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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Paper money madness! » » FRAUD (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

James Warren
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In this post I raise a couple of questions about Daniel Garcia’s FRAUD, and I think that I have been vague enough not to give anything away. Also, I doubt that anyone who isn’t a committed performer of FRAUD will take the time to carefully read this long post anyway. However, if I have exposed too much I will happily delete the post or move it to a private part of the forum.

I know that the trick is a complete blow-away effect for spectators. Although I haven’t performed it yet myself, I have read about and seen the raves. However, I am wondering if magicians are fooling themselves about the long-term effect of this trick in spectators’ minds. Here’s why. At the “moment of impact” the trick is incredibly effective, and the spectators either go crazy, froth at the mouth, or stare in stupefaction. Granted. But what happens later? This is not the kind of trick that a spectator will forget by the next morning, nor is it the kind of effect they will have difficulty recalling; in fact, they will be taking the effect home with them as a souvenir – the “impossible object” itself. And therein may lie the problem – because that object (the bill) really is obviously impossible.

My concern is what happens when the spectator gets home and has time to look the bill over more closely and think about it a bit. With most tricks this is not an issue because the spectator takes nothing home except a blurred memory of the amazing thing you did for them. But in the case of FRAUD, they are taking the very object home, and they WILL examine it again, more closely this time. And when they do that, what will they think? Some will not think much of anything because some people simply don’t think logically about these things, and some will not even be interested in trying to figure it out. But some people will think about it, and I find it hard to believe that those who do will not hit rather easily upon the solution. All it takes is the realization that the bill they hold in their hands really is impossible (impossible, that is, as a result of the magical thing you supposedly did with it); once they see that, they are a mere breath away from the real explanation. In fact, it’s utterly obvious. It certainly was obvious to me before I even bought the trick. I was unclear about details of the handling, but the basic principle was rather obvious simply because THERE REALLY COULD BE NO OTHER WAY. I don’t believe it is because I am a magician that I figured out the basic principle before I was told; I think it is simply because I took the time to think about it. I’m sure some people will come up with odd conjectures, such as that the magician uses some secret technology to dissolve and then reconfigure the ink: there are always people willing to believe nonsense. But there may well be more than a few who will ask, “This is a cool bill; now where’s MY dollar?”

Problem is, they won’t ask this at the gig – they won’t have time to think then. They’ll ask it later. So I hope no one posts a response that points to all his amazed spectators, because that’s not the issue here. I am not doubting that people are initially amazed; my question is how well this trick will hold up under the further, more cool-headed examination that will come later.

Some people would say I am talking here about the “too perfect” fallacy. But I don’t really believe in the “too perfect theory.” The problem is not that the trick is too perfect; the problem is that the explanation is too obvious. As an example the trick “Sinful” (coin through soda can) is an equally impossible and mind-blowing effect, leaving the spectator with an impossible object (a soda can with their marked coin inside of it), but I do not think its secret is as close to the surface as is the case with FRAUD. It’s true that a thinking person might reason that if the quarter is borrowed and real, and the soda can is borrowed and real, then you can no more put the quarter through the sealed can than you can slide the insignia on a dollar bill: but that realization doesn’t lead him directly to the explanation, because there are so many things to throw him off track: the hands are constantly being shown empty, the soda can being spun around and shown from all angles, etc. Everything is squeaky clean. The spectator cannot even begin to imagine an explanation that goes behind the vague: “You somehow put it in there when we weren’t looking.” But the spectator knows deep down inside that that is a desperate explanation that explains nothing. In the case of FRAUD, on the other hand, I don’t believe it takes too much reflection to figure out that the bill the spectator ends up with was prepared to look as it does, which leads easily to the basic principle of the trick.

