Aspergers and Magic?

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Joe Mckay
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Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 4:44 pm

I recently got diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. Although that term isn't really used any more. Instead the term is Autistic Spectrum Condition. My sense is that it is quite common in a "geeky" field like magic. Indeed - one of my heroes in magic - the chief GENII himself (RK) also has this.

A lot of people think I'm an [censored]. And apparently RK used to have this problem as well. So I am guessing that is an Aspie thing. Something to do with misreading social cues and being too honest with people?

Still - the key benefit it offers as far as studying magic is concerned is the ability to hyperfocus. It is like a superpower. You can study thousands of books and magazines and have near photographic recall of it all. That has been a big help for me with my study of magic. And the magic community as a whole has benefited from that same hyperfocus that RK puts into his incredible magic books.

Most people who are Aspie don't get diagnosed until they are in their 30s. Many more are not diagnosed until they are in their 40s or 50s. And probably just as many are never diagnosed at all. There are no real benefits to a diagnosis apart from being able to understand yourself a bit better and perhaps get some allowances made by your employer. It can feel a bit of a pointless "label" - a case of yeah I am different, so what? But I think it is of use for people to find this out about themselves since it can be beneficial in unexpected ways.

Anyway - I am just curious if others are on the Autistic spectrum? And it may be worth keeping an eye out for people in the magic community who you think might be on the spectrum since it may be useful encouraging them to seek a diagnosis.

Ironically - one of my big areas of interest has been the giant Stewart Jamees books.

https://forums.geniimagazine.com/viewtopic.php?t=48263

And in light of my recent research I am 100% sure he was on the Autistic spectrum as well. Of course - you are not supposed to give unqualified medcial opinions. And there is a taboo against trying to diagnose people who are now dead. But nevertheless I am convinced he was on the spectrum

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 5:24 pm

A friend asked me why I felt Stewart James had Aspergers Syndrome? Well the key thing with being an aspie is that you are always super sensitive in one or more of your five senses.

As such - rather than working through dozens of things that might suggest somebody has Aspergers Syndrome - it is easier to start by checking to see if that person is hyper sensitive in one of their fives senses. Since that is a neccesary but not sufficient condition. Twenty years I have being reading philosophy and I finally got to use that phrase!

Anyway - Stewart James was very sensitive to certain sounds. In fact his father had an unusual punishment where he would lock him in his room and play a certain classical composer in the room below. The sound would penetrate the ceiling into the room Stewart was in and the low bass tones would cause him to feel agony in his stomach. I forget the exact details, but that was the general gist of it.

In my case I am super sensitive to smell and taste.

My understanding of RK is that he gets terrible headaches when he reads a post by Mark Lewis. So I guess with him it is a visual sensitivity. :-)

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby David Ben » August 6th, 2019, 5:33 pm

Lots of magicians are on the spectrum. My late wife, a primary educator, wanted to give the Aspergers Test to the magicians who attended our conference 31 Faces North. She was sure half would make the grade.

As for Stewart, I knew him very well. I do not believe he had Aspergers. Stewart had very good social graces, was kind and compassionate, and was dutiful towards others. Howard Lyons said to me that he believed Stewart to be different in that he had no barrier to tapping his subconscious mind. Stewart wasn’t obsessed with magic like some with Aspergers are. He maintained a full time job, looked after an elderly parent, maintained an extensive network of correspondence, attended annual conferences, performed locally, went to Church regularly, and created a lot of magic. (Fortunately Stewart didn’t have to practice much as had little interest in sleight of hand - something he called muscle magic. He liked watching it, however, when it was well done.

As for the sound issue, although I know that story, I never knew Stewart to be bothered by any sounds in the time that I knew him.

Allan Slaight (who wrote the James File) on the other hand - and I am having dinner with him this evening - may be another story.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 5:40 pm

Thanks for the insights David!

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 5:50 pm

I remember Richard Kaufman writing about Larry Jennings. He wrote about Larry's unabashed love for magic. He followed this up with a comment about how magic was like an addiction or illness for a lot of magicians.

