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Topic: Is Amazement correlated with Actual Odds?
Message: Posted by: genius (Nov 15, 2014 12:56PM)
I'd love to get your thoughts on this topic. The question: Is Amazement correlated with Odds, for any particular effect ? In other words, if you perform an effect that has 50-50 odds (coin in which hand), that can be amazing. But, what if you do an effect that is 1 in 3 (3 card monte, for example)? Is that more amazing? What about something like Fair Play by Steve Haynes, with a 1 in 6 probability? Or an acaan with 1 in 52 odds---even more amazing? How about, using CUPP by Cesaral to do something that can be 1 in a million, or more? Will the spectator NECESSARILY be amazed more by CUPP than by any of the other effects, (assuming the presentation and all else is equal and that you are doing just one effect) because of the odds?

And remember, we are talking about actual odds and not perceived odds. Thanks!

Mindblowingly,
Charles
Message: Posted by: Amirá (Nov 15, 2014 01:26PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, genius wrote:
I'd love to get your thoughts on this topic. The question: Is Amazement correlated with Odds, for any particular effect ? In other words, if you perform an effect that has 50-50 odds (coin in which hand), that can be amazing. But, what if you do an effect that is 1 in 3 (3 card monte, for example)? Is that more amazing? What about something like Fair Play by Steve Haynes, with a 1 in 6 probability? Or an acaan with 1 in 52 odds---even more amazing? How about, using CUPP by Cesaral to do something that can be 1 in a million, or more? Will the spectator NECESSARILY be amazed more by CUPP than by any of the other effects, (assuming the presentation and all else is equal and that you are doing just one effect) because of the odds?

And remember, we are talking about actual odds and not perceived odds. Thanks!

Mindblowingly,
Charles [/quote]

Hi Charles

My opinion: Not at all.

ALL, and I mean ALL depends in the human behind the action and experience created (performer) . It´s YOU that create the mentalistic experience for your audience and participant, doesn't matter if you use a 1 in 2 , 1 in 5, 1 in 10, 1 in 1000512.

A mediocre performer can take something so inherently mysterious as a "A Million to One" (f.e.) and make it just a trivial trick obviously done just for the sake of exposition of abilities ("look how clever I am") and ruin a potential moment of entertainment and mystery, but a great performer can take something so simple and common such a ESP symbol effect and make it relevant and memorable, even when the odds are in that piece of 1 in 5.

Isn't a matter of quantity, rather quality.


Best
Message: Posted by: Mifune (Nov 15, 2014 01:46PM)
I think that amazement is more related to clean effects more than to probability, that's why "wich hand" works well.
Message: Posted by: Cervier (Nov 15, 2014 02:02PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, genius wrote:
The question: Is Amazement correlated with Odds?
(...)
And remember, we are talking about actual odds and not perceived odds. [/quote]

What??? :lol:

Who's supposed to ba amazed? I'd say its the audience. And what odds are they dealing with, if not "perceived odds"???
And how could be real odds (remember they're 100%...) be amazing to anyone???

[i]The sight of slaughtered logic is ghastly...[/i] :wow: :rotf:
Message: Posted by: TonyB2009 (Nov 15, 2014 02:33PM)
Amazement is correlated with performance, nothing else. If you are a good performer you can make rubbish brilliant. If you are a duffer you won't make miracles look good. That's the truth.
Message: Posted by: Cervier (Nov 15, 2014 02:45PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, TonyB2009 wrote:
Amazement is correlated with performance, nothing else. If you are a good performer you can make rubbish brilliant. If you are a duffer you won't make miracles look good. That's the truth. [/quote]
:thumbsup:
Let silence follow...other words would be superfluous.
Message: Posted by: Lar (Nov 15, 2014 04:58PM)
[quote]Amazement is correlated with performance, nothing else. If you are a good performer you can make rubbish brilliant. If you are a duffer you won't make miracles look good. That's the truth.[/quote]

Exactly.

Imagine a simple 50/50 with two paper cups and a paper ball. The participant hides the ball under one of the cups and mixes the cups around. The performer correctly divines which cup the paper ball is hidden under. Hardly impressive, and possibly just blind luck. If the performer fails then his claims of having some extraordinary ability might be called into question. It's a bland effect.

However, imagine a similar 50/50 effect (like Luke Jermay's Dangerous Opener) where there is a knife (which is only revealed at the end of the effect) hidden under one of two upturned paper cups. A member of the audience (who doesn't know about the knife) gets to which cup the performer gets rid of. The audience member chooses a paper cup, the performer smashes their hand down on it and crumples it up. That's not amazing in the least. It's only when the performer shows that the other cup had an upturned knife under it that the amazement kicks in and the audience begins to comprehend what they've just witnessed and what was at ultimately stake.

