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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #1 
In a different thread, one theme was the notion that engineers are very analytical and will try to reverse engineer your effect and figure it out. I'm sure not all engineers fall into this category. I'm also sure that many non-engineers do fall into it. With that in mind, I thought that it might be interesting to have a thread in which we discuss tricks that are good ones to perform for those with that analytical "I'm going to figure this out" mentality.

What tricks would you perform for a person or group who fits this description?

Mike


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Pepeq

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Reply with quote  #2 
I work at a software engineering firm. I think ending clean and having things examinable are highly desirable when performing magic for engineers (based on my limited experience). Highly mathematical methods are very suspect and engineers quickly catch on that something is going on. The things I have had the best reactions to are things that happen with a high degree of spectator involvement and very few sleights. Criss cross force or the Balducci force have been suprisingly effective and I have not been busted with them (yet). I'm sure someone with good sleight of hand skills would do well. I only do one or two tricks every few weeks. I don't want to become "That annoying wannabe magician". Regards
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #3 

I recall performing a color changing deck routine for some engineers from Notre Dame. The deck is clean. One guy said, "Is that chemical??" I left the deck on the table when I left.

They had been taken in by the usual Hindu shuffle method.

M

 

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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #4 
At a party, I met a guy who was a university professor of mathematics specializing in topology. Feigning ignorance of what that was, I asked him to explain and then asked him how he taught it. He said he used knots. Putting the hook in deeper, and without revealing my magical background, I told him I'd learned how to tie a knot in a piece of rope without letting go of the ends. 

He immediately told me that was impossible. No, I said, I can really do it. Nope, now way he claimed. 

We adjourned to the kitchen in search of some rope or string and found some. I then proceeded to do the entire routine and by the time I was finished the guy was beat, flabbergasted. First I'd done the usual move then the move where you hand them the ends. He couldn't believe it.

After having some fun, I revealed it was a trick and showed him how to do it. He said he'd be punking his class from then on.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #5 
Good work Bob!

M
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chris w

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Reply with quote  #6 
This should be an interesting topic.

I'm thinking of a trick that was, I think, in a Vernon book that involved handing out packets of cards to others while keeping one for yourself and then leading people through a sequence of actions that, even though they follow you exactly, always leaves their packets in a different orientation than yours. Repeatable, and in fact practically demands repetition. Anyone remember what that was? Was it Vernon? I just flipped through some of the books and, if it's there, it didn't jump out at me.

Something like that could be fun, if you want to lean into the 'puzzle' thing. Which, with some audiences, might be the best you can do.

For flat-out fooling engineer types, I think the key might be in feats accomplished by utterly simple means that leave big openings for wild, imaginative speculation (i.e. overthinking) concerning how they could've been done.
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zarrow52

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Reply with quote  #7 
Some good mentalism without any physical mechanisms to backtrack would certainly do the trick also.

Sean
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MagicTK

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Farmer
At a party, I met a guy who was a university professor of mathematics specializing in topology. Feigning ignorance of what that was, I asked him to explain and then asked him how he taught it. He said he used knots. Putting the hook in deeper, and without revealing my magical background, I told him I'd learned how to tie a knot in a piece of rope without letting go of the ends. 

He immediately told me that was impossible. No, I said, I can really do it. Nope, now way he claimed. 

We adjourned to the kitchen in search of some rope or string and found some. I then proceeded to do the entire routine and by the time I was finished the guy was beat, flabbergasted. First I'd done the usual move then the move where you hand them the ends. He couldn't believe it.

After having some fun, I revealed it was a trick and showed him how to do it. He said he'd be punking his class from then on.


I love the Hunter's Knot.
Back in 2001, I had come up with the idea of doing the regular routine while "teaching" someone how to tie the knot (they had a rope too), then we switch ropes because I gave them the "wrong rope" (since mine knotted and theirs didn't).  We try a second time, and again theirs doesn't have a knot, but mine does.  Then I did this Hunter Knot with both ropes (I use a red and white striped rope and a blue and white striped rope for a nice visual contrast), but only the one they originally had would tie a knot.  I call this the TK Knot.  PM me for more details.  Feel free to use it, and even teach other magicians, but give me credit.  Of course, if you have seen this written up using 2 ropes and only one ends up with the knot, please let me know the source.