I forget the exact wording.

But it is a comment I have always thought about. Perhaps what RK was getting at was that a lot of people in magic need a hobby to obsess over? So in a sense their interest in magic fulfills a deep psychological need for something to obsess over? Rather than it simply being something that is a purely joyful experience?

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 5:55 pm

Here is an interesting hypothesis as to why hyperfocus may have evolved.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_vs._farmer_hypothesis

What is a little depressing about hyperfocus is that you can be very smart and very hard working. But only in areas that absorb you. As such - a lot of people in this situation end up bouncing out the education system with very little to show for it.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby David Ben » August 6th, 2019, 6:29 pm

I have always said that some people think musically, others visually, some with language, etc. I believe some think magically, that is they view the world as a series of paradoxes that they can resolve. I am one of those. Stewart was too

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 6:46 pm

I remember Michael Close saying a similar thing. He described himself as having perfect pitch. Not just musically (since he is an accomplished pianist) but in terms of seeing what is wrong with a trick. Honing in on the part of a trick that needs fixing, removing or justifying. It is one of those odd things where the answer is really obvious but only after sombody else has already pointed it out.

I am a big fan of Andy's work over at The Jerx magic blog. And he has a similar ability. Whenever he reviews a new magic product he has an uncanny ability to hone in on a key weakness that others have not yet noticed. And then he offers some fixes as well.

Michael and Andy are both very talented creators as well. So I imagine the ability to spot weaknesses in other people's magic uses the same part of the brain that allows you to create new magic with the weaknesses already identiified and removed.

Maybe Michael & Andy are the same person????

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby CraigMitchell » August 6th, 2019, 7:14 pm

Be sure to speak to Tim Ellis who has done a large amount in this area including a one-man show about aspergers and magic.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 7:15 pm

Cheers Craig!

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Christopher1979 » August 6th, 2019, 7:38 pm

Would there be a connection between creativity and Aspergers? Or indeed other social/development disorders?...

I ask partly for myself too, I was labeled with many disorders that I knew I didn't have or didn't feel like I had. I remember as a kid having such a hard time actually performing in front of people that it became a horrible experience. I knew my persona was not like a magician and I was always really introverted.

Only now do I feel comfortable in myself at the age of 40. My love now is mostly Gambling routines/exposes so I can perform in a rather straight forward way rather than putting on an "act". Due to my problems, I lost a chance as a kid to make magic my profession which still hurts to today!.

I am quite musical too, I play the piano and the Organ, I find that fascinating as music and magic seem to go hand in hand for many performers!

Chris

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 8:10 pm

In my opinion, people with Aspergers tend to be a little less creative than normal people.

But they make up for in several ways such that they end up being perceived as more creative than normal people.

People with Aspergers tend to think in terms of connections. So if you ask them a question - that question might spark a related question that sparks another related question. And before you know it they are tackling the original question in a way that appears offbeat and creative. But it is only because the series of quite mundane connections that were sparked off in their head are hidden from view.

That can appear creative but it is not truly creative in my opinion. Added to that you have above average IQs, excellent memories and an insane ability to focus and be obsessed on tiny areas. Over time that leads to many important discoveries being credited to people with Aspergers (or - suspected - of having Aspergers).

The issue of creativity can be looked at by considering the difference between being witty and being funny. Being witty means saying something mildly funny - but saying it so quickly that the speed catches you off guard and that tips it over into being funny.

Whereas being funny is having the ability to create something out of whole cloth and spending weeks perfecting it. Think about your favourite episode of The Simpsons for example.

So with the above in mind - people with Aspergers are wired differently. And can quickly form connections at an incredibly fast rate. So people may credit them with being funny but in fact they are being witty.

It is something I am good at. I can usually say something funny instantly in any social situation. But if nothing occurs to me straight away - it is gone forever. Spending minutes and minutes trying to think of something funny is not going to help. It is an instant flash that is either there or it is not. It is amazing how fast your brain can work in moments like this. It is almost as if time slows down.

