Magic Tricks

If you have recently been to a magic show, you probably left the scene with an O face. Days later you couldn’t figure out how the magician performed his magic and that means you have witnessed a successful show. Magicians first started to appear in the 18th century, but magic has been there long before that. Some people still believe that magic is real and after seeing a great show you may change your mind too. There are professional illusionists who are so proficient in their performance and their tricks border on actual, real, fairy like magic. Still, if you stop and think about it, the laws of physics rule the world around us, so logical explanation must exist behind every rabbit created out of thin air. The main purpose is to enjoy the show of course, but if you want to become a magician, magic school, lots of practice, secrecy and a positive mind will help you get there.


Quick Magic History Lesson

For centuries, Persians and Greeks have been in war. Persians have had priests called magosh, the Greeks called them magi and the word magic is derived from there. At the time, these priests were known to read the stars, foretold the future accordingly and manipulate it to help their imperators in battles. Even though they were founders of alchemy and astrology before and during the Hellenic period, the first recorded magic trick is old as Alexander the Great’s father. His name was Philip II and his army was called the Macedonian phalanx. This army was made of professional soldiers, trained and proficient in executing many maneuvers unknown to the rest of the world. Their primary weapon was an 18 foot double pointed pike, called Sarissa. In close encounters this weapon was very useless, but in long range battles it created an effective illusion because it was carried in the most efficient way. The first five rows of the army carried this weapon, and they were holding it pointed against the enemy. In the ancient battlefield, the enemy couldn’t figure out that the weapon was actually 18 feet long, so the phalanx soldiers had their opponents at a safe distance. By the time the opponent got close, their first five rows were executed with artless 18 foot sticks. Philip II and Alexander the Great managed to conquer vast ancient territories from the Himalayas to the Ionian Sea with the help of this optical illusion. Another proven magic trick was the Trojan horse. This wooden horse was designed by the Greeks as present for the Trojans to symbolize the laying down of arms. Instead, they hid their selected soldiers inside and gave away their gift to enter the Trojan gate. After that, the city of Troy was defeated. Since then, magic tricks have become a lot more complex, but then again, so have we. Nowadays, business negotiations require the use of deceiving strategies, but for now we’ll talk about standard magic tricks and whether or not they’re real.

How Magic Tricks are done?

We live in a century where everything is possible. We would all like to believe that magic is possible too. It would be nice to have a fairy godmother that grants you wishes and a golden fish that talk. How great would it be if you could really disappear from somewhere and magically appear elsewhere? You could avoid many awkward situations, fast forward your travel and put criminal offenses in the past. Unfortunately, none of that is really possible. One by one, magicians’ tricks are being revealed and soon we will live in a society where tricks will actually be just for kids. The truth is, even if a magician tells you how his trick is done, you won’t notice when he does it. Their job is to trick you, so it depends on how much they practiced their trick before they tried it on you. There are magic tricks you can learn to perform yourself and with a little practice you can be the clown at your son’s birthday party. If you’ve watched America’s Got Talent, there was a magician who changed his assistant outfits a dozen times in 2 minutes. He did all that without touching her. They walked around the stage, laid colorful fabric around her to hide her body from the audience, while she undresses really, really, really fast. That kind of trick must have been trained for months to seem like she magically changes her dresses. If it wasn’t on the talent show and you’ve watched live, you could’ve thought they really are a supernatural couple. At some point during their act, you can’t believe she can change clothes so fast and from that angle, but that is why they are called magicians. You can buy magic trick booklets that explain simple and easy to perform tricks, with pictures and step by step instructions. Coin and card tricks, tricks with everyday objects like strings, spoons, toothpicks and rings are easy to learn, but you will need to practice to make your act believable. Magicians are after all entertainers because they know how to make their audience stand on their feet and applaud. Their body language isn’t always the same and they move their hands intentionally in a dramatic way to attract more attention and remove your focus from the real trick. The vanishing toothpick trick is the simplest way to explain why magicians move their hands the way they do. For this trick you will have to wear a ring on the wedding ring finger or the finger between the middle and the little finger. Hold the toothpick with the first three fingers and push the lower end between the middle finger and the ring finger. Find the loop between the ring and the finger and push the toothpick further down with the thumb. When the toothpick finds its way behind your palm, the trick is done and you can show your empty hand. This trick works best on kids of course, but even so, you’ll have to practice to make it seem like real magic. In time, your fingers will learn to do the steps flawlessly and fast, without anyone noticing what and how you did it. Levitation tricks are also very fun and easy to do. There are many different ways to perform it, but rubber bands are an excellent way to start. Rubber is a type of material that traps the position of the ring in one place, usually the lower part, the part you hold with your left hand. So when you let the band loose to get back in its usual position, the ring seems like it’s moving on its own. Even the easiest tricks need a lot of hours practicing, but the end result is always worth the time.

Neuroscience of Magic Tricks

If you read the illusion trick Alexander the Great did on his opponents, you know the basis for all magic tricks. Our brain is a very complex and intelligent machine, but connected with the eyes and other senses it can easily be fooled. Our brains are used to collect data and interpret them in order to see the big picture. If you sit in a café and a man runs in front of the coffee place, you instinctively think he’s probably jogging. The truth is, he may be running from the police, he may be running to catch a cab or running to save a woman in an accident. Your brain finds the most logical explanation to make sense of the things you see. Magicians are true artists because they know how to find a loophole in our perception and trick us into thinking the truth is actually something else. They manipulate the reality by influencing our awareness and perception. Some investigators believe that David Copperfield didn’t move the statue of liberty at all, but actually moved the audience. He literally and physically moved the audience, because they were all seated on a platform. While the white curtain was placed in front of the statue, the platform was slowly moved into another direction and when the curtain was released, people were really looking at empty space, but in a different way. Some say, the lights around the statue were still there when the statue disappeared, so this hypothesis can’t be true. Others think the act was fully comprehended, together with the lights, the helicopter and the radar showing the statue placement. The statue of liberty is a huge sculpture, so even if you look in another way you will at least notice the change in scenery if not the different position of the statue. Other investigators suggested that Copperfield hypnotized his audience and forced them to believe they saw the statue vanish. We may never find out how Copperfield really made the statue vanish and that’s why he’s among the most famous magicians of all times. When a magician tells you he’s about to do a trick your mind expects the performance. Magicians usually tell you where to look and what to do, and while you place your attention on the things they tell you to, somewhere else the “magic” really happens. We can only guess and make assumptions, until magicians finally break their code and reveal their super-mundane secrets.


1. Psychology Today - 5 Amazing Psychology Magic Tricks

2. The Applied Cognitive Psychology of Attention: A Step Closer to Understanding Magic Tricks

Society | Paranormal

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