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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » your opinion on math demonstrations in mentalism (2 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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jeline
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I've seen two math type effects from top notch performers and they were amazing. The first was Marc Salem's off Broadway show. He started his show with a three digit magic square with the premise that he needed to warm-up his mind for the show.

The other was Ricky Jay in his On the Stem show. He did the square root of numbers from 1 to a million, while at the same time doing the knight's tour, while at the same time reciting passages from a Shakespeare play that was called from the audience, while at the same time singing 'field holler' songs. He ended the first act with that presentation and the audience gave him a standing ovation.
shrink
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My heart sank when Salem opened the show with a magic square.

And I almost fell asleep with the image in my mind of R Jay doing his "thing" just described. I guess we are all different. But I would stand only to walk out. Smile
rrubin98
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I second what Lior said.

I also agree with Shrink's statement that we all are different: each person's perception of reality is unique. And while demonstrations of mathematical wizardry bore some people, I like such feats. Of course, my bachelor's degree is in math, so I'm a bit biased. Smile And the knight's tour appeals to me largely because I'm a chess player.

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Cornelius
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Whether you do a math routine or not depends on your personality and how you present yourself. What kind of message do you want to give? I personally find them quite fascinating side dishes for a mentalism performance. Some comedy can even be incorporated into such presentations (think about it!).

From,
Cornelius.
shrink
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Please don't ask me to think about it Smile
Alexei Kee
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Well, I agree with you about mathematical mentalism and audiences.

Anyway, I've no special interest in that kind of demonstration and was really shocked when I saw the David Berglas' Magic Square routine. When it started, I thought that it was another boring magic square routine, but the finale was so unexpected that it made me think that was more than a coincidence.

If you can, watch it. It's the way to make math mentalism interesting.

AlexeiKee Smile
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Turk
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Quote:
On 2003-03-14 19:59, shrink wrote:

And I almost fell asleep with the image in my mind of R Jay doing his "thing" just described. I guess we are all different. But I would stand only to walk out. Smile


Shrink,

Now THAT'S funny!

Mike
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Boxav8r
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I have to agree it's mostly showmanship when it comes to mathematical routines. In the wrong hands it will certainly go flat.

Too often, math routines can be worked backward and be seen for what they are -- an exceptional gimmick which makes for some interesting uses, but are not really magical or mentalism.

The best ones are, as Ramsay stated, those which work on a mathematical principle which is all but invisible to the audience, thereby creating the effect of magic.

Generally, these have the least chance of being discovered and are more entertaining. There are of course the "Which column is your card in?" tricks which make me gag to think about.

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Stef
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I'm not too much into math routines... I find it leaves too much room for analysis on the part of the spectator; whether your performance is good or not.

Another reason, you are supposedly a MIND reader; not a math genius.

This is my humble opinion.

Smile
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shrink
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Another thing worth considering.... math is a logical left brain activity... in some ways if you want to give your audience the most powerful experience, your language and presentation should be built around eliciting and compounding left brain activity. This way it is possible to guide and lead emotional states... just a route I'm currently pondering on...

Using metaphores stories and embedded suggestions in the monologue...

Using the structure of the presentation as a kind of long trance induction process and using effects to magnify the states I'm trying to create....

Just a pet theory of mine..... Smile
Scott Cram
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While there have been plenty of replies concerning effects where math is the method, I don't think that's what the original question was.

The original question concerned rapid calculation. In rapid calculation, the basic idea is that the human brain is as fast or faster than a calculator.

Done properly, this can get a great reaction. One way might be to set up a "man vs. machine" type of presentation (Like the story of John Henry). This gets the audience on your side, and rooting for you. The demonstration of rapid calculation becomes almost secondary in this type of presentation, and the audience can enjoy the performance.

This is just one idea, but maybe it'll get you started.
MagicMan1957
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I do 2 versions of a 16 cube magic square. It seems to go over well, but as we all know, presentation and personality are what sell it. I also like to force a card early on in the show, tell the crowd I'll get back to that later, then after the magic square turn the chalk board OR pad of paper over to reveal the CARD (which is written down on the pad or board) from the earlier trick. I LOVE the Callback Trick. People always seem to like that kind of thing!
BIlly James
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Chuck Hickok starts his performance with the magic square primarily because it's something believable for an audience and as the act progresses so does the 'defying the laws of nature' value of his routines. It's kind of like the old frog experiment.
That being said, Chuck does also tie a very nice prediction or forcast to his magic square.
Bottom line, it works for some performers in some contexts for some audiences, but then again that's quite a broad premise aint it.
Alan Jackson
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Derren Brown closes his live show with a magic square. It's kind of (apparently) accidental and a very effective way of revealing a thought of number. It's cleverly disguised with a spiel about the numbers picked by people reading certain newspapers.
There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary numbers, and those who don't.
Lior
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Eight years ago, I invited the most famous puzzle man in Israel to be a guest on my TV show.
I asked him to ask me a question; (puzzle) and it was a very hard one, no one knew the answer. I filled a magic square, and told him that it was the answer. He looked puzzled, and didn't understand; and then said that the answer to his question was not among the numbers on the board.
When I asked him for the answer, he said it was 48. He explained how he came to that number. (It was hard to understand, even when you know the solution). Only then I looked at the board and realized that I formed a "magic square".
He was amazed.