My brains relies on creating connections. I am more comfortable learning something if I have a chance to study the history first. Sadly this was never really possible when I was at school. I remember even when learning maths trying to teach myself the history of the field in order to really understand the concepts I was struggling to learn.

One strange thing is this. If somebody asks me to name a completely random word - I literally cannot do it. I am struck dumb since any word I come up with will always be related to something in the room or something I have just being thinking of.

I sometimes do this experiement on myself. It is very odd. It is like self-hypnosis in which I hypnotise myself in being unable to speak. I literally cannot think of a single word in the English language that is not in some way connected to something I can see or have just being thinking about. That said I would be curious if others are capable of plucking out what feels like a truly random word from their mind?

Anyway - the above is simply my analysis of myself. I am guessing somebody like Einstein truly was creative. Apparently he was an excellent visual thinker. Whereas I only think in terms of connections. So perhaps his style of thinking opened the door to a deeper type of creativity. A door that will I will forever be unable to find the key for.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 6th, 2019, 8:44 pm

My favourite way to listen to music is by watching music videos on YouTube. I really like the interplay between a great song and an equally great video.

In light of my diagnosis - I have noticed something interesting. A music video is scripted to communicate the emotion of a song. As such - with the help of the video, the music, the lyrics and repeated viewings you can eventually figure out what people are thinking in the video.

These social cues are something that people with Aspergers are blind to. One thing I find fascinating is you sometimes catch a glimpse of what seems to be an incredibly rich world in which people can communicate by just a single glance, or the slight furrow of the brow or mouth.

It is quite intoxicating. Perhaps this is similar to the joy people experience when thinking about romance (something else I have no interest in).

I guess this is something that fiction does a good job of capturing as well. I mention that because I have never connected with fiction. And I always sensed that not being interested in fiction is something associated with being an Aspie.

With the above in mind - it would be interesting to see how many actors also have Aspergers syndrome? Since one would imagine that not being able to "read" people would be an insurmountable challenge for an actor to overcome when the whole purpose of acting is knowing how to use your eyes and body language to communicate?

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 7th, 2019, 1:11 am

David Ben says that he never saw Stewart James being distressed by certain sounds.

But we have it from Stewart James himself that he was. So that is not even an issue up for debate.

Also - I know from my own experience that it is very easy to hide a sensitivity to something. Most people don't know I am very sensitive to certain smells/tastes. it is one of those things where simply side-stepping those issues is the bet way to prevent it becoming an issue. And as such it becomes an "invisible issue" that your friend don't realise you have to deal with.

Assuming it was some kind of deep bass note in certain types of classical music that upset Stewart James - that is the type of thing you can easily avoid in day to day life.

I will add that Stewart James was sociable but he was also a recluse. Most people who are aspie are sociable in some ways. I mean just look at Richard Kaufman - he seems to attend every major magic convention in the world. To say that Stewart James was sociable because he attended an annual magic convention does not really mean much.

For instance - Stewart lived in the same house his entire life. That is a super aspie thing to do. I could probably go on all day.
I mean - I am an aspie and I keep a wide of correspondence just as David Ben reports that Stewart James did.

He also mentions that Stewart James went to Church once a week. That is a non-issue. You may as well say he regularly ate food. It doesn't mean anything either way.

David mentions that Stewart was kind and compassionate. This is very common with people with Aspergers Syndrome as well.
They are effectively like children with no malicious intent in them. They have a heard amount of empathy for other people. The reason people believe they don't is because normal people misread an inability to pick up on social cues with the ability to be empathetic to somebody else when it is clear they need help.

The reason they upset people is because they either say something dumb at work or they are too blunt in how they speak to people. But this is an easy thing to hide. It just depends how much of your "real" self you want to reveal. Often you get bored of hiding your real feelings and you decide to let loose. Or as you get to know somebody - and depending on how tolerant they are - you decide to push and push until your "real" self comes out. Of course all this is much harder these days since the world has become such a super PC place compared to what you could get away with saying 50 years ago.