I can provide instructions or even a video, but I will have to make one.

Tom
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Nate Smith

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Reply with quote  #9 
This is awesome. I’d also love to hear discussion about not just what tricks we do, but how we approach the show as a whole. Like, what’s the mood we set for this type of audience. Some people like not knowing how the magic happened. But this audience type hates (or is very uncomfortable) with not knowing. So how do we serve that?
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Senor Fabuloso

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Reply with quote  #10 
I have a problem, with the premise of the topic.

It seems and I may be wrong, that what is suggested is, that playing to engineers we are to devise "puzzles" that are difficult to reverse engineer because that how people with analytical minds will deduce our performance? If that indeed is the premise? Then I believe, we have failed before we started.

Of course, "knowing your audience" is of paramount importance. However, simply trying to fool your spectators isn't what magic is about. Creating magical moments and visceral experiences, is what we do as magicians. As I've said before, anything else cheapens the art and amounts to mere hackery.

Having said that I think there are effects better suited, to the analytical brain. Things not easily backtracked. In mentalism Bob Cassidy called it "The Logical Disconnect". I believe Pablo Amira also has work on the subject. The main point being that, presenting our effects as puzzles, will just engage the curious and will not really entertain with meaning.

No one asks "how did the juggler do that" as it's obvious he did by juggling. Instead they say "wow what great skill and dexterity he has and how wonderful it must be to be able to do that"
I'm not suggesting that magicians should be jugglers. What I'm suggesting that the same awe and appreciation of our craft, should be our goal. We don't just entertain like the juggler, we create wonder and amazement, while suggesting that anything is possible.

Thanks.

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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #11 
My building on campus is full of electrical engineers and computer scientists!  One trick I have found to be surprisingly effective for them is ... Colour Monte!  They tend to fixate on the possible optical properties of those unusual cards - turning them end for end, tilting them, trying to make the red one look blue and vice versa.  When that fails, they are left without any explanation.  Is there wonder and amazement?  Yes, I believe there is ... but it comes after the effect is technically over, after they have had a chance to discover that their theory is wrong. 

It's like the best kind of mathematical paradox (and the deepest Zen koans) - initially it may seem trivial but the more you think about it and the more you explore and abandon possible escapes, the more impossible it gets and yet the more essentially true it becomes.

It seems to me that this is consistent with what Juan Tamariz teaches us in The Magic Way, regarding orchestrating the audience's mental transitions by leading them through theory and disproof until they reach the state of conviction of impossibility.

Bob's great story of confounding the topologist is an excellent demonstration of using the audience's prior convictions to kick their brains into a state of logical inconsistency where the evidence of their own immediate experience - the knot tied in the guy's own hands! - cannot be reconciled with their scientific/mathematical knowledge.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #12 
Point well taken Senor Fabuloso - as you said, "knowing your audience is of paramount importance." The premise of the thread is not "let's leave these analytical bozos bleeding." It's "suppose we know that we're working for a group that tends to be analytical. Would that affect the choice of material?"

If I found myself in this situation, I think my goal would be to set a tone that would direct the audience away from analysis and toward embracing astonishment. I would definitely look for "bulletproof" material. But material that's entertaining and that has a high level of impossibility. When all the doors of explanation shut, astonishment happens. I would hope to create a situation in which they give up the analysis and sit back and take the ride. 

In my strolling work, I generally open with an Ambitious Card (signed) routine because the variety of methods used ends up shutting the doors tightly. One method will cancel another method. I find that if they began with an attitude of "I'm watching like a hawk. I can catch this guy" they quickly give up and sit back and enjoy the show. I think it's important to establish that the methods are impenetrable as soon as possible. 

I have observed analytic people watching a great close-up magician. You can see the initial analysis going on and you can see the eyes pop open and jaw drop followed by a sense of "I can't figure this out. I'm just going take the ride."

