Average read time: 2 min’s 34 seconds
Would you like to make a key bend while it’s on the table or in your spectator’s hand?
Of course it’s not really going to bend, you are going to use suggestion and influence to make your spectators think it is.
There is no hypnosis in this and it’s certainly not the effects itself. This is one of those secrets, one of those little touches that separate ‘the men from the boys/the amateurs from the pros’.
It’s one of the little subtleties that helps elevate you and your performance… and it’s so simple!
Professor Richard Wiseman and Emma Greening recently wrote a paper about studies on suggestion and influence regarding that classic PK effect ‘bending a key’! Magic enthusiast Richard Wiseman discuses an experiment in which two groups were shown the same short film where a bent key was placed on a table, it was suggested to the first group that the key was still bending, while the other group, watched the same footage, with no suggestions.
It comes as no surprise to us magicians that the first group claimed to see the key continue to bend. As we performers are aware if we continue to tell our audience that the object is still bending, (especially while performing some clever little moves), the audience is more likely to not only believe this, but also to ‘see’ it.
Let us consider the use of the ‘continuing to bend’ suggestion, whether on the table or in the spectators hands. As a magician if your audience and volunteers believe that the object did continue to bend while in their hand or on the table, you have performed some amazing magic, you were not merely demonstrating sleight-of-hand but instead creating a really magical experience for them.
What suggestion? For this we rely on the ‘presupposition’. For example:
“Do you see it bending?” A close ended question, it is bending or it is not bending.
“As it continues to bend you might see it flicker in colour or get lighter for a brief moment or two?”
A presupposition that it is still bending, it is just a question of whether you are aware of the colour changing slightly or it getting lighter as it continues to bend. There is also an ambiguity here, when spoken in this sentence it is unclear whether you mean lighter in colour or weight, this further adds to compound the suggestion.
The simple formula is: Decide upon what you wish your spectators and volunteers to experience, then construct a sentence that can only be true if what you want them to believe is actually happening. Told you it was a simple formula!
The more presuppositions you use in one sentence the less able the conscious mind is able to keep track of them and the more the conscious mind is likely to accept them.
As you read over that last bit again (presupposes you are going to read over this again) and realise that you already use presuppositions (presupposition that you will realise this) and decide (presupposes you will decide) to take a few moments to think (presupposes you will take a moment to think) about new ways (presupposes there were old ways) of using them, either now or while performing (presupposition that you will do this either now or later) the more you learn (presupposes you are learning) and the more fluent (presupposition that you are to some degree already fluent) you get at using presuppositions.