Ultimately it all depends on your mood and who you are hanging with. It must also be a reflection of your core values as well. I assume Stewart James was a Christian. So his "real" self was probably very different to sombody like me who is an atheist and therefore has no moral compass.

I would add that Stewart James hated using the phone (probably another symptom of being an aspie) and got in trouble once with the police for showing a child a deck of cards with nude women on them. Again another possible sympton of autism (inability to see how an act might be perceived by others).

The reason Stewart James would not seem an aspie to his magician friends is because he would be discussing ideas, friends and magic with those people. That would be him at his most comfortable. Also - it doesn't matter that he was not singularly obsessed with magic. Well that is true of myself and Richard Kaufman as well. We have a ton of interests outside of magic. And it works better that way since it allows you to recharge your magic batteries as you focus on non-magic stuff, and vice versa.

It is when an aspie person is in an awkward situation where you don't have an easy "crutch" like magic to fall back on that they can get frustrated with boring everyday social conventions and that leads them to act a bit weird. You often find them quickly tiring of boring small talk and gossip.

Of course - no two people with Aspergers are the same. So Stewart could have easily have had certain traits that were more or less pronounced when compared to somebody like myself or Richard Kaufman.

Stewart James had few friends as a child (aspies love alone time). And I don't think he was very sociable as an adult. By sociable I mean somebody who sought out the company of others (eg parties, going to the bar, going out with colleagues after work). Even his job (a postman) meant he did not have to deal with work colleagues.

I have a lot of respect for David Ben as a magician and as somebody who knew Stewart James well. But I am still convinced that Stewart James was on the Autistic spectrum. Apologies if the above sounds like a rant. That is not my intention! :-)
Last edited by Joe Mckay on August 7th, 2019, 1:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 7th, 2019, 1:13 am

Apologies if the above comes across as a bit strong David! That was not my intention. I just had a lot of points to cover and I am about to go to bed, so I don't have time to write it all down in a way that makes me sound more composed! :-)

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Tom Stone » August 7th, 2019, 2:04 am

Congratulations to the diagnosis, Joe!

Regarding Stewart James... we know he was raised in a way most others were not. So it is impossible to tell if his quirks was rooted in something neurological or in sideeffects of trying to cope.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 7th, 2019, 3:47 am

Heh. I was discussing this with my old performing partner just yesterday.

I don't have time to comment now, but perhaps later. I'm on record with most of my views on the subject anyway :)

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jack Shalom » August 7th, 2019, 9:03 am

I don't know. I'm starting to feel a Forer effect in these descriptions. Seems to pretty much apply to everyone to some degree. I'm not sure how useful these labels are.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 7th, 2019, 10:49 am

That was very much my reaction as well Jack when I got diagnosed. I felt it was just a meaningless label.

But I do think it goes a bit deeper than that. It is a common misconception that everyone is a "little bit autistic". An important point to remember is that people on the spectrum have a brain that is literally wired up differently. Different parts of their brain light up when they solve problems.

So being a litttle bit autistic makes as much sense as being a little bit pregnant.

https://www.nhs.uk/news/neurology/people-with-autism-have-unique-brain-patterns/

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby David Ben » August 7th, 2019, 2:08 pm

Joe, obviously you are free to think and say what you want. So no offense taken.

