“Magician’s Choice”

Sep 22 2012 @ 9:15am

Magician Alex Stone reveals a trick:

The idea is to set up multiple paths to the same endpoint. In the simplest version, you deal two cards down on the table and ask the spectator to "remove" to one of them. If your volunteer removes to the card you want to force, you say "Ok, that’ll be yours." If, however, the spectator points to the other card, you eliminate it, saying "Great, we’ll remove that one." (Here you’re exploiting the ambiguity in the meaning of the word remove.) Either way the spectator winds up with the same card. This sounds transparent—especially with only two cards—but it gets more sophisticated. In the right hands, it can be incredibly deceptive. By couching choices in ambiguous, open-ended language and exploiting the fact that the spectator doesn’t know what’s coming—assuming they’ve never seen the trick before—the magician can gently control an apparently free decision from among numerous items.

Stone goes on to apply the same logic to other, real world examples, such as how juries dole out child custody depending on how the question is framed. Romney sure could use a magician right now.