Aspergers and Magic?

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby AJM » August 8th, 2019, 12:54 pm

How many MPs does it take to block Brexit.

All of them.

A bit of political satire there.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Leo Garet » August 8th, 2019, 1:17 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote: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.


It certainly isn't. The material is far too good for that. ;)

It might just about qualify for The Wheeltappers And Shunters Social Club though.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 8th, 2019, 1:30 pm

I would love to hear Richard discuss his thoughts on Aspergers as well.

No problem if he is not interested. I guess it is a bit of a personal subject.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby AJM » August 8th, 2019, 2:17 pm

Ha ha - The Wheeltappers.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby I.M. Magician » August 8th, 2019, 3:43 pm

Please indulge me for a brief moment.

Everyone has something. No one is by any means perfect. Aspergers is just one of many things that people have.

I have known and spent a great deal of time with quite a few people who were diagnosed with Aspergers and I found that they have difficulty with mathematics but an incredible ability to read and write.

So...perhaps one can conclude that having it can be a gift of sorts. Who doesn’t have problems with SOMETHING? As a result of that SOMETHING, they must make the necessary adjustments in both coping and with whatever else they are finding challenging. That’s life!

Thank you very much for allowing me to have my say.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 8th, 2019, 3:59 pm

I can barely do simple addition. Figuring out the tip at a restaurant is a major challenge. When I was single, my dates thought it was cute.
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 8th, 2019, 4:51 pm

If there was a cure for Asperger's syndrome - I wouldn't take it. It offers a lot more positives than downsides.

I just found the diagnosis helpful since it made me realise that my preferences are deep-seated ones. And not irrational ones that I can "manage" away by looking at things differently. Or to put it anothr way. I will pay reven less attention to "normal" people when they try and convince me something will be fun when I know I will hate it.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 8th, 2019, 5:26 pm

One common misconception of ASD is that it is a linear spectrum; it's most certainly not. The best way to visualise it is as a circular colour wheel.

Like several other spectrum people I know, I'm particularly good with numbers.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Bob Farmer » August 9th, 2019, 8:59 am

Okay, I've devised a joke for those on the spectrum.

My hotel room is so small, the spatial coefficient in Einstein's Theory of Relativity is not required to prove the theorem.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 9th, 2019, 10:27 am

Jack Shalom wrote:

I don't think that that test necessarily tests for what the experimenters think it does.
Notice the eye-tracking paragraph on the wiki page citing https://www.theguardian.com/science/201 ... ike-humans and https://science.sciencemag.org/content/354/6308/110 articles. This has obvious applications in our craft.

Here's a half-educated guess. If the experimenter were to look at the participant and ask: "What does Sally imagine happened while she was out of the room?" there will be a different pattern of eye motion than if the experimenter focuses on the picture and then asks the question. Also check where they are looking when the answer the question about where Sally looks for her marble.

Marbles lost,

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jack Shalom » August 9th, 2019, 11:44 am

Clever Hans, yes that is certainly one big problem. But I think a larger unexplored problem in these kinds of tests is this:

The experimental context is always a piece of fiction. Even a five year old understands that the nice adult in the white coat is telling a story. The questions that begin, "What does Sally think happened..." are an open invitation to play at creating fiction. While some are budding lawyers, others are budding Pynchons or Bradburys. We don't really have a theory of mind for the subject of the experiments as subjects. We assume they all come in approaching the experiment the way we would like them to. But maybe they enjoy messing with minds, as one simple possibility.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 10th, 2019, 9:51 pm

I think Jack makes a good point.

Children are often smarter than they let on. And would rather screw around with an experiment by pretending to be dumber than they really are. Apparently this is quite common. I heard that from the age of 6 onwards - kids are smart enough to pretend they still believe in Santa just to keep their parents happy. So what a kid "really" believes is a hard thing to work out. And there is a good chance that this "quirk" of personality is more common in children with Aspergers syndrome. It certainly reminds me of some of my behaviour as a kid. Perhaps the kid is astute enough to realise he wouldn't be asked such a dumb question in the first place unless there was some other trick involved? A bit like how an adult is wary when invited by the police to answer "a few simple questions".

I also think you see a different "side" to kids on those hidden camera shows where you watch them talk to each other with no adults present. And when they are not acting up to adult expectations - they come across a lot more sophisticated than they do when an adult is present.

Also - here is something cool I came across online:
If a government relied on hiding its secrets using color camouflage, and believed other governments did the same, it would regard color blind people as a potential risk.

If you look at all the major leaks of British and American secrets, and those who made a career of interpreting the leaks by others to the public, there is a very high representation of those with Aspergers.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 17th, 2019, 12:16 am

This is a brilliant article about Aspergers syndrome.

It is too good not to share.

It takes a look at the rise of Aspergers syndrome from a fairly skeptical point of view. The article tries to drill into the idea of how many people have a disability and how many just hide behind the label to justify bad behaviour? It is an interesting philosophical question. Maybe I am in a strange mood but I found the article to be hilarious as well.

http://nymag.com/news/features/autism-spectrum-2012-11/

The diagnosis has helped me since it really reminds me to think carefully when I feel like veering towards the edge of what is socially acceptable when discussing sensitive issues. It is a bit like how you pay more attention to how fast you are driving when you spot a police car in your rearview mirror.