I’ve had lots of people diagnosed with Aspergers in my life. Just because someone thinks different, lives in the same house, and once wrote about an abusive parent and sounds, isn’t enough in my book to make someone an Aspie. My guess is that you are projecting. Take no offense please because I also have enormous respect for what you have done, particularly with regard to promoting Stewart and his legacy.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Bob Farmer » August 7th, 2019, 4:01 pm

My wife, who is a specialist in special education, is very good at recognizing the condition in people and has correctly recognized it in several of my magician friends (who confirmed her observations). I don't have it. What I do have has not been given a name yet.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby David Ben » August 7th, 2019, 4:21 pm

I have known Bob and his wife for over forty years. Truer words have not been written.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 7th, 2019, 5:00 pm

There is an ingenious test used on children to see if they have grasped the concept of Theory of Mind. If they fail the test then it is a powerful indicator that they may be Autistic.

http://www.educateautism.com/infographics/sally-anne-test.html

I was really captured by how simple and clever this test is this.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Michael Close » August 7th, 2019, 5:10 pm

Question: How many Aspies does it take to change a lightbulb?

Answer: First let me admit that I have not carefully researched this, I am simply recording the history that I lived through.

When I was a teen, way back in the 60's, we still had ethnic jokes. Polish people were used more often than almost any other group, and for some reason the jokes portrayed them as stupid. Perhaps the most famous of these Polish jokes was how many Poles does it take to screw in a light bulb.

I once tried to challenge this stereotype by telling a college class I taught in New York City that the father of modern science, Copernicus was Polish. This did not work. None of the approximately fifty students in the class knew who Copernicus was.

I explained that Copernicus discovered that the earth goes around the sun. One of the students said, it does? It seemed pretty stable to me. She seemed worried to learn she was moving.

About one quarter of the adult population of the United States does not know that the earth goes around the sun, and another quarter does not know that this happens once a year.

No doubt the Poles find it amusing that a nation as ignorant as America thinks they are stupid.
Remember that in America we put an emphasis on knowing your own area, while remaining ignorant on the world in general. I know a brilliant math professor that did not know birds are warm blooded. America wins the majority of the Nobel Prizes in the sciences because we are collectively knowledgeable even though we are individually ignorant.

Actually, Americans in the 1960's could hardly care less if your grandparents were Polish, Irish, or German. Regardless of where your grandparents came from in Europe you were simply white. It was simply tradition to make the Poles the object of stupid jokes.

At any rate the popular lightbulb joke I grew up with was, "How many Poles does it take to change a light bulb?" "Eleven, one to hold the bulb, and ten to turn the ladder."

But some time in the late 60's or early 70's ethnic jokes were banned. Even earlier jokes aimed at African Americans and other oppressed minorities were banned. It took longer to ban jokes about ethnic minorities who were by that time accepted members of the main steam of American society, and probably had average household incomes above the American average.

Sometime later, I believe it may have been the late 70's or early 80's a new lightbulb joke about Californians appeared. How many Californians does it take to change a light bulb. Four, one to change it, and three to share in the experience.

As Californians were not an ethnic group and the joke was aimed at current psychobabble the joke was considered politically correct, or at least acceptable in polite society.

The second joke in this new tradition that I remember referred to New Orleans. How many people from New Orleans does it take to change a light bulb? Three, one to change and two to mix the drinks.

Another early one targeted Virginia. How many Virginians does it take to change a lightbulb? Three, one to change it and two to talk about how good the old one was.

In those days, which were the early to mid 1980's it was tradition to go after American states, which were considered fair game, of course ethnic groups were not.

Eventually, other groups were targeted. Politicians, psychologists, women, real men, etc.

So while the original light bulb joke referred to Poles and ladders, the light bulb joke about Californians' sharing in the experience was the one that really kicked the whole tradition off.

You would not be able to learn this from the Wikipedia article, and I decided not to change that article because I do not have a source.

Here are other examples:

Q: How many accountants does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: What kind of answer did you have in mind?

Q: How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Only one. They don't like to share the spotlight.

Q: How many agnostics does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Agnostics question whether electricity really exists.

Q: How many anarchists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: ALL of them!!

How many Anglicans does it take to change a lightbulb?
A1: None. The old one is complete and sufficient unto itself, and should not be changed according to the world's whims.
A2: Four. One to call the electrician, one to clear it with the vestry, and two to argue about how much better candles were.
A3: Five. One to screw in the new bulb and four to found an organization for the preservation of the old bulb.
A4: A whole synod. One to move that the bulb be changed while the others debate until the room spins.