Granted, many people will be fooled by the fact that it was “their” dollar you did this with, and that is indeed a great throw-off. I also grant that many people will just continue to be dumbfounded every time they look at their dollar bill souvenir. But I wish there were some way to conduct a study to determine what percentage of people realize at some point that the bill is impossible, and are led by that realization to the obvious explanation. The initial reactions of spectators are everything a magician could possibly desire; but are we fooling ourselves about the long-term “foolability” of this trick? Will it continue to be dumbfounding for most people long after the fact? Once they have had a chance to look the bill over and reflect on the thing, will more than a few realize the obvious, simple way in which they have been had? I would love to do this trick for a small group of people and then eavesdrop on their conversation after I walk away as they try to figure it out. In fact, when I begin performing this trick I think that just as an experiment I will ask a group to discuss how they think it works while I listen in. Has anyone out there done this with FRAUD, or had any experience of follow-up with spectators?

There is another reason to wonder about the long-term foolability of this trick, based not in logic but in the actual technique of the preparation. When they get home and examine the bill more closely – and most of them certainly will – I wonder how many will find actual physical evidence? Without giving away the secret, let me say that I have so far been unable to make up a bill such that the absence of the insignia looks EXACTLY the same in color, hue, and saturation as the surrounding area of the bill. There is always a very, very minute difference. Granted, no one will notice this initially because they are too amazed, gasping at the whole thing that just happened. Plus, in many strolling situations the lighting is dim. But later, at home or at work, when they pull that baby out of their wallet and start looking at it again, aren’t quite a few people – either the spectator or the people he/she shows the bill to – going to look carefully and deliberately at the blank space formerly occupied by the insignia? I wouldn’t be surprised if someone even put on reading glasses or used a magnifying glass to study it. And if they do look closely, I wonder how many of the bills magicians are preparing out there will actually stand up to the test? I wonder how many guys are making bills that are “passable” in the moment of heat, but won’t withstand minute examination later? Personally, if I cannot get the thing to look perfect so as to withstand such examination, I probably won’t do the trick.

Both these issues are concerns to me as I contemplate performing FRAUD. I do not want big reactions at the price of having those reactions turn into “ah-ha” moments behind my back.
smithpaul60
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1. Don't we want to make people remember us tomorrow. I do. I want them telling their friends and trying to figure everything out. The main reason is that what they remember is almost always an embellished version of the effect, (i.e. Telephone game) and it is free publicity.

2. Does it really matter if they figure out how it is done. Tommy Wonder has a great essay about this called, "When Tricks Become Transparent" is his Books of Wonder. I highly recommend them. The gist of it is that every spectator will at some point wonder how the trick is done, let them they will come up with a solution and, right or wrong, be satisfied with it. It is human nature to want to understand everything. I say Let them say "He switched the bill." or whatever else he may come up with. (My personal favorite is chemicals on the fingers), but does it really matter? Doesn't that mean that we have done our job? Doesn't that mean that they remember us long after we first met them?

3. As for the colors, who cares, the seal is gone, you have taken a "power object" and transformed it. There is something about currency that people seem to think that it is more than simply ink on a page. It is unalterable, and when the magi change it it is mystifying and goes against their principle of perception. You've removed the seal, people are not going to worry about a minute matter as a change in color.

4. Confidence, if you don't believe in your trick then give it up. It will show no matter how hard you try to hide it.
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James Warren
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That was a really good reply. Thanks.

Question: Have you really heard spectator's propose chemicals on the fingers as an explanation, or is that just an idea you concocted as a possible example of what people might say?
smithpaul60
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I personally have not heard it but I have heard of it through other magicians. But people will come up with anything to try to explain somehing they don't understand. and they are not as dumb as we might think.glad I could help.
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Redsixer
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I have had a spectator say maybe I had some kind of bleach on my fingers to remove the seal. The switch if done properly throws them completely off track. When they "know" its their bill, the magic is very powerful. You will understand after you perform it a few times.
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Quote:
Will it continue to be dumbfounding for most people long after the fact? Once they have had a chance to look the bill over and reflect on the thing, will more than a few realize the obvious, simple way in which they have been had? I would love to do this trick for a small group of people and then eavesdrop on their conversation after I walk away as they try to figure it out. In fact, when I begin performing this trick I think that just as an experiment I will ask a group to discuss how they think it works while I listen in. Has anyone out there done this with FRAUD, or had any experience of follow-up with spectators?