That said - I do think society is too sensitive in any case. What happened to the idea of "Sticks and stones may break my bones..."? Things are just silly these days.

I mean look at the reaction on this forum when I make the point that the reason that the magic that is most popular with consumers today (and with most of the most famous magicians perfoming on TV) is actually better than the stuff you find in magic books from 50 years ago.

Magic is half art and half science. So even if the magicians of today are braindead - the magic itself will tend to get stronger and stronger in any case due to the constant cranking out of improvements and interesting combinations of ideas that have come before. As in any other science or technology - things really do head in the direction of progress.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 17th, 2019, 1:08 am

One hpothesis I have is that people with Aspergers syndrome are drug addicts.

And the drug is intellectual stimulation.

As such the reason they ignore social niceties is because they find them boring and tiring. And would rather engage in social interactions that are riskier but more stimulating. Sometimes this can result in genuine human connections that build into lasting friendships. And other times it can backfire and lead to a meeting with HR.

You attract as many as you alienate. Life becomes a series of gambles rather than a series of compromises.

And yeah - Vernon is overrated. Don't even get me started on Marlo.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Brad Henderson » August 17th, 2019, 9:33 am

Joe. We can make clear reasons why the tricks you offered as examples of stronger magic aren’t.

But since this is a thread about aspergers, allow me to make an observation.

Perhaps someone who has been diagnosed with a condition that makes it challenging to empathize or read social cues is Not the best person to judge the quality of magic or the impact it is having on others.

(And the reason tv magicians do this stuff is because there is money to be made selling it to magicians who care more about their own pleasure than that of their audiences)

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jack Shalom » August 17th, 2019, 9:42 am

As in any other science or technology - things really do head in the direction of progress.


That's a misunderstanding of (scientific and genetic) evolution. Not necessarily progress, but adaptation to the existing local environmental conditions. With regard to magic, those conditions presently include an economic market for disposable, self-working tricks that make an immediate impact. Lots of other considerations are pushed to the side.

And the drug is intellectual stimulation.

As such the reason they ignore social niceties is because they find them boring and tiring. And would rather engage in social interactions that are riskier but more stimulating.


I like the idea that some people are more rewarded by intellectual stimulation than other kinds of stimulation; but I would be cautious about labeling such preference as riskier. Indeed, it may be an indication of avoidance of certain other kinds of risk, far more dangerous to that person.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 17th, 2019, 4:52 pm

I can only speak for myself as an Aspie. I do what I like to do (that includes work), watch what I like to watch, go where I like to go, and socialize with people I know and am comfortable with. That's how I've learned to live with it and not go nuts. It helps immensely to have a sainted and understanding wife.

As a therapist I saw many decades ago said when she first diagnosed told me: "90 percent of people with Asperperger's get divorced. The other 10 percent never marry."
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Bob Farmer » August 17th, 2019, 6:14 pm

"It helps immensely to have a sainted and understanding wife."

This is good even if you aren't on the spectrum. Luckily I have been blessed with Patricia who I can still make laugh uncontrollably by saying something really, really, really stupid.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Zig Zagger » August 18th, 2019, 2:10 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:I do what I like to do (that includes work), watch what I like to watch, go where I like to go, and socialize with people I know and am comfortable with.

That's great, but I'd say a lot of people in whatever spectrum, including me, (strive to) live according to that maxim. Same goes for the sainted Missus.

Probably a huge blessing if it really works that way, though.
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 18th, 2019, 3:23 am

You might like this book: http://www.davidbrin.com/existence.html One of the characters is not neurotypical. Here's a snipit of how the 'auti' character ponders:
nervous normalpeople +/- building careers +/- building houses – civilizations – families … linear thinkers obsessed with time. reason-not-rhyme -/-


@Jack, there's also some discussion a different type of unusual thinking about rewards. https://mybiochemicalsky.wordpress.com/ ... avid-brin/
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 24th, 2019, 8:36 pm

I just watched a bunch of talks given by people with Asperger's syndrome.

God they are annoying. I can see now why I irritate so many people.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 24th, 2019, 9:01 pm

It's both a gift and a burden.
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Krenz » August 25th, 2019, 12:09 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:It's both a gift and a burden.
That would make one hell of an article.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 25th, 2019, 3:47 am

Many years ago I was approached by someone whose son had been recently diagnosed, and was looking for information.

'Ian, I hear you suffer from Asperger's', he began.

'Oh, I don't suffer', I replied.

The sooner NTs realise that it's not a disease to be cured, the better...

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 25th, 2019, 11:20 am

But you can understand, Ian, why they think that. Well, perhaps you don't understand that! :)
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 25th, 2019, 1:53 pm

Self stimulation aside;
Is it vanity which sees other as wrong?
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 25th, 2019, 2:57 pm

Richard; I understand that NTs regard anything unlike themselves as 'wrong' and 'to be fixed', but there's a startling arrogance in thinking that I am somehow pained by the way my head works.

