Dustings of Woofle #13

So imagine this. I have a bag and in the bag are 100 slips of paper. On each piece of paper is a different animal. You pull out a slip of paper and it says, “Tiger.” I reveal my prediction and it reads, “Tiger.”

Okay, next scenario. There are 100 animal names on a list in front of you. I ask you to name any animal you see there. You say, “Tiger.” I open my prediction and it reads, “Tiger.”

Which is stronger?

I think most of us would agree that the second version is stronger, where the spectator is making a free (open) choice rather than the first one where the spectator is making a random (blind) selection.

Now let’s change the second scenario. Now they’re making a free choice between just two animals. Is that still more impressive than the random selection of 1 in 100 animals? Probably not.

So let’s start with that premise…

1 in 100 free choice vs 1 in 100 random selection
Free choice is more impressive.

1 in 2 free choice vs 1 in 100 random selection
Random selection is more impressive.

The question is, when do these cross over? How many objects need to be in play before the free choice is as impressive as the random selection? 50? 25? Even less?

We’ve been focus group testing this in multiple sessions all year and the results will be in the October X-Communication newsletter.

By looking at the results of the testing we at least have a starting point in understanding a number of things:

  1. To what extent do spectator’s value a free choice over a blind choice/random selection? (This can give you some sense on what to focus on when creating an effect.)

  2. What is the point of diminishing returns when it comes to potential choices in a free selection? I think we all understand that a 1 in 50 prediction is significantly stronger than a 1 in 2 prediction. But it’s also probably fair to say that a 1 in a million selection is not quantifiably more impossible to lay people than a 1 in 1000 free selection. So how many objects have to be in play before the impossibility of an effect starts to level off?

  3. How much more impossible does an effect with a free selection seem if you’re making the selection vs. someone else?

Just some questions to consider for now. The full write-up will come in the next newsletter.

I’m positive I mentioned this before, but it might have been in a draft post that ended up not being published, because I can’t find it anywhere. The consulting service experiment that I launched about a month ago is ending in October which is when I will have processed all the current orders. (So no new ones after this point.)

The reason is that it was just too time consuming. My theory, that I could squeeze in thinking about people’s questions/projects in a short period of time, once a day for a week, didn’t end up working well. Either I’d hit upon an interesting idea which I’d then spend a bunch of time working on, or I wouldn’t hit on a good idea, so I’d spend more time on the project in hopes that I would. So what was supposed to be a cumulative two hours of time ended up being much more.

I will continue on with the consulting for those who already have a session booked. But after that I’m taking my ideas, putting them in a bag, and going home.

Since this post appeared I’ve received a few emails from people saying that they’ve been spotting tipped over traffic cones around where they live.

No, this is not a coordinated effort from me. And no, I don’t believe it’s some sort of sign. I think it’s just the case that traffic cones get knocked over pretty regularly and you never had any reason to pay attention to that fact before reading that post.

But now it’s infected your mind and you won’t be able to see one without thinking of this site. You can consider it me saying hello. Give it a wave when you see one.

Your wife: “Honey, why did you wave at that knocked over traffic cone.”

You: “Because it’s my magic blogging friend!”

She’s like…


And maybe you’ll get committed. In fact, if all of us do that, we might be locked up together in a psychiatric ward to study our mass delusion.

This is my convoluted way of organizing the first Jerx Magic Convention.

I found this in Paul Harris’ book, A Close Up Kinda Guy. It’s an oddly intense description of what most people would consider a fairly whimsical style of magic.

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The fuck?

I wish I could have been there when they were crafting this charming description.

“Can I say Paul Harris’ magic is a real mindfuck?”


“Why not? Because it uses the F-word?”

“No. Because it suggests it’s consensual.

“Oh, good point. How about I call it ‘mental rape’?”

“Bleh. Too bland. Then people will think it’s just ordinary, everyday mental rape type stuff.”

“Mental rape to the highest power?”

“Bingo! Now that’s the exact perfect phrasing we should use to start off Paul’s new book!”

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