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Lance Pierce
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On 2002-11-26 15:00, christopher carter wrote:
Lance and Burt,

If secrets are so unimportant, why then may I not expose yours? (And, Burt, note that I wouldn't, because just like my 'physical violence' comment, this one is not meant to be taken literally.)

--Christopher Carter


Christopher,

I don't think you're fully appreciating where I'm coming from. People already know that it's something about the box or something about the cards or some kind of sleight of hand...they already know this very well. So, if by "exposing my secrets," you mean exposing the mechanics of how an effect works, by all means, feel free. You can tell them how equivoque works, and we (meaning either you or I) can still fool them with it. You can tell them about the thumbtip, and we can still fool them with it. You can tell them about crimping cards and side steals and everything else, and it won't matter, because there's always a way to reframe, to change the moment, to couch these principles in something else. What makes them work is not the sleights or the gimmicks, but the way in which we relate to the audience, human to human. It's not only possible to fool people with what they know; sometimes it's easier...but it does sometimes require some thought first.

What I'm suggesting is that what many think of as the "secrets of magic" -- the methods -- aren't actually the REAL secrets of magic.

Despite the Masked Magician, and literally dozens if not hundreds of incidents of exposure I've witnessed in my lifetime, people still come to the magicians. And magic keeps going. Am I saying that exposure is harmless? No. Am I saying that it absolutely doesn't matter? Not quite. I'm saying that I accept it, and for all the concern and angst, magic hasn't suffered very much over the last two or three thousand years.

Besides, I strongly suspect the bulk of the ratings Fox is enjoying are from magicians tuning in. I've yet to have a layperson tell me that they've intentionally tuned in to watch one of the shows or sat all the way through one. From what I can tell, for the most part, it's just generally not that interesting to them.

Cheers,


Lance
Paul Chosse
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Quote:
On 2002-11-26 15:00, christopher carter wrote:
Lance and Burt,

If secrets are so unimportant, why then may I not expose yours?

--Christopher Carter





This is a form of faulty logic known as "begging the question". It assumes as part of your answer something not stated by the other party. Niether of the people you quote ask that thier secrets not be revealed, in fact they seem to be saying or implying quite the opposite.

You also say that we are curators of the secrets, that they are not ours to give away. That seems to me to be a moral imperative that you are not free to impose on others - live it if you believe it, but others may not agree.

Best, PSC
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
Burt Yaroch
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Quote:
On 2002-11-26 15:16, christopher carter wrote:

BTW, I explicity said I did not advocate physical violence against exposers, in spite of the fact that a part of me, deep down, would like to see it done.


Yes I apologize Chris. You didn't advocate physical violence. You simply presented it as a remedy to exposure and then reserved "a soft spot in my heart for anyone who might try (it)." I fail to see any further explicitness in your statement. I think that's why we keep those thoughts deep down.

I completely agree with Lance's reply and would take it even further. You simply cannot expose my rapport with my audience. You can't expose the comedy, the suspense, how I draw them in. If you were to tell them right before my performance what I was going to do and how it was done that would be fine. I'll lead them down that garden path you cut for me and turn the hoze on them with a completely new revelation, making my effect all the more powerful as you became an unwitting part of my drama.

If you proceeded as a heckler and shouted out secrets upon each conclusion my audience would largely turn on you because they don't care about the secret. It was the performace that engaged them. But you still couldn't expose me. If you said I was going to to a double lift I'll do a triple to prove you wrong. I can execute the same thing in dozens of different ways all to stay either one ahead or one behind you.

And well said Paul.
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Dennis Michael
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Are we so insecure that the secret is so important that we spend lots of time in the Banquet room, writing about it and defending it.

The TT (I am not allowed to write thumb tip) is in just about every magic kit, and sold in every novelity store, yet, it is still one of the most powerful tricks in any magician's collection. Who doesn't own a TT? I've got so many and with a glue gun, it becomes something else.

I fully agree with Peter here and his analogy is a good one.

Do a coin trick in front of a six year old and he will tell you where it is, but itamazes an adult because of the way the mind thinks. Every kid knows how every trick is done, if you don't believe it ask them. They might not be right but from their perspective they are right until proven wrong then they have an alternative solution.

