True Stories of Modern Magic

A Conjurer's Confessions
Deception Explained By The Science Of Psychology
Facing The Arab's Pistol
Fact And Fable In Psychology
Fraudulent Spiritualism Unveiled[1]
How Spirits Materialize
How The Tricks Succeeded
Matter Through Matter
Mind Reading In Public
Second Sight
Some Famous Exposures
The Magician Who Became An Ambassador
The Man In The Iron Mask
The Methods Of A Doctor Of The Occult
The Name Of The Dead

The Lock And Key Library

A Case Of Identity
A Conjurer's Confessions
A Flight Into Texas
A Formidable Weapon
A Mystery With A Moral
A Scandal In Bohemia
A Wish Unexpectedly Gratified
Addressed To The Advocate Who Defended Him At His Trial
Adventure Of The Black Fisherman
Adventures In The Secret Service Of The Post-office Department
An Aspirant For Congress
An Erring Shepherd
An Heiress From Redhorse
An Old Game Revived
By The Waters Of Paradise
Deception Explained By The Science Of Psychology
Facing The Arab's Pistol
Fact And Fable In Psychology
Fraudulent Spiritualism Unveiled[1]
His Wedded Wife
Horror: A True Tale
How Spirits Materialize
How The Tricks Succeeded
In The House Of Suddhoo
Introduction To A Mystery With A Moral
Introduction To Melmoth The Wanderer
Introduction To The Corpus Delicti
Matter Through Matter
Melmoth The Wanderer
Mind Reading In Public
My Own True Ghost Story
My Wife's Tempter
No 1 Branch Line: The Signal-man
On Being Found Out
Saint-germain The Deathless
Second Sight
Some Famous Exposures
The Avenger
The Baron's Quarry
The Closed Cabinet
The Corpus Delicti
The Dream Woman
The Fortune Of Seth Savage
The Fowl In The Pot
The Gold-bug
The Golden Ingot
The Great Valdez Sapphire
The Haunted And The Haunters Or The House And The Brain
The Hostler's Story Told By Himself
The Incantation
The Lost Duchess
The Magician Who Became An Ambassador
The Man And The Snake
The Man In The Iron Mask
The Methods Of A Doctor Of The Occult
The Minister's Black Veil
The Minor Canon
The Mortals In The House
The Name Of The Dead
The Notch On The Ax - A Story A La Mode
The Oblong Box
The Pavilion On The Links
The Pipe
The Puzzle
The Red-headed League
The Sending Of Dana Da
The Shadows On The Wall
The Story Continued By Percy Fairbank
Wieland's Madness
Wolfert Webber Or Golden Dreams

Deception Explained By The Science Of Psychology

The object [of this passage] is to enable the reader to see, more
easily, how it is that the watchful observer is deceived into
believing that a thing is so, when in reality it is not, and vice
versa; and also to give an idea of the various methods employed by
the medium in order to accomplish his results.

I must first of all call the reader's attention to one or two rules
which every conjurer learns at the commencement of his study, and
which he learns to apply so constantly that it becomes second
nature to him. The first is: Never let the eyes rest on the hand
that is performing the "sleight," but always on the other hand, or
on some object on the table or elsewhere, as this will have a
tendency to draw the eyes of the audience to that point also. The
sitters or audience will always look at the point closely watched
by the magician--their eyes have a tendency to follow his, and
wherever he looks, there will the onlooker look also. Needless to
say, the magician makes use of this fact, and many tricks and
illusions are dependent upon it for their successful ac-
complishment. Whenever the magician or medium looks intently at
one hand, therefore, the OTHER hand should be watched, as it is a
sure sign that THAT is the hand which is performing the trick.

Another fundamental rule that is observed by all sleight-of-hand
performers is: Never to let an audience know beforehand what is to
be done; i. e., the nature of the trick that it is intended to
perform. If the spectator knew what was forthcoming, he would be
on the lookout for movements of the performer at certain critical
times--just at the periods when close observation is least wanted--
and would quite possibly detect the performer in the act of
executing certain movements which would show how the trick was
performed. But not knowing what is coming, the spectator is unable
to watch closely at the critical moment--not knowing what that
moment is--and so is unable to detect the trick, his attention
being diverted by the performer, just before this movement is made,
to some other object or movement.

The methods of diverting the spectator's attention are various.
There is the use of the eyes, as before shown. Then there is the
spoken word, the performer telling the onlookers to observe some
certain object or action, and the effect is to cause them to watch
it, as they are told. They follow the line of least resistance.
The combined effect upon the spectator of the spoken word and the
eyes together is generally irresistible.

Another important factor is this: A performer should always let any
suggestion, right or wrong, soak well into the spectator's mind
before attempting to change it. This is for two reasons. In the
first place, if the suggestion is correct, if, e. g., the performer
really DOES place an object in his left hand, and it is shortly
found to have vanished from that hand, he is annoyed by hearing
some one say that he was not really sure it was there in the first
place, as "it was covered up so quickly." If, on the other hand,
the suggestion given was a false one, if, e. g., the performer says
he has placed an object in his left hand, when, in reality, he has
not done so but has palmed it in the right, then it is still
necessary to allow a certain time-interval to elapse between the
performing of the action which apparently placed the object in the
hand, and the showing of the hand empty, for this reason. If the
hand into which the object is supposedly placed is IMMEDIATELY
shown empty, the natural conclusion of the sitter is that the
object was not in reality placed there at all, but was retained in
the other hand, which would be the fact. If, however, the
performer allowed some time to elapse, between the action of
placing the object in that hand (supposedly) and the showing of the
hand empty, he, meanwhile, keeping his eyes fixed on the hand,
suggesting to the sitters that the object IS there, and in every
way acting as if it WERE there, the idea will gradually gain a firm
hold on the minds of the spectators that the object is there, in
reality, and they are correspondingly surprised to find it
ultimately vanished. It is just such a knowledge of "the way
people's minds work," as a friend once said to me, which enables
the conjurer to deceive the public; and it is precisely the same
cast of mind that the medium possesses. He is, in fact, a good
judge of human nature.

Another fact that must be borne in mind is that, when once a
spectator has seen a movement made two or three times in the same
manner, he frequently "sees" the performer make that movement on
another occasion, when the performer had, in reality, only STARTED
to make the movement, and suggested the rest. Thus, if the
performer throws a ball up into the air two or three times in
succession, and on the fourth occasion merely pretends to throw it
up, really retaining it in the other hand, the great majority of
the spectators will really "see" the ball ascend into the air on
the fourth occasion, and will so state, on being asked. We here
depend upon association and habit.[1]

[1] A very similar illusion is mentioned by Professor Hyslop, v.
Borderland of Psychical Research, Pp. 228-9, in which pellets were
apparently placed in a box, really being palmed in the medium's

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