Lovely short film about the joys of performing magic

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Denver-based street magician Edward Hammond is the subject of this charming short by John Allen that explores magic without focusing on the tricks themselves. Read the rest

Using Benjamin Franklin's behavioral economics maxim in magic

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When Benjamin Franklin wanted someone to like him, he'd ask that person to do him a favor, because he noticed that people who'd done him a nice turn would rationalize this by assuming that they'd done so because they liked him, and so they'd continue to do him other favors in the future based on that affection. Read the rest

Mighty Jack: a new series from Ben "Zita the Spacegirl" Hatke

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Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl trilogy was one of the best kids' comics of the new century (and it's headed to TV!), and he's been very productive in the years since, but his new series, Mighty Jack feels like the true successor to Zita: a meaty volume one that promises and delivers all the buckle you can shake a swash at, with more to come.

How to make your own magic "forcing pad"

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"Svengali pads," are magic props that, like a Svengali deck of cards, selectively shaves down alternating leaves so that a performer can seemingly riffle all the pages but only display every second page. Read the rest

Using card tricks to find the truth about Trump

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Magicpeacelove writes, "Magician Ben Seidman wields his cards with elan to nail down the facts about why Trump would be such a great leader." Read the rest

The spores of club moss have magical powers

Lycopodium powder, made from dry spores of clubmoss plants, is used by magicians and special effects artists as flash powder (aka "dragon's breath"), as a lubricant on latex gloves and condoms, and of course to do the impressive science experiments seen in the video above.

"In physics experiments and demonstrations, lycopodium powder is used to make sound waves in air visible for observation and measurement, and to make a pattern of electrostatic charge visible," according to Wikipedia. "The powder is also highly hydrophobic; if the surface of a cup of water is coated with lycopodium powder, a finger or other object inserted straight into the cup will come out dusted with the powder but remain perfectly dry."

You can purchase an inexpensive supply from Amazon: Lycopodium Powder

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Iceland's powerful Elf Lobby wins fight to unearth Elfin Lady Stone buried by construction workers

An elf door leans against a rock in the Icelandic countryside outside the village of Selfoss October 1, 2006. Belief in the unseen runs so high in Iceland that the Public Roads Administration sometimes delays or reroutes road construction to avoid what locals believe are elf habitat. 2006. REUTERS

Bowing to intense pressure from elves and the people who believe in them, the government of Iceland will unearth a purportedly magical “Elfin Lady Stone” buried by highway workers by mistake. The inadvertent burial of their sacred site seriously pissed off the mythical creatures, according to reports.

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New Age shop won't sell magic wands to Harry Potter fans

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Richard Carter, proprietor of Mystical Moments, Huddersfield, England's New Age supply shop, does not permit Harry Potter fans to purchase his handmade magic wands. Carter says he is selling "spiritual tools," not toys. Carter, who reportedly fashions the wands under supernatural control, tells The Telegraph:

"JK Rowling has obviously done her research but Harry Potter is for children. It has done nothing for business.... You wouldn't believe how many real witches and wizards there are knocking about. You would be amazed. They know they can come here in reveal themselves without people thinking they're mental...

If I had someone come in wanting a wand just because they liked Harry Potter I would not sell them one, not matter how much money they were offering....I can tell what people are like when they walk in by their aura."

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Feast your eyes on Handsome Jack and his new book

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If you don't know who Handsome Jack is, let me get you up to speed.  He is perhaps the most famous male model in the world - and has made the time to be a world class magician.  Read the rest

Handless magician fools Penn & Teller

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MagicPeaceLove writes, "The word 'inspiring' gets thrown around a lot but my pal Mahdi Gilbert (previously) really deserves it. Read the rest

Scientist uses magic (and psychology) to implant thoughts and read minds

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In a new scientific study, McGill University researcher Jay Olson combined stage magic with psychology to make people think that an fMRI machine (actually a fake) could read their minds and implant thoughts in their heads. Essentially, Olson and his colleagues used "mentalist" gimmicks to do the ESP and "thought insertion" but convinced the subjects that it was real neuroscience at work. The research could someday help psychologists study and understand why some individuals with mental health problems think they are being controlled by external forces. Vaughan "Mind Hacks" Bell blogged about Olson's research for the British Psychological Society. From Vaughan's post:

(The subjects) reported a range of anomalous effects when they thought numbers were being "inserted" into their minds: A number “popped in” my head, reported one participant. Others described “a voice … dragging me from the number that already exists in my mind”, feeling “some kind of force”, feeling “drawn” to a number, or the sensation of their brain getting “stuck” on one number. All a striking testament to the power of suggestion.

A common finding in psychology is that people can be unaware of what influences their choices. In other words, people can feel control without having it. Here, by using the combined powers of stage magic and a sciency-sounding back story, Olson and his fellow researchers showed the opposite – that people can have control without feeling it.

"Using a cocktail of magic and fMRI, psychologists implanted thoughts in people's minds" (BPS)

"Simulated thought insertion: Influencing the sense of agency using deception and magic" (Consciousness and Cognition)

Illustration by Rob Beschizza Read the rest

Get yourself thrown out of this show, if you can

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In & Of Itself is a personal gift to us from the most honest man alive.

How to perform a magic gimmick in a way that astounds

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For many years, Tenyo's clever "self-performing" magic gimmicks have been a delight to amateur magicians and a bugaboo of professionals, who sneered at them as being obvious, hackneyed and, well, gimmicky. Read the rest

Make your own fortune telling fish

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Ah, the magic fortune telling fish! If it curls one way, you are certainly one sort of person! If it curls the other, you are another! Magic, right?

We've spent the morning making our own fortune telling shapes! All you need is some cellophane.

How does it work? I always thought it was body heat, but this simple morning distraction taught both my daughter and I that cellophane is hygroscopic! The sodium polyacrylate that cellophane is made of seeks out water, and as it absorbs even trace amounts -- like from the palms of our hands -- the molecules start changing shapes! The fish starts writhing around!

Cutting out your own is a lot of fun, but lacks the cool packaging of the traditional!

Hygloss Cello Sheets, 8.5 by 11-Inch, 48-Pack via Amazon

The Magic Fortune Telling Fish (pack of 10) via Amazon Read the rest

Magic: Conjurers' audiences are most suspicious of extra effort

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The Jerx (previously) gave an audience at a magic show an app that let them tap when their suspicions were aroused.

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Watch Noel Heath's hypnotic card manipulations

The video is titled "Gothenburg Shuffle." See more on Noel Heath's Instagram.

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Japanese Magician Does Crazy Stuff with Credit Cards

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I’ve known Tomohiro Maeda since he was a teenager.

For a period he was well-known in Japan for his many two-hour television specials doing mostly card tricks for famous celebrities seated around a small table. It takes a great magician to keep the high-and-mighty seated for two hours with nothing more than a deck of cards. Above is a good example of one of his recent TV shows in which they also analyzed the brain during the performance of magic (even though it’s in Japanese, you’ll understand the magic tricks with little problem).

Tomohiro Maeda now writes life-style articles for magazines while continuing to perform magic at high-priced private events and he recently made a TV commercial for a Japanese credit card company.

And they also released a behind-the-scenes video.

I think we all wish we could do magic with our credit cards rather than be indebted to them.

Via Hey Presto! Read the rest

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