The Reverse Psychology Force

This is the strongest card force there is.

Yeah, yeah, I know. Here's the thing, when you write a blog and half the time you're "in character" talking about what a genius you are and the other half of the time you think you're truly giving out genius ideas, it can be a bit confusing. Most of the time I'm not sure myself if I'm being serious or not. I read through old tricks and see a million ways for them to be improved. I read articles on theory and think I have better and more creative ideas on this blog multiple times a week. So when I write something on this blog about how this is the next evolution of magical thought, I'm doing it as a goof, but then part of me is like, "Actually, I kind of believe that."

At any rate, I was never going to write about this force. For me it is one of the most valuable things I've ever come up with. But when you give something away for free on a blog then I think everyone just thinks, "Aw, well here's another hunk of nothing, if it was anything good he'd sell it as a limited edition manuscript." Because we're all familiar with people selling half-baked shit for $600. And it's kind of easy to just assume anything without a price-tag like that is probably not all that worthwhile. Fine. The truth is, if this blog was a private, subscription-based thing that you had to pay for, then some of you would feel you got your money's worth based solely on this. 

I had originally written this up as part of a trick I'm posting next week. It's a trick you can do for someone's birthday, but it demands a really good force. I was going to hide this force in that write-up, but I'm already hiding a really strong addition to the torn corner ruse in that trick (which involves a spectator assist in the switch and vanish) and I didn't want the explanation to get overwhelmed.

So, I'm shining a spotlight on this force. As usual, my magic knowledge is not vast enough to know if it's original to me, but I feel like I would have read about it if it wasn't. It may seem like just a few small tweaks, and that's really all it is. But it's like if you had a boat with three small holes in the bottom and I plugged those holes with three small corks, then you'd see the value in those "small tweaks" to the bottom of your boat.

What are the strongest card forces you can do in magic? I think many people would argue they're the classic force and some version of a psychological force. But the problem with both of these forces is that the stronger your revelation is, the more heat is put on the force, and the "obvious" solution occurs to the spectator. "I guess he must have made me pick that card," or "I guess everyone says 7 of hearts."

I wanted to create a card force that I could use for even the most insane revelations and yet the card force would be beyond question. It had to be so strong that I could force the card on someone, walk outside, see the card up in the air in skywriting, and for them to still not question the fairness of the force. 

I came up with a handful of ideas and would test them with the following trick. I would have a duplicate of the force card in my pants pocket or my shirt pocket. I would stand my spectator directly in front of me and give her the deck to shuffle. When she was done I would take her right hand, curl her three fingers in so just her index and thumb were out, then I'd guide those fingers into my pocket and tell her to hold onto the item that was in there (the duplicate force card). Then I'd force a card on her and tell her to remove the item from my pocket. This might not seem like much of a trick to you, and with most forces, it's not. But if you have a force that is structured in a way that it couldn't possibly be a force, then this is an AMAZING trick. A classic force or a psychological force will crumble under the weight of this revelation, it's just too strong and direct. I knew once I had a force that could withstand this revelation, then it could withstand anything. 

And that's what led to the The Reverse Psychology force. It's a force that is essentially 100% effective, theoretically it could fail and I'm sure it will for some of you, but in the maybe 80 times I've done it in a performance situation, it has never not worked. And even if it did, like any other force, you could just perform a different trick -- there's no risk in a potential "failure." So the force is essentially 100%, and yet no layperson would ever feel it was a force, and, in fact, the few magicians who have seen this didn't understand how it could be a force. 

Haha, have I built it up enough yet? I think I'm just procrastinating from actually giving it away.

Okay, here we go. 

Let's build the force from its elements.

- The foundation of the force is an under the spread, cull style of force. You need to have that force in your arsenal. 

- This part isn't necessary, but to me it's part of what makes this force seemingly perfect. Palm out your force card and give the deck out to be shuffled. When it's returned to you, replace the palmed card and get it into position for your under the spread force with a little additional mix on your part. For me that means it's the fourth card down. Get it into position without looking at the deck. You might consider not palming out the card and just having them shuffle and then doing that thing where you look at the cards and spread them between your hands and say "Does this look well mixed," spotting the card and culling it out. I don't like that. It feels suspicious. Palm out the card, or don't bother with the spectator shuffle.

- Start your force, asking the spectator to touch any card at all. Tell them to keep their finger on the card. Ask them if they want to change their mind. Spread a little further and say that you can go further down if they want. Then indicate the cards in your right hand and say, "Or we can also go back and pick an earlier card, it's completely up to you. When we're done I don't want you to say, 'Duhhhh... I think you made me pick that card.'" You don't have to say that last part, but if you do, say it like a true fucking dimwit. You're planting a seed here that only a moron would think you could make them pick a specific card. Really give them time to consider this choice. It's the first of two apparently free choices in this force, and it's important they recognize it's up to them how the selection of this card proceeds.

- Once they've decided exactly which card they want (again, give them a beat longer than you normally would to decide this), you show them the card or remove it from the deck or however you handle your under the spread force.

- Now you say, "Do you like that card? Or do you want to start over and pick a different one?" And you spread the deck, showing the faces of the other cards.

- Wait... what?

- Yes, you give them the option to change to a different card. How does that work? Well this is where the force gets its name, because unlike a traditional psychological force where you're using verbal manipulation or some psychology and hoping they name the card you want, with this force you are going to physically force a psychologically attractive card on them. Now, instead of hoping they choose the 1 out of 52 that you want them to, you only need the card to be attractive enough to them that they don't want to select another card. And they'll never want to select another card. Why not? Three reasons:

1. You've forced a card that is appealing in some way. If I don't know the person I'll choose the Queen of Hearts for girls, and the Jack of Spades for guys. The overwhelming majority of people are not going to swap a card they might find interesting or identify with in some way for the possibility of ending up with a 6 of clubs or something.

If you know their favorite number -- just from knowing the person in life or by asking for it earlier in the evening in the context of a different trick -- you can also force any card of that value on the person. 

2. This is the second of two apparently free choices. If a spectator wants to dick around and swap cards, they usually get that out of their system in the first part of the force. This is why you make the decision to switch such a big deal in the first part. Giving them another chance to change their card at the end just feels a little like overkill.

3. Once they've seen their card you don't say, "Would you like to switch it for a different card?" (Although you probably could say that.) Instead you say, "Do you like that card?" At this point they'll think either "yes" or "whatever," they won't think "No," because you've chosen an attractive card and people just don't care enough to actively dislike a card. Then you say, "Or do you want to start over and pick a different one?" Start over! What does that mean? Like have her shuffle the cards again and go through the whole choosing procedure again? That's the boring part of the trick. No one wants to "start over." Everyone just wants to move forward.

Now put yourself in the spectator's position. You shuffled the cards (so there's no way the magician could have known which card was where). You touched any card you wanted. You were asked multiple times if you'd like to change your mind. You saw the card and you were again given the option to change your mind and pick a different one. If you now pull that card out of the magicians pocket or see it in the air in skywriting, where is there for your mind to go? 

The Reverse Psychology Force -- by combining a physical and a psychological force -- opens up the possibility for any revelation you want. Everything that you may have considered "too strong" is now on the table because you can't backtrack the trick to a force because there's too many free choices involved. In fact it really should be saved for truly strong revelations. It's probably not something that you should use regularly on the same people because at some point all the freedom involved in the selection will seem suspicious if they notice it's the same degree of freedom each time they pick a card. But you can definitely get away with using this once a year or so on someone, and there is no limit to the revelations you use with it. So go ahead and get that queen of hearts tattoo, or be a man and just carve it in your thigh with a knife.