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darshwood
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I perform lectures on the psychology of magic. What is acceptable to teach to laymen in a public speaking setting as an example of our techniques. I'm thinking french drop and/or key card location. These methods are quite accessible to anyone who has a library card. Is it unethical to teach this to a lay audience in order to demonstrate the innerworkings of our craft?
Dick Christian
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If the subject of your lecture is really limited to the psychology of magic, it is possible to discuss the subject quite extensively with appropriate examples and demonstrations that do not involve actually "teaching" any tricks or "exposing" methods except in the most general/theoretical terms. However, having said that, I should qualify that statement by saying that the ability to do so effectively depends largely on the nature of the audience to whom you are lecturing and the purpose of your presentation. What is the setting for your presentation -- academic or general interest? Who comprises the audience -- students, academics, corporate/association executives, etc.? Is their primary interest academic, practical, psychology or magic? What exactly are you trying to teach them? If the purpose of your lecture is simply to engage in an exercise of public speaking, you should certainly be able to discuss the psychology of magic without having to expose the "secrets" of any tricks.

For example, since 1992 I have been lecturing on "principles of deception" as part of the training program for analysts at our various national intelligence agencies on a regular basis. The purpose of my presentation is to make the attendees (who are come from both military and civilian branches with a wide range of seniority and experience) aware of the fact that the very nature of their work makes them prime targets for deception by a potential military or political adversary and demonstrate that despite their knowledge and experience they are not too smart to be fooled. Depending on the agency involved my presentation can vary in length from 90 minutes to three hours and while a portion of that time is devoted to demonstrations designed and intended to prove that, even after a serious discussion of the psychological principles employed in deception, I can turn right around and deceive them I only expose/explain one single trick (my personal version of a century-old "classic" that I have chosen simply because it involves more discrete principles of deception than any other effect I know) and I believe I could even eliminate that explanation from the presentation without seriously diminishing its effectiveness.

IMO the bottom line is that -- apart from the context of a course specifically devoted to the teaching of magic -- it is improper to expose the workings of individual effects unless it is essential to do so in order to prove a point that cannot otherwise be made in a general, less specific, way. The fact that such knowledge/information may be readily available to those who are willing to expend the time, effort and money to acquire it through other means is IMO immaterial.
Dick Christian
TonyB2009
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I disagree with Dick. If you are exposing magic to spoil the fun, that is a problem. But to expose an effect that is in the public domain anyway (such as the French Drop) is not, in my view, an ethical problem.

People are not coming to your presentation to learn magic, and will not go away exposing and sneering. So I think you can go ahead.
Dick Christian
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While I understand TonyB's point of view and respect his right to hold a different opinion than I, let me ask just what it is that is so essential to the purpose/objective of your lecture that the point can ONLY be made by exposing a specific sleight, gimmick, technique or trick rather than offering a more generic demonstration/explanation -- e.g., describing "misdirection" as "drawing the target's attention to something unimportant in order to deflect their attention from an essential action" or "simulating placing an object from one hand to another while secretly retaining in the original hand." Those are examples of how a principle can be explained without having to actually expose how it is done.

Just a thought.
Dick Christian
Faster
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I would be more inclined to suggest you demonstrate what is commonly referred to as misdirection. Things like bringing your hands to rest then looking up at a spectator to ask a question. As the spectator looks up to meet your gaze and everyone else looks at the spectator as (s)he answers your question, you do something else with your hands.

Or putting something out to the front edge of the table for the audience to see, and as you bend forward (and over the table) to look closer at that object, your audience' gaze is likewise focused upon what seems to engage your own attention. At this moment you place something else onto the table off to the side (or remove something from the table). That extra something then seems to magically appear (or disappear).

Or placement of items for the spectator to choose one of them: The preferred item to be chosen is never at the ends nor in the middle.

Or bringing a hand to rest, dangling naturally at your side side (as natural as possible) even though something is held in that hand. The audience will soon dismiss that hand as having anything to do with the effect about to take place.

Or setting something aside, such as the card box, as though it is out of play and of no interest from that point forward. This causes your audience to believe that is indeed the case, and that a hidden object or card might already be in the case does not enter their thoughts. By the time the effect gets around to its second climax that involves the card box, the audience has forgotten any handling that might lead them back to how something got into the box, thus enforcing the astonishment when they see it.

If what you're trying to teach is the psychology, then this is the psychology. Means to effects are the mechanics. Both could be considered "techniques" I guess, but there is definitely a psychology of presentation that is distinct from the mechanics of presentation.

In short, I don't see how it benefits your class to learn about french drops, palms, key cards, etc. Teaching these enables your students to know how tricks are done and empowers them to figure out a lot of tricks in the future. However, teaching the psychology, even in great detail, of audience manipulation does not disclose anything. Students can know it, learn it and score 100 on your tests. Next time they see a good magic performance they'll still be taken in.

