Tag Archives: magic

Principles of Curiosity

Personally, I would give this video 3.5 out of 5 stars. It felt too lengthy (40 minutes) for the amount of information presented, but still very enjoyable.

Quick D: The Magic of Will Tsai

This may be the best CaptainDisillusion video yet.

Captain Disillusion ponders the very concept of magic by taking a close look at the work of one particular illusionist.

10 Magic Tricks That Went Horribly Wrong

By Alltime10s via YouTube

The Vanishing

By Quirkology via YouTube

The Impossible Pink Cards

By Quirkology via YouTube

21st century exorcisms: Examining the psychology of possession

james-randi-69Via James Randi Education Foundation – JREF

A video has surfaced of a reported exorcism as it was taking place last February behind the closed doors of a Roman Catholic church in Vranov nad Dyji, Czech Republic.  A 26 year old visitor heard screams and filmed through the keyhole of the door. Not much is visible; there is plenty of screaming and obscenity (in another language) but nothing supernatural happens from this perspective. The drama that unfolded is what we would expect an exorcism to look like from our familiarity with sensational news reports. Pope FrancisOnly in the movies, in fiction, are there visions of horror that break the bounds of physics or human capabilities. In reality, exorcisms at their most basic, are an interaction between the victim in some disturbed state and the people who are enacting the ritual. Some might say the ritual enables the victim, encouraging the expression of possession. For some afflicted people, they may benefit psychologically from the process.

The Czech priest confronted over the released video says they were asking for God’s help to protect the anonymous person in the church. He is quoted as remarking, “Of course it helps.” Does it really help, or is this reinforcement of an antiquated belief system harmful? Therein lies a tricky question for religious officials, psychologists, and the skeptically-minded about the value of exorcism. Most rationalists would not condone an exorcism, likely feeling that the potential for harm that could occur is unethical or the endorsement of belief in demons is nonsense.  What once was a given fact – evil spirits can possess people, and had been usurped by modern medicinal practice, has recently been re-embraced by the Catholic Church and endorsed through rejuvenation of the exorcism ritual.

On November 11, 2014, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops approved an English translation of the Rite of Exorcism that was published by the Vatican in 1999.  The vote was 179 “yes” to 5 “no.” Pope Francis recognized 250 priests across 30 countries who are members of the International Association of Exorcists which many observers saw as a surprising step backwards in time for the church. exorcism_225pxThe church sees exorcism as something of a last resort and repeatedly notes that the cases are carefully evaluated by medical professionals to address medical or psychological problems. Who does these evaluations? Are the psychiatric evaluators Christian? What are their criteria for concluding that, yes, this person can not be helped by Western medicine and must be treated spiritually?

Curiously, as noted in this Catholic news agency piece, exorcism is “not magic.  It is the Church imploring God to come to the aid of the person afflicted.” This can be interpreted in a secular way –  if the troubled person believes that they can be helped with this ritual, then perhaps they really are helped. It is plausible that many cases of deliverance or exorcism have been successful because people have “named” their troubles and outwardly cast them away, like the devil, to be gone and leave them free. Professor Christopher French, Head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit of the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London has studied the psychology of possession. He also thinks that, under certain circumstances, people can benefit from exorcism.

“As I believe that “possession” is a purely psychological phenomenon, any psychosomatic symptoms might be cured by any form of treatment that the victim believes in. Also, adoption of the “possessed” role sometimes allows people to let off steam without being held responsible for their actions.”

Dr. French is clear that exorcism will not directly help anyone who has an underlying neurological condition, although, he says, “If the condition was aggravated by stress and the ritual reduced the stress, it might produce temporary relief.” This is not to make light of the several downsides to exorcism. There have been several cases of families who subjected “possessed’ elders, women, the handicapped, and children to abuse. In some cases, this has resulted in death.

Yet, the popular belief in exorcism is growing.

MORE – – –

Harry Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The clash between the champions of scientific skepticism and supernaturalism.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

Harry Houdini (1874-1926) was best known as the world’s most famous magician during his lifetime, and also as a tireless debunker of false mediums and dishonest claims of profit-driven supernaturalists. He followed a simple strategy, one that’s the fundamental basis of the scientific method: Work hard to falsify all new hypotheses, and maintain a mind open to all new evidence. houdini_conan_doyle_250pxSadly for Houdini, this meant testing what could have been one of the most important personal relationships to the history of public understanding of science.

