Another Embarrassment from Alex Stone

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Postby Jason Leddington » 10/02/12 12:27 PM

Mr. Stone exposes two forces in a really shoddy piece for Discover Magazine here:

http://discovermagazine.com/2012/sep/10 ... -decisions

You'll notice that potentially the most interesting paragraph in the piece -- toward the end, discussing the Princeton experiment -- is impossible to follow because it's so badly written and edited. (But since this is an online publication, they have an opportunity to correct it.)

Here's hoping that Stone goes the way of Jonah Lehrer.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/02/12 02:32 PM

Check out the related articles section below on the same web page. No comment.
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Postby erdnasephile » 10/02/12 02:56 PM

Ha!

I look at Stone as the Salieri of magic. Time will tell how long his schtick will last.
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Postby hgebeaux » 10/02/12 04:51 PM

Are you suggesting that magic can't be a subject of study? That the psychology involved in magic is somehow off limits? I'm sorry, but along with those questions I don't see the difference between this article and an article in Genii, or a magic book. In all, methods are exposed and discussed. Are magicians somehow special? And can't ANYONE buy a magic book or subscribe to Genii, all which expose secrets. Whenever I've ordered books, like from Richard Kaufman, I've never been asked if I was a magician or just a curious person. I think magicians should get off their high horse and realize they are just like everyone else!
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Postby erdnasephile » 10/02/12 05:08 PM

I am not eager to revive this comet topic once again, so I'll say my piece and move on.

I'm certainly not suggesting magicians' methods are above analysis or that anything is wrong with publishing books on magic for laypersons (There have been many scholarly works that have been published for laypersons that include analyses of magicians' methods (e.g, Steinmeyer's excellent books, Persi Diaconis' recent book, etc.). These have received numerous accolades from magicians because they are outstanding tomes.).

Surely, one could not reasonably claim that Stone's publications rise to that level of quality--which is really the central issue to me.

Finally, I would hope that magicians and magic are "special" (or at least those who claim to love magic would treat it as such).
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/02/12 05:16 PM

hgebeaux wrote:Are you suggesting that magic can't be a subject of study? ...


? Study is good. Publishing methods in public... IMHO not so good.

Offering less than informative, novel and cogent analysis when going public... sigh.

Compare the discussion on illusion of choice in the context of magic here in item 7.
Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 10/02/12 05:28 PM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: Urly goes it
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Postby Curtis Kam » 10/02/12 05:27 PM

Anyone could expose, that's the point. The vast majority chooses not to harm the thing that sustains us. We have all dealt with this temptation, and found another way; one that does not involve taking from magic before giving back.
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Postby Roger M. » 10/02/12 05:35 PM

hgebeaux wrote:Are you suggesting that magic can't be a subject of study?.............I don't see the difference between this article and an article in Genii, or a magic book. .........I think magicians should get off their high horse and realize they are just like everyone else!


Nobody is suggesting that Magic can't be a subject of study....but what layman reading Discover magazine online would you ever consider as seriously studying material as per what Stone has tipped?

Not to imply that you're being intentionally clueless, but laymen don't read Genii and/or magic books unless they're interested enough in the craft to pursue it, if even briefly.

Laymen do however read Discover magazine, as it's ultimately a magazine focused 100% on laymen.

Actually, Magicians aren't like everyone else any more than Doctors are like everyone else.
Magicians aren't laymen, and neither are Doctors.

Your efforts to make articles tipping secrets "OK" seem lame overall, and seriously off the mark specifically.
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Postby KirkG » 10/02/12 08:01 PM

While the article has some interesting topics at the end, I don't believe the exposure of these two methods advanced the article at all. It seems like a call for attention rather than a scholarly discourse.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/02/12 08:49 PM

I like the Teller article. He gets to item 7 in seeking items to discuss in context. Free choice is the seventh item on his list of things that are not quiet as they seem when magic is afoot.
Alex Stone follows a similar path offering examples that are not so well explained leading to an assertion that nothing needs to be as it might be seen. I found the Teller introduction and illustration to lead the reader to a feeling of having made new sense.

On the other side, I'd expect a better analysis of the Monty Hall problem from Alex since he's working with people and behavior. To come to some accommodation between the boxes of unknowns after a volunteer chooses one - and the reevaluation of the odds after a known empty box is shown empty. Clearly 50/50 is better than 33/65. But we seem to treat that first choice (one of three) as somehow better than the odds now that his choice would be one in two. There's a field he might explore with experiments. What are the drivers for holding onto the one you choose among the three. What are the drivers or reasons to consider an exchange between the one box that could contain the prize against the one you chose earlier. It's not the pure math which shows a second choice gives you a one sixth better chance when you make the choice of one from two instead of a choice of one from three.
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Postby petnard » 10/16/12 04:28 PM

Take a look at my book review in Los Angeles Review of Books, of Stone's book,"Fooling Houdini" esp. in comparison to this more scholarly one called "Trade of the Tricks"

http://lareviewofbooks.org/article.php?id=992
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Postby erdnasephile » 10/16/12 04:57 PM

Nice work, Mr. Nardi!
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Postby Bob Farmer » 10/17/12 10:36 AM

[censored] has added a couple of comments.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 10/17/12 10:54 AM

Just saw this on the CNN ticker:

Anthropologists discover [censored] is missing link between sub-cretin man and the dolts. Museums worldwide vie to stuff and display him. Lewis commented, "Huh?" shrugged his shoulders and ran to the far corner of his cage to gnaw on some Svengali decks.
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