Sawing a person in half is in so many library books and we still do it in our shows, Why? The secret is know! We wouldn't be in business but in prison if we really cut someone in half. It is in the presentation. Presentation is everything.

Why do musicians get the bucks. Look at their presentation, a magician who does the same with the singing also can get the bucks. It is in the entertainment where the value lies.
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christopher carter
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Lance,

Thanks for the reply. I do actually know where you're coming from. I don't disagree that one can usually find a way to make old principles deceptive in a new way, nor, clearly, do I disagree that there are a host of intangibles that separate the performance from the 'method.'

The fact that magic performance still exists after decades of exposes speaks both to the adaptability of magic and, more importantly, to the forgetfulness of the general public. I strongly believe, however, that the Fox programs continue to do considerable damage. Perhaps it is because I make my living by performing for the most media savvy demographic, but there are a couple of very valuable techniques that are temporarily hindered, if not rendered entirely off limits.

I understand your claim that you can be deceptive with your tricks even if the specific method has been exposed. Even though you are noted as a very clever magician, I doubt you would be pleased if somebody did that at a random occasion, directly before a performance. Under this circumstance, you might not know in advance how you would have to adapt your technique. This, however, is basically what is happening thanks to cable and repeats.

Now your stance, it happens, is rather different from Burt's or Peter's. Peter's analogy with the piano, or Burt's with the movies--both are, in my opinion, false analogies. Deceptiveness is essential to magic as a performing craft. To be a true-seeming mystery, the method must be hidden. If it isn't, it isn't magic, but something else. It isn't important to the Star Wars saga that Yoda be perceived as a real creature, but it is important to our magic that it be perceived as temporarily real. (I think you know that I'm not talking about whether the audience really does think that it is real, although in good mentalism this does happen, and is a worthwhile goal.) All the impact of our presentational skills is predicated on the fact that what we are presenting is an opaque mystery. In this sense, secrets, methods, are fundamental. Without them we are "presenting" nothing resembling magic.

If I were to preceed your performance with an explanation of your methods, it would destroy it, no matter how skilled your work, because it would focus your audience in precisely the wrong direction. Having been forwarned and forearmed, they would be distracted from involvement in whatever compelling fiction you would be trying to create. What we are trying to accomplish is theatrically different from drama, film, narrative, etc. To borrow from Peter's analogy, music may exist separately beyond the piano, but piano music is impossible without it. So illusion is impossible without secrets.

Of course magic will survive the repeated exposures of Fox and many others. However, the fact that the Fox exposures can be as comprehensive, or as impactful, as they are is really a symptom of an increasing lack of respect for secrets. Every amateur now feels that he is entitled to secrets, and that the value of a performer only lies in what books or videos he's produced, or what tricks he's invented. Secrets are now cheap currency, Pennies at best. The results are, I think, devastating for magic, in part because of the ironic twist that the cheapening of secrets reduces the ability to focus on the performance or theater of it all.

I'm not asking you, Burt, or Peter, to agree with my points, but I passionately believe magic would be better served if you did.

--Christopher Carter
Burt Yaroch
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And I respect that.

But as Peter and I are not exposing secrets or condoning those who do, I don't think magic will be effected either way.

However if you would agree with our points Smile , specifically that despite exposure, in defiance of exposure, we will find a way to continue to enchant and amaze...we will invent, modify, explore and move beyond that exposed, both in our method and performance...now I think, passionately so, magic will be better for it. Smile
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christopher carter
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Quote:
On 2002-11-26 15:49, pchosse wrote:
This is a form of faulty logic known as "begging the question". It assumes as part of your answer something not stated by the other party. Niether of the people you quote ask that thier secrets not be revealed, in fact they seem to be saying or implying quite the opposite.

You also say that we are curators of the secrets, that they are not ours to give away. That seems to me to be a moral imperative that you are not free to impose on others - live it if you believe it, but others may not agree.

Best, PSC


Paul,

I am sorry that you, Burt, or Lance are offended by my disagreement, but I still disagree. I am pleased, however, that in practice all of you are known to treat secrets with considerably more reverence than you seem to imply.