Much has been made of the friendship between Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. As the creator of Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur would seem to have been a man of science and rational thought, but he was a lifelong steadfast believer in the supernatural. In fact, it was something that was at the forefront of his attention much of the time. One of the most telling events in Sir Arthur’s career came when he was a member of the Society for Psychical Research, which is often criticized for being composed mainly of true believers in the paranormal, and not all that interested in objective research. In the 1920s, Sir Arthur led a mass resignation of 84 members of the Society, on the grounds that it was too skeptical. The staunchest of the resignees joined the Ghost Club, of which Sir Arthur was a longtime member. The Ghost Club made no apologies for being fully dedicated to the supernatural as an absolute fact. In addition, Sir Arthur’s wife, Lady Doyle, was a medium who often conducted séances appearing to be in communication with the dead, and Sir Arthur was absolutely convinced of the reality of her ability.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spirit photo_200px captionedDespite a radical difference of opinion, Houdini and Sir Arthur managed to keep their friendship alive for some years, each often writing to the other of their mutual respect, their agreement to disagree, and the value of honesty and integrity in one’s own beliefs — neither man ever doubting the other’s sincerity; at least for a while.

In the spring of 1922, Houdini invited Sir Arthur to the home of his friend Bernard Ernst, a lawyer in New York, in an effort to show him that even the most amazing feats of mediums could be accomplished by skilled — albeit earthly — trickery. He had good reason to sway Sir Arthur if he could; Sir Arthur was passionately engaged in promoting the supernatural to his vast worldwide audience, a public disservice if there ever was one, as honestly intentioned as it was. Houdini prepared a magic trick, one that’s familiar to any practitioner of the art. He had Sir Arthur go outside in private and write a simple note that there’s no way Houdini could have seen; and then upon his return to the room, Houdini had a cork ball soaked in white ink magically roll around on a slate and spell out the very note Sir Arthur had written. Sir Arthur was aghast. Houdini wrote him:  .  .  .

MORE – – –

Also See: An Actual Recording Of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “Spirit” From A 1934 Séance (io9.com)

Seance

Do people still practice magic?

By Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know via YouTube

As humanity’s understanding of science and technology evolved, magic seemed set to become another historical footnote. Except, that is, for the people that still practice it today.

Albino Facts and Fiction

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid

The past decade has brought news of an atrocity, mainly from Africa: the slaughter of albino humans for their body parts for use in ritual magic. Bodies are usually found headless and missing one or more limbs, but sometimes are completely torn apart, missing even internal organs. The reason is, of course, pure unadulterated pseudoscience; we can confidently state that there is no magical benefit to the use of albino body parts, and that’s to say nothing of the abhorrence of murder for any purpose. Clearly there are some fictional beliefs out there concerning the nature of people with albinism, and today we’re going to look at some more of these beliefs that might be held even by those of us who are not into black magic.

A young man with albinism in Africa Photo: Wikimedia

A young man with albinism in Africa
Photo: Wikimedia

But the use of their body parts in ritual magic is the elephant in the room. Arms and legs are the witch doctors’ preferred bits. They are used as charms and talismans, and other body parts also have magical value, such as hair being sewn into fishing nets to bring good luck. About five albinos per year are reported to be killed in Africa for their body parts, but the total is probably larger. Perhaps even more frightening is that about the same number of people survive similar attacks, suddenly accosted by men with machetes who hack off the valuable limbs and abscond, with little care for the still-living victim they leave behind. It’s quick cash; in Tanzania, a single limb can be worth up to four times the average annual income. A complete albino body, chopped apart and sold bit by bit, can be worth more five times what the average Tanzanian can expect to earn in a lifetime; a figure often given in the press is $75,000. Fortunately, over the past few years, witch doctors and attackers have been prosecuted and some have been executed, leading to a reduction in these attacks.

But another problem faced by African albinos is that they are nearly always from broken homes. When some African fathers see their child born white, they assume their wives must have been having affairs with white men. The Albino Association of Kenya says that 90% of albinos in that country are raised by single mothers as a result.

There are four basic types of albinism, some of which have subtypes, corresponding to different genetic defects  .  .  .

MORE – – –

Did the Nazis practice magic?

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

After World War II, conspiracy theorists started making increasingly strange claims about the Nazi party: One of the strangest claims concerns magic.

The Magical Match

This is a pretty cool trick from Richard Wiseman via YouTube

Derren Brown – Messiah

Intro by Mason I. Bilderberg

Derren Brown_300_250pxI’m not one to sit and watch lengthy videos on my laptop. So when i suggest you watch a 49 minute video, you can trust me – it’s worth watching.

Have you ever heard of Derren Brown? I’ve been following Derren Brown for over a decade, i’ve read many of his books and i think i’ve seen all of his performances. I’m never disappointed.

Here is how WikiPedia describes him:

Derren Brown (born 27 February 1971)[3] is a British illusionist, mentalist, trickster, hypnotist, painter, writer, and sceptic. He is known for his appearances in television specials, stage productions, and British television series such as Trick of the Mind and Trick or Treat. Since the first broadcast of his show Derren Brown: Mind Control in 2000, Brown has become increasingly well known for his mind-reading act. He has written books for magicians as well as the general public.