Regards,
Lar.
Message: Posted by: Martin Pulman (Nov 15, 2014 05:46PM)
On the other hand, imagine a performer asks you to think of the full name of a childhood friend, and without another word being spoken, he names your friend. You will be blown away, regardless of how dull his presentation may have been.

Performance isn't everything. Effects are important. For proof, you only have to see the mediocre performers succeeding by presenting brilliant mentalism effects (created by others) on AGT.
Message: Posted by: innercirclewannabe (Nov 15, 2014 05:53PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, Martin Pulman wrote:
On the other hand, imagine a performer asks you to think of the full name of a childhood friend, and without another word being spoken, he names your friend. You will be blown away, regardless of how dull his presentation may have been.

Performance isn't everything. Effects are important. For proof, you only have to see the mediocre performers succeeding by presenting brilliant mentalism effects (created by others) on AGT. [/quote]

I don't agree with that, Martin.

Tony nailed it. Performance IS everything, effects are merely secondary. AGT or any other "talent" shows are a bad parallel to use. Those shows, although I don't watch them normally, are not really based on "talent", rather - they're based on telephone votes, and the entertainment value the producers think the act is worth in terms of viewership. I think the real paradox is calling them "talent shows" in the first place.
Message: Posted by: CThomas (Nov 15, 2014 06:07PM)
I wonder if it's a false dichotomy. If performance includes selecting the right effects and implementing them correctly, then it isn't clear how "performance" could trump "effect." If the question is whether the selection among effects is wholly irrevant to the audience then I do have to admit that would be surprising. Why would you ever bother to learn a new effect if that were the case?
Message: Posted by: Martin Pulman (Nov 15, 2014 06:10PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, innercirclewannabe wrote:
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, Martin Pulman wrote:
On the other hand, imagine a performer asks you to think of the full name of a childhood friend, and without another word being spoken, he names your friend. You will be blown away, regardless of how dull his presentation may have been.

Performance isn't everything. Effects are important. For proof, you only have to see the mediocre performers succeeding by presenting brilliant mentalism effects (created by others) on AGT. [/quote]

I don't agree with that, Martin.

Tony nailed it. Performance IS everything, effects are merely secondary. AGT or any other "talent" shows are a bad parallel to use. Those shows, although I don't watch them normally, are not really based on "talent", rather - they're based on telephone votes, and the entertainment value the producers think the act is worth in terms of viewership. I think the real paradox is calling them "talent shows" in the first place. [/quote]

I honestly don't think that is the case. I know it is the standard answer (and probably the right one for newcomers to hear) but mentalism is a performance art form, and like any performance art form you need good material. Prince is as good a performer as ever he was, but his recent songs have been dreadful. A concert full of his classic material will be brilliant; a concert full of his recent material will be insufferable . Same performer-different material.

Audiences have genuinely been amazed by some of the effects performed on AGT. For me, it is the effects that garnered the votes. It certainly can't have been the performers.
Message: Posted by: innercirclewannabe (Nov 15, 2014 06:18PM)
My point regarding AGT & other such "talent shows" remains the same. I think they're the death knell when it comes to discovering "real talent". What Prince and other singers do is worlds apart from what we do. We are asking our audiences to suspend their disbelief for the period of time that we are entertaining them. We cannot do this effectively unless we "sell" the idea in the first place.

Singers can be having bad day, but once they sing the songs that their audiences have come to hear - the "bad day" will be overlooked. If we don't do our effects justice, we will be perceived as nothing more than tricksters, charlatans, and mountebanks! ( Who said that's what we are?! :D )
Message: Posted by: sandsjr (Nov 15, 2014 06:28PM)
It's both in my opinion. Take Steely Dan for example. You're not going to find too many records technically better than theirs, great songs, great arrangements, great playing and singing, great productions etc. But people think they are boring live.

Prince as was mentioned on the other hand has the WHOLE package. That's why he's a superstar!

I think it's the effect AND the performance if you want to take it to the top. Yes you can get various degrees of success when both parts aren't there but nothing beats it when EVERYTHING is working.
Message: Posted by: innercirclewannabe (Nov 15, 2014 06:40PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, sandsjr wrote:
It's both in my opinion. Take Steely Dan for example. You're not going to find too many records technically better than theirs, great songs, great arrangements, great playing and singing, great productions etc. But people think they are boring live.

