Vlad Kraven

NYC Magic Meets Psychological Thriller

Keith Barry – Psychologist or Fraud?

Deception with Keith Barry aired earlier this week on the Discovery Channel, and one of the most frequent questions I get is, are those really psychological impossibilities, or simple tricks? How does Keith Barry do that? Is Mr. Barry able to, as he claims (and the programs ‘experts’ confirm), reprogram people’s minds and read peoples intimate thoughts using advanced psychological principles?

Absolutely not. Well, maybe a little.

That’s not a very satisfactory answer, but it isn’t a simple question. Let’s pull back the layers a little bit to get to the

Keith Barry psychologist or fraud?

Keith Barry the Magician

bottom of this. First and foremost, who is Keith Barry? He has attempted to re-brand himself as a psychological prodigy, capable of rearranging or “hacking” the minds of perfect strangers, but that’s far from the truth. First and foremost, Keith Barry is a magician. A trickster.

Before this program, he has made a comfortable living openly deceiving people for their entertainment. Like any good magician, he specializes in creating the illusion of having a power or ability that isn’t necessarily there.

Take the concept of magic and the clever tricks involved with it, apply it to the mind, and you have mental magic, also known as mentalism. Mentalism, and art born out of magician’s attempting to imitate psychic feats, is little more than trickery of the mind. Up until recently, the overwhelming majority of mentalism was cleverly applying  magical methods to give the illusion of mindreading.

Cue Derren Brown. In the early 2000′s, Derren Brown, a British mentalist, began making waves around Europe by presenting his mental magic with a psychological twist. He incorporated hypnotism and some legitimate psychological ploys with his mentalism to give the illusion of complete psychological control. But even Mr. Brown would start his shows with the disclaimer stating that his “show fuses magic, suggestion, misdirection, psychology and showmanship.” In other words, some psychology is in use, but it’s still just a well-dressed magic act.

Keith Barry, undoubtedly seeing the effectiveness of this presentation style, has tried to emulate that with his Deception program. There are two problems with this approach.

First, he comes across as a less eloquent, less humble and less skilled Derren Brown to anyone that has seen both men in action. In fact, not only is Keith Barry’s delivery similar to Derren Brown, even his choice of material significantly emulates the Brit. To prove that you simply need to watch the following two clips:

Keith Barry mind trick

Derren Brown mind trick

But there is a more troubling point to all of this. Keith Barry, appearing on the Discovery Channel with commentary from experts in the field of psychology, tries to sell his magic as science (or at least the producers of the show do). While maybe 10% of his material may contain legitimate psychological principles, the other 90% is showmanship and chicanery. It’s simply misleading and borderline unethical to make the level of claims that he does.

I would not go as far as to call Keith Barry a fraud, but I would say that assuming that he can implant or read impossible thoughts using only psychology is untrue as well. If anything, Discovery made a poor judgment call selling the show as something scientifically valid, instead of magical entertainment.

How about you, do you think that Keith Barry is a mental marvel or magical miscreant?

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Posted in Other and review and TV by Vlad Kraven on June 3rd, 2011 at 02:20.


42 Replies

  1. avatar

    Mr Barry repeatedly said that he wouldnt tell how he did what he had done. So everyone should know what they saw is just a trick.

  2. Mike S. Jun 5th 2011

    It’s not even interesting; it’s like an even worse version of some bad Criss Angel stunts, where television & pre-trained “subjects” may be used, & none of us woould be the wiser.

    Some of the illusions are awsome, but this “mentalist” crap is uninteresting dogshite.

    Through this guy into the Atlantic Ocean & let him trick a shark to give him a ride home, then I will be amused.
    What garbage for the Discovery Channel.

  3. Mike Miller Jun 16th 2011

    As a magician who has and does perform mentalism, here is my comment on Keith Barry’s show “Deception”. Magicians do use psychology as they attempt to alter your perception of reality. At the heart of some of the all time best illusions is the simple fact that it very possible to control people’s attention and thus what they see. It is very likely that Mr. Barry is very skilled in the use of these techniques. It’s amazing what can be accomplished without sleight of hand or big box trickery.

  4. Travis Jun 17th 2011

    Forget you all. It’s ONE episode a week on wednesdays, late at night, some people find it cool. I’ve been reading these body language books and it all matches up with barry. Same thing goes with his “thought implanting”, it’s all just using verbal and physical cues to manipulate someones thoughts. I dont know about how he just came up with peoples cell numbers by observing them, but for the most part its real. Yall are just jealous that he probably gets laid every night while you finger yourself to asian tentacle porn.