I have done this effect more times than I can count at this point. I do not need to ask a group of people how they think it was done because immediately they are baffled by what they just saw. When I do move the seal I invite those involved to watch very closely and come as close as they want to get. I will tell you that I know of at least 3 people I performed Fraud for months ago who still carry the bill that had the seal moved in their wallet to show it to people. NO ONE has figured it out yet but I don't present it as a puzzle either because it was not the way it was designed as an effect. If you present it as a puzzle or challenge then your spectators are going to rail against what they have just witnessed instead of enjoying the magic you performed.

Quote:
And if they do look closely, I wonder how many of the bills magicians are preparing out there will actually stand up to the test? I wonder how many guys are making bills that are “passable” in the moment of heat, but won’t withstand minute examination later? Personally, if I cannot get the thing to look perfect so as to withstand such examination, I probably won’t do the trick.


If you aren't preparing something that can stand up to the most intense scrutiny then don't even bother performing it because you will get caught. I cast aside roughly $50 in $1 bills since I learned this, the first dozen or two were within the initial week. Preparing to making something passable in magic isn't something unique to Fraud either. If you half-ass your practice and preparation then you are probably going to get caught or fumble through everything you perform.

Stop thinking like a magician....I realize you are trying to cover your angles so to speak but I honestly think you are being over-analytical about this entire effect instead of just enjoying the magic.

--Jim
James Warren
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Jim, you are quite right. My being over-analytical was as a result of not wanting to work so hard to make the gaffs for an effect that might not stand up in the long haul. Making these bills is not like putting in hours of sleight-of-hand practice: it is FAR more tedious than that! The fact that I had figured out 90% how the effect must work before I bought the DVD, just from watching the video demo, gave me pause. However, I am convinced that the effort will be worth it and that most people will be as those you describe who carry the bill around in their wallet and never figure it out. This just shows how powerful a simple assumption can be. Assumptions are usually unexamined in our minds unless we make a conscious, deliberate effort to discover them. Most of the time we aren't even aware that we have assumptions, much less know what they are. And in the case of FRAUD, the amazement and unfathomability of the trick seems to follow from the unexamined and hidden assumption that the bill they lend you is the one in play. Operating on that assumption, spectators proceed to attempt to find some "mechanism" that would explain what they saw you do -- which takes them even further in the wrong direction.

At any rate, everyone has had great responses to this post. I have ordered an electric eraser to help make the task of preparation easier (a tip I gleaned from another FRAUD thread), and once it comes I will being trying this out in earnest.
Mr.Crebar
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There is nothing that makes a magician more famous than evidence of an effect. Show this trick once, and 50 people will know about it in a week. And by the time the 50th person hears it, you apparently did it levatating over a 10 foot bonffire surrounded by angels and demons! (if you get my drift.)
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By the way, I;ve noticed working with a bill that is a little worn out,(not to much) masks the imperfections of this perfect effect!
doctor_joe
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James Warren,

I trust by now that you have bought your preparation tools and the Fraud DVD. So, I am keen to learn how you have made out with the preparation and performance of this trick. It's sounds like something that would be excellent for me to perform for colleagues at an upcoming conference.

Joe Finkler
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docelk
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Could use a little patter help for the last part of the trick, the actual reason for the moving of the letter. Loved the move and the effect, but thought the patter of why you would want to move it other than to show you could, was anti-climactic.

Could it be that a magician can overcome anything obstacle, even the federal government?

any other ideas.
Life is a test. It is only a test. If this had been a real life, you would have been given further instructions on where to go, and what to do.
Dan_nmi
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I personally have used that very reason. It seems to work well enough. I must admit that coming up with reason for moving the seal on a dollar was odd enough. At my high school I did it a few times for various friends and one of them seemed to think that I had a chemical on my finger and before long everybody even the teachers believed that. I haven't done the effect at school for a long time because I can't help laughing at the spectators who walk away saying,"Yeah! I saw it he has a chemical on his finger, he sticks his hand in his pocket to get it on his thumb."
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I, also, love hearing the so-called explanations people come up with! I heard one person say that I had the Feds custom-make my bills! LOL!