Prince as was mentioned on the other hand has the WHOLE package. That's why he's a superstar!

I think it's the effect AND the performance if you want to take it to the top. Yes you can get various degrees of success when both parts aren't there but nothing beats it when EVERYTHING is working. [/quote]


I agree, in parts. But, it is my contention that the effect is just a by product of the performance.
Message: Posted by: Amirá (Nov 15, 2014 06:55PM)
Also depends in your goals during performance.
For example in this piece ( http://youtu.be/K0TAT6uvIwM ) I use a 1 in 2 odds piece to introduce myself, let the audience know that I need their participation and active intuition.

You still can get what you want if you think about it. Not always just amazement. Our performances should be crafted in such a way that several experiences and emotions are elicitaded.


Best
Message: Posted by: sandsjr (Nov 15, 2014 07:02PM)
Think about it this way. Think of Whitney Houston singing "I will always love you." That song drives me nuts (not in a good way) but I think she has one of the best voices of all time. Now imagine her singing the "Star Spangled Banner!" The song, in this case, represents the "effect." There's a HUGE Difference in the way the song moves me. I'm strictly talking melody, changes, arrangement, vocal performance here, not considering the lyric.

Pablo, I just saw your post. I agree there has to be dynamics. But the low parts STILL have to be played well (so to speak).

Also Pablo, I'm comparing apples to apples with regards to the importance of the performance and the effect in one instance.
Message: Posted by: Amirá (Nov 15, 2014 07:07PM)
Again, is what do you want to achieve with what you are doing.

Personally, I don't want to amaze with everything that I do. If I am just an "amusement" , I will not reach all my goals as performer. That piece is one of my openers for the simple fact that I can connect with the audience. THEN I can hit them hard with other type of performance´s pieces.


Best
Message: Posted by: sandsjr (Nov 15, 2014 07:09PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, Amirá wrote:
Again, is what do you want to achieve with what you are doing.

Personally, I don't want to amaze with everything that I do. If I am just an "amusement" , I will not reach all my goals as performer. That piece is one of my openers for the simple fact that I can connect with the audience. THEN I can hit them hard with other type of performance´s pieces.


Best [/quote]

Pablo, I think your missing my point. Let's take the piece you want to "hit them hard" with. I'm saying, it will hit harder and be more impressive if your "performance" AND the "effect" are BOTH great. Also let me add, your "lower-keyed" effects will play better when your performance and the effect are both the best for the situation.
Message: Posted by: CThomas (Nov 15, 2014 07:16PM)
I assume that some of the "it's all the performance" opinions expressed above are hyperbole, in which case I have no objection to them. But if they are meant literally, then I could make up an effect right now that would test that hypothesis. It's an effect that allows you to discern a date someone is thinking of. At the risk of exposing the method outside of Inner Thoughts, what you do is ask the participant to imagine a date -- a genuinely free choice -- and then you ask them to tell you what the date would be on the NEXT day following their selected date. So if, for instance, they tell you that the next date following their date is May 14, then you calculate their date by working backwards one day on the calendar. In this case their date must be May 13. (Please don't spread this around as I'm currently working on an ebook for this effect.) Obviously this is a reductio but unless you'd be willing to try my new effect out in your act tomorrow and expect the same results as your normal performance the quality of the effect must necessarily affect the quality of your performance, holding performing ability constant.
Message: Posted by: Doc_Z (Nov 15, 2014 08:35PM)
I predict that if you released that ebook with the title "GREAT DERREN BROWN MENTALISM MAGIC - FOOL YOUR FRIENDS" you would sell at least 10 copies.
Message: Posted by: George Hunter (Nov 15, 2014 09:13PM)
While an effect or an act substantially stands or falls on performance, I need to side with Martin. One reason is that ANY art is never ALL about any one thing, even performance.

To be specific, some of the songs on the XM all-Elvis channel are not worth listening to; even Elvis couldn't pass a mutt off as a collie. Again, the best movie actors insist on reading the script before signing the contract; they know that much depends on the plot and the script and the director and the music and other variables. Yet again, there are MANY published and marketed effects that Osterlind, Cassidy, or Maven would never welcome into their act, even to show they could pull it off.

"It's ALL about performance" is fine as a slogan, but hard to defend as a theory.

