Is Magic Real?
SCIENCE OF SUCCESS
IS MAGIC REAL?
“REAL” MAGIC VS REAL MAGIC
There’s a quote by religion professor Lee Siegel that the Philosopher Daniel Dennett uses often to illustrate a point concerning consciousness:
“Real magic is the magic that’s not real. While the magic that is real, that can actually be done, is not real magic.” -Lee Siegel
“One of the surprising discoveries of modern psychology is how easy it is to be ignorant of your own ignorance.”
― Daniel C. Dennett
The first stage of the Learning Process is Unconscious Incompetence, which indicates that we can’t know what we do not know. This is fundamentally easy to comprehend, but since we have survived and mostly live our lives by inference and inductive reasoning, we, as a species, are VERY good at using those tools of logic to predict the patterns we experience, therefore, even if we are surprised by an event we weren’t expecting, like a predator or falling object, we are typically skilled at examining the event and applying a reason which is rational and reasonable that caused the event.
At least that is how it seems, but this is the problem. That type of thinking led mankind to accept a flat earth, the Earth as the center of the universe, and the acceptance of Real Magic as a possibility.
As an amateur street magician, hypnotist, and mentalist, when I successfully execute a close illusion or an act of Mentalism, people will immediately ask me if I have supernatural or psychic powers of any kind. I always say,
but when I do explain how Cartesian skepticism works, most people are genuinely disappointed that there was no “real” magic; by this being merely just a conjuring skill, they will typically choose to continue to believe that Magic is “Real” rather than accept that all forms of known magic are not really magical at all.
Magic tricks and illusions are nothing more than sleight of hand illusions, conjuring tricks, an understanding of the 7 basic principles of deception (CHECK OUT THIS PENN & TELLER VIDEO to LEARN THOSE PRINCIPLES)
and most importantly a solid understanding of performance art, acting, and entertainment in general.
The least skilled magician can make someone speechless by a simple illusion whereas the most skilled magician can irritate everyone around by not understanding the psychology of being like-able and/or entertaining.
WHY & WHO CARES?
So do all the magicians, mentalists, & educators I know who have spent hours studying and practicing to get very skilled at their craft. When a charlatan comes along professing to have actual powers or gifts which are unique to them or could not be acquired through honest hard work, I get really angry; especially, when I already know the methods they are using.
This matters because honesty when working with the beliefs of others matters.
I can tell you what I am about to do is just an illusion and still it will be no less impressive when I am able to execute the illusion. There are certain athletes & experts who can do things I will never be able to do, but it is no less impressive to see them do it after they have spent years getting skilled at that craft. Why is the art of illusion and conjuring any different?
Well, this psychological phenomena probably comes down to the nature of humans to desire to connect to the concepts of wonder, awe, and the transcendent. Our universe is absolutely overwhelming to comprehend. The nature of reality is so much more complex and unknown that it can be summarized as “magical,” and it is REAL or at least it appears to be to us.
As we have learned more about the nature of the world and universe surrounding us, we have discovered that it is all much more difficult to truly understand than we can determine at first glance. We, as humans, therefore accept that almost everything CAN be much more complicated than we know. This understanding makes us vulnerable of accepting pseudo-scientific claims and nonsense before we will accept the explanation, “I don’t know.”
SKEPTICISM & CARTESIAN DOUBT | TOOLS FOR THINKING
Cartesian doubt is a form of methodological skepticism associated with the writings and methodology of René Descartes (1596–1650). Cartesian doubt is also known as Cartesian skepticism, methodic doubt, methodological skepticism, universal doubt, systematic doubt or hyperbolic doubt.
Cartesian doubt is a systematic process of being skeptical about (or doubting) the truth of one’s own beliefs, which has become a characteristic method in philosophy. This method of doubt was largely popularized in Western philosophy by René Descartes, who sought to doubt the truth of all his beliefs in order to determine which beliefs he could be certain were true. It is the basis for Descartes’ statement,
“Cogito ergo sum” (“I think, therefore I am”).
Methodological skepticism is distinguished from philosophical skepticism in that methodological skepticism is an approach that subjects all knowledge claims to scrutiny with the goal of sorting out true from false claims, whereas philosophical skepticism is an approach that questions the possibility of certain knowledge.
For more information on the importance of adopting Skepticism, watch this powerful presentation by The Amazing Randi, James Randi, a hugely successful magician and stunt performer who promotes reasonable Skepticism. CLICK HERE TO VIEW
So, we may be blocked from certain forms of knowledge or we may not be able to know how something works, but the fastest method to use to know whether or not you are right about your beliefs is to adopt a healthy level of skepticism.
In order to safe guard yourself from False Beliefs, Frauds, Con-men, and Charlatans, focus on doubting your primary belief, and look for a way to falsify that belief. If it can be tested, it can be falsified, if not, then it is probably not a valid belief or at least one does not have any good reason to accept it.
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