At 19 years-old I hitchhiked from Europe to India with no money in my pockets. I still have fond memories of those who shared food with me on the trip and of those who taught me magic tricks which I used to earn money via gambling or entertainment.
To this day, I have several regular tricks that I still use that get even adults to actually believing I can move things with mental energy, make objects pass through solid bone or shatter pencils with Qi-strengthened paper. I am amazed at people’s gullibility.
Watching how magic worked on people was one of the many influences that moved me out of my Christianity as I began to see through my own gullibility and self-deception. A major human quality that supports deceptive magic is that people often want to believe and if you can make them happy with the magic, they are willing to suspend doubt. During my Christian days, many of us tricked ourselves and we all agreed not to talk about it because we didn’t want to ruin the magic show.
- Exploit pattern recognition
- Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth
- It’s hard to think critically if you’re laughing
- Keep the trickery outside the frame
- To fool the mind, combine at least two tricks
- Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself
- If you are given a choice, you believe you have acted freely
Read the article for details if they are not intuitively obvious. Then take a stab at my questions:
Questions for Readers:
- How do you see this sort of deceptive magic working in Christianity, Buddhism or your worldview? Give an example from this list.
- Have you done entertainment magic? Do you have other examples of cognitive tricks?
PS: In a coming post, I will discuss Acupuncture and Magic. HT to Cris, an anthropologist and brilliant writer, who did a fine post on Magic and pointed me to Teller’s article.