I also have given out the mis-made bill, and a lady said, "Oh, that's easy, he just turned it inside out." Ha! She still has that bill five years later, and can't turn it right-side out! I've been tempted, just to get that bill back, but she'd be disappointed, and want the mis-made bill back.

Good thing I bought a number of them!

Great thread, guys!

Doug
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I'm not sure if I like this effect. I've never been caught removing the gimmick, etc. What I don't like the most is the bill switch as taught in the video. It's not deceptive and it's obvious, (at least from a magicians point of view). The other aspect that one spectator noticed was the point of the original seal had an oily feel to it. Maybe I use too much of that something (not to expose), but I don't want the gimmick to fall off?
Rolly


Posted: Mar 12, 2008 6:28pm
------------------------------
Guess I'm the only one that doesn't like it? Now I wonder if its my presentation. Anyone use a more deceptive/cleaner bill switch that doesn't look like "a move"?
eddie2m
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I love to do Fraud, & I keep at least 4 prepaired bills in my wallet when I am performing. I find that when I use the bills have been in there for any length of time, I find it very difficult to do the move. Does anyone else have that problem?
Thanks Eddie
rochaz
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Eddie,
I've encountered the same problem in the past....

The best advise I can give you is this:
When first applying the special "stuff" the tendency is to use TOO much (for the fear that the gimmick will not hold).
You really don't need very much at all, just a couple of tiny, tiny dabs on the each side of the gimmick.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if the bills have been in your wallet for a while, it's best to take out the bill (right before performing the effect, away from prying eyes, of course!) and loosen the gimmick. Keep in mind that if the bills have been in your wallet for a loooong time you may have to re-apply the "stuff".
It will not fall off during the performance.....until you're ready to move it.

One more tip that I picked up watching David Blaine perform this effect...after the specs are done going crazy, ask for the bill and tell the spec that you would like to sign the bill for them so "now both of our signatures will be on the bill"
Then initial the bill over the empty space.
This may help "cover up" some of the dirty work.

Hope this helps!

Respectfully,
rochaz
- We do not want them to suspend disbelief in the way they would in theater and story. We want them to think critically and observe carefully. Our job is to force them to believe in magic even against their better judgment.”
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BCaldwell
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Quote:
On 2009-10-08 18:06, rochaz wrote:
<clip> One more tip that I picked up watching David Blaine perform this effect...after the specs are done going crazy, ask for the bill and tell the spec that you would like to sign the bill for them so "now both of our signatures will be on the bill"
Then initial the bill over the empty space.
This may help "cover up" some of the dirty work.



I've always found it funny that we give our helper something with THEIR signature on it as a memento of their magical experience.
"...that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." Dennis Miller Smile

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Mr. Mystoffelees
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Nice tip, Rochaz- thank you! Due to misgivings with the effect I changed it substantially. I do not remove the item, but rather stamp it to make a reverse image on the other end of the bill. This solves many issues for me, and seems to astonish the specs...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
rochaz
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On 2009-11-14 09:24, mandarin wrote:
Due to misgivings with the effect I changed it substantially. I do not remove the item, but rather stamp it to make a reverse image on the other end of the bill. This solves many issues for me, and seems to astonish the specs...


mandarin,
You're very welcome!
Not totally clear on what you are refering to here.....
Would you please be kind enough to expand on it? (for those of us who are a little more dense...mainly me!) Smile
or perhaps it would be best to do it via PM?

Respectfully,
rochaz
- We do not want them to suspend disbelief in the way they would in theater and story. We want them to think critically and observe carefully. Our job is to force them to believe in magic even against their better judgment.”
Whit Hayden

:Juan R Rocha:
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