In the last few years, I used the magic square for presentations; to explain that our company had the right solution for the client in any direction.

Lior
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ddyment
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Judging from the correspondence I recieve, the magic square methodology is one of the two most popular items in my first book. Plenty of folks seem to think it's an appropriate effect.

For myself, I use it as both a platform effect (for corporate work) and as a walk-around item (for corporate work, and also at psi parties; where I describe each square as a unique talisman for the recipient... per Richard Webster).

As for the actual math involved, it requires only a single, simple subtraction, so it could hardly be easier... and unlike other methods, every square is dramatically different.

... Doug
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Alan Jackson
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There's an extremely simple way of producing magic squares. It's in "Ahead of the Pack" by Lewis Jones, and Jack Avis.
There are 10 kinds of people: those who understand binary numbers, and those who don't.
CardFan
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When I was offered Mathematics, my first idea was to tear it apart to make fine paper origamis. But I start reading it, and was amazed by the number of fine routines you can base on simple math calculations. A must read for everyone.
Smile

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Bill Cushman
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I've used some presentational twists that begin by discussing the mysterious abilities of math prodigies. For example, folks who can do things like instantly produce the square root of ten digit numbers but can't explain how they do so. I suggest that such powers are latent in all of our brains.

I then proceed to demonstrate this in terms of how a participant can extract patterns from numbers without knowing how they are doing so. I've used two effects to produce this "phenomenon."

First, the magic square. This is basically the same handling I've written about before at the Café but then the presentational angle was that the number they identify is the result of subliminal messages. In the newer presentation, they identify a number that proves they were unconciously able to percieve the pattern inherent in the magic square.

More recently, I've used an effect called "Add Infinitum" from David Berglas' book, "The Mind & Magic of David Berglas." I use the wonderfully simple final version (Method 3)on P. 451.

Basically, the participant gives you any four three-digit numbers which are written down in a column. You instantly write down a "target" number, derived from a "pattern" inherent in the four numbers given by the participant.

The participant is then "helped" to access their prodigy-like abilities and without knowing how they have done so, in a manner that seems totally fair and free from external control (which in fact it is) arrives at the same target number. Presented as I do,it's quick, to the point, baffling and somewhat unsettling.

The benefits of this approach (with either effect)is two fold. First, I think even those of us who are bored by math and math tricks can still be fascinated by the idea of someone having super abilities with numbers that even they can't explain.

Second, and more important, the participant, if the presentation is handled well, becomes the star. As a couple of folks indicated earlier in this thread, one of the problems with the mentalist showing off their math skills is that it can play like showing off; "Hey, look what I can do that you can't."

This is definitely a turn off, not that I believe all such demonstrations have to fall into this category. Witness the raves about the work with numbers by some of the best in our field whose presentations entertain rather than challenge.

The presentations I described above, where the participant is the star, also lend themselves to the benefits of the logical disconnect and shutting down the analytic mind. Rather than wondering, "how did that guy add so fast," in my experience, the participant and audience end up wondering, "how did my (his or her) unconcious come up with that." This also bypasses resistance to belief because the participant becomes fascinated by the workings and possibilities of their own mind rather than that of the mentalist. Not that the opposite is always a bad thing but a variety of positions can lend texture to a performance.

OK, folks, congratulte me: I've finally reached the magic 50 with this post and hopefully have done so in a way that at least some members will find interesting and helpful!
Dr. TORA
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For me it is the performer who is boring not the routines nor the effects themselves. Naturally math outines are not for every performer and every audience. For example you are performing for really youngters at the elementary school or for the olds at a rest house Normally it is not wise to use math routines. But for an intellectual audience such as a crowd at a college, math rotines get really great response- at least it had worked for me so far. Especially when you challenge against a calculator or a computer-as it is in lightning calculations- it gets GREAT response. Because in this way you prove that human mind is superior to a machine and the spectator may associate himself with the performer subconsciously. It is a personal choice to do Math routines, so it is not convenient as good or bad just say suitable for the performer and the type of the audience.
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