  5. avatar

    If you read this I real in need of your PLEASE HELP ME!!!

  6. Vlad Kraven

    @Alan, what can I help you with?

  7. FiOS-Dave Jul 9th 2011

    Sounds like you are creating a real hissy-fit here. Is it jealousy
    or is it a poor means of creating activity on your website?

    I’ve watched several of Mr. Barry’s shows and find them entertaining and thought provoking (pun intended).
    He clearly stated that he “forced” suggestions on people and
    carefully reads their body language for clues, using their eye movements, muscle contractions, etc.
    He also has explained that he uses several methods to help remember details, such as converting numbers into letters and then forming words, which act as memory “joggers”.
    All in all, the show is entertaining!

  8. Martin Jul 14th 2011

    Keith Barry presentations are more insulting, than appealing. He must think very little of his audience to make such absurd claims.

  9. Doc Holliday Jul 15th 2011

    I think that if you think it is fake, you must think David Blaine floating is real. To me there is no reason why he could not do what he did. I hope they bring him back because it was very entertaining. I think it is quite sad that you made a website to say the guy is just a magician when you are “just a magician” yourself but could probably never do what he does. You have no idea what kind of education the guy has so it is sort of absurd to make the claims you do. Have you ever seen the show ‘Lie to Me”? To me it is the same thing. Finally, i have seen people hypnotized and I know it works. The one thing that may be stretched is the fact that the exact people on the street were hypnotized so easily. I mean he could have tried it on 10 and the 11th worked, so they used that film. But that still doesn’t mean it didn’t work. In the movie theater episode he doesn’t hypnotize everyone. Get a life dude, or as KB says get your own show, come on you can do it. lmao!!

  10. Lynnda Aug 26th 2011

    I don’t really care how he does it. I just want to know how I can do it…now.

    For those who are critical of his methods, regardless you should admit he is skilled. Can any of you perform this level of trickery and wow an audience? I can’t, therefore he impresses me with his skill.

  11. Jordan Aug 29th 2011

    Keith is incredible at what he does and all that you are looking at are the cons. Watch some of his other videos and he will tell people that he doesn’t believe in being able to do that. He’s a very talented magician and is unbelievable at what he does. They don’t just hand out Mentalist of the Year awards.

  12. avatar

    I am really pissed of because i thought someone has found a way to read people so well. Since i have read a few books about human mind flexibility, but i see that i have read to few. I think i will block the discovery channel on my tv list!

  13. Victoria Oct 5th 2011

    i think that you, Mr. Karven, are nothing but somebody whom decides to take a personal feud public. i dont believe that there wasnt any trikery used because keith “tricks the brain.” but i do believge that what he does is real
    so be quiet

  14. Tom Johnson Oct 9th 2011

    Quite frankly Vlad, all Mr. Barry ever claims is that he is really good with observation and subconscious thought suggestion. Your whining is without merit. The man has not lied, he simply says that if you observe close enough, and use certain other subtle techniques, you can do what he does. There is no “fraud” without an intent to deceive, and he doesn’t deceive at all – he cleraly states what he is doing is merely suggestion, not magic. You seemed hissied because he’s not going to tell you what he does.

    I find his skills remarkable, and when you can do it, I’ll say the same of you.

  15. Michael Oct 10th 2011

    Tom, are you kidding? This is the guy who brought multiple “experts” onto the show in order to sell his act as genuine psychological manipulation, as if he’d stumbled onto some profound psychological research. That alone is a gross misrepresentation of an actual scientific field.

    Also, he deceives plenty. I can sit down and spell out for you exactly how he does about 90% of the tricks on the show, because I am a magician myself, and it’s pretty much just sleight of hand or some other magical trickery, with very little actual suggestion and observation/body language reading. To do that and then try to sell it to everyone as actual science using “experts” is misleading and damaging to the field of psychology.

    I dislike Barry because he essentially just rips off Derren Brown’s act down to the letter but lacks all the charisma and sense of dramatic presentation that makes Brown’s act so entertaining. And also because he treats his spectators very flippantly and seemingly with very little respect. The guy is technically talented, sure, but it takes more than that to be a good performer.

