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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » MAGIC - The Magazine For Magicians » » Okay... third time's the charm! (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

ScamSchoolBrian
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Hey gang! My name's Brian Brushwood, and I appear to be a rather controversial figure on this forum at the moment. Also, I'm on this month's cover of Magic Magazine. (proof: https://twitter.com/Solimander/status/622507163068448768 )

I only mention the above because I'm doing my best to be 100% certain that I'm qualified to post and respond in an appropriate forum. Originally, I wanted to let folks know that my book test was on sale at a $400 discount, but that thread evolved into (what I thought) was a civil and important discussion about the future of magic and best practices for teaching young people our art.

That thread got yanked for not being sufficiently on-topic. (I'm not bitter. I swear I'm not bitter.)

So in response, some folks found an older thread about my book test, where I volunteered to continue the discussion... Until it, too, was yanked for being off topic (again... I'M SO NOT BITTER. I even got a nice private message saying we might get our discussion reassigned to some other section.)

Okay, so.. I guess here's our third attempt: HEY PEOPLE! I'm Brian Brushwood and we're starting a totally new discussion called "Hello, my name is Brian Brushwood, and I was on the cover of Magic Magazine! Do you have any questions for me? Ask me Anything! You can ask me about my book test that's on sale, or slam me for doing Scam School! It's all fair game and on topic... because it's posted in this Magic Magazine thread!!"

Some subjects you might want to ask could include:

-"Hey! I heard you have a book test that's really good and on sale for 24 more hours... can you tell me about it or give me a tour of its supremely awesome features?"

-or-

-"Whoa! You sure do have a controversial position, hosting Scam School and all... Can you explain to me your criterion for how you select material for the show? I totally don't mind if it appears to be a repost of something you typed out twice before.

(just like before, I'm available all night and happy to respond to everyone).

-Brian

edit: This time I swear I'm going to be smarter... gonna copy each of my mini-essays the moment I write them to you.
MeetMagicMike
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I love your attitude Brian. I try give people the benefit of the doubt even if they are being a bit mean to me and just continue the conversation in a friendly tone. (I try but probably don't always succeed). Sometimes the guy who was sort of being a jerk kind of starts being nicer because I ignored that stuff and we end up agreeing on some stuff.

Anyway back to the talk:

This point has been glossed over several times so let me clarify it:

In one of the missing threads you said something along the lines of:

"I wouldn't post a video exposing my own trick because it wouldn't be fair to the people who purchased it because it would be detrimental to their performance of the trick"

1) Exactly how would exposing your trick hurt the performance of it?
Magic Mike

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Tom Jorgenson
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Hi Brian. Welcome to the Café, and sorry about your threads about your new $700 booktest being zapped..

I notice you've been a member since 2008, but only have 37 posts to date. Where've you been? You don';t seem to have been too concerned about the place before now.

But please tell us more about your new $700 ($800?) booktest. Why should we support you and your work with its purchase? How is it different, better, easier, more advanced than the others out there? Reiterate please. Is it better than AAA, Flashback or Mother? In what way(s) is that extra loot worth it?

Thank you, and again, its taken you so long to work up the courage to participate here, we're excited to see what you have to say.
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
David Todd
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Hmmmm ... let me think , what do I want to ask Brian Brushwood?

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ScamSchoolBrian
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@MeetMagicMike:

Quote:
I love your attitude Brian. I try give people the benefit of the doubt even if they are being a bit mean to me and just continue the conversation in a friendly tone. (I try but probably don't always succeed). Sometimes the guy who was sort of being a jerk kind of starts being nicer because I ignored that stuff and we end up agreeing on some stuff.

Anyway back to the talk:

This point has been glossed over several times so let me clarify it:

In one of the missing threads you said something along the lines of:

"I wouldn't post a video exposing my own trick because it wouldn't be fair to the people who purchased it because it would be detrimental to their performance of the trick"

1) Exactly how would exposing your trick hurt the performance of it?


