Question: Are engineers easier to fool?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by steven.m.choi, Dec 24, 2017.

  1. As a magic hobbyist, I've started to go to Misdirections Magic Shop in San Francisco for my tricks and advice. I got to meet Joe Pon, great guy and very willing to coach on the tricks that you get from him during the lulls in the store.

    I joked about how the only people I normally perform magic to are children, whom I teach on weekends, and my friends, who are engineers, the two demographics magicians have the most trouble with! As I said this, Joe said that children are definitely harder to fool, because it can be harder to misdirect them or manage them or even make them pay attention to the premise of the trick. However, he said that engineers are easier to fool than most people!

    Unfortunately, he was managing customers and other clients at the time, and I had to leave then, so I'm curious and I'd like to hear people's opinions when dealing with engineering-type people who love puzzles and love to solve them. Are engineers easier to fool than most other people? Either by certain misdirections or other methods?

    NOTE: By "engineers", I don't mean "hecklers". I graduated as a mechanical engineer, and it's part of the reason why I got into magic, sending me down the rabbit hole into a Wonderland. Most engineers understand etiquette, letting the magician "do his thing" (though some like to test edge cases by picking the top or bottom card when you spread it out). They'll burn your hands and ignore the presentation and story. They'll shut down their "tells" for mentalism better than most people. When the trick is done, they often don't react; instead, they replay everything in their minds. And if they smell anything suspicious with your hands, they'll be sure to note it.

    Here's what I believe. I firmly believe that this doesn't make them a bad audience to perform to. They also love magic tricks, just differently. They engage with it not to prove you wrong, but because they zero in on the puzzle and sometimes forget the performer; that's just who they are (my friends, anyway). Some of my magic tricks they get suspicious of very easily, but for my tricks that require only a bit of sleight of hand and a very simple and clear performance, they get blown away by it and love it, but then they REALLY insist on seeing it a second time (which I dare not tempt, but they will see it, since they're my friends and I'll be performing it to different people each time). Is this what Joe means when engineers are easier to fool, when the sleight of hand and routines are minimal?

    I'd love to hear your thoughts!
  2. An engineer was the only person who ever figured out how I did Double Cross. He said "I know how you did it. Doesn't mean it wasn't very well done. But I know how you did it."
  3. ok so you have mentioned the 2 hardest types of people to perform magic for....Engineers And Kids..
    oh and below a certain age just see trough it all...

    as for engineers, there are 2 problems:
    1)if you present your trick as a puzzle...then you are in trouble. the other problem is:
    2) if you are performing tricks with several techniques... it WILL be a puzzle in their minds (and this is what the magician is all about...what happens in the audience mind)
  4. I haven't really noticed any difference. I used to perform Doubting Thomas all the time on my fellow engineering students that I would study with and they all seemed to love it and get great reactions. In the No Pressure trailer, the guy who says "Wow, magic is great!" is an engineer (I can't remember what company he works for currently). They all seemed to really enjoy magic and be pleasantly surprised by the effects I showed them so I don't think you will have too much struggle with during performance. Afterwards they make time to process what happened and deduce methods but in the heat of the moment I don't think there is any difference between engineers and any other spectator.
  5. I prefer highly educated audiences, personally. They are easier for me to work with.

    I find as long as you respect their intelligence, don't present it as a puzzle, and give them something interesting to think about in the presentation, they are totally down to engage in the magic.

    A big thing, though, is don't make it about what you can do, either. Don't get up there and basically say, "I can do these things because I'm so super cool". Most of my presentations focus on making someone else the star for the climax, and showing how cool/interesting/amazing the volunteer is. Even when I'm doing everything (like a Smash & Stab), it's still about how the audience is able to guide my choices correctly.

    Any time any audience is more interested in figuring out your method than enjoying the show, there is probably something you can change about your presentation to prevent that.
  6. Engineers are trained to pay attention, test variables and seek cause and effect relationships. There are two ways to approach engineers. The first is to walk them down a path toward a method and then disprove it. This is very well explained in Tamariz's The Magic Way. The second is to provide a presentation that distracts them from doing what they do best. One additional technique is what magicians call time misdirection - the moves are done before the audience even knows what the effect is supposed to be. Great discussion of this in Darwin Ortiz's Designing Miracles. Another weapon is so called "self-working" effects where the methods are well disguised.

    If you look at a lot of John Bannon's card work -- especially Six.Impossible.Things -- he uses a lot of these techniques. Bannon is a patent lawyer. Also, a lot of Jim Steinmeyer's effects appear to work without the magician doing anything.
    steven.m.choi likes this.
  7. The term 'engineering something' exists for a reason. And we DO say we engineer a routine, right? And engineers are SUPPOSED to be able to see through stuff. Come on...
    You can't expect them to get riddled by a simple 21 card trick or something, it is an insult to them. And if you see the level of Maths taught today, you will agree :) :) :)
    They know how to find the underlying logic in magic.
    There are some people who collect clocks and some who make them. Engineers are the latter.
    Josh Mickelson likes this.
  8. Strong MagicHi all! Just in case people were interested in this question in the future, I thought I'd give an update. I managed to snag a copy of "The Magic Way" by Juan Tamariz. I read another thread that has a criticism about it and I haven't gotten to that part yet, but from how the Magic Way is explained in the intro, it seems like it's exactly what I'm looking for to fool analytical engineers.
    In the thread, RealityOne mentioned that "Tamariz' theory is based on his belief that many spectators will look for a method". This is my audience! I love the idea that I'm doing one trick after another, proving them wrong while pretending not to know I'm proving them wrong, until they decide to just enjoy the trick :) I'm looking forward to reading more.

    EDIT: Oh, also, I'm looking into Designing Miracles & Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz.
    RealityOne likes this.

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