The Science of Magic

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.

Postby Jeff Eline » 11/01/09 09:21 PM

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 11/01/09 10:03 PM

The end result of the article seems to be that magicians can't fool those who are mentally challenged. How disappointing.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/01/09 10:18 PM

Dunno. I did a show for people last night that were either mentally challenged or perhaps mentally ill. No,I am not referring to the local magic community.

Anyway that particular audience were very receptive and appreciative and I was quite surprised and delighted since they scared the hell out of me when I first went in. For some odd reason I thought that I was entertaining at a senior's residence but it turned out I was wrong.

Sure you can fool them but I don't actually like that word "fool". There is something demeaning and superior about it. Perhaps "baffle" or "mystify" would be better.
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Postby Carlo Morpurgo » 11/01/09 10:41 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The end result of the article seems to be that magicians can't fool those who are mentally challenged. How disappointing.


I am not sure what kind of disappointment that would be for you. The piece was referring specifically to autistic kids, to their ability (conscious or unconscious) to focus on details that would normally be perceived as "background noise". And I don't think all autistic people are that way either.

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I saw the segment this morning, and one thing I did not get (I missed a few minutes of it) is why Teller had his face obfuscated while he was interviewed.
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Postby Mark.Lewis » 11/01/09 10:53 PM

Teller is not supposed to speak. Perhaps that had something to do with it.

I heard about this show and I was told the exact opposite. I understood that the programme showed that autistic children actually are not fooled easily by magicians. Mind you neither are non-autistic children.
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Postby Carlo Morpurgo » 11/01/09 10:57 PM

Mark.Lewis wrote:Teller is not supposed to speak. Perhaps that had something to do with it.

I heard about this show and I was told the exact opposite. I understood that the programme showed that autistic children actually are not fooled easily by magicians. Mind you neither are non-autistic children.


What do you mean "opposite" I am saying that it's their perception of "background details" that makes them more aware of how the magician has tried to fool them. But I was saying that it's not just the "mentally ill" it's about autism, and not all of it I suppose. So I don't see the big disappointment.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/01/09 11:42 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:The end result of the article seems to be that magicians can't fool those who are mentally challenged. How disappointing.


You have to engage their attention and imagination.

Working for folks who are limited or distracted or predisposed to focus in on details we might not anticipate takes additional work beyond what one might do for audiences that already know how to watch a show or how to "buy into" a magic trick.
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Postby Kent Gunn » 11/02/09 01:08 AM

I've an ex-wife who is a public schoolteacher specializing in exceptional children. Her charges varied in mental acuity, but many were very, very disabled. I know for certain two of her kids had autism. I would show up and do magic shows for them. I kept the complex dealing tricks to a minimum.

Sponge balls, via the Benson Bowl, Coins across with lots of fun counting!, Professor's Nightmare and the cups and balls seemed to entertain them just fine. They were appreciative and enthusiastic. I do not remember how the two autistic kids reacted to the magic. They both preferred the musical stuff I'd do. One of them was a huge music buff and could identify any tune (Broadway/Pop) within three or four bars.

All in all, doing magic for those kids was the best time I've ever had performing for high schoolers. I got hugs and felt the magic was genuinely enjoyed.
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Postby Carlo Morpurgo » 11/02/09 08:48 AM

I was going to say...I think the CBS show was mostly referring to those tricks involving an obvious misdirection of some sort, especially verbal, and how to use those as a diagnose for early autism. But not all the effects have to be that way... I think it would be pretty easy for any magician to still to fool them with other more foolproof (!) tricks. I actually like "amaze" more than "fool"...
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 11/02/09 09:40 AM

That suggests and experiment. The experimenter takes out a packet of cards from wallet and counts them face up onto the table. Then turns over the packet lapping a few. Then counts the cards face down onto the table and smiles. After a beat and a Slydini Imp Pass they count the cards face up on the table and get the orginal number and smile again. The fun part is they don't have to do the sleights well and just listen for the responses.

Credits - this is a variation on an idea described by Karl Fulves in conversation. Not sure what direction he's taken his routine in the years between then and now.
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