Though his performances of mind-reading and other feats of mentalism may appear to be the result of psychic or paranormal practices, he claims no such abilities and frequently denounces those who do.

From Derren Brown’s webpage (2012):

Dubbed a ‘psychological illusionist’ by the Press, Derren Brown is a performer who combines magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection and showmanship in order to seemingly predict and control human behaviour, as well as performing mind-bending feats of mentalism.

In a nutshell, while repeatedly reminding us he doesn’t have any kind of magical abilities, Derren Brown mimics with perfection all those who DO claim to have magical abilities.

In this video, Derren takes on the following roles:

  • A psychic that can see what you’re drawing when you’re in a different room,
  • The ability to convert people to Christianity with just a touch,
  • A new age entrepreneur with a machine that can record and play back your dreams,
  • An alien abductee who was left with the ability to sense your medical history and
  • A psychic medium that communicates with the dead.

He is so convincing in these roles that he gets endorsements for his “special powers” from the “experts” who witnessed his performances.

I believe he will convince you too!

Enjoy! 🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)

More:

derren brown books_600px

The Dangers of Magical Thinking in the Martial Arts

By Jeff Westfall via Violent metaphors

Recently on Facebook I saw a video of a Finnish martial artist named Jukka Lampila who called what he did Empty Force or EFO, and claimed that with it he could control an attacker without touching him. His Facebook page proclaims him the founder of EFO. The video begins with clips of Lampila fending off ‘attacks’ from his students. blue_hands_on_glass_250pxHe waves his arms; sometimes he twitches, and in each case the ‘attacker’ seems to be magically thrown to the mat without ever being touched by Lampila. He also shows an example of ‘controlling’ someone on the ground. He kneels calmly beside a supine student with the back of his hand gently resting on the man’s chest. “I don’t need to use any energy” he asserts as the student appears to try with all his might to regain his feet to no avail. It is a sad display of martial arts charlatanism.

Unfortunately for Mr. Lampila, a group of skeptics were in attendance this day, and several of them volunteered to be ‘controlled’ by Mr. Lampila. His chosen method was to have the volunteer try to push him. He failed in each case to stop them from doing so. The skeptics were admirably polite, giving Mr. Lampila an ample number of opportunities to prove his claims and not demonstrably gloating at his failures. When one of them calmly asked him if he would like to demonstrate his defense against a punching attack Mr. Lampila declined. He later invited everyone to pay for and attend his seminar the next day!

I’ve been involved in the martial arts since 1971. I’ve been teaching martial arts since 1975. In this time, and long before I became aware of formal scientific skepticism I grew to see that a lot of people are drawn to martial arts styles that are based on pseudo-science. The arts that are the biggest culprits by far are the arts that base their claims of effectiveness on developing and manipulating a purported form of internal energy.Tantra_prana Whether you label it Chi, Ki, Prana, “The Force”, or Empty Force it has never to my knowledge been proven to exist through robust, double-blind, replicated scientific experiments. If it is energy, where are the scientific instruments that can detect its levels? Is this energy chemical, radiant, nuclear, kinetic, electro-magnetic, mechanical, or ionizing? Is this energy in the form of waves or particles? At the risk of building a straw man, I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that practitioners and apologists for these arts would say that science doesn’t know everything, and that “chi power” is as yet unexplained by science. If this were plausible, wouldn’t it follow that a large number of physicists would be pursuing a future Nobel Prize by attempting to prove the existence of this vital energy?

In the last 43 years I’ve seen quite a few ‘demonstrations’ of this power. I have yet to be impressed. Mostly what I’ve seen were sad carnival sideshow tricks, many of which I can easily explain if not reproduce, without resorting to magic. The rest were feckless displays like that of Mr. Lampila.

I assert that on the rare occasions when practitioners of these styles defend themselves effectively it is through properly applied principles of leverage and body mechanics, and not the magical power of Ki.

This phenomenon raises further questions. First, what possesses people to train in such a system of martial arts? Second, what is in the minds of people who already train in such systems and continue to do so after seeing their ‘Master’ embarrassed as Mr. Lampila was in the video?

As for what draws people in the first place, I will cite what scientific skepticism has taught me.

MORE – – –

Bullshido: Martial Arts Magic

Some call it Bullshido: Martial arts tricks like touchless attacks and the Touch of Death.

Brian DunningBy Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

In dojos all around the world, martial arts masters practice mysterious forms of attack. They can kill or render an attacker unconscious with a single touch, or sometimes, with no touch at all.

Bruce Lee, the seminal inspiration for bullshido (Photo credit: Wikimedia)

Bruce Lee, the seminal inspiration for bullshido
(Photo credit: Wikimedia)

The dim mak and kyusho jitsu are just some of the secret techniques reserved only for the masters, that are jealously guarded, and will not be taught to just anyone. Some call these techniques bullshido.