Is my query faulty logic? I suppose, yet I still believe that Lance or Burt would have serious problems with my coming to their shows to expose their methods. Burt I don't know, but you and Lance are both known as 'inner circle' card guys. Presumably it is the nature of an inner circle that access to secrets is limited, which of course I highly respect. To me, your actions belie your stated opinions.

I also agree that I am stating a moral imperative. I do live it, just as I believe it. Espousing a moral view is not the same thing, though, as imposing it on others. I can offer no other sanction than withholding my association, and that's not exactly extreme force. Happily in America I am free to expect whatever moral behavior in others that I choose.

--Chris

Quote:
On 2002-11-26 16:47, Burt Yaroch wrote:
And I respect that.


However if you would agree with our points Smile , specifically that despite exposure, in defiance of exposure, we will find a way to continue to enchant and amaze...we will invent, modify, explore and move beyond that exposed, both in our method and performance...now I think, passionately so, magic will be better for it. Smile




I was under the impression that I already had agreed with those points.

--Chris
Lance Pierce
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Chris,

Now that was a great response. I don't think we're as far apart in view as some observers might think.

If I conveyed a cavalier attitude toward the importance of keeping our methods secret (and therefore intact), I didn't mean to. My thrust is that we can never guarantee that such things will always be kept hidden from the public, despite our best efforts, and while we're much better off striving to do so, it's more important that we're able to adapt when we can't. If we don't have faith in our ability to create anew, to mold ourselves to those things that lie outside of our control, and to meet any difficult or unpleasant circumstance, that's when magic will begin to die.

Would I be displeased if someone were to expose my effects just prior to my doing them? Perhaps puzzled would be more like it…maybe -- no, probably -- even offended by the disrespect, but not as concerned about the methods themselves. Indeed, I've encountered the rare person when I was working restaurants who thought it fun to expose what they thought were the methods I was using. Once in a great while, they were right. The critical thing for me, though, was not to preserve the secret, but the performance and the relationship with the audience, and sometimes that relies far less on the trick than some think.

By the way, if you're the Christopher Carter I think you are (http://www.mindcramp.com/), then your reputation precedes you. If we ever run into each other, I look forward to having the pants fooled off of me.

Thanks for giving me some great things to think about,


Lance

p.s. I'm known as an inner circle card guy? I wasn't aware I was known as an inner circle card guy. Who do I complain to about this?
Paul Chosse
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Christopher,

I'm offended that you left me out of the "Inner Circle"! Seriously though I'm not offended that you disagree, in fact I posted to the effect that I was happy to see that you and others do! I think it was Samuel Johnson who said that "when men smile and agree, progress weeps!". I guess I was trying to point out the same type of things as Lance, who is much more eloquent, not to mention tactful. Also, that exposure will continue anyway, and the more we make of it the more important it becomes.

Also, I might mention that the audience has some distance(usually) from the TV exposure to the live performance, so we have some notice about what they may now know. And this allows us to adjust our methods, revise our programs or whatever, and gives them time to forget.

By way of presentation/personality, I had Slydini at my home in San Francisco once and had some local folks over. One of the fellows, after seeing Tony work was overheard commenting that the guys he new had to lap coins to do the things he'd just seen, but he was really watching and Tony was definitely not lapping he was somehow putting them THRU the table!

Best, PSC
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
christopher carter
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Quote:
On 2002-11-26 17:31, pchosse wrote:
Christopher,

I'm offended that you left me out of the "Inner Circle"!



In fact I put you smack in the middle of it. Unless I've got the wrong Chosse. I was thinking you're Paul Chosse who showed me all sorts of cool stuff at Ron Bauer's house about twelve years ago.

If I have the wrong guy, I apologize. I've enjoyed the conversation, regardless of which Chosse you might be.

--chris
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Oops! I misread the post! Thanks Christopher, and yep that was me at RB's. You probably recognize some of my perspective and see the influences...

I'm sorry I didn't put your name and face together, though I certainly remember you now!

I'm enjoying this too.

Best, PSC
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
Burt Yaroch
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Quote:
On 2002-11-26 17:03, christopher carter wrote:

I was under the impression that I already had agreed with those points.

