Not Too Perfect Clause

Ever heard the saying that “if something goes up, it’s a trick but something going across is real”? What this means is that if a trick is too impressive, it will convince a lot less people. This is just how the mind operates. When something is too good to believe, the mind has a hard time believing it.

Take for instance a magic trick that involves making a crumpled paper piece float up in air then perform somersaults and land back down slowly. The audience will never believe this trick because they will instantly think of invisible threads or some other gimmick, trying to justify the trick as not real. However, if another magician simply reveals that he is going to try and move the piece of paper using his mind and then stares hard at it for two full minutes before making the paper jerk across the table by just few inches, the audience will lap it up as real!

Obviously, if you try to think logically, neither makes any sense. Making a ball move a single inch or doing somersaults in the air are both equally impossible. It does not matter whether you make a crumpled piece of paper move or the Liberty Tower levitate – both are unlikely by laws of physics. This brings us to why the audience buys one untruth but not the other. Magicians like to call this the “too perfect theory”. The whole idea is to water down a trick or dumb it up as much as possible so that it is believable.

Take for instance if you have to predict headlines in a newspaper of the next day. Psychics will intentionally seal away three headlines in envelopes and make one of them wrong. This is to add authenticity to the act.

By predicting just two correctly, people naturally feel more inclined towards believing whatever the psychic says. Folks tend to be less suspicious when a magician makes tiny mistakes. It is like cheating on a paper. You know all the answers because you cheated but you intentionally get a couple wrong so the teacher never suspects you.

Take the following video for instance where Nina Kulagina makes a demonstration of her psychic abilities. It baffled scientists for some time.

As you see, the video is black and white, grainy. It isn’t full HD and shot in Las Vegas with tigers in the backdrop or show-girls to the side. The video therefore lends an air of credibility. In other words, if you wish to do magic right or mentalism right, remember to make the odd mistake. Be less than perfect intentionally to endear yourself to your audience.

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