Card up someone's sleeve
August 30, 2011

The Real Secret of Magic

"How'd you do it?" That's the one question we magicians aren't ever supposed to answer. Well, I thought I'd make an exception and tell you how magic is really done. Yes, really. For starters, the hand is not quicker then the eye, it's not all done with mirrors, and there is (almost) never anything up my sleeve. Magic uses physics, chemistry, optics, psychology and more, but those are not the real secrets either.

The real secret  comes down to managing information and assumptions. I know that doesn't sound like much, but this is extremely powerful. If I can successfully manage the information people have and influence their assumptions, I can make anything seem to happen. Anything. Let me explain how it works.

First, I carefully control the information I make available to my audience. If I share everything that's really happening, there's no magic. I share what I want them to know, and hold other information back. This forces them to fill in the blanks of what they don't know.

People have to interpret the information they have and fill in the blanks left by the information they don't have. If people interpret the information they have correctly, they'll understand what's really happening. For me to make magic, I have to keep that from happening. That's where the assumptions come in. If I can influence people to make false assumptions, they will misinterpret what is happening. The real power of this technique is that when it's done properly, most people don't even realize they've made any assumptions at all.

I use this technique to entertain. However, there are people who use it differently--both for good and evil. For example, armies use this technique to fool the enemy. It has also been abused by con artists, psychics, mediums, faith healers, and more.

In life, we never operate with complete information. We have to interpret the limited information we do have through our assumptions. If our assumptions are correct, we'll correctly interpret the information we do have. However, if our assumptions are wrong, then we'll come to the wrong conclusion. In the context of a magic show, incorrect assumptions are harmless. In other areas of life, they can potentially have catastrophic consequences.

What are the assumptions we use to live our lives? What are they based on? Do we stick with what others have taught us? Do we pick something that "feels right" and hope for the best?

Only God never makes assumptions. Because he knows everything, he doesn't need to fill in the blanks, or work with limited information to figure out what's happening. God is the only solid foundation there is. If we don't want to be deceived about the things that really matter, we must base our assumptions on God and his Word.

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