--Chris


Alllrighty then.

And while I may have taken offense to your, now apparent, tongue in cheek physicality with exposers you are correct that with all said and done our views on the issue do not lay very far apart. I think it may be a matter of degree and perspective that we have been debating. Smile
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ALEXANDRE
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I don't necessarily think this exposure issue will put anyone out of businness, nothing a little editing and creativity couldn't solve, but it does suck! I was doing an impromptu mind reading for a few people at my brother's place where I take out a business card, write something on it and ask someone to think of any number. They do, I turn the card over and there it is. This jackass with a stupid smirk on his face immediately demanded I show the "secret" (vague just in case someone is reading this who happens to not know) and before I could get a word in he was very proud to reveal it himself as he credited a TV show he had seen just a day earlier. I got him back by performing something else, but it still stinks. I have used that method for the longest time and never had a problem with it. Now I do. Smile
filmyak
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Alexandre,
that's what I see as a big problem. Because these folks don't know how to keep their mouth shut and let everyone else enjoy themselves.

As it says in the "Carter Beats the Devil" book, secrets protect the audience, not the performer.
Pinky
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The best thing you can do is ignore these shows and convince as many people as you can to ignore these shows. TV networks work off of ratings. Whether you liked it or not, if you watched it, you contributed to the problem.

David Blaine did Cig thru Quarter. Later, someone exposed that gimmick on national television.

I have always used a coin with hole drilled through it (whoops! did I expose something?) and still fool the pants off of people.

Slydini used to tell magicians what he was about to do and even when they know the method he'd still fool them too!

The one time your hands don't work right and you mess up an effect...you expose!

Exposure is part of the business. If your methods are clean and you work with total conviction, you'll fool them whether they know the secret or not.

We now return you to your normally scheduled broadcast.

-Dave Cross
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Peter Marucci
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Some time back, the TT (dare I say "thumb tip") was exposed on TV (dare I say "television").
At a dinner party, the conversation eventually turned to this.
A short time later I used the TT (dare I say "thumb tip") in a routine and completely blew them away.
Although some things may have been exposed on television (there, I said it!), a little creative thought can change the whole scenario and, once again, we baffle the public.
Sure, if I were to do the tip as it was done on TV, then no doubt everyone would have known what was going on.
But I didn't.
And that, to quote Robert Frost, "made all the difference."
Go thee, and do likewise!
Smile
christopher carter
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Nobody is suggesting that exposure cannot be worked around, or that methods and techniques never will or can be adapted. Obviously magic overall has survived many exposure efforts, and nobody can doubt that it will continue to do so.

Acknowleging this is quite different from taking the stance that secrets are of marginal importance. Slydini is the commonly used example of a magician who could use a method the audience was aware of, yet fool them anyway. This is a very impressive feat, no doubt, but even this example illustrates the theatrical and psychological limits on the audience's experience of magic whey they become aware of the methods used by magicians. The audience in Paul Chosse's example presumably is forced into a highly analytical mode of interaction with Slydini, constantly searching his actions for evidence of methods they were already aware of. Given Slydini's "challenge" approach, this mode of interaction is probably an optimal part of his 'method,' but for others who seek to create an emotional experience more nearly approaching genuine magic, the audience needs to be coaxed out of the analytical mode. I am certain that having the audience be aware of magicians secrets is very bad for the theatrical expression of magic. Perhaps not debilitating, but still bad.

I have already mentioned one real-world example of a performer who lost work because of exposure. I am continuously dismayed at the lack of concern by amateur magicians over this sort of occurance. Some even suggest that if you can't adapt, you should not be a magician. In a simplistic sense such a statement is true on its own merits, but from a practical standpoint it ignores the realities of being a professional performer. Most professionals, stage performers at least, perform an act which is an integrated whole. Small changes in parts of the act can have large consequences on the performance in its entirety. Deleting a little piece of a show may be necessary following an exposure, but it is not as simple a matter for the professional performer as it is for the amateur, whose act, such as it is, consists of a series of tricks pieced together in an ad-hoc fashion.

