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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Cups and Balls Final Load "Congruence" (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Dale Houck
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It's really tough to conduct empirical research dealing with emotions (such as surprise) without tainting the results with what is known as the "Hawthorne Effect." Subjects of a study can consciously or subconsciously react in a direction they think is expected of them or in a manner they think the researchers are expecting. In my oral defense of my doctoral dissertation, many of the questions asked were directed at steps I took to prevent or minimize the "Hawthorne Effect."

When it comes to the "surprise" factor of congruent or non-congruent loads in a cups and balls routine, I would value the judgment of experienced professionals over attempts at conducting empirical research. And as a career educator, now retired, I was one of those researchers.
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Lawrence O
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Quote:
On 2010-12-28 17:17, Dale Houck wrote:
It's really tough to conduct empirical research dealing with emotions (such as surprise) without tainting the results with what is known as the "Hawthorne Effect." Subjects of a study can consciously or subconsciously react in a direction they think is expected of them or in a manner they think the researchers are expecting. In my oral defense of my doctoral dissertation, many of the questions asked were directed at steps I took to prevent or minimize the "Hawthorne Effect."

When it comes to the "surprise" factor of congruent or non-congruent loads in a cups and balls routine, I would value the judgment of experienced professionals over attempts at conducting empirical research. And as a career educator, now retired, I was one of those researchers.


So in the judgment of experienced professional researchers: congruent or incongruent?
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Deceptor
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Most likely the answer lies somewhere between the empirical research and practical experience with a bias towards practical experience. I suspect that most of our experienced performers are correct that the amount of surprise is heavily dependent on how the performer varies the presentation of the effect based on his/her interpretation of the audience.

No earth shattering revelations here. Although, I do not think it would be prudent to completely rule out empirical research. Theory and practice vary but the ususal course is to experiment with theory in practice and use what works.
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Dale Houck
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Quote:
On 2010-12-28 23:32, Lawrence O wrote:
Quote:
On 2010-12-28 17:17, Dale Houck wrote:

When it comes to the "surprise" factor of congruent or non-congruent loads in a cups and balls routine, I would value the judgment of experienced professionals over attempts at conducting empirical research. And as a career educator, now retired, I was one of those researchers.


So in the judgment of experienced professional researchers: congruent or incongruent?


Just to be clear, I was involved in many research projects, but not the one at USC.

The point I was trying to make was that I would trust the judgment of the Bill Palmers and the Lawrence O.'s of the world over any "unbiased" body of research.
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Lawrence O
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Dale, with due respect, what made you assume that Bill Palmer or my opinion could not be the result of "unbiased research"? I've been studying perception, attention, and the Gestalt Theory in details as my wife was doing a PHD in psychology. Two of my children were educated in USC and I have a pending invitation to spend working time with Antonio d'Amasio who runs the neurology research there. I'm not claiming that Bill or I are right but I know well Bill's intellectual openness and honesty (actually we formed a friendship based on a passionate disagreement) and don't think that he is biased in any way. For my part I'm always trying to reconsider my own opinions: in this line Whit Haydn didn't have to do more than making sound statement to substantially alter a slowly formed (with 40 years of practical and academic research) vision of magic .
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Denis Bastible
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Isn't a performer who continually hones his or her routine, and observes how changes/ tweaks to the routine enhance or reduce the audience reaction, conducting research (which may or may not be biased)?
Magic Researcher
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Nonsense, you are all biased.

In the words of Charles Forte - "To investigate is to admit prejudice".
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Bill Palmer
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Actually, I believe Charles Fort said that. Unless, of course, you meant the hotelier.

But what good did that actually do him?
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Jonathan Townsend
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This Fort book?

Reads like Lem's story The Investigation. Or like a Dirk Gently story minus the humor.
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Magic Researcher
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Yes, it was Fort without the "e". I see you had to look him up. Where would you be without your very necessary Google?

His thinking and writing earned him his living- such as it was. That's what good it did him. His quote is still accurate in spite of your attempted smoke screen. You ARE biased. Try to think about it without being immediately defensive.
MR
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Bill Palmer
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No, actually I didn't. I have a bunch of his books over here on the bookshelf behind me.

And I lived next door to one of the hotels that was part of Charles Forte's "empire."

There are some people who actually "know" things -- such as spelling.

Any biases I have are simply based upon my experience. However, they don't keep me from reading material that I don't necessarily agree with. I haven't stopped learning.
"The Swatter"

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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2010-12-29 23:23, Magic Researcher wrote:
...I see you had to look him up. Where would you be without your very necessary Google?...


What is this attitude about google?
It's not clever to refer to a work without providing a citation.

Getting back to the matter at hand, how is investigating a thing related to having a prejudice rather than just experiencing an awareness of ones ignorance?
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Bill Palmer
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Funny thing you should mention that, Jonathan. I made a career out of portraying Merlin the Magician at renaissance festivals. Before I went out in public with my version of the character, I investigated him. I did so completely open-minded. I had no bias as to whether he actually existed or whether he was a construct of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Malory, T.H. White and the Disney studios. The main reason I investigated him was to increase my knowledge.

