Defensive Laymen

James Wise Magic

Elite Member
Dec 28, 2007
1,017
13
Ok this is a problem that I've been having for a long time, I guess it's something I'm going to have to get use to.

This happens all the time especially on my youtube videos but also happens in person. I'll show them an effect and they'll say how they think I did it, I then proceed and tell them that their theory was incorrect and suddenly they get all defensive.

Example: I perform Sean Field's Saw all the time. And everyone knows that the "correct" way to do it is not via a glue stick. Yet people will come up to me and say that I did use one and I'll say that I didn't and they're like, "YOU'RE LYING!!!!! DO YOU REALLY EXPECT US TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ACTUALLY DID THIS FOR REAL! WE'RE NOT DUMB!!!"


I'm just like "...............HUH!!!????? Did I ever say that the trick was real???? NO! I merely just stated that your theory was wrong. There is more than one way to do a trick you know.

Anyone else had a similar expecience??? Idk I can't wrap my head around it. :rolleyes:
 
Nov 7, 2008
295
0
Hofstra Univ.
I usually reply to any guess of the method with "Don't tell me I don't want to know..." It gets the point across that you don't really want to hear their theories.
 
Feb 28, 2008
354
6
What I do when anyone tells me how they think a trick is done is I just agree sarcastically. Even if they're completely wrong.

I think it's a bit harder with geek magic because most people want to believe it's real and gross.
 
Aug 31, 2007
201
0
James let them believe what they want. Don't tell them they are wrong. Leave them always guessing.

Try sarcastically agreeing with them be funny with it too.

I noticed on your Saw video on youtube that you have an annotation saying "I did not use glue stick." I don't think you need to get defensive about it. It might encourage them to keep arguing. Then it turns into a game of who's right and who's wrong. Again let them believe what they want to believe.

Hopefully that helps out.

-Rahat
 
May 3, 2008
1,146
4
Hong Kong
This is actually one of the easier problems of laymen.
I either:
-Agree with them
-Agree sarcastically
-Disagree with them and tell them something way farfetched:
"I think you use a glue stick for that trick"
"close... but not really... Its actually a stick of magic gremlin blood that makes me invunerable to sawing... :D"
 
Don't perform for them, and how would they be aware of the method??

If people understand the method then don't do it, or put on a performance where you simply tell them different ways people do it. Then ask them to feel your neck, prove any way you can.

I'd go with the first one though, if some people understand the methodology then just don't do it.

Then again I don't ever have this problem, also because I don't post youtube videos unless it's for a few people on some critique. I don't need advice from 13 year olds telling me it was to long or that was so leetbbqsauce.
 
Mar 29, 2008
882
2
Hey James,

Hope you are well. This one can be handled by understanding how people think. This isn't a question of method, but almost a case of the "too perfect theory", mixed in with effect selection issues, and understanding your audience. This topic alone could be a book, so I expect you to fill in some gaps here.

This is how it goes - people see an effect that has no connection to it. They see a "look at me" style effect that they don't relate to, so their minds go to method. They come up with a method, and their method is as good as any...because honestly, if they guessed a method...and felt compelled to tell you, it is not the audience mistake, but a misstep you took in the process of entertaining them.

Let's take Sean's saw effect - it is a shock value trick. Not only that, but because we know that it is impossible...and not the "oh my gosh that is impossible" type of an effect, but truly impossible in the sense you would be dead, decapitated, or a government experiment type of impossible - their minds go to method. Vernon said something along the lines of this, "knowing that something was done, is as bad as knowing exaclty what was done" because the focus is on method and their minds percieve an out. GOOD MAGIC LEAVES NO OUTS - IN METHOD, PLOT, the entire thing must looks like magic...but still be possible.

For example, I find bill flloats in close up, not in parlour or stage, will not get good responses - because people know their is a string...they don't think...wow, this guy has the power to float things. Ammar says in the book "Switch" that he realizes people won't believe it is magic, but if they question their senses that it is a moral victory - and I think this is true. People don't think it floats, so their is no magic - because it defies what they know.