I suppose if I had the chance to restate that, I'd say "people who purchased it have a reasonable expectation that I'd not share the specifics of the books' production in a public forum." So it seems like just good customer service to adhere to that expectation, (especially if I'm courting new customers).

Meanwhile, there's this quiet part of me that keeps screaming "GUYS... GUYS! You have no idea how clever and well thought-out this thing is. PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE come over to my house so I can show you how exquisitely crafted they are!!"

...Which is why I settled on our current compromise: here, in this forum dedicated to serious magicians, take the step of writing me at brian@shwood.com and I'll send you the password to take you on the 23-minute tour of the books.

It's obviously not ideal, but it's the closest analog I can think of to the experience of you walking up to me after a live stage show and saying "Hello, I'm a serious investor and I'm considering investing in your book test trick. Might I know more?"

-Brian
ScamSchoolBrian
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@Tom Jorgenson:

Quote:
Hi Brian. Welcome to the Café, and sorry about your threads about your new $700 booktest being zapped..

I notice you've been a member since 2008, but only have 37 posts to date. Where've you been? You don';t seem to have been too concerned about the place before now.


Quietly lurking, yet too terrified to post. One of those situations where you care so much about a thing that you're terrified to screw it up by opening your mouth.

(also FWIW, It's an odd thing to watch a witch hunt gather and realize that anything you say or do will only stoke the flames, and that your best move is likely do nothing and hope that the integrity of your work stands on its own. That was a rough time to go through. I never thought panic attacks were a real thing before then.)

Quote:
But please tell us more about your new $700 ($800?) booktest. Why should we support you and your work with its purchase? How is it different, better, easier, more advanced than the others out there? Reiterate please. Is it better than AAA, Flashback or Mother? In what way(s) is that extra loot worth it?

Thank you, and again, its taken you so long to work up the courage to participate here, we're excited to see what you have to say.


*ahem*... it's actually a $1,200 book test, currently on sale for $799. (he said, sounding like an even more colossal ******bag).

Oof. This is the part where I really should cut-and-paste all the stuff I mentioned in the previous two threads, but dang... that took a long time to write and it'd suck to see those hours vanish if they decide to wipe this thread, too. Would you settle for a little bit of description cut from the website?

Quote:
Think about this for a moment... what would the perfect book test look like? It would use multiple, well-known bestsellers to choose from. The books could be examined before the performance, and then your volunteer could have a truly free selection of any word from any page in any book.

...And yet the performer would be able to figure out almost instantly what their secret selected word is. And that's just one of the three separate effects built into these books.

Here's the flaw with every other book test out there: if you want to divine a word selected from a book, you either need a crooked way to force someone's word selection, or you need a crooked book. Forcing a word selection adds so many steps that your audience quickly becomes suspicious of just how "free" this word selection is. And there are a bunch of fantastic book tests out there that use crooked books... but none of them have titles that your audience has ever heard of, let alone read. So your audience is left to guess that the method involves some kind of tricky book (...and, of course, they'll be right).

This book test is completely different. Your volunteers will truly have a free choice of any word in the book. Meanwhile, all three books look like real books they've read before... because they are the real books they've read before. Each book in the Brian Brushwood book test is an authentic copy of a well-known bestseller that has been diabolically altered to make possible the most stunning version of a book test created to date. The books easily pass inspection before the trick begins: there's no question that these are the exact same books that they've read and enjoyed in the past.

See it performed by Dan White on the TODAY show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1H8M4u-cYE

and learn more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jK3lJTI6YVU

There are only a few key parts to memorize for the effect. You'll have perfect cover for gathering what little information you need, and the effect will be absolutely stunning.

Best of all? This is only one of 3 possible effects.

Imagine asking your volunteer to pick any book, open to any page, and find some dialogue between two characters. Ask them to choose the biggest, most interesting word in their conversation... and then hand them a sealed envelope, mailed to their address over a week before the effect is performed.

...And imagine their surprise when their selected word exactly matches your sealed, mailed prediction.

No switches, no sleight of hand, no verbal trickery... just a total miracle. And with no hard work on your part, whatsoever.

