A few months ago I mentioned a round of focus group testing that was going to look at discrepancies in card tricks to see how frequently they were noted by an engaged, critical audience. We conducted that research about a month ago in NYC. The reason I haven't written up any of the results on this site is because the testing didn't really bear fruit in the way that I had hoped it would.
This is mainly my fault because it wasn't a very well designed test. There were too many different variables we were hoping to look at. And because we're limited by the number of subjects we can work with (limited by time and money) we just need to stick with simpler questions in the future, because all the variables got in the way.
I originally was inspired to test discrepancies because I had found a trick that I thought was really beautifully constructed, but it had a big discrepancy (in the trick you show the four queens singly, but really you showed the same two queens twice). And I was wondering how often that would be noticed. There are a lot of card tricks that contain a big discrepancy. And maybe someone only mentions that discrepancy once every 25 times you perform. But that doesn't mean that someone doesn't actually notice it much more often.
So I wanted to test that, but got carried away with variations. How often do people notice the duplicate card in an Elmsley Count? Does it make a difference if the EC is done with aces, face cards, or spot cards? What if you use a change in tempo or position of the card to block them from getting a clear view of the card the first time around—does that help hide the discrepancy or does it just create more suspicion? These sorts of things.
But ultimately the data was too diluted to come up with any meaningful results. Which may seem like a waste of $2500. Which is what a couple days of testing costs (and that's with the people who are helping conduct the testing volunteering their time). But I feel like we learned a lot from this experience in regards to how to construct future tests to make sure our result definitely have some value. And I also feel like the people who contribute to this site would rather me be putting the money into something that may potentially provide value/content for the site rather than just spending it on high-price prostitutes. (Not that I don't spend it on high-priced prostitutes. I just mean that's not all I spend it on. I try to split it up in a "one for you...one for me," type of way.)
And all was not lost because during this round of testing we came up with something to study the next time around that I think is going to be very interesting. You should hear about that in a month or so.
I've said in the past that lapping a coin while sliding it off the table is my favorite coin vanish, and given the reasons for that here.
I also think it's probably the best way to switch a coin as well.
But when I'm not sitting, the coin change I use is the Capricorn Change by Jay Sankey from his Revolutionary Coin Magic DVDs. If you don't know that move, I think it's worth tracking down and working on. It's a good fundamental move to have in your arsenal. It's not a visual change, although I guess it can be. I use it more when I want to switch in a particular coin at the start of a trick. The spectator places their coin in your empty right hand, you place it in your genuinely empty left hand (it's not a shuttle pass) to set it aside or give it to someone on your left, and in that process it's switched. It looks pretty innocent (in the gif below it's isolated and being transferred for no reason, so it looks less innocent, but in real life, before a trick has even really started, it's fairly invisible).
"Surprise can be an agent of social change." So says a new research paper out of the University of Illinois. (Thanks to reader, G.G., for sending me the link.)
Consider the professional comedian or magician and - presto! - you have someone who is a "professional surprise engineer," Loewenstein said.
"A magician is setting up a situation where you think you're seeing most of or all of what's happening, but in fact you're not really seeing the critical bits," he said. "What's amazing is that you know when you go to see a magician perform that you're going to see something that you didn't expect - and they do it anyway.
"Crafting surprises is something everyone can learn to do, and they will be more influential if they do."
Is this true? Maybe. I haven't read the actual paper the article references. Although it is hard to imagine a group less influential than magicians. Oh sure, once a century a magician demonstrates some actual influence on culture. But that doesn't strike me as such a great batting average.
The way magicians imagine magic can be used to attract women...
How it actually comes off when people use magic expressly to try and attract women.
I'm off next week. Posting resumes on the 16th. Also, subscribers to the site will be receiving the first issue of the new quarterly review magazine around that time as well.
In that issue I spend a few pages describing a routine I've been using in conjunction with a new magic app. The routine is a combination of an old premise with this new app and some handling that I believe is new (although it's not particularly revolutionary). The combination of these elements has created one of the strongest tricks you will ever perform. I'm not kidding and I'm not hyping it. When it comes to strength of effect and practicality I would put it in the top .1% of effects in magic history. You can learn it in 5 minutes. It's dead easy. It takes 5 seconds of prep time. You can carry it with you all day and it takes up essentially no more space than what you already carry with you. You can go into the effect instantly at any moment. It feels completely impromptu. There are numerous presentational angles to get into the trick. It would work great in a show, it's even better in a social magic setting. And the effect is fucking devastating.
Those of you who have paid the $260 in support of this site are getting a full year's worth of posts, a limited edition hardcover book, a limited edition deck of cards, and another 100 pages of content in the quarterly magazine. I suspect if you perform this trick you will feel you already got your money's worth.
Again, not kidding, no hype.