The Mythical Tricks of Magic Meet Psychology

November 27th, 2010 § 3 comments § permalink

Scientific American Mind recently came out with a wonderful article on the use of magic in psychology. In it, they break down some tricks magicians and con artists use to manipulate your mind.

One of my favorite things learned was something I’ll coin TTTNTTSBT. Or, the thing that’s not there that should be there. Basically, the TTTNTTSBT illusion plays with your nerve endings and your touch feedback. A magician in the video (at the end of this post) pushes a coin against the subject’s forehead, then quickly pulls the coin away without her observation. The implant of the nerves on the forehead, tricked by the pressure, still believe that the coin is there, and thus the subject believes the coin is there as well.

The TTTNTTSBT also works for pickpocketing watches: putting casual pressure on the skin above the watch will give the sensation that the watch is still there even after one takes it. But one simply can’t take a watch without distraction first. And that’s the next thing the video explains.

The video explains how as humans, we use what are called mirror neurons to watch what others are paying attention to and pay attention to that instead of what we should be paying attention to. This is classic misdirection, and magicians constantly do this, pretending to pay careful attention to things that they want the audience to pay attention to.

Humor is also used as a distraction, as well as banter, or a constant stream of speech intended to draw the subject’s attention to what you are saying. But the most helpful distraction tip was simply throwing as many things as possible as the subject, to overwhelm their senses. In the clip, the pickpocket is constantly touching the subject in different places, firing up the nerves to get used to this attention grabber, and eventually taking away the attention from the slight brush in the wallet pocket.

Buy the book, Slights of Mind, referenced to in the video and support Lone Iguana.

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Win a Coin Toss by Volunteering to be the Flipper

November 23rd, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

The coin toss is the go-to solution for whenever a decision needs to be left to chance. But according to a study done at the University of British Columbia, it’s much easier to influence the outcome than you’d think. Participants were able to raise their chances of flipping a heads to 68% after just a few minutes of instruction. The technique involves trying for a specific number of flips in the air in order to catch the coin with the preferred side up.

Do the flipping. You need to know which side of the coin starts face up. You’ll be going for a specific number of flips. This is why referees and umpires do the tossing in most sports, while team captains make the call.

Practice. The trick is to flip the coin the same way every time, with the same force behind your thumb. Too many spins and it’s too difficult to repeat; too few and it doesn’t look fair. Three or four flips are ideal.

Win a Coin Toss via Lifehacker

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The Man With The Mask [Everybody's Talking About It]

November 5th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

By now, you may have heard of this guy, and his unbelievable travels from Hong Kong to Canada without proper ID and wearing an intricate mask. I can’t say how he pulled it off without proper identification, but I can tell you about his mask. The mask you see below is pretty fantastic, and it should be. Costing around $700- $1000, and available at several high end costume stores, this thing is intensely realistic.

(Photo: EPA)

SPFX Masks offers a mask quite similar to the one used by this Hong Kong man, which looks realistic enough to convince plenty of people. However, given the large press given to this particular mask, I would opt for a less recognizable one, perhaps this old woman.

This clever rouse might remind you of a story quite similar to this one from another man with another mask from the same source, SPFX Masks.

Keeping in mind the usual disclaimers and all, check out SPFX Masks, take a good look at the masks so that you can stay alert to this fraud, and, if you’ve got enough cash, buy one and see how many people you can fool.

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