Bullshido is, obviously, a joke term which mocks made-up or exaggerated martial arts claims. Bullshido comes in many forms. The touch of death and the knockout without touching are just a few of the most popular, originally made famous by the stories telling this is how Bruce Lee was killed (in fact he died of cerebral edema after a dinner party, possibly due to a drug interaction). Bullshido also encompasses newly invented martial arts techniques by self-described masters who market themselves as the founders; schools claiming to be too exclusive to let just anyone in (sometimes called McDojos); and claims by instructors of having been taught by various great masters, the missing documentation of which is sometimes explained as being sacred or hidden away in a remote Asian temple.

The many various forms of bullshido have long been criticized by legitimate martial arts practitioners, and dismissed merely as marketing claims intended to attract students to a particular school where one of these supposed masters teaches. blue_hands_on_glass_250pxBullshido practitioners shoot back that such naysayers are merely crying sour grapes because they have not yet learned the secret techniques, or achieved the special level.

The most famous of example of bullshido, which you’ve no doubt seen several times over the past couple of years, involves instructors who claim to have developed a technique of rendering an attacker senseless without actually touching him. The volunteer attackers are always the instructor’s students in these videos. They’ll charge at him one after the other, and as he punches or swipes at the air, they’ll often dramatically fly back as if struck by a train. Every time an outsider volunteers to receive the touchless attack, the instructor either fails with some excuse, or refuses on the grounds that it would be too dangerous.

Danielle Serino

Danielle Serino

Harry Cameron is a martial arts instructor who goes by the moniker “The Human Stun Gun”. Danielle Serino, a reporter on Fox Chicago’s prime time news, decided to check out his claim on her segment Does It Work, Danielle? She watched him knock out some of his students by, basically, what amounted to little more than going up to them and shouting Boo! Danielle got suited up and volunteered to have the Human Stun Gun knock her out without touching her. He refused, saying it would be too dangerous for her, even though she went to the trouble and expense of having a team of paramedics standing by. However he was willing to actually punch her on the side of the head. Even that didn’t have any real effect except to tick her off.

Danielle decided to give him the opportunity to prove his ability on someone he wouldn’t be afraid of hurting, namely, a group of jiu-jitsu athletes from another gym who were not his students. His touchless attacks had no effect on any of them. Predictably, he had an explanation handy: Natural athletes like these students learn to “translate the energy” and are not affected by it. I guess Cameron’s own students are not as enlightened. One red flag waving over Cameron’s head is that he says he was instructed by George Dillman, often cited as one of the great pillars of bullshido.

There’s also a famous YouTube video you may have seen where an elderly martial arts master, Kiai Master Ryukerin, does the same thing to a room full of his students, easily sending them all tumbling with waves of his hand. He offered $5000 to any modern Mixed Martial Arts athlete who could beat him. One guy took him up on it, and in front of Japanese TV cameras, casually beat the poor old guy to a pulp.

It’s actually a little sad, and hard to watch. Did Ryukerin actually believe that he had this power? Was it a mass delusion shared between him and his students, or was it all part of the show, and Ryukerin hoped that his actual martial arts skills would defeat the MMA guy? The only thing we know for sure is that his touchless attack failed.

MORE – – –

Super Bowl XLVIII Was the Super Bowl of Conspiracy Theories

lead_large_600px
By Abby Ohlheiser via The Wire

Is Bruno Mars a secret member of the Illuminati? Let’s look at the evidence.

In the “yes, he is” column, we have the fact that Mr. Mars headlined the 2014 Super Bowl Halftime show, which as everyone knows is a showcase for Illuminati members and their teachings, i.e. most of the celebrities. That’s convincing enough, so we’re not even going to bother to look at the arguments against the obvious conclusion that Mars’s performance was full of proof.

The performance, as Mark Dice explained on Infowars, was “one big sex magic promotion.” Sex magic (or “magik”), of course, refers to the Illuminati practice of harnessing the magic(k!) of sexual arousal to ascend to a different plane of reality, where you can then alter how you experience the world. And Mars was full of Magic(k) last night. Double goes for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who released an entire album called Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Plus, former Chili Pepper Dave Navarro also has a bunch of suspicious tattoos, which proves that he’s at least a Freemason. (The two groups are distinct, but basically serve as the basis for the same conspiracy theories at this point, including ideas about lizard-like humanoids running our government. Maybe that’s why he left the band.)

MORE – – –

Bill Malone presents “Sam the Bellhop”

I am a HUGE fan of magic, especially slight of hand. This is one of the best card tricks i’ve seen in a long while. 🙂

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)


Via ▶ Bill Malone presents “Sam the Bellhop” – YouTube.

Bill Malone’s signature trick. One of the most entertaining card tricks of all time!