  16. avatar

    people listen to yourselves. your ripping on a guy who is explaining psychology. he isn’t a magician and he isn’t a fraud. he is a Mentalist and an Illusionist he isn’t coping anyone. If he were copying someone then that means all scientists copy one another which obviously isn’t true. Kieth Barry is there to help prove other peoples theories and to explain how the brain works. not to copy anyone

  17. tushar Oct 24th 2011

    I think keith barry is the awesome person. channel like discovery will never make poor documentary. and I hav seen many videos of Keith n I don’t think he is making any frauds. some tricks are pn nice n awesome that we can’t even think about that.so we should respect his abilities his power. it is not bt all easy think to do what he is doing.hats off to you Keith.

  18. John Saber Nov 7th 2011

    Mentalist, illusionist, magician, trickster, etc. – these are the same. They are not fraud, they just simply do tricks to make you believe or think that something is there which actually is not there. This could be entertaining if it is performed well. So the basic question is not “Is he really did that?” or “Can he really do this?”, because the answer is “No, he’s not a superhero or whatever über-human…”, but “Was his performance quite unique to he made me belive something that was not true?”. It is entertaining, it can be fun, but it is absolutely not science, even not fact! However, It can be based on scientific knowledge, especially illusions, e.g. they know how to manipulate you, or keep your attention busy toward the left hand while they’re doing something with the right one. And when you accept the fact, that an illusionist’s aim (or mentalist, or trickster, or whatever) is to deceive you (as Keith’s programme’s title is “Deception(!!!) with Keith Barry” and NOT “Scientific methods with Keith Barry”), you have to always ask yourself: is everything real that is shown in this programme? :) And one more thought, because someone wrote about the series “Lie to Me”: it is a fascinating show, one of my favourites. But. In real life, to read someone’s face impressions, and make conclusions whether is the person lying or not at the moment, is not that simple and easy. Moreover. One has to take video records during cross questioning, and after that you have to analyse the recorded person’s face movement to decide whether is that person is lying or not – and it took hours, not seconds…

  19. avatar

    I don,t know what Vlads problem is. Why does he feel the need to discredit Keith. It does not matter how he goes about doing his act, it’s after all just entertainment. Vlad just chill.

  20. Vlad Kraven

    Have you read my posts? The whole point was that Keith Barry is an entertainer, and not a scientist. That’s it, I’m not revealing how he does his act. Although, Rash, you writing “it does not matter how he goes about his act” is VERY ironic, since you found the page googling “keith barry secrets.”

  21. Dr. Vivek Nov 21st 2011

    Hey friends! I am from India. I have seen people, who can do that in India. I have at least 50 personal experiences with one of the gentlemen who is a psychologist and a sculptor, who can do all what Keith Barry is doing. I know this is possible scientifically and I have experienced this person do it with so many people for so many years, and it has a scientific basis behind it.
    Yes, the program is entertaining because he tells subtle things that he uses to do what he does, whereas others who do the same don’t tell anything.

  22. pooja sharma Dec 8th 2011

    Mr. keith if u r really read people’s mind and their thoughts .. so can u pliz help me out… can u tell about me without knowing my personality….??????

  23. Robert Hiengler Jan 1st 2012

    Well well well, it appears Keith Barry has pulled an amazing deception after all. Whole bunch of you actually thinking its real and secondly not a blatant rip off of Derren Brown.

    Bravo KB

  24. Cease NZ Jan 10th 2012

    First of all “The Mentalist” is complete fiction and I don’t dispute that mind control is not real although it takes an extreme amount of conditioning “Pavlovs Dog” for example nor do I contest mentalisim to a certain degree but I’m also a sceptic it’s well known people play up for the camera but the best trick of all is called video editing along with paid actors the show is called deception for a reason if you’re simple enough to just take this as truth for the fact it’s on Discovery or even just T.V you’re a perfect puppet for the NWO get out and read a book because if something like this could be implimented so rapidly THEY would already have YOU under

  25. Aditya singh Feb 19th 2012

    It may be which mr.keith berry does.

