Actual facial/body reading and ressources

Nov 22, 2016
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I have been looking into body language a lot and facial cues in particular. When it comes to facial cues and eye reading a lot of what I run into is classic NLP stuff, which according to most studies I've seen is more or less miscredited. This actually is interesting in itself in that on the one hand this is rejected in the academic field and on the other hand it's mentioned by Derren Brown and others as a central element - although only one part and a tricky one.
I have read some of the work of Banachek and Jerome Finley which includes some body and facial reads. Though even with these guys it's still limited. I'd like to hear from other, and/or start a discussion of where one could go in terms of finding more information about the actual physical reads - as contrasted to employ these as a disguise for the actual trick.
 
Nov 22, 2016
10
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My interested is partly inspired by performers doing simple routines like guessing which number of a dice a subject has chosen - routines where the techniques seems to be exactly what it's presented as: reading the subject.
 

RealityOne

Elite Member
Nov 1, 2009
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Force a card to a spectator. Then try to guess it by asking them red or black. Watch their facial cues. Then Hearts or Diamonds (or Spades or Clubs) and then number or picture card and then run through the numbers or face cards. You know what the card it but it gives you a good opportunity to see what recognition cues actually work. Actually telling them to try to keep a "poker face" makes it more obvious because they will consciously act to try and conceal their thoughts.

Force a card and pick four of them out of the deck. Show the spectator each card and have them tell you that it isn't their card even if it is. Do similar tricks that have the spectator lie to you.

Experience is the best teacher.
 
Nov 22, 2016
10
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Thanks for your input. I have actually thought about this approach, and also tried it out a bit. I think you are certainly right in that experience can't be replaced. I am very interested in further materials on the topic though.
 

Josh Burch

Elite Member
Aug 11, 2011
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The two places that come to mind are Cog, Oculus, and Sherlockian.

The first is a limited run book. It was available through Ellusionist in a limited run. A sequal is coming out soon.

Oculus is a less reliable idea that can be applied to many routines. It is available at Penguin magic.

Sherlockian is a DVD set that has multiple effects. Some use actual reading, Sherlock style, some do not.

Outside of magic I enjoy Janine Driver's material. She is a human lie detector. Her stuff is hard to apply to a magic effect but it gives solid background to body reading.

I have something of my own that I use all the time that relies on body language as a method. I'll PM you with details.
 
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Jun 26, 2016
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Im not sure how much it would help with magic.
But I really found 'What every BODY is saying' an interesting read. It's filled with pictures too which helped understand the material better.
Hope this helps!
 
Nov 22, 2016
10
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Im not sure how much it would help with magic.
But I really found 'What every BODY is saying' an interesting read. It's filled with pictures too which helped understand the material better.
Hope this helps!
Thanks for your input too. I have read most of this book and agree that it's good. Might actually look at it again. I have looked into multiple books though that fall into the same category as this one in terms of what is described. That's why I'm now looking for things about face/eyes, which I find interesting and which might more readily be used in a context of performing tricks.
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
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FACS - Facial Action Coding System. Paul Ekman's work on microexpression and facial reading.

The thing with eye cues is that not everyone is super consistent across the board. You have to calibrate to each subject on a case by case basis. You also have to be paying close attention because it's the first thing their eyes do. So they may look one way to form a picture in their head, but then look another way because now they are looking at the picture or thinking about how the picture makes them feel.
 
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Nov 22, 2016
10
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It's interesting that you mention FACS. I have read up on it and I have attended a 3 hour seminar once just getting an intro to the topic. Since then however I have seen a lot of hard critique of this, for instance one study found that in their entire recorded video material there were very few occurrences of microexpressions.

Your other point is interesting too. I have thought myself that maybe the NLP ideas on eye motion patterns are getting too hard of a critique because they are tested without consideration of the individual element. But even if the idea is to spot a pattern with the specific subject this still seems very difficult to me. I have seen diverse clips of effect where the performer (seemingly) looks for a reaction, for instance by mentioning numbers 1-6 and guessing the thought of number. But even close up and slowing these down I seem to find that some subjects simple don't have an eye-tell. This might just be me not looking close enough or the movement happening too fast. Maybe eye-patterns are more useful for certain thoughts, and other body reading elements are more useful for guessing a number for instance.
 
Dec 6, 2015
110
92
Canada
The two places that come to mind are Cog, Oculus, and Sherlockian.

The first is a limited run book. It was available through Ellusionist in a limited run. A sequal is coming out soon.

Oculus is a less reliable idea that can be applied to many routines. It is available at Penguin magic.

Sherlockian is a DVD set that has multiple effects. Some use actual reading, Sherlock style, some do not.

Outside of magic I enjoy Janine Driver's material. She is a human lie detector. Her stuff is hard to apply to a magic effect but it gives solid background to body reading.

I have something of my own that I use all the time that relies on body language as a method. I'll PM you with details.



I'd be interested in the details too if that'd be alright! I've been engrossed with Atlas Brookings' material for the longest time and would love to be able to further look into these kinds of topics.
 

Josh Burch

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Aug 11, 2011
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Just for some context, Janine Driver worked with Paul Ekman. They were both consultants for Lie to Me. I find her work to be less dry than Eckman's.
 
Nov 22, 2016
10
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Another thing struck me, and maybe someone has experience with this: in testing out these things it might only be valid as long as the subject doesn't know what you're looking for and even if they don't it might only work a certain number of times. I'm thinking a) if they know what you're looking for they might be too conscious about this, for instance eye movements, and b) after doing it a number of times they might get into a routine and get used to it so it doesn't feel like 'lying' or whatever effect entails. But again will probably show after some actual practise, just thoughts for now.

Will look more into Janine Driver. Regarding Ekman and micro expressions this thread has a lot of information, which seems to be from a knowledgeable source
https://www.reddit.com/r/askscience/comments/1en9bc/is_there_any_solid_scientific_evidence_that/
 

WitchDocIsIn

Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
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You're going to have trouble with video unless it's really high quality video. Sometimes the movements are very small and fast. I tend to use methods more like what's in Cog than pure eye cues.
 
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