I think Ford has hit on something, that I would like to expand upon. I think the reason that many people think of magic as a children's event is because most magic is presented childishly.
The magician wears cartoonish clothing. They treat the spectators like marks, and insult them in order to get others to laugh at them like a schoolyard game. And they manage to trivialize wonder into puzzles and guessing games.
If someone were to offer sophisticated presentations then, if they can overcome the prejudice left by others who have come before, they can change the minds of their audience members. But many magicians don't want to do anything really "interesting" with their magic. Instead they pray to this god called "ENTERTAINMENT" which is really, in their work, nothing more than goofy diversions, albeit in a playing card vest.
Schindler's List was a great movie, but I wouldn't call it ENTERTAINING. I was in tears at the end of Les Miserables, was that entertaining? I can stand for hours at the MOMA, am I being "ENTERTAINED?"
Entertainment/entertaining is really a lousy word and much damage had been wraught in its name. Think about it, how many magicians say "I'm not a magician, I'm an entertainer." Now think of how many of them do magic which is non-deceptive with hackneyed jokes. (Now, there are some exceptions, but not many.) What they really mean is, "I offer a diversion of dubious originality and caliber." Is magic merely a "diversion?"
Mind reading transcends mere entertainment into the realm of ENGAGEMENT. Now, great magic is engaging as well, don't get me wrong. But the magician has to work a little harder to create premises/presentations which are engaging to intelligent adults.
As Ford pointed out, the mind reading premise is automatically engaging for many audiences. Sadly, this allows many mindreaders the opportunity to perform long, drawn out routines that are often lampooned. Because the premise is so engaging, the mind reader is not forced to develop engaging presentations and proceedures. The audience will often tolerate this due to the power of the premise. Sadly, this often results in not only bad entertainment, but more importantly, bad THEATER.
Our audiences deserve great presentations and proceedures regardless of the premise. (And presentations are linked to method. Method AFFECTS the EFFECT.)
See, there are people out there who believe a booktest is a booktest. They cannot see the difference between having three cards selected, adding their values, counting down that many lines, rolling 4 dice, adding their values, counting across that many words..... and "Grab any book on the shelf, open the book to any page, look at ANY word."
But the later is a better trick and offers the potential for a more engaging presentation if the situation is truly taken advantage of. Of course, in a poor performer's hands both will suffer. And a great performer can make the first scenario fly. But a great performer seeks out the best tools, because more can be crafted with them. The best method, with the best presentation, and an inherently engaging premise is a recipe for success.
Now, can the same be made of magic? Of course, but one must divest themselves of childish trappings and learn to think and act like an adult if they expect to have their work respected by adults. They must offer magic which is bullet proof and deceptive. They must offer premises and presentations which engage and intrigue. And they must cultivate a respect for our art, not an aversion to it.