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Teller Explains His Secrets

Posted by Josh Rothman  February 28, 2012 08:03 AM

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Over at Smithsonian magazine, Teller of Penn and Teller explains the secrets to being a great magician, boiling it all down to seven tips. My favorite: "Nothing fools you better than the lie you tell yourself":

[Magician] David P. Abbott... used to make a golden ball float around his parlor. After the show, Abbott would absent-mindedly leave the ball on a bookshelf while he went to the kitchen for refreshments. Guests would sneak over, heft the ball and find it was much heavier than a thread could support. So they were mystified. But the ball the audience had seen floating weighed only five ounces. The one on the bookshelf was a heavy duplicate, left out to entice the curious. When a magician lets you notice something on your own, his lie becomes impenetrable.

There's got to be a life lesson in there somewhere. More -- including an example trick, explained -- at Smithsonian.

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.

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