George
Message: Posted by: mastermindreader (Nov 15, 2014 09:55PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, Cervier wrote:
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, genius wrote:
The question: Is Amazement correlated with Odds?
(...)
And remember, we are talking about actual odds and not perceived odds. [/quote]

What??? :lol:

Who's supposed to ba amazed? I'd say its the audience. And what odds are they dealing with, if not "perceived odds"???
And how could be real odds (remember they're 100%...) be amazing to anyone???

[i]The sight of slaughtered logic is ghastly...[/i] :wow: :rotf: [/quote]

That's the same sort of logic the OP has used since he first arrived here last month. I fear he still doesn't "get it." And I've got no idea why he just went right back to describing ACAAN as 1 in 52 as if the other extremely lengthy threads on this never existed at all.

Maybe this simple example will illustrate the point. If you have a deck of cards consisting of fifty-two Four or Clubs, and you shuffle those cards and spread them face down all over the table, and then have a participant toss a coin into the air so it will land on the cards, what are the REAL odds that it will land on a Four of Clubs? Since the participant believes the cards are all different, what are the apparent odds TO HIM- EVEN IF HE IS A MATHEMATICIAN?

The OP's insistence on providing real odds would require him to expose the trick.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Nov 15, 2014 11:13PM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, genius wrote:
I'd love to get your thoughts on this topic. The question: Is Amazement correlated with Odds, for any particular effect ? In other words, if you perform an effect that has 50-50 odds (coin in which hand), that can be amazing. But, what if you do an effect that is 1 in 3 (3 card monte, for example)? Is that more amazing? What about something like Fair Play by Steve Haynes, with a 1 in 6 probability? Or an acaan with 1 in 52 odds---even more amazing? How about, using CUPP by Cesaral to do something that can be 1 in a million, or more? Will the spectator NECESSARILY be amazed more by CUPP than by any of the other effects, (assuming the presentation and all else is equal and that you are doing just one effect) because of the odds?

And remember, we are talking about actual odds and not perceived odds. Thanks!

Mindblowingly,
Charles [/quote]
No...
Message: Posted by: JayFredericks (Nov 15, 2014 11:15PM)
Like a spectator is even thinking of odds when watching a performance. How droll.
Message: Posted by: JayFredericks (Nov 15, 2014 11:27PM)
Ohh and I like how you talk about 'actual odds'...as if there were ANY odds.
Message: Posted by: MVoss (Nov 16, 2014 12:20AM)
Short answer: http://www.starwarsxwing.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/han-solo.jpg

Sorry, I had to.

Think about this, the odds of a person being able to make matter literally vanish from ones hand is impossible, and yet, if you show a simple vanish to an adult they will generally put on a forced smile and walk away. So odds are not directly correlated to amazement.

Without good performance, it lacks entertainment value. I've seen some really talented and technically accurate accountants, but I swear if someone asked me to watch them work for an hour you'd have to chain me into the seat.

That isn't to say the effects themselves aren't important. The truth is, good performance art, especially of the technical variety, requires a balance of many skills, and no one is directly responsible for amazement, because to say that would be reductionist to the extreme. Rather, it is when all the elements come together, when everything is right, that we are most moved.
Message: Posted by: vratkins (Nov 16, 2014 12:22AM)
Getting back to the OP's question, I'd say not necessarily. I know the performer is important, but I'd like to break that down a little more. Years ago I watched the Amazing Kreskin, and I wondered why I was as impressed when he got a one out of three choice correct as I was with his audience thought reading. My thoughts were that he was supremely confident in the 50:50 odds effects, conveying the conviction that it was ESP, not luck. I was impressed by the fact that it was ESP, not that it was hard. Another way he made the effect more impressive is like Lar said; increasing the risk factor. I was on the edge of my seat when he risked burning a $100 bill, even though the odds were only 1 in 3. That's where the performer comes in. If they act like it's important, that is, sell it, then the audience will accept it as important.
Not that I know how to do that.
Regards,
Victor
Message: Posted by: Trickstar (Nov 16, 2014 12:33AM)
[quote]On Nov 15, 2014, genius wrote:
I'd love to get your thoughts on this topic. The question: Is Amazement correlated with Odds, for any particular effect ? In other words, if you perform an effect that has 50-50 odds (coin in which hand), that can be amazing. But, what if you do an effect that is 1 in 3 (3 card monte, for example)? Is that more amazing? What about something like Fair Play by Steve Haynes, with a 1 in 6 probability? Or an acaan with 1 in 52 odds---even more amazing? How about, using CUPP by Cesaral to do something that can be 1 in a million, or more? Will the spectator NECESSARILY be amazed more by CUPP than by any of the other effects, (assuming the presentation and all else is equal and that you are doing just one effect) because of the odds?