For example, if you're teaching some students about the psychology of painting, what good does it do them to learn the tricks of the trade in terms of knives, fan brushes, various drying mediums, etc.? Wouldn't you rather focus on demonstrating how masters of painting capture light, or attribute postures to their characters that emote surprise or interest or fear? Or imbed a geometric symmetry in their work to please the eye?

Which teaches your psychology students more: how to mix hues on a palette or how to highlight the main character by putting other characters and objects into perceived shadow by muting their hues?

Wouldn't you want to do the same with magic?

If you need concrete examples, I'll offer 2 from the world of cups and balls.

Tommy Wonder: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJ6qT8JvaMY Forget the typical CnB routine stuff, pay attention to the blue sock he uses to transport his cups. Having told you about this up front, I'll bet you'll still be astonished when you see what happens with that sock. And it's done in front of your eyes, in the open.

Michael Ammar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eH4HpysHYe8 Watch as he introduces the balls into play at the beginning. Again, it's right in front of your eyes but you don't notice it while it's being done.

The mechanics of getting balls passed from hand-to-hand and inserted under, or removed from under cups is not the psychology. That's sleight of hand. The attention (mis)direction these masters use on their audiences is the psychology.

Just my suggestion, and therefore no need to worry about disclosure of sleights or effects. Stage and audience management are just that, and they apply to all performing arts. Magic just depends on them a little more than other forms do.

And of course you can throw in dress and grooming (appearance), vocabulary, story line, color schemes and a dozen other things that make a psychological impact on an audience.

Richard
jdmagic357
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We were all laymen once.
Just cause they say it, doesn't make it true.
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2010-10-24 12:27, darshwood wrote:
I perform lectures on the psychology of magic. What is acceptable to teach to laymen in a public speaking setting as an example of ...



Pacing and leading. Anchoring. "the more - the more" and maybe how they are often led by what amounts to a carrot on a stick - (want the model, buy the car).

Not so many here can actually a false transfer well enough to survive scrutiny outside of the theatrical context of "magician doing tricks so they do strange actions" - so why bother explaining our little framed "magic" when you have the tools to discuss how to establish patterns of behavior and belief?

So what if it really looks like it went in there and there was a retention - it was abnormal, contrived and happened in such close proximity to the "magic" that the question is not worth begging.

But still they do want to believe and have a nice comfy place called the "paranormal" to gather that wool.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Mr. Mystoffelees
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You will always find some on the Café who find no harm in exposure. But the fact is, it is giving away secrets of the trade. I do not do it, because it makes me feel bad. Others do it because it makes them feel good...

No point in mentioning rationalization to a skilled professional...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
TonyB2009
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Quote:
On 2010-10-26 08:18, Mr. Mystoffelees wrote:
You will always find some on the Café who find no harm in exposure. But the fact is, it is giving away secrets of the trade.

Wrong. Without exposure we have no new blood coming into the art. A certain level of exposure is not just good, it is essential. If we ever manage to completely eliminate exposure we will kill the art in a generation.
Thankfully the internet puts paid to that. Sure, we have to put up with some very bad amateurs, but we also see some very good people coming through to the paid ranks, who got their start through exposure.
I don't believe in gratuitous exposure. But I have no problem with things in the public domain anyway being used to demonstrate points in a lecture.
Dick Christian
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Quote:
On 2010-10-26 11:48, TonyB2009 wrote:
Wrong. Without exposure we have no new blood coming into the art. A certain level of exposure is not just good, it is essential. If we ever manage to completely eliminate exposure we will kill the art in a generation.I don't believe in gratuitous exposure.


TonyB,

Aren't you confusing exposure with teaching? It is certainly true that unless "new blood" enters the art it will die; however, isn't that accomplished by encouraging, mentoring and teaching those who have demonstrated an interest in learning by seeking information and knowledge rather than simply dumping it in the lap of those who have otherwise expressed no particular desire to know other than perhaps some superficial level of curiosity (i.e., the very defintion of the kind of gratuitious exposure of which you claim to disapprove)?

Aren't those attending a lecture on the psychology of magic doing so in order to gain some understanding of the psychology involved rather than simply learning the "secrets" (i.e., sleights, moves, gimmicks, etc.) which in and of themselves are devoid of psychology. While it may not be the best analogy, it seems to me that the function of the alimentary canal can be adequately described/explained to the students in an introductory biology course without having to perform an autopsy.

Certainly there are ample sources of information readily available to anyone with a serious interest in learning the craft.
Dick Christian
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Calling my post "wrong" exposes your small-mindedness, especially when I started with a caveat that attempted to provide for differing opinions. Since there is really no purpose in debating the issue with you, I will leave it at that...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Jonathan Townsend
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I disagree Tony,

To my way of thinking there's a huge distinction between someone wanting to know how they could bring that magic they just felt to their friends and family and someone wanting to know how you did a trick or how a trick works.