Now, this may not be the same kind of investigation that Baldi or Chabris and Simon were conducting. I don't think that Chabris and Simon went in with an agenda. I think they went in wondering why the phenomenon they had observed in a reasonable percentage of experments had shown up. (I'm being circumspect with the way I word this, so as not to bias anyone who goes to their web site and participates in their experiment.) Where I disagree with their interpretations is that sometimes they leave out what I consider to be very important parts of the experience.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Denis Bastible
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It seems that Magic Researcher is more than a little defensive and does not mind being offensive.
Dale Houck
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On 2010-12-29 17:59, Lawrence O wrote:
Dale, with due respect, what made you assume that Bill Palmer or my opinion could not be the result of "unbiased research"?



I would have wagered that Bill's and your opinions on this topic were based on a wealth of experience, which includes a thorough survey of the literature on the topic. Empirical research includes the experience factor and you obviously have a wealth of experience. Lawrence, you have a multitude of posts on the Café that would prove to anyone that you are a great researcher. If you have conducted research on this topic and it's available, I'd love to read it. If you don't have an opinion on which is better - congruent or non-congruent, you are not biased on that topic. A bias is "a predilection to one particular point of view or ideology." Being biased doesn't have to be a bad thing. To be human is to be biased. It also doesn't mean you didn't at one time or another conduct research on this topic using the scientific method. If you did, great. However, I would still value your opinion based on your experience over formal research.
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Bill Palmer
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Lawrence's experience isn't often mentioned here, but I know of some of it. He is more experienced than many full time pro's.

He is also more of a researcher than most of us in magic, myself included.

And JR, as well.
"The Swatter"

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kentfgunn
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Those who cannot do, teach, those who can't teach administrate, those who can't administrate turn to research.

As a teacher, I was always offended by the above joke in all of its incarnations.

There's a glimmer of truth in it nonetheless. Its more about choices.

I've only researched a single effect to any great degree. I spent years gathering information on different routines. I've worked up the following routines and performed them;

Vernon's, from "The Dai Vernon Book of Magic". Dennis Loomis' routine from his own monograph, two different routines by Aldo Columbini.

There was a end to my means. I was working up my own version of the cups and balls. There is so much slavish imitation in this one trick that I grew tired of seeing nearly every magician doing either Vernon or Ammar's routine. I think the quality of the source material is so good that it was nearly inevitable. The diagrams in "The Complete Cups and Balls" are so well thought-out in comparison to most magic books that, for the complexity of the routine, Ammar's book makes it more than possible to work up his or Vernon's routine.

I, like many magicians, tend to do tricks that fooled us at one point. Ammar's initial production of the balls is really fabulous. The ball that appears on top of the cup, as the third production is a moment of sheer wonder. I'm certain the Ammar and Vernon routines are shamelessly copied because they're simply great examples of routining.

For, me, using wacky, (my term for incongruous) loads doesn't work. My opinion is it detracts from the beauty of the routine. Kate Medvedeva produces more stuff from her cups than anybody I've seen work. They're little chunks of Moscow, reinforcing her culture. (I have no idea what's up with the random bunny at the end of her you tube clip) Paul Gertner produces those immense ball bearings as a call back to his entire main theme, that he's using freaking ball bearings . . . steel town.

For me, using three different small balls is the a main concept in my routine. I like the call back that my final loads match them in color and location. (I'm leaving the small balls on top of the cups, right before the reveal.) It makes for another subtle reminder that I was using red, white and blue small balls.

I believe Ammar's turnup joke is just enough to justify his loads. The fab fruit fit him like a glove.

You see it's up to the performer what to use. I think Pete Biro uses the fab fruit as well. You can bet a dollar that man considered many options before making that choice.

What's best . . . ? What has the best reaction . . . ?

Even my non-researching, amateur self knows the answer to this question.

It only matters if you think it does. Make the decision based on your own interpretation of the trick. Don't follow the rest of the pack blindly. Oh . . . and if you're doing Vernon's routine, word for word, dropping cups through one another and showing the inside deeper than the outside . . . I don't care what you think because you aren't giving my favorite effect enough thought or respect to embrace this wonderful piece of our history fully. Find a chunk of yourself to put into at least this effect. Or at least pick a more obscure routine to copy.

Grumpy in San Francisco,

Kent
Deceptor
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Perform the routine to suit yourself and the audience. Over tme the routine will likely evolve to suit the change in the performers knowledge and personality.

Like Bill, I find that a tolerance for multiple points of view is beneficial to my learning experience.
Always leave yourself an out.
Jonathan Townsend
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Kent, I have yet to read or hear of even one magician who, after starting to explore the Vernon routine, decided that the balls should come pouring out of the cups after all the show & tell at the beginning - as if they were in there the whole time. Not one. Same for starting as a three-shell game done large. "But no officer I was not trying to cheat anyone, see I have a ball under each of these cups".

Kindly, please, don't boor us all by "classic of magic" - that is until you've learned a little about magic, made up your mind how to relate to the audience and the magic, then refined what works for your character into something that also works for audiences.

As to final loads... whatever works best for your character, your audience, practical considerations and that you enjoy making happen for audiences. large crochet can work as well as glasses of wine or mountains of salt - given the right character, script and routine, IMHO. Probably no reason why three tiny balls, followed by an orange tree sort sequence where the selected item is covered, grows and blooms into a *whatever - even a botania* could not play just fine.
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Bill Palmer
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Jonathan, I don't see any relationship between your answer to Kent and what he actually posted.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
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