‘Curiosity: Brainwashed’ review: Discovery’s most haunting one yet
Typically, we try to get our look at the Discovery “Curiosity” specials up before they actually air; but since we are writing this one just as it concluded airing on TV, we’ll take a different look at just what unfolded here in this “Brainwashed” episode and at least go into some more specifics.
Overall, this was actually probably our favorite so far of the season for one primary reason: the way in which the psychologists and scientists actually looked at the human mind. Can someone really be brainwashed into really doing something sinister, or is this something that is already programmed into their mind and set off by some sort of trigger? We’ve always been fascinated by the extent of what the mind can do, and this played up that angle to the fullest.
As interesting as this special was to watch, we also are sure that there are going to be plenty of skeptics out there who doubt what they saw in terms of the capability of someone to be hypnotized to conduct some terrible things. If nothing else, the special does introduce the point that actions of this sort are possible, even if difficult to executive given all of the variables that it would take for the hypnosis to be a success. The person we really feel for at the moment is Ivan, who was brainwashed to simulate killing a man on the street. While the bullets used in the stunt were fake, this guy now has to go around for the rest of his life with the belief that there is a switch within him that can be flicked to make him into someone he is clearly not … even though the team there assured him that he will never fall victim to this in his everyday life, and what he did was not a product by any means of the sort of person that he is.
Did you enjoy this week’s “Curiosity” special strictly from a human standpoint, or did you find this whole ordeal just a little bit too difficult to prove on TV or just unnerving? If you want to take a look at some other highlights from this season, all you have to do is click here.
December 10, 2012 @ 8:57 pm
Well, it might have been staged, but I must say I couldn’t turn the channel. Very interesting and thought provoking (not to mention that Ivan is cute, cute, cute!!!).
December 10, 2012 @ 5:52 pm
it’s fake :( http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4961273/
December 9, 2012 @ 11:17 pm
Ivan , if you are reading this … SLEEP !! … Now wait for your instructions
December 6, 2012 @ 12:07 pm
My husband and I felt that, after this “experiment, ” Ivan would need to seek another profession other than as a corrections officer by the very nature of the subject. Would an employer in the corrections field really want an employee who handled fire arms to be so suggestible and who was hypnotised in the manner that Ivan was? Ivan was very photogenic. I would imagine that after appearing in this segment, he would have been approached for minor, if not major, acting positions such as commercials. Perhaps, he needed to find a new profession. Since, if you investigate other similar experiments into Manchurian candidates on the Internet, you will find similar results. That, of course, does not make this particular one 100% real, but it does seem to increase the likelihood. I was rather surprised to see that so many people wanted this to be authentic. We found it to be disturbing, and, in fact hoped and still do, that it was faked.
November 21, 2012 @ 11:23 pm
Yes, Ivan is an “actor” in that he has had a few gigs since 2010. However, he was a full time correction officer when this was filmed. Go look at his IMDB and see what he was in. I would be surprised if anyone recognizes any of them. Even if you read his biography on there, it states that he started pursuing acting in 2010, and had a few small roles.
It makes sense that a person who was pursing an acting career would attempt to get himself on television, especially on a decently large, worldwide viewed, show such as curiosity. That does not mean it was faked. Actors and those interested in the arts tend to be more susceptible to suggestion. Look at Tom Cruise, John Travolta, Isaac Hayes, or any of the other actors\artists who have been seduced by Scientology.
I feel for the guy. There is no way he was acting in this. Just look at the ice bath test. It should be impossibke for any person to submerge themselves in an ice bath like that with no physiological response. Some people could tough it out, but not without their heart rate increasing. There is only one other person I’ve ever heard of who was able to anything similar, and he was on Stan Lee’s Superhumans. His body, even at the cellular level, reacted differently to cold, but he was the only known person to be that way. Even he had physiological reactions to cold, but could endure it better than anyone else. He ran a half marathon, barefoot, in the Arctic circle.
November 18, 2012 @ 3:34 am
AND, as I read the comments:
IVAN IS AN ACTOR.
End of story.
Good Lord, are any of the “doctors” and “scientists” real????
November 18, 2012 @ 3:29 am
I wanted to believe this. However….
The shooting scene was completely staged. Ivan, at the very least, had to be involved in multiple takes. But more likely, he was just part of the con.
1. Watch the shadows. They vary greatly. Some shots were taken mid-day. Some shots were taken when the shadows were much longer, later in the day.
2. Watch were the “dignitary” falls. Lines and grates on the ground are in a different place depending on camera angle.
3. Watch where Ivan takes his shot from. When shot face-on, he is in front of the corner. Overhead shots put him behind the corner. (Actually, a totally different corner.)
These three things are absolute. Not a matter of opinion. Objective observation.
There are a lot of subjective things that don’t “feel” right as well.