David Blaine’s Card Trick Freaks Out Harrison Ford

via Business Insider

Magician David Blaine‘s latest TV special on ABC, “David Blaine: Real or Magic,” had the illusionist hopping from celeb to celeb, dazzling stars like Ricky Gervais, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Kanye with card tricks and other crazy stunts.

But one of the best on-camera reactions came from Harrison Ford.

Ford was speechless when Blaine mysteriously pulled the 71-year-old actor’s card from an orange. He jokingly told Blaine, “Get the f— out of my house!” It’s wonderful.

Watch below:


[END] via Business Insider

Of Elves, Abductions, and fake News Stories

By via The Soap Box

The other day I came across this very strange “news” story on an blog that’s been going around the internet about a Danish anthropologist by the name of Kalena Søndergaard, whom had apparently been abducted and held for seven years in Iceland.

Now normally this would be a tragic and horrible story, except the strange fact that (at least according to author of the story, C. Michael Forsyth) her abductors were elves (read the story here).

That’s right, I said elves.

ELUSIVE, small humanoids live beneath Iceland, a majority of citizens believe. And now scientists believe they may be right!

“ELUSIVE, small humanoids live beneath Iceland, a majority of citizens believe. And now scientists believe they may be right!”
(Source: C. Michael Forsyth)

Obviously I’m skeptical of the story, and for good reason (mostly being that it is ridiculous as hell, and that the story itself written by a horror fiction writer).

Besides the obvious fact that the story was written by a horror fiction writer, and that it just sounds fake, the story itself has no links or references what so ever to show to show that this woman had ever been listed as missing, a major red flag telling that it was fake.

Infact when I did a Google search on her the only thing I could find out about Kalena were just copied and pasted portions of the story (or the whole story in itself) written by C. Michael Forsyth.

The second red flag that shot up for me was the fact that in the story there was information in there about the Homo floresiensis, a diminutive hominid that was very closely related to modern humans, and according to the story was a major part of the woman’s doctoral thesis… about elves and how they might exist.

While I found the information to be interesting, the fact is that it had nothing to do with the story, and seemed to have been added in to attempt to prove that elves exist, or atleast give the possibility that elves exist more credibility.

The third red flag that shot up for me was the photos.

MORE – – –

5 Things I’ve noticed about… Zombies

By via The Soap Box

zombie1118_250pxWell it’s Halloween time and so I decided to do something special and talk about a monster that everyone seems to like these days: Zombies!!!

Zombies are ofcourse the reanimated corpses of people who’s only goal in their new life is to eat other people (preferably living).

Now there are lots of things that I (and I’m sure many others) have noticed about zombies, but I’ve narrowed it down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about zombies:

5. They’re hard to kill.

(Author’s note: before anyone says it, yes I know zombies are technically dead, but because saying that you’re killing them is the simplest term I can come up with when it concerns taking one out, I’ve decided to use that.)

zombie axe head_250pxThanks to movies and television shows many people have been led to believe that zombies are easy to kill, what with many screens of only a few people taking on huge hordes of the undead, I would believe that too. The problem with this is that this is unrealistic (besides the fighting zombies part) and it would actually be pretty difficult to kill a zombie.

I’m sure that everyone knows that you have to destroy a zombie’s brain inorder to kill it (you can cut a zombie’s head and the head will still be alive) but this is not as easy as it sounds because the brain is actually a pretty small target. For most people they would have to get pretty close to someone if they are shooting them inorder to hit their brain, especially if you’re using a pistol or even a shotgun, and if you have a melee weapon, you have to get up close regardless.

Now some people might think that it is okay to fight up close against a zombies because that is how it is often depicted in movies and TV, but infact…

4. People fight them the wrong way.

zombie_shotgun_250pxI know that in movies and on TV that often times battles with zombies are depicted as being up close and personal type of combat, and if you were to fight one or two of them up close there wouldn’t be any problems, but if you were to fight an entire zombie horde… you’re zombie food, because while you might be able to take a lot of them out, unless you can escape as quickly as possible, the zombies will overwhelm you and eat you!

The best way (and safest) to fight zombies is from a distance with a rifle, which is more accurate and has a greater range than a shotgun or a pistol.

Also, being up high (like in a tree) helps as well, just be sure you have a way to escape quickly incase a zombie horde is coming and you have to get out of there.

3. The supernatural explanation for them makes more sense than the viral explanation.

In almost all modern versions of zombies they are most often depicted as becoming member of the undead via a virus of some type, and while this make seem like a rational and logical explanation for why a zombie would exist in the first place, really the old traditional way that a corpse reanimates itself, via voodoo magic, makes more logical sense if you think about it.

MORE – – –
zombie-girl-torso-WIDE copy

10 Ways Magic Tricks Your Brain

By Scott Hillard via Listverse

We all like magic and more importantly we all like to think we can work out magic tricks if we really want to. But as it turns out, even a simple card trick utilizes neuro-scientific principles to trick our brain in ways that we usually can’t consciously control. So what exactly is wrong with our brain? Well nothing really, but years of evolution has left it with traits that leave it wide open to be duped by magic. For example . . .

