Taboo Duo: Psychology and Magic

Taboo Duo: Psychology and Magic

Jay Olson has been trying for some time now to dig up the secrets behind the marvellous surprises of a magic show. Even though it is said that they never reveal their secrets, that doesn’t mean that magicians can’t be analysed and decrypted. Olson, 28, is a magician with a degree on his hands. He had graduated from McGill University and since then he has been working on a pretty interesting project of his own. The study is trying to conclude whether or not psychological factors have a huge influence on the success of a card trick.

Basically, the goal set for this research was to determine how decision-making situations are dictated by outside factors. After a while of intensely searching, looking for the most accurate conclusion to all of the theories out there, Olson realized that, unfortunately, magicians usually know only the surface of a good thick. They memorise its secret but don’t actually get to the middle; the psychology behind it.

The first part of the study was actually published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition. Then, Olson performed a card trick on more than 100 people. The trick is quite simple: A deck of cards is to be flipped by the magician, and then he asks someone from the public to pick a card. While doing this, he voluntarily shows one card for a longer time than the rest. More than 97% of the subjects chose the target card. The public together with the ‘victim’ were extremely surprised when asked to read the inscription on the box the cards came in. The words said “Ten of cards”, name of the card that was actually chose in this case. 


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