1. The way Ivan steps around the triggering producer on the way to the motorcycle is just false. They’re too close to each other to begin with. Then there is a very stilted walk-around.
2. The way Ivan pulls the gun out of the backpack is very awkward. A corrections officer would handle a gun with live ammo much more securely.
2. The gun recoils falsely. Too lightly.
3. As has been noted, onlookers from the background don’t seem overly concerned at witnessing an apparent assassination.
Sucks, because I wanted this to be real. But, they lie.
November 11, 2012 @ 11:21 am
My name is Mike Hudson and I was the paramedic assigned to the Ice bath experiment and Ivan was not acting i am almost 99% sure…there is no way anyone can overide that temp of the water. 36 degrees F shuts your muscles down and the pain is off the chart in the first 30 seconds. he wasn’t faking…..
November 9, 2012 @ 1:35 pm
Maybe the real experiment was too see if the scientists could be fooled or if the viewing audience could be fooled.
Many criticisms of such shows fail to account for the fact that hundreds of hours of video need to be edited to make a compelling TV show – and if B roll is used to make up for any issue with the main footage then something like having the stunt man lay down again for another shot can be easily explained.
I was thinking while watching that they had best be filming in an area with no Concealed Carry allowed else some random passerby might step in resulting in some Actuality TV.
Perhaps they should have used a Mythbusters like summary at the end and simply called it Plausible, of course if Ivan was not truly hypnotized but simply acting then even Plausible is tenuous at best. Even if he was not, then perhaps the fault lies with the experts being unable to tell that he was acting – they did comment that some folks seemed to be acting. He did seem relatively calm throughout the process of being debriefed etc, I think most people would be more visible upset by the experience. But again with training as a corrections officer or even any experience with handguns the looking around for example may have been a result of the “brainwashing” known as training for handling a deadly weapon.
The ice test was interesting but could have been cleverly edited – lack of thermal imaging may have been simply due to editing but would have been nice to see if perhaps your body’s autonomic responses really could be modified, though it does see that no matter what your physiology or training that two minutes in an ice bath would produce some effect despite your perception of the experience and after being removed from the tub and waken up I expected to see the shivers and chattering of teeth set in since he must still have been quite cold.
November 4, 2012 @ 10:36 am
This was a very interesting show. I had to google it afterward to see if there was any news related to it. Of course there wasn’t. If this was all done as a true scientific experiment there would be a lot of hype about it. To the woman who wrote letters to the producers and other folks responsible for the show, you’d do yourself wonders to not be so naive. It was an entertaining show but that was it. An entertaining show.
November 4, 2012 @ 2:46 am
Seemed strange to me that in a ‘busy’ street, no onlookers were curious and hanging around to see who all the photographers were waiting for at the velvet ropes. The few folk who were already nearby in the street didn’t even seem interested, and after the shooting they just stood there not looking at all alarmed. Very suspicious.
November 2, 2012 @ 12:19 am
Its real, least I see no reason why not based on all evidence, by which I mean not just this show.
Firstly, Ivan is a part time actor, at best. His day job is an officer in a prison, just read his bio on imdb. imdb.com/name/nm4961273/
One of the other candidates involved mentioned it was advertised as an acting job, but with no hints at the real purpose. Likely all the candidates were actors of some form desperate for whatever they could get. Unwise perhaps by the show producers given they specifically didn’t want people trying to act, but no reason to discount Ivan as a valid candidate. The ice bath test is designed specifically to eliminate any actors as its based on unavoidable physical reactions that conscious thought cannot avoid. If he was acting then if the show is fake a lot easier ways to make it seem real when its not through editing etc than hiring some part time actor. And I just struggle to see what Discovery would ever gain from faking an experiment like this.
And lastly, and most importantly, this has already been done by Derren Brown, in episode 1 of a uk programme “The Experiments” broadcast a year ago. He used similar tests to find a single ideal candidate finishing with the ice bath test, mentioning he believed only 1% of people would be suitable. But he then went to much greater lengths to ensure the victim would do as he said than this discovery show did with a much more elaborate and convincing setup to get the victim to attempt to kill. Wouldn’t be hard to find this online.
Dicovery’s Mythbusters also had a go at this a while back but failed miserably due to poor to non existant understanding of the requirements for it to work, ie avg hypnotheripist and very small candidate pool with no checking for suitability.
Anyway point is this can be done by genuine experts, but only very small % of people are sufficiently suggestible for it to work. It is plausible it could’ve been used in the past for murders, but by its nature very difficult to proove..
October 30, 2012 @ 5:50 pm
totally fake. what a waste of time.
look at the positioning of the assassination victim at the end of the show. from the bottom angle he lays dead in one position. from a diff angle he rests in a diff position.
plus Ivan is an actor. what a joke.