Q: How many anthropologists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One or two, plus their grad students — but they'll want to know how your mother's family did it and whether that knowledge is passed along at adolescence.

Q: How many subscribers to AOL does it take to change a light bulb?
A: What? You can change light bulbs?

Q: How many Apple employees does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Seven: one to change the bulb and six to design the T-shirt.

Q: How many archaeologists does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: One team, but they'll label every piece of the old one, mark its location in the room, and write a detailed description before determining that it was used to store cornmeal.

Q: How many [censored] does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None; [censored] never see the light anyway.

Q: How many astronomers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. Astronomers prefer the dark.

Q: How many Bell Labs vice presidents does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That's proprietary information. The answer is available from AT&T on payment of license fee (binary only).

Q: How many bikers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: It takes two, one to change the bulb, and the other to kick the switch.

Q: How many times does Bill Clinton change a light bulb?
A: No one knows. Republicans automatically disbelieve him, and no one can ever trust a stinking liberal anyway.

Q: How many company biotechnologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Four; one to write the proposal, one to design the bulb-changer, one to design the bulb-fetcher, and one to design the bulb.

Q: How many freelance biotechnologists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One; she designs the bulb to crawl up the wall, unscrew the old one, and screw itself in.

Q: How many dumb blondes does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: What's a light bulb?

Q: How many board meetings does it take to get a light bulb changed?
A: This topic was resumed from last week's discussion, but is incomplete pending resolution of some action items. It will be continued next week. Meanwhile . . .

Q: How many body-builders does it take to screw in a light bulb?
A: Six, one to do it and five to stand around and say "Man, you've got such awesome muscles. You're so cut."

Q: How many Bratzlaver Hasidim does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. They will never find a bulb that burns as brightly as the old one.

Q: How many brewers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: One-third less than for a regular bulb.

Q: How many BBS jokers does it take to tell yet another LBJ?
A: 1,622.

Q: How many BBSers does it take to submit a new light bulb joke?
A: 1,000: One to submit the joke and 999 to submit "How many programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, that's a hardware problem."

Q: How many bureaucrats does it take to change a light bulb?
A1: 100. One to change the bulb and 99 to write the environmental impact report.
A2: 45 — one to change the bulb, and 44 to do the paperwork.
A3: Two. One to assure us that everything possible is being done while the other screws the bulb into the water faucet.

More later....

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 7th, 2019, 5:32 pm

And in conclusion, your Honour, that is how the can of worms was opened...

Q: How many Microsoft employees does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. They just redefine 'dark' as the industry standard.

Q: How many efficiency experts does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: None. Efficiency experts only change dark bulbs.

Q: How many magicians does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: 29. One to change the lightbulb and twenty eight to say 'I know how he did that...'

Q: How many psychologists does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Only one, but the lightbulb has to want to change.

Q: How many Spanish men does it take to change a lightbulb?
A: Just Juan.

And so it goes on... :)

Joe Mckay
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 7th, 2019, 5:43 pm

Are we doing jokes now? Here is my favourite joke.

Why is divorce so expensive?

Because it is worth it.

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 7th, 2019, 7:12 pm

ASD in Magic as compared to other groups? I'm not sure someone else would be happier to get a suggestion to seek a diagnosis unless they express an interest first. That line about "a little learning is a dangerous thing" applies here.
Michael Close wrote:Question: How many Aspies does it take to change a lightbulb?
Answer: First let me admit that I have not carefully researched this, I am simply recording the history that I lived through....
You would not be able to learn this from the Wikipedia article, and I decided not to change that article because I do not have a source.
Folktales :) There's quite a bit of documented history about folkmusic and these days you can get a PhD in the Ethics of telling modern folk stories. The 'theory of mind' notion may be critical to magic literature and even more so to magic advertising.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Jack Shalom
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jack Shalom » August 7th, 2019, 7:28 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:There is an ingenious test used on children to see if they have grasped the concept of Theory of Mind. If they fail the test then it is a powerful indicator that they may be Autistic.

http://www.educateautism.com/infographics/sally-anne-test.html

I was really captured by how simple and clever this test is this.