And remember, we are talking about actual odds and not perceived odds. Thanks!

Mindblowingly,
Charles [/quote]

Hey genius, here is a link to an article called Accurate Methods for the Statistics of Surprise and Coincidence... obviously it's not about performance of mentalism effects but (with a name like genius)there may be something I there that could help you with your thinking. It's been quite a few years since I read this and I can't actually remember why I did in the first place but I do remember there being a few nuggets buried in amongst the blah blah.

http://www.aclweb.org/anthology/J93-1003
Message: Posted by: Martin Pulman (Nov 16, 2014 01:40AM)
In certain circumstances 50-50 odds could be the most engrossing, life-altering experience you have ever witnessed.

Imagine someone brings a ticking bomb on stage and says he has to cut either the red or blue wire to stop it exploding - but he doesn't know which. Now madam, please choose red or blue. Whatever you say will be the wire I cut...
Message: Posted by: Ken Dyne (Nov 16, 2014 02:59AM)
Could be it related to how much they 'care'? Do they care?
Message: Posted by: Martin Pulman (Nov 16, 2014 04:44AM)
I think "how much they care" is at the heart of all art.
Message: Posted by: NeilMcCauley (Nov 16, 2014 04:52AM)
A few good examples of 50/50 or near 50/50 odds (as perceived by the volunteer) in Derren Brown performances (from his early TV shows):

- Pound coin in hand
- Yes/No cards with Stephen Merchant
- Three envelopes game with the psychology students
- Three ring box game at Blackpool pleasure beach

All great effects in his hands, yet potentially very bland if performed by an inferior mentalist.
Message: Posted by: Magic.Maddy (Nov 16, 2014 08:09AM)
I'm sure this has already been mentioned, but in my mind, it all come down to presentation.

In a show of mine I slowly build up the odds throughout the show. This gets increasingly more and more affective for the audience because I present it in such a way. I keep allowing the "challenges" to have more and more room for error.

So to me, it can be the same reaction, or it can be "more impressive" all based on how it is presented in your show.
Message: Posted by: CThomas (Nov 16, 2014 09:29AM)
Not only can high-probability events (50/50) be exciting, but very low-probability events can be completely uninteresting. Imagine an ideal geometrical world where you have a perfect circle. Its circumference will of course have infinitely many points around it. Imagine placing an ideal spinner in the middle of the circle, which you can spin around and it will stop pointing at one point along the circumference of the circle with a truly random outcome. If you spin the spinner, the odds that it will land on any particular point is zero (in light of the infinite number of alternatives along the continuum of points). But if you spin the spinner then you are actually guaranteed to produce an event of probability zero, because the spinner is guaranteed to stop somewhere. Yet nobody would view the production of that very-low probability event as surprising or entertaining. So I guess I agree with others who have said that probability is unlikely to determine the degree of interest.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Nov 16, 2014 10:35AM)
Robert Neale said I should bet them $100 on the 50/50 bet ... Brings in a little more emotion!!!!! :bigdance: :bigdance:
Message: Posted by: Tony Iacoviello (Nov 16, 2014 12:18PM)
[quote]On Nov 16, 2014, Slim King wrote:
Robert Neale said I should bet them $100 on the 50/50 bet ... Brings in a little more emotion!!!!! :bigdance: :bigdance: [/quote]

Charles Gauci uses this line a lot.
I watched him use ot over and over when he was in Boston at the SAM National Convention years ago.
It worked for him, he always had interest.

For me, it does not fit. It may just be the way I was brought up, but it comes across as crass and lowbrow to me.

Tony
Message: Posted by: sandsjr (Nov 16, 2014 01:23PM)
[quote]On Nov 16, 2014, Martin Pulman wrote:
I think "how much they care" is at the heart of all art. [/quote]

Exactly.

I'll add, "What makes them care?" Maybe the secret lies in the answer to these...

What's at stake?

What's the "real" (perceived) gain?
What's the "real" (perceived) loss?
Who's to gain?
Who's to lose?

Take Derren Brown's YES/NO effect mentioned above. The premise is, from what I understand, the greedy cheapskate loses a 50/50 odds game to the brilliant and likable mentalist. (I don't know Stephen Merchant and how he is perceived in real life but the piece left me with the previous impression) The point is, there's the sense of a "real" story created there. How much they "care" has to do with how deeply they connect with the story.

I'm not familiar with the other DB effects mentioned above, but love the way he gets people vested in what he's doing.

There are a lot of good things to think about in this thread.