In addition, professionals frequently will have one or two effects that are associated with them specifically within their markets. If one of these effects were to be exposed on a large scale, then the performer may be forced to temporarily abandon the very routine on which a large part of his professional reputation is built. Could most of these pros adapt? Surely. Is is a happy state of affairs? Not even close.

In my ongoing defense of the importance of secrets I have been called everything from elitist to insecure. Well I'll gladly accept being called elitist, but my attitude about secrets doesn't come from insecurity at all. Still, in thinking about it, why on earth shouldn't a professional be insecure about exposure. There appears to be a very real possibility that any given professional's pet ox could get gored at any given time. Maybe the illusionists I mentioned who lost dates because of the Fox show lost those dates just when their mortgage was due, or when the baby needed to go to the doctor, or whatever. Have none of you with day jobs never been concerned about the possibility of layoffs? I am in a very good position financially, but don't assume that every full time professional is. Depending on where they are in their careers, the life can be a real struggle.

My point is that the consequences of exposure are not academic, they have the potential of real negative consequences for real human beings. If you aren't making your entire living from performance, I don't accord you the moral authority to call a FT professional 'insecure' for being disgusted with exposure.

Having concluded this rant, let me address the issue of what to do about exposure. Paul Chosse expressed the opinion that the best approach is to ignore it and wait for it to go away. There is some very good sense in this. I have no doubt that the folks at Fox are of the opinion that, when the stuck pig squeals, there is great sport in sticking it some more. Probably the more we (or on this board, I) gripe, the more they will be tempted to do it. Still, I can't help but notice that exposure is on the increase, whereas protectiveness over secrets and methods is on the marked decrease. I draw a definite connection between the two.

I believe that the primary culprit in the increasing prevalence of exposure programs is the commodification of secrets. We have to, somehow, move past the point where amateurs value a performer more for where he's lectured, what books or videos he's put out, than how he performs. We have to adopt a new attitude that methodological secrets are every bit as important as performance secrets, because neither can exist without the other.

On an institutional level, magical organizations should take exposure considerably more seriously by actually blacklisting exposers. Since, disgracefully, most of the Fox exposers seem to come from the ranks of lesser professionals, in particular these folks should be actively shunned by their peers. More importantly, magical organizations should more actively and articulately defend the importance of keeping secrets to the general public.

This concludes my rant. I'll try not to address this issue too much in the future, since it seems to be the only one I've talked about on this board for a while.

--Christopher Carter
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Quote:
On 2002-12-01 12:46, christopher carter wrote:
On an institutional level, magical organizations should take exposure considerably more seriously by actually blacklisting exposers. Since, disgracefully, most of the Fox exposers seem to come from the ranks of lesser professionals, in particular these folks should be actively shunned by their peers. More importantly, magical organizations should more actively and articulately defend the importance of keeping secrets to the general public.
--Christopher Carter


One question. How exactly do we go about finding those who have exposed secrets? From what I understand it isn't just one person, it's several.
If anyone sees my sanity, please return it to

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Pinky
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Quote:
On 2002-12-01 12:46, christopher carter wrote:
...but for others who seek to create an emotional experience more nearly approaching genuine magic, the audience needs to be coaxed out of the analytical mode.


You are right, of course. If the audience won't surrender to the magic, then they will simply view it as a puzzle to be solved. But, wouldn't this be part of the "job" of the entertainer. I speak only for myself on this one, but I always try to gain rapport with the audience as quickly as possible. I also don't do challenge effects (I realize I said Slydini did, but I don't).

One effect I used to do is the (3 card) Monte. Instead of making it a challenge effect (which would be very easy to do. "No the card isn't there! What are you blind?"), I presented it from the point that this is why they should never play. Because I've gone through the effort of gaining rapport and respecting where they're coming from, they relax and enjoy the effect for what it is. Then, I through a twist into the effect, makes them go "I see it. WHAT THE...?".

Exposing the method is bad, but if WE focus on the presentation instead, it won't hurt us as much as we think it does. Look at how many different Svengali decks there are on the market...and usually the main difference between them is the presentation.

Quote:
I have already mentioned one real-world example of a performer who lost work because of exposure. I am continuously dismayed at the lack of concern by amateur magicians over this sort of occurance. Some even suggest that if you can't adapt, you should not be a magician.