That test is remarkably problematic to me.

I can well imagine a non-aspie child choosing Anne's box for a number of reasons; a certain kind of child might imagine that:

1) Sally knows Anne likes to trick her.
2) The tester wouldn't ask such an obvious question if the answer was under the blanket still
3) Sally heard something happening while she was away
4) Anne has a funny look on her face
5) It's a more interesting story if Sally looks in the box
6) it's funnier to say Anne's box

and so on. I don't think that that test necessarily tests for what the experimenters think it does.

An interesting side note--the creator of the test is Simon Baron-Cohen, the cousin of Sacha. I wonder how Sacha fared.

Michael Close
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Michael Close » August 7th, 2019, 7:55 pm

Question: How many magicians does it take not to get a joke.

Answer: Apparently, all of them.

Jack Shalom
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Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jack Shalom » August 7th, 2019, 8:12 pm

I think that probably qualifies as the World's Longest Punchline.

I.M. Magician
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby I.M. Magician » August 7th, 2019, 8:15 pm

Michael Close wrote:Question: How many magicians does it take not to get a joke.

Answer: Apparently, all of them.


I can personally verify that. I occasionally offer humor here on the forum and nothing... :roll:

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 7th, 2019, 8:18 pm

Michael Close wrote:Question: How many magicians does it take not to get a joke.

Answer: Apparently, all of them.

So Prospero, you've abjured? ;)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Michael Close
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Michael Close » August 7th, 2019, 8:39 pm

My apologies, Jonathan. I never reply to any question I'd have to Google to understand.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

Pete McCabe
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Pete McCabe » August 8th, 2019, 3:44 am

How many mice does it take to screw in a light bulb? Two.

Pete McCabe
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Pete McCabe » August 8th, 2019, 3:45 am

Joe,

BTW, your comment that connections isn't true creativity is wrong. That's exactly what creativity is.

Max Maven
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Max Maven » August 8th, 2019, 4:22 am

Joe, I have known quite a few people with Asperger’s, including some good friends (Hi, Moo). I do not believe I have any bias against that condition.

That said, I knew Stewart James, and I do not think he was on the spectrum. He was a brilliant person, but a shy man who was psychologically and emotionally abused by a child. The result was that he became a complex introvert. Whatever the psychiatric diagnosis might have been, we shall never truly know. That he was able to transcend his wretched circumstances and give flight to his peculiar genius is something for which we should all be grateful.

Joe Lyons
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Location: Texas

Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Lyons » August 8th, 2019, 8:21 am

So, an elephant with Asperger’s walks Into a bar.....


"..... the peanuts are complimentary!”

“.....why the long nooooooooos?”

“.....that’s ok, the hamster was a ventriloquist!”

Leo Garet
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Leo Garet » August 8th, 2019, 10:21 am

Humour? Hmm.

Question: How many Beatles does it take to change a lightbulb.

Answer: Four.

Any less and it's not The Beatles. Or is that "fewer"?

Joe Mckay
Posts: 1629
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 8th, 2019, 12:12 pm

Thanks to the responses from those who knew Stewart James well who have doubted my "diagnosis" of him. I thought there would be more takers for my suggestion.

But nevermind. As an earlier poster said - a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

It is not a case of "projection" on my half because I feel the need to find others to label with the same condition I have. I am not that insecure.

That said I would by lying if I didn't admit that I am secretly pleased I have the same condition as Richard Kaufman since he is such a big hero of mine. Is there anybody who has done more for magic than him?

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 8th, 2019, 12:46 pm

I've missed this thread because of MAGIC Live.
Now that I'm here, I have only this to say for the moment: This thread is not an audition for the 1am show in an empty nightclub at a resort in the Catskills.
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