10 • Focus

sleight-of-hand-magician_200pxMulti tasking is a myth, the human brain simply wasn’t designed to focus on two things at once and magicians take full advantage. Our attention is pulled to one thing in particular due to the ‘moving-spotlight‘ theory. In short, the theory says that our attention is like a spotlight, highlighting one thing while leaving what surrounds it in the dark. When an item or action is within the spotlight the parts of the brain involved in processing it work more efficiently, but anything beyond the spotlight is barely processed at all, at least not by our conscious mind. This allows magicians to pull a sleight of hand right under our noses, as long as something else is drawing our spotlight what happens beyond it, to our brain isn’t happening at all.

9 • Made Up Memories

Screen-Shot-2013-06-17-at-10.21.28-AM_200pxThe ‘misinformation effect’ occurs when information we are given after an event alters our memory of it. For example, a magician asks you to choose a card from the left side of the deck and return it without telling him. Before the razzle-dazzle where he guesses your card he may say something like ‘Now you chose any card you wanted, correct?’ And in the heat of the moment you will say you did. The truth is you were only given the option of the left side of the deck, but the ambiguous comments from the magician alters how you remember the trick, leaving you with a false memory making the trick seem perhaps more incredible than it was.

8 • Predicted Wrong Future

future-ahead_200pxWhen you see a ball get thrown in the air, it comes back down. You’ve a seen it a million times. You know that what comes up must come down and so does your brain. In fact because of something called the ‘Memory-prediction framework’ our brain sometimes remembers certain actions so well, it stops paying close attention because it predicts how they will end. When a ball gets thrown in the air our brain instantaneously recalls memories of similar events and produces an idea of what’s going to happen next, but sometimes it’s wrong. When a magician puts a ball in a cup only to have it disappear when the cup is lifted, we are shocked because what our brain predicted didn’t come true. Our brains often feed us a prediction and convinces us we saw it happen, which leaves us even more shocked when the predicted action didn’t happen at all.

7 • Free Will

free-will_200pxWhen we ‘pick a card, any card’ we are very rarely picking at random, no matter what it seems. It is usually the magician choosing for us, only without our knowledge. In many card tricks the card we apparently choose is ‘forced’ meaning the magician did something, mental or physical, to make us choose exactly what they wanted us to. But our brain will often over look or deny this as an option, in favor of free choice. Our brain simply does not want to believe it was forced and will often omit facts that may indicate that it was, instead jumping fully into the false idea that all choices were all our own.

6 • Filling in The Blanks

Wayne-Alan-magic-show-lady-saw-in-half_200pxThe ‘woman sawed in half trick’ is old enough that most people know the secret. The head we see in one end of the box doesn’t belong to the legs we see at the other. But our brain insists and assumes it does, why? Because our brain is a sucker for continuity. When it sees a head in rough alignment with a set of legs it uses past experience to fill in the blank and tell us that obviously a torso exists between those two body parts. In many magic tricks an object is partially covered, and our brain uses what it CAN see to continue the image and fill in the blank, of course that is exactly what the magician wants.

MORE . . .

Teller Reveals His Secrets

tellheadshotBy Teller via Smithsonian Magazine

In the last half decade, magic—normally deemed entertainment fit only for children and tourists in Las Vegas—has become shockingly respectable in the scientific world. Even I—not exactly renowned as a public speaker—have been invited to address conferences on neuroscience and perception. I asked a scientist friend (whose identity I must protect) why the sudden interest. He replied that those who fund science research find magicians “sexier than lab rats.”

I’m all for helping science. But after I share what I know, my neuroscientist friends thank me by showing me eye-tracking and MRI equipment, and promising that someday such machinery will help make me a better magician.

I have my doubts. Neuroscientists are novices at deception. Magicians have done controlled testing in human perception for thousands of years.

According to magician Teller, "Neuroscientists are novices at deception. Magicians have done controlled testing in human perception for thousands of years." (Jared McMillen / Aurora Select)

According to magician Teller, “Neuroscientists are novices at deception. Magicians have done controlled testing in human perception for thousands of years.” (Jared McMillen / Aurora Select)

I remember an experiment I did at the age of 11. My test subjects were Cub Scouts. My hypothesis (that nobody would see me sneak a fishbowl under a shawl) proved false and the Scouts pelted me with hard candy. If I could have avoided those welts by visiting an MRI lab, I surely would have.

But magic’s not easy to pick apart with machines, because it’s not really about the mechanics of your senses. Magic’s about understanding—and then manipulating—how viewers digest the sensory information.

I think you’ll see what I mean if I teach you a few principles magicians employ when they want to alter your perceptions.