However, much other magic, despite our knowledge can look impossible, because even though we know it is impossible, no method can explain it...at least not a commonly known one. Which is why ACR can be so deceptive, despite the simple method. It looks moveless. Nothing a layperson knows can explain it.

Strong magic has to entertain, but it also has to look like magic would - or why are you a magician?

It sounds to me like your effect selection is poor, if you are getting these responses on your Youtube videos and in real life - it could also be that you aren't connecting with your audiences and giving a reason for the magic to happen.

Their is a big difference in the audiences mind in seeing an effect as a trick, and seeing it as a show piece that has justification or a connection to them. This is part of what makes magic an art form - it is not just the deception, but the value of the experience to the audience.

Another way to look at it is like a friend of mine named Andrew Musgrave states, it like this - What superpower are you claiming, and does the method support it? So you are claiming in Saw you can pull a thread through your neck? Does the method back it up? In SAW this is a resounding "no" - listen to your audiences.

The too perfect theory, in short, is a theory that states that an effect can be designed in such that it leads people to one theory, and that is the correct one.

You need to take into consideration many things in magic - not all tricks are good.

This is one of the reasons I can do MANY different coin effects, but 4 professionally...or that some of my favourite card effects to do for me...will never meet the eyes of an audience. You have to think about what it is you are showing them - it has to fool them, and if it isn't...well, you aren't a magician if you don't.

At the basic level - our job is to fool - we then go from there.

I could go forever on this, but I won't - let me know if this helps. In short, if someone calls you on an effect - you either flashed, the method wasn't strong enough, you aren't performing it in a way that allows the audience to take their mind off method - or a combination.

With Saw - it is the middle reason - trust me...and I love Sean.

Good luck with the magic, hope this helps.
 
Mar 29, 2008
882
2
One more thing - not to be a dick - but all the above suggestions would lead you down a bad path. It is this kind of advice, and young minded approaches to honest feedback, that makes people hate magic.

So, if you are in math class...and your teacher makes a mistake and you correct him, how would you feel if he spoke to your sarcastically or dismissed your feedback?

When the audience sees through the illusion, it is YOUR fault, NOT theirs. Don't perfom magic mal-practice by be-littling them. You do tricks...you are not superior because of it? Get that through your head.

- Leave them guessing? How about making it so their is nothing to guess?

- Agree with them sarcasitcally? How about thanking them for the feedback on your show, and using it to improve?

- Don't tell me, I don't want to know? Might as well say, "I am not trying to improve or hear how you feel..I do magic for ME pal"!

I want to state for anyone reading this thread - this advice is not only bad, it is what creates a hate for magic. Imagine seeing an effect in the audience, and you go to the magician and say, "I think I saw through that illusion" - IN OTHER WORDS - BUDDY, YOU DID YOUR JOB POORLY, I WANTED TO EXPERIENCE MAGIC AND I NOTICED YOU HAD GLUE ON YOUR NECK! NOT SO GOOD.

You should be saying SORRY I RUINED IT FOR YOU - instead, a brush off or an ignorant remark - how about removing your ego for a moment to remind yourself why you do magic? I bet you guys are the same ones that say, "I do magic to make people feel wonder", when the only thing they wonder is if all magic sucks as bad as yours?

Okay, maybe I was a bit harsh there - two wrongs don't make a right - but if you get upset at what I said, remember...these harsh remarks were meant to help you...as apparently the kind ones blew right past you and were mistreated.

Good luck.
 
Ok this is a problem that I've been having for a long time, I guess it's something I'm going to have to get use to.

This happens all the time especially on my youtube videos but also happens in person. I'll show them an effect and they'll say how they think I did it, I then proceed and tell them that their theory was incorrect and suddenly they get all defensive.