Though I personally like quoting Darwin's theories, this is a very serious issue. I know I'd be angry if I had lost out because of this and I'm sure others would be too. This might be a time where education is the key. By explaining why exposure is bad and making "amateur" magicians understand WHY this is wrong, we reduce the chances of this happening again (and at the same time explain why undercutting is bad to).

Quote:
In addition, professionals frequently will have one or two effects that are associated with them specifically within their markets. If one of these effects were to be exposed on a large scale, then the performer may be forced to temporarily abandon the very routine on which a large part of his professional reputation is built. Could most of these pros adapt? Surely. Is is a happy state of affairs? Not even close.


Again, hopefully, through education of the masses, we can reduce the chances of this happening.

Quote:
Maybe the illusionists I mentioned who lost dates because of the Fox show lost those dates just when their mortgage was due, or when the baby needed to go to the doctor, or whatever. Have none of you with day jobs never been concerned about the possibility of layoffs? I am in a very good position financially, but don't assume that every full time professional is. Depending on where they are in their careers, the life can be a real struggle.


This is a good example of why we should all be investing. Nobody ever saved themselves rich and it isn't as difficult as it sometimes appears.

Your investments don't have to put a million dollars in the bank. They just have to pay you enough monthly to cover your bills. Of course, noone ever thinks of this until they need it.

Also, being able to work without worrying about the end of the month, really allows you to enjoy what you do. You won't be forced to take that $50 dollar birthday party (unless you really want to).

Quote:
On an institutional level, magical organizations should take exposure considerably more seriously by actually blacklisting exposers...More importantly, magical organizations should more actively and articulately defend the importance of keeping secrets to the general public.


Didn't they have an organization devoted to this (I think it was called WAM or something)? Does anybody remember Andre Kole's rants in Magic magazine (and Genii too, I think)? This is a very hard thing to institute because not everyone has joined one of these institutions.

I'll say it again...educate those you can and BE THE EXAMPLE. Its easy to become hypocritical after the computer gets turned off. (with regards to this last paragraph, I wasn't saying that Chris isn't an example worth following. I was saying that if anyone isn't setting a good example, There's never been a better time to change.)

We'll get through this. We always do. Its just a question of how and how quickly.

-Dave Cross
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christopher carter
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Quote:
Didn't they have an organization devoted to this (I think it was called WAM or something)? Does anybody remember Andre Kole's rants in Magic magazine (and Genii too, I think)? This is a very hard thing to institute because not everyone has joined one of these institutions.


You have just hit upon why I continuously hammer away at this issue on the Café. Education is indeed the best tool, and the attitudes we express are being shared with a large number of people who are not members of magic clubs. These attitudes have consequences later on.

Can't say I disagree with anything you say, except that maybe your comments about investing strike me as being a bit glib. Perhaps you don't mean it that way.

To try to bring things full circle, this thread was started by a gentleman musing about what he would do if asked to work on such an expose. I am thrilled that he felt he would decline, even though he knew that there would always be somebody else waiting in the wings. I think declining would be absolutely the right decision. I would go farther in suggesting that he should consider not working for the producer under any circumstances. I believe this is the decision I would make were I asked to make such a choice. However, I would understand and not hold it against him if he didn't do so, since I have not "walked in his shoes." In one's professional life, one makes all sorts of compromises; that's the nature of the thing. The important thing is to strive to take the right course.

The same gentleman offered up the opinion that he would have no problem exposing the methods of psychics. I encourage him to take a second look at that. He might feel that a greater good would be served in the process, but in reality this is almost never the case. Typically what is exposed is methods of legitimate entertainers, since methods of psychics are too vague, imprecise or ideosyncratic to be 'exposed' in such a limited format. Furthermore, one should not be under the illusions the people predisposed to belief will be strongly swayed. (Let me stress that I hold the belief that mystery entertainers should not be in the business of exposing to the general public any kind of deception that might be useful to the craft. However, here I am not under the illusion that any magicians will agree with my hard-line position) In any case, I am fairly certain that what will really be exposed will be mentalists tools.

--Chris
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