Finally: imagine you have a book selected, and have 3 random volunteers offer numbers to select a page. While they turn to their page, you draw an image and hold your prediction in plain sight. After they turn to their page, they read the first line, and are shocked to discover that it exactly describes your drawing. Had they selected the page before or the page after, the image described would have been different... only the page they selected perfectly matches your drawing.

Each of the dozen widely-known mentalists currently performing this effect paid over $1,200 for the full set of three books. At $400 per book, it is the most expensive book test ever released on the magic market. Partly, this is because constructing these books is a very tedious, very expensive process. Partly, this is because it's simply the best book test available on planet Earth at this moment, and should remain exclusive.

But most importantly: this pricing is based on the fact that only 500 complete sets will ever, and can ever be made.


I'm happy to answer any questions you have, and as I mentioned: the sale runs for 2 more days, and you can get an *additional* 10% off with promo code "themagiccafe" at checkout.

I *think* that gets us caught up? READY FOR MORE QUESTIONS!

Brian
ScamSchoolBrian
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@David Todd:

whoa, whoa WHOAAAA!!! We can do .gifs here? well, that makes Q&A SO much easier!

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MeetMagicMike
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But Brian, earlier in the conversation when people like me suggested that you shouldn't have exposed the Invisible Deck on your show your response was that exposure doesn't hurt magicians.

And if that is correct you are in an enviable position. You can sell your trick and then later you can expose it on your show. So you would be "helping" the next generation of magicians by teaching them great magic etc etc but if your customers complain you just explain to them that your exposure of the trick doesn't hurt them at all because only magicians are looking on line for secrets etc etc.

But of course you know and I know that that ISN't correct. Exposing a trick on the internet does harm the effectiveness of that trick. Just because I am a restaurant worker and can still kill with the invisible deck doesn't mean you haven't done any harm.

In the past magic shop owners and magicians understood a group of tricks that were offered to the newcomers to generate interest. People may have disagreed about what was in this group but at least everyone understood that there was a distinction. You are part of the youtube crowd that seems to believe that ALL tricks are fair game (Though at least you exclude tricks with a living creator). Being thoughtful of living creators is great but that's sort of the minimum requirement. If you are not being thoughtful of people who are actually performing, who make their living with this stuff you can't expect to be respected by them.
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ScamSchoolBrian
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@meetmagicmike:

Quote:
But Brian, earlier in the conversation when people like me suggested that you shouldn't have exposed the Invisible Deck on your show your response was that exposure doesn't hurt magicians.


Sincerest, sincerest apologies: I didn't read past this first line (because it looked like you were quoting me on stuff I didn't say).

I assume you probably said some amazing, mind-blowing stuff in the subsequent paragraphs that I did not read. Feel free to re-post them in future exchanges... but I feel like it's only fair to let you know that I didn't read them this go-round.

It's probably a good idea to announce the following: I don't know what's best for magic. I don't know what is best for other magicians. I don't know what the ethical position of other magicians should be.

I really only know one thing: the following is what guides me when selecting material for Scam School: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwQJXgQaHiM

If you think anything I said is wrong, I'm totally available (and super-eager!) to answer you (and I suspect you're totally right and I'm wrong). However, If you're going to restate my position in a way I don't believe, you probably won't get the response you're hoping for.
MeetMagicMike
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The other threads are gone so let's just start over:

1) Do you believe that exposing the invisible deck on your show harms the effectiveness of that trick? (I do).

2) Do you believe that exposing your own book test would harm the effectiveness of that trick?

I get that you have posted a video of your own criteria for tricks that you put on your show. (And I have watched it several times). I'm not questioning whether you stick to your own criteria. I'm questioning if your criteria is sufficient.
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ScamSchoolBrian
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@meetmagicmike:

Man... that's a really good question, and I suspect for us to answer it effectively we should take the time to be on the same page when it comes to defining terms:

Let's start with "exposing." I'm sure I have a lot more to learn, but to me, right now, the word "exposing" essentially means "revealing the pedestrian techniques of magicians to someone who would otherwise rather experience mystery and wonder." Or, put more simply: where there once was surprise and astonishment, "exposure" would instead create disappointment and cynicism.