"The magician - TELLER - wordless, miming, frizzy-headed, big-eyed, victim of the universe in general, does really uncanny magic, including pruning a rose by cutting its shadow …" - Joseph Adcock - The Evening Bulletin

“The magician – TELLER – wordless, miming, frizzy-headed, big-eyed, victim of the universe in general, does really uncanny magic, including pruning a rose by cutting its shadow …”
– Joseph Adcock – The Evening Bulletin

1. Exploit pattern recognition. I magically produce four silver dollars, one at a time, with the back of my hand toward you. Then I allow you to see the palm of my hand empty before a fifth coin appears. As Homo sapiens, you grasp the pattern, and take away the impression that I produced all five coins from a hand whose palm was empty.

2. Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth. You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest. My partner, Penn, and I once produced 500 live cockroaches from a top hat on the desk of talk-show host David Letterman. To prepare this took weeks. We hired an entomologist who provided slow-moving, camera-friendly cockroaches (the kind from under your stove don’t hang around for close-ups) and taught us to pick the bugs up without screaming like preadolescent girls. Then we built a secret compartment out of foam-core (one of the few materials cockroaches can’t cling to) and worked out a devious routine for sneaking the compartment into the hat. More trouble than the trick was worth? To you, probably. But not to magicians.

3. It’s hard to think critically if you’re laughing. We often follow a secret move immediately with a joke. A viewer has only so much attention to give, and if he’s laughing, his mind is too busy with the joke to backtrack rationally.

4. Keep the trickery outside the frame. I take off my jacket and toss it aside. Then I reach into your pocket and pull out a tarantula. Getting rid of the jacket was just for my comfort, right? Not exactly. As I doffed the jacket, I copped the spider.

MORE . . .

Top 10 Psychic Debunkings

Via Listverse

james-randi-69James Randi is a stage magician and scientific skeptic best known as a challenger of paranormal claims and pseudoscience. In this list we see 10 of his best psychic debunking (and have a bonus clip of a lecture of his). These are all extremely damning to the practitioners of these magic arts and Randi makes no apologies for his tough approach; in fact he is offering a reward of $1 million to anyone who can demonstrate evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event, under test conditions agreed to by both parties. As of this time, no one has claimed this prize.

10 • Graphology

According to Randi, a large number of European businesses uses graphology (the ability to determine a person’s traits by their handwriting) to help in their hiring process. In this clip, Randi tests a professional graphologist to determine whether they actually do have the ability to recognize certain traits, or whether their results are determined entirely by chance.

9 • Astrology

Astrology is the ability to forecast a person’s life based upon the positions of the stars and other heavenly bodies. In this clip we see a very prolific astrologer giving a reading for a selected person in the audience. The best part of this clip is the series of witty comments at the end made by Stephen Fry. Excuse the sound quality at the start – it does improve.

8 • Psychometry

Psychometry is the ability to determine information about a person through their personal possessions. In the clip above, James Randi sets up a test for a woman claiming to have psychometry abilities. Unfortunately for her, the test did not go well.

7 • Crystal Power

Crystal power is the idea that certain crystals effect a person in a particular way. For this reason they are used for healing and psychic readings. In the test above, a professional crystal healer was tested. This is definitely one of the best clips. Despite the result, the “psychic” took it all very well.

6 • Aura Reading

Aura reading is the ability to see the aura (a field of color that radiates from an object) around people. In this clever test, James Randi has the reader see the auras of 5 people and then has them stand behind a thin wall. The reader then determines where each person is standing behind the wall based on their auras.

5 • Telekenesis

Telekenesis is when a person is able to move objects with the mind. In the 1980s, James Hydrick developed a cult like following due to his abilities. In this clip, we see James Randi debunk him on television. Some years later Hydrick was exposed as a criminal and he confessed his psychic fraud. He admitted that he learnt his trick whilst in jail. I am not sure what he spent time in jail for, but it may well have been crimes against fashion.

MORE . . .

Illusionist David Blaine’s Electrifying Stunt is Shockingly Safe

via LifesLittleMysteries.com

In his latest stunt, illusionist David Blaine plans to make his body a conduit for an electric current flowing between two high-voltage electrodes for three days straight. The magician says he’ll face off with 1 million volts in what he told the Daily News would be his “most dangerous” feat ever, but at least one MIT physicist won’t be losing sleep over Blaine’s safety, saying the trick seems mostly risk-free.

A trailer for the stunt, which is set to begin on Manhattan’s Pier 54 on Oct. 5, shows Blaine standing at the center of a dark room, his mesh bodysuit lit only by two fluttering arcs of electricity emanating from his outstretched arms.

If the teaser gives any indication of what will actually transpire next month, Blaine’s odds of besting death in the trick he calls “Electrified: One Million Volts Always On” are pretty good.