Example: I perform Sean Field's Saw all the time. And everyone knows that the "correct" way to do it is not via a glue stick. Yet people will come up to me and say that I did use one and I'll say that I didn't and they're like, "YOU'RE LYING!!!!! DO YOU REALLY EXPECT US TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ACTUALLY DID THIS FOR REAL! WE'RE NOT DUMB!!!"


I'm just like "...............HUH!!!????? Did I ever say that the trick was real???? NO! I merely just stated that your theory was wrong. There is more than one way to do a trick you know.

Anyone else had a similar expecience??? Idk I can't wrap my head around it. :rolleyes:

It's your own fault for baiting the response. If someone thinks they know the "secret move" and you tell them that it's not that specific move but something else, but you won't say what, they are going to call you out. It's a classic middle school mind game! Come on man.

If they call you out on a trick, and are trying to be snotty about it, don't reply. Don't give them anything. Shrug your shoulders and say "If you say so." If you have to say anything at all.

If they are trying to be helpful, just thank them. Don't go further than that. Morg has a point. It's not their fault you failed to connect with them. It's yours.

They are giving you static because they don't respect you as a performer. So why give them any amunition? If you don't feed them they will eventually back off you.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Jul 13, 2009
1,372
0
31
Eh.. I should've just been straight up with you.

If you they think they know the method then you just tanked it. Listen to morgician, he said what I didn't feel like saying.

*notes this and waits till after boot*



But anyway I would of thanked the guy for the reality check and then produce my pencil for class. But IMO the response you gave kind of hurt you even more because you hinted to your audience that there is methods to magic and not only one method as well.
But that is just what I got from you original post, anyway Morgician and Will hit all the nails on the head to close this coffin. I just like coming back and hitting them with my own opinion hammer just in case, no need for zombies.
Now I am rambling and that means I am sleep deprived gnight.
 
Mar 6, 2008
1,483
3
A Land Down Under
Just a few points that I would like to add. The first is trying to build rapport with your spectators if they come up with a 'method' no matter how stupid or impractical it is. They should be praised for lateral thinking a simple "that would be one way to do it", should suffice. The second is you mention in your video I do not use a glue stick you are creating an idea that, that would be one way to to the method or maybe not a glue stick but something similar like the actual method.

Finally the real question is who is being overly defensive to the point of being offensive them or you.
 
Feb 27, 2008
2,342
1
31
Grand prairie TX
Ok this is a problem that I've been having for a long time, I guess it's something I'm going to have to get use to.

This happens all the time especially on my youtube videos but also happens in person. I'll show them an effect and they'll say how they think I did it, I then proceed and tell them that their theory was incorrect and suddenly they get all defensive.

Example: I perform Sean Field's Saw all the time. And everyone knows that the "correct" way to do it is not via a glue stick. Yet people will come up to me and say that I did use one and I'll say that I didn't and they're like, "YOU'RE LYING!!!!! DO YOU REALLY EXPECT US TO BELIEVE THAT YOU ACTUALLY DID THIS FOR REAL! WE'RE NOT DUMB!!!"


I'm just like "...............HUH!!!????? Did I ever say that the trick was real???? NO! I merely just stated that your theory was wrong. There is more than one way to do a trick you know.

Anyone else had a similar expecience??? Idk I can't wrap my head around it. :rolleyes:

If any laymen ever throws out a theory at me
I say "that would be one way to do it,yes..."
They always leave puzzling. Its short,sweet,non threatening and mysterious.
 
Mar 29, 2008
882
2
I think when people state that, it is an interesting time to grow and learn.

I ask, what made you say that? Did you see me do something? How did you figure it out?

This kind of honest questioning allows you to understand the nature of the beast. If they say, "well, I saw you slip the coin out of your hand"...then you know practice is the answer. If they say, "I didn't see anything, I just figured that is how it was done" - then you realize that it may be the construction of the effect. Ask what moment they thought that, and this gives you a chance to add more barriers around the method, or part of the effect, that is weak.