On the other hand, If someone wanted to become a magician and learn deceptive techniques in order to be part of our ancient order, I'd call the experience they get "teaching." Most of us would recognize "teaching" as the experience that brought all of us here today.

Assuming we agree on terminology, I'm guessing we'd agree on both of your questions:

Quote:
1) Do you believe that exposing the invisible deck on your show harms the effectiveness of that trick? (I do).

2) Do you believe that exposing your own book test would harm the effectiveness of that trick?


The answer to both of those questions would (of course) be a qualified "yes."

If you reveal an effect to someone who would (absent your intervention) experience greater wonder, then yes: you have diminished the effect and robbed them of the joy that comes from mystery.

However, if someone desires to share your privilege (that is, perform magic for others), then I don't think you have any right to stand in their way. I don't think it matters how much money they have; I don't think it matters who they know... If they want to become a magician and they're willing to put forth the time and effort to learn our trade, then they deserve to be counted among our brotherhood.

-Brian
MeetMagicMike
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Good catch. After I posted I was actually worried that the term exposure might be viewed as loaded which is not what I intended. I'm glad you cleared that up but still went on to answer the intended question.

So that leads to a question about this part of your answer:

Quote:
If you reveal an effect to someone who would (absent your intervention) experience greater wonder, then yes: you have diminished the effect and robbed them of the joy that comes from mystery.

However, if someone desires to share your privilege (that is, perform magic for others), then I don't think you have any right to stand in their way. I don't think it matters how much money they have; I don't think it matters who they know... If they want to become a magician and they're willing to put forth the time and effort to learn our trade, then they deserve to be counted among our brotherhood.


So note your own distinction between the above two groups. The second group wants to perform magic for others. Doesn't that mean that you in fact diminished the effect and robbed a whole bunch of people of the joy of the effect? You do agree that many people who Google for methods are not interested in becoming performers, right?

And secondly, what is the difference between the invisible deck and your book test in view of this particular argument? Can you state the difference without bringing the living creator idea into it? (after all you are the creator and would presumably have no problem getting your own permission to feature the method on your show)
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ScamSchoolBrian
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Quote:
So note your own distinction between the above two groups. The second group wants to perform magic for others. Doesn't that mean that you in fact diminished the effect and robbed a whole bunch of people of the joy of the effect? You do agree that many people who Google for methods are not interested in becoming performers, right?


Sure, but the same is true at the local library... and I assume you're okay with that, right?
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Brian wrote:

Quote:
Sure, but the same is true at the local library... and I assume you're okay with that, right?


Right, and as long as you stick to your premise that the internet is a library you're golden. But there is a huge difference between the experience of going to a Library and Googling the internet.

If any one disputes this here is an experiment:

WHAT WAS THOMAS EDISON'S FATHER'S NAME?

1) Answer the question by going to the library.
2) Answer the question by using your computer.

Don't proceed until you have done both. I'll wait.

Were these two experiences the same? How likely would you be to go to a Library after watching a magic show? How likely would you be to Google after being fooled by a trick at a magic show?

You want to teach people who "want to perform magic for others" but the medium you have chosen is easily available to the guy who just wants a quick answer.
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ScamSchoolBrian
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@meetmagicmike:

Apologies for the delay in getting back to this. Had Cordkillers last night, and then got swamped in the PTFU launch. To your point:

Quote:
WHAT WAS THOMAS EDISON'S FATHER'S NAME?

1) Answer the question by going to the library.
2) Answer the question by using your computer.

Don't proceed until you have done both. I'll wait.

Were these two experiences the same? How likely would you be to go to a Library after watching a magic show? How likely would you be to Google after being fooled by a trick at a magic show?


The two experiences are structurally identical, right? The only difference appears to be degrees of speed/ease of access to the information you want.