  26. Mohsin Feb 19th 2012

    dear sir i want to know how u doing this brain reding is it real or fack i saw many people in my country but they are all fack and i loss may mony to them i want to know can you read me and tell how type of mine my name is mohsin from pakistan.pls tell me

  27. preejish Feb 19th 2012

    i do not believe he is a mind hacker but is a mind trickster very skilled in influencing people through his talking skills his hand movements etc.discovery and NGC which are my favorite channels. i was glued for sometime becoz it was on discovery channel.can any one hack mind ?i believe everyone of us has this skill what mr barry has , may call it a tv setup or it is real to 10% of the extent.actually he deceived many of us and that is his skill…

  28. avatar

    plse if u know about hypnsis….and mind reading plz……i need

  29. plazz Mar 4th 2012

    well but somefacts are true human body does shows stress and body languges . other tricks jusst shows how our human brain works and conentration and all .
    i though it was a great show for who can understand wht these triks signify

    but cant say has really reached that level or not
    itz just the way our brain works and about sublime mind

  30. avatar

    Vlad, question:

    So does Derren ‘s method on the train, not work if the other person has a strong mental power? What could possibly not make it work on the male participant who wanted to get to Charing Cross.


  31. Vlad Kraven

    Certain people are definitely more susceptible to suggestion and hypnosis, while others are naturally tough cookies. It’s not necessarily about strong or weak mental capacity, but simply a matter of people being different from one-another.

  32. avatar

    Vlad ,it shouldn’t matter if he is real or fake….
    Just prove it rather than making such stupid sites to claim
    I can see you are jealous because you can’t do it !!!!
    And if you were in his place ,would you consider opening it to the world how you did it?? Think about it

  33. avatar

    In one of the episodes of deception, Keith tells about the year, place, city and the name of the guy whom the girl had kissed years ago, just by looking at the face of the girl. Did he came to know about all that just by looking at the girls face? Over that he even told the name of the guy the girl had kissed. Hard to believe all that. Surely, it was a set up.

  34. avatar

    dear vladkraven, i absolutely agree with you to put deception on a science ch. and airing it without any disclaimers. it is unethical. and for those who think i am jealous of him.. dear i love blane and angel, they are on entertainment ch. not a science ch. and keith is here becuse he can not enter in to axn etc.. dude if anybody takes his girlfriend to church for romance, believe me he is tricking girls father, and do not have the guts to ask her hand from her parents… the place is chosen for deception.

  35. Rohith May 29th 2012

    Keith,is the program “DECEPTION WITH KEITH BARRY”is done to a real passerby humans or they are your artists.

  36. devarshi Jun 3rd 2012

    @tej- the episode which you are talking about, keith doesn’t just tell about the girl’s first boyfriend. he even tells how he does it. (by seeing eye movements).
    @everyone- keith is even telling how does he do it (after most tricks or whatever mind stuff you call it), how can someone say that he is a fraud. Besides, he’s on the discovery.

  37. Jooya Jul 6th 2012

    Oh Comeon, everybody knows what he does is trick, its 2012. Besides I became familiar with this type of magic through his TED show and later learnt about the details of the trick….So no worries anyone can find our about the reality behind it all.

  38. Darren Aug 22nd 2012

    I just saw his show and all things aside, he is a great entertainer.
    We had a fun night and got exactly what we paid for, to be entertained.

  39. avatar

    i want to see the show again and again so we can see the facial expressions of keith and his trick and can analyze some what……….

  40. avatar

    Okay. I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but why is this your view? There’s no explanation in this article for why only “10%” of his material is genuine psychology and the other “90%” is “chicanery”. I’ve only seen this guy once, in his TED talk. It doesn’t matter to me whether it is all smoke and mirrors or all brain hacking, or some combination thereof. But you didn’t really justify any of the statements in your essay. If you are going to write something like this, you need to be a lot more specific. (To be fair, Barry doesn’t justify his claims any more than you do)

  41. Skeptic Oct 21st 2012

    These comments make me cringe!
    You must be really stupid if you believe that the most complex tricks aren’t set ups and trickstery. I would go as far to believe that 50% of the tricks are genuine reading of facial reactions, eye movements, autonomic responses, but even there wrong guesses have been edited out.

    And these people from india and Pakistan? Who let them in Internet??

  42. avatar

    You have not provided one shred of evidence to debunk Keith Barry. Just petty griping. As long as he is not using “planted”actors in his shows or stage-managing anything, one can not hint that he is a fraud. Keith has never claimed to be performing magic, and he is clearly tapping into the subconscious. Why is that so unbelievable ? Our brains give off electro-magnetic wavelength signals that an intuitive person could pick up.

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