“He has a conducting suit, all the current is going through the suit, nothing through his body,” said John Belcher, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-investigator on a plasma experiment aboard NASA’s Voyager 2 craft. “There is no danger in this that I see. I would do it, and I am 69 years old and risk-averse. I just would have to take a nap.”

(MORE . . . )

Amazing mind reader reveals his ‘gift’

This commercial reveals more truths about how psychics work than maybe the creators intended. Enjoy 🙂

Dave is an extremely gifted clairvoyant who can read the minds of, and divine specific personal information about, people he has just met. This video reveals the magic behind the magic. Will you be amazed?

via Amazing mind reader reveals his ‘gift’ – YouTube.

The miracle of the ball and the glass

I love all things related to slight of hand, magic, mentalism or optical illusions. Can you figure out how this was done? I have my own theory, leave your ideas in the comments section. 🙂

The miracle of the ball and the glass – YouTube.

You’ll Soon No Longer Be Able To Sell Your Magic Spells & Potions On eBay

By via The Consumerist

If you’ve been making a nice living selling get rich quick potions, love spells, or tarot readings on eBay, your days are numbered. After Aug. 30, these are among the items that will no longer be available on the online auction megasite.

eBay recently announced some category changes and removals, and among those getting the boot are

Everything Else: Metaphysical: Psychic, Paranormal > Readings
Everything Else: Metaphysical: Psychic, Paranormal > Spells, Potions
Everything Else: Metaphysical: Tarot Readings

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune, eBay says these changes are just a matter of “discontinuing a small number of categories within the larger Metaphysical subcategory.” These categories were targeted because buyer/seller dispute resolution “often result in issues that can be difficult to resolve.”

We rarely have sympathy for anyone at eBay or PayPal, but we can imagine it’s a bit of a nightmare when someone writes to complain that the “Big Booty Spell” only resulted in a moderately sized derriere.

But you can still eke out a living with your store that sells healing crystals, and lucky charms, as these are “items that have a tangible value for the item itself and may also be used in metaphysical rites and practices.”

via The Consumerist » You’ll Soon No Longer Be Able To Sell Your Magic Spells & Potions On eBay.

Magic, Spells, and Sorcery: High Strangeness, or Hocus-Pocus?

by via Mysterious Universe

It has been an art employed by some of the greatest minds and practitioners of the sciences over the centuries, as well as many of the more nefarious names in history as well. From scholars like Pythagoras in Ancient Greece, to medieval wizards like John Dee and, much later on, the controversial occultist Aleister Crowley, magic has been heralded as a force by which man can connect with the parts of reality beyond which most mortal men could otherwise reach.

By the standards of most today, what we call “magic” involves archaic processes of trying to utilize spells and sorcery–in addition to belief that such things can prove effective–in an effort to change or bend the forces of nature. Due to the perception that such things are indeed remnants of what are now outmoded ways of thought and belief, the idea of using magic for practical purposes today has lost much of its appeal. And yet, there are still many that do act as proponents of the use of ritual magic for bettering their lives, and changing the world around them. Is their belief in such ancient arts completely in vein, or are there elements to the mystery of the modern magi that do make their esoteric practices worthwhile?

Webster’s Dictionary defines magic as “the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” Even while looking up this definition, I began to notice my own preconceptions and biases toward the word all unto itself; immediately, I envision either a corny series of silly images involving spellcasters and sorcerers, or conversely, I’m reminded of the darker perceptions attributed to “black magic” and the dark arts.

Read More: Magic, Spells, and Sorcery: High Strangeness, or Hocus-Pocus? | Mysterious Universe.

Sky News: ‘Magic’ log found in Cambodia

A ‘magical log’ in Cambodia is receiving up to 2000 visitors a day, each hoping to gain some good fortune.

The log was dug out of a pond on a farm in the Pursat province of the country and measures about 13 metres long, Reuters reports.

Word of its ‘magic’ has spread across the country, with visitor numbers increasing dramatically each day.

Some people rub talcum powder on the log, and try and read lottery numbers in the residue on their hands.

Others hope it will bring miracle medical cures.

‘I have pain in my belly, knee joints and all over my body, so I came here to use the holy water and take pieces of wood to put in my drinking water, to treat these kinds of diseases,’ Bou Sang, a resident of nearby Battambang province told Reuters.

Another Battambang province local, Nem Nay, explained to Reuters why he believed the log was magical:

‘What I think is, why does this log not rot, even though it stayed underground for over a hundred years? It is still in such good state, unlike some metals, which would have rusted if it stayed underground for that long. I have never seen such a well-preserved log before, so when I heard the news, a group of villagers and I came to see it straight away’, he said.

There have been no reports of any ‘magical’ results.

Keep Reading: Sky News: ‘Magic’ log found in Cambodia.

%d bloggers like this: