I have a very skeptical view of hypnosis, and doubt I could ever be hypnotized. That’s why I call bullshit on this article about a shopkeeper who claims he was put in a trance by a thief who then went through his pockets and stole all his money. I’d be willing to bet it was an inside job or an insurance scam.

The article says there was a series of thefts in Northern Italy in 2008 that supposedly used hypnosis, but if this was possible, why haven’t more thieves learned the technique and used it all over the world? That’s one of the points raised in a Discovery News piece from 2010:

Another common myth about hypnosis is that it can put someone into a helpless or suggestible trance-like state. To psychologists, however, this idea has no basis. If it were possible to simply stare deeply into a stranger’s eyes to induce a trance-like, compliant state, then it would happen all the time. Anyone with practice or skill in hypnosis could easily turn to a life of crime by walking into a bank, casting a hypnotic stare at a teller, and take whatever they like.

In their book “50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology,” psychologists Scott Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio, and Barry Beyerstein debunk this popular myth: “Recent survey data show that public opinion resonates with media portrayals of hypnosis. Specifically, 77 percent of college students endorsed the statement that ‘hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness, quite different from normal waking consciousness.’… But research refutes these widely accepted beliefs. Hypnotized people are by no means mindless automatons.”