October 30, 2012 @ 5:46 pm
Ivan wasn’t shown on the thermal camera
October 30, 2012 @ 1:51 am
It’s fake. Google ‘Ivan the Terrible Santiago’. He’s an actor. You can look him up on IMDB, also.
October 29, 2012 @ 5:51 pm
I too just saw Ivan on a bathroom commercial and thought exactly the same as Alicia. On the Curiosity – brainwashing episode I watched last night, from the very beginning when the hypnotist was counting upwards from 1 saying that the subjects would get more and more angry the higher the number went, I thought that Ivan looked like he was faking his anger even then. Another hour of my life wasted, watching made up rubbish which is camouflaged as reality tv
October 29, 2012 @ 5:28 am
I just saw “Ivan” in a commercial for the product Bath Fitter. He is clearly an actor. I, like many viewers, was riveted by this episode. I’m disappointed to find this episode was just a carefully crafted hoax for ratings. :-/
Sharilyn Wood Stalling
October 29, 2012 @ 3:19 am
As a child and teenager I was brainwashed using hypnosis. I became a hypnotherapist in order to heal my wounded mind and regain my blocked memory. I was chilled by the way Ivan was used. 10% of all humans are somnabulists which means they are highly susceptible to hypnosis to the point of the hypnotist being able to block all memory of anything the hypnotist wants the person to forget. If you word any suggestion right, you can get an innocent person’s mind tricked into an action that on the conscious mind, he would never do. This happened to Ivan. What deeply disturbs me is that, on the show, Tom Silver, did a very poor job of cancelling the horrific suggestions that he gave to Ivan. Tom Silver did not state that the color red, the fabric velvet, a hand shake, or even certain praise would return to being normal and never trigger his need to protect another human being by becoming an assassin. I have written Tom Silver, Cynthia Meyersberg, and Mark Stokes requesting they follow through and make sure Ivan is protected properly through further hypnotic deprogramming. As for Ivan having recourse to sue the show, I am confident that Atlas Media has an iron clad contract that covers them from all liability. Believe me they can afford the $895 an hour corporate attorneys who made up the contract.
I agree this show is an abomination because they stole a man’s free will in the guise of science and entertainment. There is such a thing a moral conscience.
October 29, 2012 @ 1:25 am
I hope that the skeptics are right and this was staged. I suppose I have given these TV folks too much credit thinking that they would follow rules of scientific inquiry. If it was not completely staged, then one must consider that Ivan is a corrections officer. He is trained to use deadly force. Killing another human being is not out of the realm of his day-to-day life. To say that he was “programmed” to do something out of character is a complete misrepresentation of their own facts. It would be the same if he were a police officer or soldier. He was told that he had to shoot a “bad guy” and that is what he would have done. Not a stretch for Mr. Ivan. My concern is that, if it was not completely faked, then Ivan has to live with what he did. That is completely inexcusable and the producers should be taken to court and made an example for the rest of the so-called reality TV industry. The fact that this program aired without a lawsuit suggests to me that it may have all been staged after all.
October 29, 2012 @ 1:09 am
They changed the experiment without even alerting the viewer. There were four rainin subjects and the first three were disqualified when they were told the ice bath was a warm jacuzzi. Ivan, the fourth, was told that he was stepping into a tub of ice but it would feel comfortable. At the very least, scientists would have at least notes the change.
October 28, 2012 @ 10:38 pm
This episode seemed a little fake, as if Ivan was in on the whole thing. At the assassination part, there were close up shots, at different angles, of his face and one of the angles looked like it was actually reshot like they so often in the industry.
Another thing is when Ivan was in the “trance,” he grabs the backpack and looks around suspiciously. Someone in a hypnotic trance would not be concerned with other people around him (as some of the experts on the show said earlier on).
While I do believe this is possible, (Robert Kennedy’s assassin for example seems plausible as a “conditioned assassin”, this show just seemed not real. Which is sad because I did like it and am very curious about this subject, I just wish I believed it.
I’m a Psych major, I know people can be conditioned, that’s a fact. I also believe that hypnosis is plausible, but it’s been researched and proven that you cannot make a “Manchurian Candidate” like assassin without full on reprogramming. According to my Abnormal Psych professor, Torture/Reprogramming for example until someone passes their breaking point and develops Disassociative Identity Disorder(Multiple Personalities in lamen terms, it’s the way the brain fragments in order to be able to deal with severe abuse, physical or mental pain.)
At that point you can program one personality to do something against the hosts’ will, something so of character, like cold blooded murder of a stranger. After the host regains control they would have no memory of the event, then you’d still have too “kill” the “assassin alter” off.
Suggestion hypnosis, no matter how skilled that guy was, over a period of a couple hours would not be enough to brainwash someone into killing someone.