We know that some people "cannot be fooled." They'll find some crazy explanation that doesn't make sense. But inwardly they're saying to themselves, "I got that one." So even our best efforts at converting the analytical ones away from analysis won't work on everyone.

I don't think  sucker tricks are the way. They're often not bulletproof after the fact anyway. I think creating the feeling that you're there to create fun and mystery rather than show puzzles is the starting point. Then you need really impenetrable material IMO. All doors of explanation should remain shut as much as possible. This is a goal for all audiences but when you're aware that the group is tending to be analytical e.g. engineers perhaps, you need to choose bulletproof material. They're more likely to see discrepancies that fly by for an average audience.

Mike
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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Farmer
At a party, I met a guy who was a university professor of mathematics specializing in topology. Feigning ignorance of what that was, I asked him to explain and then asked him how he taught it. He said he used knots. Putting the hook in deeper, and without revealing my magical background, I told him I'd learned how to tie a knot in a piece of rope without letting go of the ends. 

He immediately told me that was impossible. No, I said, I can really do it. Nope, no way he claimed. 

We adjourned to the kitchen in search of some rope or string and found some. I then proceeded to do the entire routine and by the time I was finished the guy was beat, flabbergasted. First I'd done the usual move then the move where you hand them the ends. He couldn't believe it.

After having some fun, I revealed it was a trick and showed him how to do it. He said he'd be punking his class from then on.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #14 
Teaching a simple trick is a great way to endear yourself to a spec. 

M
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magicfish

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Reply with quote  #15 
How about Hamman's Two Card Trick?
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MagicTK

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicfish
How about Hamman's Two Card Trick?


This is one of my favorite card routines.  I like to use it as an opener, but you have to have stuff available (if you know what I mean).  I also start is slightly different handling than Bro. John shows.  Recently in talking with Wayne T. on here, had showed me a version from Jack Carpenter that uses just a regular deck, but the ending wasn't to my liking.  I tried it with the same handling and slightly modified patter to the normal routine I perform, and it works well.  This way, I can do with a borrowed deck, if I want.  I still prefer using the added card.

Tom
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #17 
The Two Card trick is a rather strange one for me. How would you describe the effect?

Mike
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magicfish

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Reply with quote  #18 
Hi Mike , I dont bother trying to describe this effect. You're right, it is strange, but Hamman knew that, and let the spectators decide what the effect is.
This is a different effect for different people I find. But it's a strong trick in my opinion.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #19 
I always found it confusing but I'm willing to accept that it's well received. Anyone else have experience presenting the trick to a lay audience? 

Mike
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #20 



Harry performs the Two Card Trick!
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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #21 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris w
This should be an interesting topic.

I'm thinking of a trick that was, I think, in a Vernon book that involved handing out packets of cards to others while keeping one for yourself and then leading people through a sequence of actions that, even though they follow you exactly, always leaves their packets in a different orientation than yours. Repeatable, and in fact practically demands repetition. Anyone remember what that was? Was it Vernon? I just flipped through some of the books and, if it's there, it didn't jump out at me.

Something like that could be fun, if you want to lean into the 'puzzle' thing. Which, with some audiences, might be the best you can do.

For flat-out fooling engineer types, I think the key might be in feats accomplished by utterly simple means that leave big openings for wild, imaginative speculation (i.e. overthinking) concerning how they could've been done.


I believe you are talking about a packet of four cards.  No matter how close the spec follows your instructions.  The magician always ends up with four face up cards.  The spectator always ends up with one face down card and three face up cards.  

Falls into the group of effects called "Do as I do"  I don't know the origins.  Probably as old as card magic itself. 

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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #22 
This effect can be done with gaffed cards, or, with regular cards using an Elmsley Count.
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MagicTK

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Reply with quote  #23 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Powers
The Two Card trick is a rather strange one for me. How would you describe the effect?

Mike


Mike,

When I perform this routine, I don't explain or describe anything, I just say I am going to show them something with 2 cards, and I show the two cards.  I do specifically say "with magicians, things are not always as they appear, and I'll show you why..."   



But then I end different than Bro. John did in his description.

Tom
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #24 
Thanks Tom. 

M
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