he calms down for the really serious subjects, such as religion, which he does not have much time for, especially as he admits to being a teenage Christian fundamentalist, until he read Bertrand Russell. He writes very ably and very persuasively about science versus the New Age (Reiki, Homeopathy, Crystals, Tarot, Chakra etc.). He makes the point that when tested against placebos homeopathic remedies consistently show no superiority in efficacy, and yet homeopathologists insist that they work. But since they do not work any better than a placebo, why pay for them?
He saves his deepest scorn for Spiritualism, the crooks and delusionists who practice it and the harm that they do to the credulous and bereaved. He is also scathing about Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), although he is careful not to dismiss it entirely, since it is current rather than original formats that have brought it into disrepute.
A lively and thought-provoking read - I particularly enjoyed his writing on reading unconscious behaviour, detecting lies and deceits, etc., which is much more complex than just watching faces or eyes; and his memory system (using a `memory palace') works too.