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Topic: Difference between a Mind Trick and Math Trick. 


Has it occured to you that many mind tricks are really use math. Well if you wondered if there is any difference between the two. I just though of something. A math Trick is really just math, but if it involves messing with your mind, then it becomes a mind trick. 


I'm not sure I know what you mean. Do you mean that usually a trick (like the "Gray Elephant in Denmark" thing, for example)is OBVIOUSLY just a math trick, but that sometimes the math can be hidden well enough so that it might actually seem to a spectator to be real mindreading? What examples of the latter are you thinking of? I think it's an interesting question. I don't know of many, if any, math effects that are all that convincing as "genuine" mindreading. 


It is hard to explain. A Math Trick would be the Gray ELephant. No trick is a genuine mindreading. It is just looks that way. Some Card tricks are really based on Mathmatics. Most of your Math Tricks just have someone think of a number, and multiply, add, subtract, divide or whatever, and you figure out. A Mind Trick would be a lot of Magicians have TV specials, you would put your finger on the TV screen, and you move around, and then the Magician finds where your finger is, though it is Mathmatical pricipals, but it makes people think they are reading minds. Well every trick is a mind trick up to a certian extent. 


Do you know Simon Aronson's "Undo Influence" principle? It's an amazing mathematical method of controlling two cards to virtually any places in the deck the magician wants them, without sleight of hand. Even though it's a math principle, the math can be very much hidden so that it doesn't LOOK like math, but, rather, like spelling or just going through the deck while blindfolded, etc. There are a bunch of Undo Influence tricks in Aronson's book "Try the Impossible." 


Aren't all magic tricks "messing with your mind"? In your example, you just seem to be saying that a maths trick is one involving numbers. That seems a rather limited definition of mathematical magic! 


There are many branches of mathematics, and magic has taken advantage of several of them. For example, the Afghan Bands trick uses topology, several illusions rely on geometric principals, and I do a mentalism piece using names that is actually a welldisguised mathematical principle. 


It depends on how far you stretch the definition of mathematical principle. The card trick "Out of this World" in some sense works on a mathematical principle. And so does "Deal Away" from Royal Road to Card Magic (I may have the title wrong as I don't have the book with me). Yet both can be presented as mind tricks. I.e., for OOTW, "I'm going to force you to sort the pack into blacks and reds. I'm intrigued about the names trick, Jim. Can you tell me the effect? 


Remember the old "age" cards? The ones where you have about 6 different cards with various numbers on them and a spectator picks a number from 164, finds all the cards that contain that number, then you tell them what number they picked? A friend of mine developed a bizarre effect he titled "Satan's Scrolls." In that effect you tell of a dream where you were visited by Lucifer. He had a number of lists, each one headed by one of the seven deadly sins. The list contained names of sinners (first names only, because, of course, Lucifer is on a first name basis with sinners). Spectator chooses a name, finds which sins the sinner has committed, mentalist then knows the name. The names use the mumberto letter conversion from the Nikola card system outlined in the [i]Encyclopedia of Card Magic[/i]. The names then code the sins just like the old "age" cards. Only later did I find out Max Maven (of course!) did something similar with horses and horse racing in one of the Color books (Red, I believe) of mentalism. 


...and I'm curious where I "stretched" the definition of mathematics. Not a criticism, I just didn't think I stretched a thing. 


Sorry, I should have said "...how ONE stretches...". Actually, I don't think there is a good definition of a mathematical trick. I remember the pick a number between 1 and 64 trick from when I was a kid. As I recall people weren't too impressed with it. They generally couldn't work it out but felt that I should be able to work it using some system, such as memorizing what was on which card, and hence it wasn't "real" magic. I presume dressing it up as sinners throws people off, or do they normally guess that there is some system? Anyhow, it's a nice way of doing it if it beats the usual problem: If maths is obviously involved, then people are turned off because people don't like maths, and if the maths is hidden it usually means the presentation is confusing/convoluted/boring. 


As with any effect, the dressing is generally more inportant than the method, as long as the method is hidden. In the case of the effect I describe, the dressing is (I hope) both entertaining and effective in hiding the method. 


To me, it seems to be at least INTUITIVELY obvious that some tricks DO NOT involve "mathematical" principles (whatever that may mean) as much as some others do. I can't precisely formulate the difference in words, but it's one of those things that I know when I see it! I mean, there are card tricks that depend purely on physical handling of the cards ("sleights," as well as some other simple physical moves that probably most magicians would not call sleights), and I would not classify those as mathematical tricks. Then there are other tricks that depend on the arrangement of the cards in the deck and some automatic outcome if the cards are simply counted, dealt, etc. according to instructions. These are often called "selfworking," i.e. automatic in some sense, so that anyone who manipulates the deck in that way can make the trick work, though perhaps not entertainingly, the most famous example being the "21 Card Trick." Some authors of beginner books caution readers against "mathematical, selfworking tricks" as being dull and boring because they involve so much dealing and counting. Now, I don't think all tricks I would call mathematical are dull and boring, by any means, nor do they all involve dealing and counting, but I sort of understand the criticism, and I think I know what they mean by "mathematical, selfworking tricks." Do the rest of you not see this intutive difference, or am I alone in this? Somehow I don't think I am alone. 


So, is your definition "anything automatic (and so not requiring skill or sleights) is mathematical"? 


[quote] On 20050521 17:17, Doctor Whoston wrote: So, is your definition "anything automatic (and so not requiring skill or sleights) is mathematical"? [/quote] No. I don't have a definition. I'm groping for understanding here, thinking out loud (as much as you can do that in writing). But, think about it: where does the "automatic" character of a selfworking card trick derive from? Is it not from the ultimately mathematical and objective character of the universe? Have you never been fooled or totally amazed by a new card trick or principle  say Aronson's Undo Influence? How come we can fool ourselves like that? It's because WE are not producing the effect; Reality is! We are not entertaining  we are being entertained by the Way Things Are, a Way that is formulated in mathematics. When you do a "physical" (nonmathematical) sort of trick, you have the sense that YOU are doing it. When you do a mathematical trick, you have a sense that Reality is doing it. Of course: a trick may combine physical manipulation AND an automatic, mathmatical component. "Physical" and "mathematical" are ideal types. I'm not wedded to any of this. These are just vague notions I've had for a long time, and I wondered what anyone else thought. 


Actually, the late Martin Gardner, has done a lot with both magic (especially cards) and math. Some of his tricks are too mathematical to really perform, but others have the math well hidden so that they are entertaining, too. Manoj 


Late? Martin Gardner is still alive. 