The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Abracadabra! It's All You!

I don't know how many other extremely amateur magicians (or amateurs or professionals) like myself are kicking around out there, but if there aren't please allow me to let you in on the way I think regarding magic illusions.

If I watch a magician do a trick and I think it's cool, I'll try to figure out how he or she did it. The way to do that is to re-watch the act and check out what they're doing with their hands, note the misdirection they used, and see if you can catch any "moves". The big thing, however, that I do when I'm watching a great magician like Copperfield, Burton, Angel, or Blaine is to start by noting what I'm not seeing.

Let's say you're watching Criss Angel and you just saw him do the GutBuster illusion (he shoves his arm right through a dude - watch the preview video on the link). I'd start by saying to myself, "Ok, so obviously he didn't just actually shove his arm through a guy." After we get the really blatant stuff out of the way, then you can start to analyze what might be going on - not that you'll figure it out, but at least it's a start.

That reasoning is why when I see an article like this one from The Independent, my initial reaction is, "well, duh". I've seen this article on several other websites with great commentary, but when I read the piece all I could think was that, yeah, of course religious "miracles" were due to something like drug use because it's obvious to normal people that "mystical" experiences, well, aren't. They are simple altered states of consciousness with a previously unknown source.

"One third (of the 30 volunteers involved) described the experience with psilocybin as the single most spiritually significant of their lifetimes and two thirds rated it among their five most meaningful experiences." Yes, that's only 10 people, but still, to have the single most amazing thing in your entire life happen during an experiment with a psychedelic drug is fairly enlightening. This test seems quite like Dr. James E. Whinnery's near-death experience tests in the centrifuge that showed how NDE's could be reproduced on-demand with stunning accuracy.

Sadly for NDE survivors and true religious believers, you will likely never be able to convince them that what they felt, saw, or experienced was a part of them, was in their heads and because of that, what happened is so much more interesting. For some people, that arm is actually passing through the guy with no pain or marks on the body afterward - only the supernatural "explanations" will be acknowledged.

Booooo on that mindset. It's going to get us killed.

5 Barbaric Yawps:

At 12/7/06 9:26 pm, Anonymous Melissa said...

Love you babe, and it's "amateur". :)

As for magic tricks, Chad ruined me for life one day in the biology lab with those damned sponge balls....

 
At 12/7/06 11:46 pm, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

Thanks, Sugar;) "Amateur" corrected - stupid brain is thinking of what I'm going to write instead of how to spell what I'm typing.

I blew a student intern's mind the other day when I did the "invisible deck" trick for her. May have actually caused her brain damage. It was great.

 
At 13/7/06 9:49 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ooh, ooh, can I join in? It's "independent". It's even in their url.

Love the rants, by the way.

 
At 13/7/06 11:38 am, Blogger BigHeathenMike said...

I never seem to learn. Brain is thinking, hands are typing, brain sounds out "in-de-pen-dant" and types just that. Do I bother to check the fucking URL? No. Do I read the banner at the top of the article to check? No, of course not.

Thanks for the correction, but I'm not calling you "Sugar" as I barely know you and that would make me feel like a bit of a bus-station skank (especially if you're a dude).

Glad you like the rantings! Make sure to check back, in particular, this Thursday for the Skeptic's Circle!

 
At 13/7/06 2:28 pm, Blogger The Magic Utopian said...

Hello! Nice Blog.

The best way to view magic is while on mushrooms.

Only kidding....or am i?

Best regards,
Magic Utopia

 

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