When I performed Trident by Richard Sanders (bill in sealed pack of gum) I would sometimes have people back track and say, "he must have switched the rip piece of my bill) as they knew how impossible finding a bill in a sealed pack of gum was. Addressing this comment allowed me to add the sequence of allowing them to "rip it off" by ripping it and switching it, but holding the switched piece on wiht my thumb so they could grab it and do the final tearing. At the end, I could honestly state, you ripped the piece off yourself, which killed the idea of a corner switch.

I find it hilarious how many of you are dancing around the subject by using lines to shut down a coversation. Oddly, the more seasoned I get in magic, the less I get people trying to figure it out.

When you pick effects that their methods are so solid, people give in to the moment. The odd part with this idea is, it takes no more or less practice - it just takes an eye that is HONEST. Think like an audience member - they all want to know HOW - so when you see something, learn something...look and ask yourself how. If you can see through it...not with the knowledge of a magician, but with common sense...GUESS WHAT? They can.

If someone is stabbing at method, but way off, I will ask them why they want to know? Again, this opens up learning opportunities for you, how LUCKY are you that audience members want to help you!! FEEDBACK IS A GIFT!

I swear to you - the person magicians fool the most is themselves - they really believe that they are untouchable. Remember guys...in the end...we just do tricks, if you take yourself less serious, it is amazing how much more serious your audiences will take you.
 

Mike.Hankins

creator / <a href="http://www.theory11.com/tricks/
Nov 21, 2009
435
0
Sacramento, Cali
Well, I will say that when a spectator thinks they know a method that I used for an effect...I will say "No actually what I did was outjog the selection then I did a spread pass after the spread pass I used a snap DL followed by a strike second."

Notice there are no commas. lol...I say it so fast, it ends up confusing them and more times then not, they wont say anything anymore to me...lol

Me and Dan Hauss were at a local hangout near his crizib...and I was watching him do some card stuff to random people. He would have the selection put back in the middle and looking right into their face, he would ask, "Do you know what a pass is?" (As he executed the pass)...They say "What?" and he just continues on...lol

Ok, Bye...

Mike
 
Oct 29, 2009
971
0
Just around
Me and Dan Hauss were at a local hangout near his crizib...and I was watching him do some card stuff to random people. He would have the selection put back in the middle and looking right into their face, he would ask, "Do you know what a pass is?" (As he executed the pass)...They say "What?" and he just continues on...lol

Ok, Bye...

Mike
That is awesome. So good.
 
Feb 27, 2008
2,342
1
31
Grand prairie TX
Me and Dan Hauss were at a local hangout near his crizib...and I was watching him do some card stuff to random people. He would have the selection put back in the middle and looking right into their face, he would ask, "Do you know what a pass is?" (As he executed the pass)...They say "What?" and he just continues on...lol

Ok, Bye...

Mike

Thats funny.Really good one. I should try it sometime.
 

Luis Vega

Elite Member
Mar 19, 2008
1,806
223
36
Leon, Guanajuato Mexico
luisvega.com.mx
well...once in a while (like 1 every 100 performances) I found an spectator that has a lot of imagination and can figure out a trick exactly how it´s done...and it´s not my fault...it just happens

anyway I didn´t care I just say "awesome...I didnt know you could do it like that" and just carry on...it actually depends on how an spectator calls you out, if he is friendly or if he is defensive will change the way how you react...
 
Well, I will say that when a spectator thinks they know a method that I used for an effect...I will say "No actually what I did was outjog the selection then I did a spread pass after the spread pass I used a snap DL followed by a strike second."

Notice there are no commas. lol...I say it so fast, it ends up confusing them and more times then not, they wont say anything anymore to me...lol

Me and Dan Hauss were at a local hangout near his crizib...and I was watching him do some card stuff to random people. He would have the selection put back in the middle and looking right into their face, he would ask, "Do you know what a pass is?" (As he executed the pass)...They say "What?" and he just continues on...lol

Ok, Bye...

Mike

Funny Mike I do that same stuff all the time actually. Wierd....
 
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