Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Watch How Magician Thief Apollo Robbins explains Misdirection

TED (conference)
TED (conference) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Your brain has limited amount of processing power available, and generally it concentrates on one sense or another, or it can spend time going over your previous memories, but rarely if ever, do both with any sort of proper efficiency. Thus is the power of misdirection... Focusing on the things that you thought were important, but wasn't.

Apollo Robbins, the "gentleman thief", otherwise known as a theatrical pickpocket, makes a living by taking stuff out of other people's pockets in front of live audiences, and returning them, in amusing and mind-boggling ways. He recently got on TED talk and explained how his techniques work: your attention span (aka "Frank") is solo-tasking... can only do one thing at a time. Sound, vision, touch, smell, taste, or memory search. It can't do multiple things at once. And even when you see or hear, you engage only a tiny portion of your various senses.

When you see something, you only focus on the portion you need to focus on, even though you technically saw the whole thing. If I ask you to take our your smartphone and ask what icon is in lower right corner, put it away, then ask you did you see what time it was on the phone... would you know? That's part of the misdirection... You did see the phone... you just didn't see the clock portion (upper right in almost all instances).

Thieves and scam artists use the same tricks to get you to pay attention on parts you *can* see, known as the "focusing bias", and ignore the parts you can't see (fraudulent claims of profitability).  Magic always have a link with cons, as magic is basically playing with your confidence of your senses. However, magic is benign, while scams are not, as observed by magician Joss Stone.

I've previously explained that many scammers are amateur, or semi-pro magicians. Indeed, with power of misdirection (or pick-pocketing as a subset) it'd be incredibly easy to earn lots of money... if one has no ethics. Paul Burks, head of Zeek Rewards, was "the singing magician" before he went on to create the largest Ponzi scheme (in terms of victims) in US history.

Watch Apollo Robbins on his TED Talk, and enjoy the misdirection. And hint: did you figure out his final trick?
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