TBH, I'm stunned at how they can get through life with atrocious memories and poor maths skills...

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Brad Henderson » August 25th, 2019, 3:27 pm

Ian, the way your brain works may not be a pain to you . . .

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 25th, 2019, 3:39 pm

That's my point, Brad.

And thank you for making it so succinctly...

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 25th, 2019, 3:52 pm

Ian, I have a terrible memory and am atrocious at math. So there.
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Brad Henderson » August 25th, 2019, 4:53 pm

Ian Kendall wrote:That's my point, Brad.

And thank you for making it so succinctly...


Caring about the experience of others is so over rated for a performer.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Ian Kendall » August 25th, 2019, 5:38 pm

Brad, just stop. You're making yourself look even more of an arse.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Steve Mills » August 25th, 2019, 8:43 pm

Ian Kendall wrote:Brad, just stop. You're making yourself look even more of an arse.


Impossible!
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Brad Henderson » August 26th, 2019, 12:22 am

Ian Kendall wrote:Brad, just stop. You're making yourself look even more of an arse.


I’ll let the irony speak for itself

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby McKitterick » August 26th, 2019, 7:57 pm

Today's Guardian happens to have some thoughts regarding the breadth of the autism spectrum:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/aug/26/autism-neurodiversity-severe

Nothing to say on the magic angle though.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 27th, 2019, 1:01 am

Many who self-identify on social media using the #ActuallyAutistic hashtag insist that autistic people must be at the forefront of all autism discourse and that only autistic people themselves can be considered to be true experts in the condition.
It would be easier if those with particular talents would apply those talents to help the medical community make that distinction. A double blind test that works would help justify a distinct and non-spectrum label.
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 30th, 2019, 7:34 pm

Okay back on topic - auti/aspi/ASD ... thinking: Does a diagnosis and billing code validate one's inner experience? I sure hope not. But it may be a start to better discussion (okay and magic trick use) of dealing with people.

David Brin's book Existence has characters that simply think and express themselves "differently". At the start of the book there's some text describing how one character writes his thoughts. Not long after there's a transcription from an uplifted dolphin. In the book it's a given that people who think differently can and will be expressive in their writing. Almost at the exact center of the story is something else - a question about the chemistry of brains that think differently. So it's not just wiring but also chemistry. What's suggested is that some ways of thinking trigger different chemical responses within the body- in this case it's antisocial ranting getting interpreted as being "righteous" with others. If that's at all the case about what we enjoy - then the "spectrum" is a slur rather than a helpful tool. As Richard said - for him numbers are strange. For others watching faces respond to read emotions is strange. So the spectrum has to be at least hue/saturation/brightness - a color space rather than list of numbered colors. Words-text, faces, body language, tone of voice - speed of shifts in focus during a meeting...

So, care to map out the comfort zone of thinking about things and responding in situations with one (and more) people? There's probably something akin to the Myers-Briggs (Jung...) mapping that could be done. Some folks can report from their inner world when asked - others respond by a shift of wright or a twitch.

Why? To have a better guide to coping when going out of your comfort zone or working with others to play to their strengths. Visual memory and okay with one person is fine for remembering one selected card. Maybe not the right person to play with doing a counting trick though.
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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 30th, 2019, 7:45 pm

I just finished reading a book about Asperger's syndrome.

In there is a fascianting detail. Basically a simple typo back in the 90's when DSM III was published led to a massive increase in the number of people being diagnosed with autism.

The gist of it is this. The word "and" was accidentally replaced with the word "or". What this meant was that a series of symptoms from different categories (eg verbal problems, lack of eye contact and so on...) was written in such a way that a patient having any one of those symptoms qualified for an autism diagnosis. When in fact (if it were not for that typo) the patient was supposed to demonstrate a symptom from all the different categories.

The sad thing is the rapid increase in people being diagnosed with autism in the 90's led to a conspiracy theory that vaccinations were the cause of this. This became a massive controversy over here in the UK. It even got to the stage where the prime minister refused to answer one way or another when questioned about whether or not he had allowed his new born child to be vaccinated.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » August 30th, 2019, 8:35 pm

Jonathan Pendragon is another magician who has spoken about having Asperger's syndrome.

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Re: Aspergers and Magic?

Postby Joe Mckay » September 1st, 2019, 6:42 pm

Here is Max Maven writing about Richard Kaufman. This is from the Nov/Dec 2012 special double issue of Genii magazine to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

So, he certainly had the knowledge and skills to take over the editorial reins of Genii. The question, as many openly wondered, was if he had the temperament. The factor that the various Larsens had always bought to their endeavors that, more than any other, was probably responsible for their wide-ranging successes, was likeability, a word that some would not associate with Richard Kaufman (other than his wife, daughter, and close friends). In fact, just within the past decade, Richard discovered he has Aspergers Syndrome, a mild form of autism that, in case such as his, allows for a high level of function, often with hyper-focused attention, but interferes with smooth social interaction. This puts him in good company (e.g., Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Emily Dickinson), and explains a lot.

I definitely think this thread would benefit if we heard more about Richard's bad behaviour. :-)


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