Those who understand how pranks can amuse and magic tricks are very close to pranks yet not at the audience's expense will gravitate to magic on their own. No need to send out recruiting rabbits and lure youngsters into dark rooms with top hats to have strange adventures... well unless you have a think for Lidsville.

Over
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TonyB2009
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I don't see any essential difference between teaching and exposure. We all began by going to books, not mentors. There's exposure, and I approve of it. But there are limits. Some things are so long out they are in the public domain (the French Drop being an example). I see no problem with that being shown anywhere. Other things, like a new illusion by a current act, are not in the public domain, and I would never dream of revealing that information to anyone. It's a matter of degrees. But some exposure is vital.

It reminds me of an old joke. I belong to a secret society. It's so secret I don't even know who the other members are. Is that what we want?

As for Mr. Mystoffelees, if you express a view strongly, you should expect a strong rebuttal. That's the nature of debate.
Mr. Mystoffelees
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How you can say my post expressed "a view strongly" is beyond me. Poor form, try again...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2010-10-27 18:39, TonyB2009 wrote:
I don't see any essential difference between teaching and exposure. ...


Would you rather teach your audiences the tricks you perform first so they could more fully appreciate your work?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
darshwood
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Thanks so much for all the feedback, gentleman... The nature of my lecture focuses on misdirection. I am predominately a sleight of hand artist and have always been fascinated by the psychology of misdirection. I love the advice you give, Dick. I have been using the french drop to demonstrate misdirection and time delay before "vanishing" the coin when in actuality I simply sneak it into my pocket. I may still use this but definitely want to work out the concept you introduced with the hands.

So far, I have performed my lecture at high schools and community colleges but want to expand into universities and perhaps find some corporate audiences for it too.

Thanks again, everybody!
DW
truthteller
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The difference between teAching and exposure is whether or not the student has the capabilities and resources to successfully employ and understand the material presented, as well as whether or not the material is presented in a manner which would allow a students to understand, appreciate, and utilize said information.
61magic
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Darshwood, teaching would imply the student is participating in the lesson... I think what is suggested here is exposure.
I would classify a demonstration of an effect during a lecture with information on further learning resources would be teaching.
To demonstrate an effect and show the method where the target audience is only seeing method outside the magic community is exposure.
The methods like a key card, or a french drop are old and in the public sector should not be looked as as being at the bottom of the magic food chain and generally unharmful to expose.
Exposing these simple principals are just as harmful as exposing the principal of Black Art.
Black Art too is old and in the public sector but is currently used heavily in the magic community for current effects. My point here is "old" and "public sector" is not really a good gauge.
If your lecture is on the psychology of magic stick to the psychology part and not the magical method.
The "magic eye" pictures and many optical illusion are available that can demonstrate your point without getting into magical methods.
Afterall the target audience is laymen with no prior knowledge so they won't know the difference, if they are interested in learning more you can provide a list of resources.
Professor J. P. Fawkes
mightydog
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Have we not all at one time taken the Magician's oath? For those who might not remember it goes something like this:

."I as a Magician promise NOT to reveal the secrets of magic to ANY non-magician. I also promise not to perform ANY magical effects to ANY non-magician with out first obtaining the skill needed to maintain the illusion of magic.

The emphasis is mine. It seems clear to me that revealing the secrets of magic to those who have no serious intention of studying magic should not be shown how a effect is accomplished no matter the reason behind it. Showing the methods to beginning magicians and serious students of the art is altogether a different story and should be encouraged less the knowledge and enthusiasm of the magical arts be lost.

this is just my opinion. what is yours?
Illusion and magic is the same, if it was possible to achieve the impossible by genuine powers then it wouldn’t be impossible and therefore it wouldn’t be magic. That’s why magic is an art; the art of creating the illusion of the impossible.
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jdmagic357
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Quote:
On 2011-01-05 15:15, mightydog wrote:
Have we not all at one time taken the Magician's oath? For those who might not remember it goes something like this:

."I as a Magician promise NOT to reveal the secrets of magic to ANY non-magician. I also promise not to perform ANY magical effects to ANY non-magician with out first obtaining the skill needed to maintain the illusion of magic.

The emphasis is mine. It seems clear to me that revealing the secrets of magic to those who have no serious intention of studying magic should not be shown how a effect is accomplished no matter the reason behind it. Showing the methods to beginning magicians and serious students of the art is altogether a different story and should be encouraged less the knowledge and enthusiasm of the magical arts be lost.

this is just my opinion. what is yours?


And then you get the biggest names in magic exposing secrets to the general public in the form of magic kits and dvds.

Amazing isn't it?
Just cause they say it, doesn't make it true.
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