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PhotobucketA great majority of people around the world have a dread of, and an aversion toward, something. Sometimes it is so persistent they feel irrational fear of it.

Word pundits call these fears phobia from the Greek phobia, the common word for “fear” via the notion of “panic, fright.” (Dictionary.com)

Fear of spiders is called arachnophobia, fear of confined spaces, claustrophobia, and fear of the number 13 (believe it or not there is such kind of fear), triskaidekaphobia.

For many magicians in the Philippines, the number one phobia is detection.  I call it detectionaphobia.

Okay, I just made that up.  You won’t find the word in the dictionary or any reference book, but you get the point.

PhotobucketBecause magicians have an overwhelming fear of getting caught while performing, say, a sleight-of-hand, they move fast from stage to stage of their performance, execute their sleight at Guinness Book of Records speed, hoping to outpace people’s eyes.

The result is that they get away with the sleight but at the expense of leaving their audience confounded.

“What the heck was that all about?” people who watch them mutter to themselves as they go away. The performance confused them, and the magic failed to amaze them.

PhotobucketYou may have heard of the much bandied-about attributes of magicians, namely, that they have quick hands. This claim has given rise to the myth, “The hand is quicker than the eye.”

This myth may hold a sliver of truth. Many magicians in the Philippines, fearful of being caught, execute their sleight rapidly. Deep in their subconscious they may be saying, “Never mind if the audience don’t get the point of my performance, as long as they don’t catch the secret moves.”

These performers are thankful of the little blessings they get.

PhotobucketHowever, in most part, aspiring to outpace the eye by speeding up the execution of secret moves is an exercise in futility.  Even the fastest sleight of hand, say, a classic pass, cannot outpace the eye.

That explains why smart magicians perform the pass smoothly, not rapidly. They do it using physical covers (like a large motion masking the small motion) or with psychological covers (like misdirection, or laughter elicited by funny lines).

PhotobucketNext time you execute a sleight, remember that the hand is not really quicker than the eye. Trying to deceive it with speed instead of misdirection is a futile enterprise.

Stay magical,