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PhotobucketI once melted in my seat while watching a local professional magician open his act with a pompous statement: “What you are about to see are just tricks for entertainment only.  Wala akong power galing sa demonyo o sa anghel” (I have no power from demons or angels), or words to that effect.

Such opening preamble is called a disclaimer by conscience-stricken magicians. They want to fool their audience but have this irresistible urge to preface their performance with self-righteous apology like, “Excuse me, I’m about to fool you with a trick.”

PhotobucketTo use a disclaimer or not has been a long-running debate among magical thinkers who think they think profoundly.

Okay, I’m being facetious, but think about it—these deep thinkers of the magical art usually populate online forums. Most of them call themselves mentalists. They must have grown up in homes where their parents beat them blue every time they told a lie. As a result, now that they are adults, they have lost the ability to tell untruth like Jim Carrey’s character in the movie Liar, Liar.

This inability to tell a lie impairs their skill to create illusions which, the last time I checked, is the goal of every magic performance. Why they still insist on doing magic or performing mentalism and have not yet joined WikiLeaks is a mystery to me.

Proponents on the opposite sides of the disclaimer issue regale each other, and anyone willing to listen and be confused, with sophistry to make themselves sound important.

Well, I don’t get it why a trickster would want to trick his audience but would be so conscience-stricken he is moved to own up to tricking them. That’s bursting the illusion he wants to create.

Magic is not the only art in the civilized world that creates illusions through lies, fabrications and subterfuges. All fiction novels are lies.  That’s why they are called fiction.  All movies are illusions. The pictures are not moving.  They only seem to be moving.

PhotobucketBut do movie producers put a disclaimer in the beginning of the film saying, “What you are about to see are still pictures flashed to you at 24 frames per second to create the illusion of motion”?

We know they don’t. But magicians and mentalists who are averse to lying would say,”What you are about to see can be done by anyone with special training in psychology, NLP, or observation.” They then proceed to “read minds” and “predict something”, using glimpse techniques, center tears, gaffed books, and thumpers, thus rendering their disclaimer (psychology, NLP, observation) half-lies.

Half-lies (or half-truths) are still lies, but they sound innocent enough to soothe guilty feelings.

Listen up, guys.  If as a magician you want to entertain audiences by creating magic and illusion, don’t make your job more difficult than it already is.

Don’t tell audiences that your power is not from the devil or angel.  Let them decide that for themselves.

Don’t burst the bubble by reminding them that you are just doing tricks.  Audiences are more intelligent than you think.  They know a trick when they see one.

Don’t belabor the point by making much ado about your show being made up of tricks. People watching magic will enjoy it more if you allow, or help, them suspend their disbelief.

As a magician, that is your job—help spectators suspend their disbelief.

However, if bursting illusion fascinates you more, then you might as well join The Amazing Randi or wear a mask and expose the tricks on television.

Stay magical,