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Topic: The Unexpected Answer -- a lesson that is often hard.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 16, 2006 02:01PM)
A series of threads in the Food for Thought area inspired this post.

Don't ask a question unless you know all of the possible answers to it.

In 1972, I met Dai Vernon for the first time. I had him sign my copy of [i]The Dai Vernon Book of Magic.[/i] At the time, I was just getting into mentalism, and I thought I was pretty good with a NW. So, in my worst possible imitation of Corinda, I brought out a business card, pretended to write something on it, and asked The Professor, "Would you please give me a three digit number?"

He said, "Four, Five, Eight."

I did "the work," as I asked him (continuing the hackneyed Corinda patter) "Does that number have any special significance?" The answer he gave was one that stuck with me.

"Yes. It's the three most difficult numbers to write with a NW!"

I was floored, but I laughed. Why? First, he was right. Second, I had made a mistake. I had asked a question for which I didn't know all the possible answers. Third, I had overestimated my skill. Fourth, I had underestimated The Professor.

I said, "Thanks for the magic lesson, Sir!" And we both laughed.

If you have questions you ask during your performance, you should make sure that they have yes or no answers and that you have a response for either one.

The same thing applies to asking people to evaluate your web site. Don't ask them, unless you are prepared for hard answers. The feature you like the best may be annoying to others. There is a dealer whose web site I visit at least 3 times a day. His web site starts with annoying music. I turn my sound off when I go to his site.

This also applies to posting videos of your act. If you post a video of your act, and invite people to watch it, prepare yourself for "evaluation," unless you make clear to the people you have invited that the purpose is not evaluation but something else. Otherwise, you will have to be ready for the viewers to point out what they feel are flaws in the performance.

If you aren't thick-skinned, you may find your feelings hurt.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 17, 2006 01:41PM)
One other thing -- if you have unfounded theories about the development of magic, or any other art form, or if you basically don't know what you are talking about, expect to hear from people who do.

You might find feedback in the form of an unwanted reply to a post.

You might find feedback in the form of an unwanted private message.

Or you might find that people are discussing your credibility behind your back.

Or they might not actually care.

I wonder which is worse.