Would it be fair to say that you're partially comfortable with magic in libraries because it's a slower, more laborious process to get to the magic information you want, as opposed to the internet because it connects people so quickly to the secrets? (Just want to make sure I'm understanding your point)

I can understand why you'd be concerned: We've had magic books in libraries for hundreds of years, and magic seems to have done okay during all that time. The internet however, is a new phenomenon and nobody can say for certain how magic will fare in this new environment.

Personally, I'm extremely optimistic about the health of magic. We have more magicians than ever before, and magic is more popular (and cooler) in mass media than at any point in my entire lifetime. YouTube has even helped make possible a new form of our art: Cardistry.

I do think you're 100% right that an unfortunate side effect of all this is that people who "just want the secret" can now get it easier than ever. That's definitely true. But how much do we care about those guys? They're wonder-killers, and they're not our target audience. In the pre-internet age, these same people just would make up a ridiculous method and decide they're right. And whether they had guessed correctly or not, in their mind the wonder is just as dead.

Who needs those guys? More importantly, why on earth should we waste our time catering to them? We've never been able to stop them from shouting out their guesses, and they hold the ultimate trump card: No matter how wrong they are, they always just decide they're right anyway.

Personally, I suspect it's a disservice to our growing, living art to waste so much time figuring out ways to tell those guys they're wrong. They're just not worth it. I say let's focus on continuing to grow our art as a team and continue to mint the next generation of innovative magic creators.

After all, it's been 20 years since the internet and TV started "ruining" magic, yet we still have magicians lining up and successfully fooling Penn and Teller of all people. My guess is that we're doing all right, and will continue to do so.

-Brian

PS: FWIW, I myself did not manage to fool those two...But I thought it was a pretty good try Smile --> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJEYtEo7......wezf1f2s
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Brian wrote:

Quote:
I do think you're 100% right that an unfortunate side effect of all this is that people who "just want the secret" can now get it easier than ever. That's definitely true. But how much do we care about those guys? They're wonder-killers, and they're not our target audience. In the pre-internet age, these same people just would make up a ridiculous method and decide they're right. And whether they had guessed correctly or not, in their mind the wonder is just as dead.

Who needs those guys? More importantly, why on earth should we waste our time catering to them? We've never been able to stop them from shouting out their guesses, and they hold the ultimate trump card: No matter how wrong they are, they always just decide they're right anyway.


It's nice to know that you agree 100% with the effect of this unfortunate side effect. How you can then conclude that the answer is to not only participate in making secrets easily available but to actually choose to amp it up and give out even bigger secrets is beyond me. If these guys once yelled out dumb guesses it's ok now to give them easy access to the actual methods? Wow

Now that we agree 100% I'm happy to let others make up their own minds about this.

I strongly disagree with your conclusion but I respect your willingness to debate. Kudos on your Fool Us appearance. I thought it was hilarious.

(Since this thread ended up in the Magazine section I don't know if any one is actually following it compared to the first two. Oh well)
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ScamSchoolBrian
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Quote:
(Since this thread ended up in the Magazine section I don't know if any one is actually following it compared to the first two. Oh well)


Yeah, I didn't really know where else to put it... maybe we could arrange an official "ask me anything" at a future time? If anyone's interested, I'm at Brian@shwood.com
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Quote:
On Jul 21, 2015, MeetMagicMike wrote:

(Since this thread ended up in the Magazine section I don't know if any one is actually following it compared to the first two. Oh well)


If it matters, I know it's a little late, but I have been following it. I follow all of the teaching/exposure threads. (Where I can find them) The ones on Brushwood, Fisher, etc. I find from a perma-novice/hobbiest this is a subject very interesting to me. I rely on libraries, Youtube, and friends.

And this is probably just me, but I started learning magic because I found learning about the wonder only made that much more special for me.

I've been told, to learn magic is to give up that sense of wonder. But I, and my nonauthoritative opinion, think that just isn't the case.

Ok... sorry if that wasn't warranted or just plain wrong. Figured I'd give a small fry''s opinion.
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