The 60% Force

Having a spectator freely select one out of four objects gives you a chance of 1:4 or 25% that each single object is picked. By knowing which face-down card in a row of four is selected more often than others, you can increase the chances of having your “favorite” card picked to 60%. (You could call this a force, even though it’s not surefire.) This is the essence of a new piece of academic research by Gustav Kuhn et. al., which has just been published. You can read the abstract online here.

According to the paper, out of four cards, 60% of the participants in an experiment freely chose the third card from their left (or the second from the right–but I’m sure that you’ve already calculated that). Please enjoy my masterful visualization of this key finding:

Graph60%

Yet these participants felt that their choice was extremely free. They also underestimated the actual proportion of people who selected the target card.

(My guess would be that this result is partly due to the overwhelming majority of right-handed people in the world.)

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By the way, Matt Tompkins from the SOMA Committee keeps a constantly updated “Science of Magic Bibliography” with academic papers published in English since 1887 (which means that some important early German and French research on the psychology of magic is missing there.) And here’s a special on the topic from “Frontiers in Psychology” in free PDF format.

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Read more about the upcoming SOMA conference in London here.


 

A Conference on Magic and Happiness

SOMA_Cards

The SOMA has just announced a new symposium on the “Science of Magic, Wellbeing & Happiness,” which will take place on April 4th, 2020, at Goldsmiths University of London.

As they write,

The symposium focuses on how the impossible art of magic can enhance social, psychological, and physical wellbeing.

Not only will you learn about the scientific evidence, but you’ll also gain perspectives from experts who run wellbeing-focused magic organizations in healthcare, as charities, and more.  It will be a great opportunity to connect with others in this field and explore further research avenues together.

Organized by Steve Bagienski and Gustav Kuhn, the line-up of speakers will bring together academic researchers of magic like Richard Wiseman with representatives of various magic charity organizations.

You can find more information here.


 

Words and Thoughts on Wonder

Speaking of interviews, science magician and professional speaker Dr. Matt Pritchard from the UK runs a fine, scholarly website which I have been pointed to only very recently. In his own words, the site’s concept is quite simple:

I interview a host of creatives, magicians and scientists about their work and how they cultivate & share wonder. They are all people who have inspired me in my own work or just made me go “Wow!”

The 70+ interviews are a treasure trove of interesting people with fascinating ideas or areas of expertise. Advice: Do not only hunt for the magicians! (But make sure to read R. Paul Wilson.)

Highly recommended!

WoW
Website Screenshot