Talk:Magic (illusion)

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Hary Houdini[edit]

There are two pictures of Houdini - one of him as a person, and another doing an escapology trick. This wasn't an illusion but a genuine feat he perfomed.I intend to remove this as it doesnt fit in the category title. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Confusedmiked (talkcontribs) 12:24, 8 February 2011 (UTC)

Links to how various magic tricks are done[edit]

Give examples of how some "famous" tricks and then show how they are performed etc.


I see no reason to do this, an encyclopedic article on music would not include instructions on how to play Feur Elise on piano. --Iclavdivs (talk) 21:16, 10 June 2008 (UTC)


The "Learning Magic" section is a bit of a mess, gramatically. Someone should fix it.

Shouldn't Harry Houdini be included somewhere in here?

Suggest adding mentalism (of the 'mind-reading' or psychological form) as one of the categories of magic. It is clearly not represented by any of the categories. If magicians were only performing the visual magic covered by the listed categories, Derren Brown is merely an entertaining psychologist. As much as he'd like to be thought of that way, he's a magician, and his brand should be included.

How about simply using the term illusion instead of the ambiguous term magic altether when talking about magic (illusion)? It is much easier to directly link to illusion in an acticle than magic (illusion). --Anon

  • Illusion is also a flawed term. A mirage in a desert is an illusion, but it is not magic. --CYD
  • Wouldn't work, magic is the most used term and that's what people will use to try and look it up. Vote to keep it as is. - MGM 10:00, Apr 21, 2004 (UTC)

Just added a stub to Illusion which will hopefully cover these various cases. Bryan Derksen

According to


  1. The doctrine that the material world is an immaterial product of the senses.
  2. The use of illusionary techniques and devices in art or decoration.

Neither of this refers to magic. I have never, ever heard of magic being referred to as illusionism before; it's simply called magic, at the risk of being confused with the supernatural version. -- CYD

Both "illusion" and "magic" may have an intentional motive behind their production. There is no question here regarding "magic" but "illusion" does not necessarily carry such connotation; noting above what is said about mirage.

In dungeons and dragons illusion magic is a separate type of magic that conjures illusions. Obviously in D&D magic is "real" but still. -- 16:56, 8 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Hi there, IMO Illusions are the humogous big magic tricks or the ones laymen just don't even have an explanation for even if their small. I've started the WikiMagic Project to sort the magic pages out and I appreciate your input. Unfortunately, I feel the disambiguation is neccesary... Expect changes... - MGM 10:00, Apr 21, 2004 (UTC)

Removed this:

  • Magic is a mystery entertainment

On the grounds that it's just restating the first argument in less explicit wording. If this is a quote of some sort, attribute. JRM 12:48, 2004 Nov 5 (UTC)

Sleights and Gimmicks[edit]

Don't you think that the badmouthing of gimmicks is a little to much. Also, closeup magic is not "based mostly on sleights". This is dependent on the act.

Additions to the List of Magicians[edit]

I found the list of magicians to be somewhat lacking, mostly consisting of modern magicians. So.. I'd like to use this talk area to discuss other magicians that should be in this list. My first suggestion would be Dai Vernon. He's the man who fooled Houdini with an Ambitious Card Routine.

great. but what happened to list of magicians? shouldnt it be listed on the page? Tiksustoo 23:16, 15 October 2005 (UTC)
It's in the info box at the bottom of the page. I expanded Template:Magicbox and thus made the See also section obsolete. Sorry for any confusion. -- Krash 01:21, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Monetary value of magic tricks[edit]

Re the secrecy section. I have been told (by a magician who worked an event I hosted) that the key reason for magicians not revealing their secrets willy-nilly is that they are valuable. One magician will sell another magician the secret behind a trick based on the "wow factor" of the trick. With this in mind, it comes obvious why the circle of secrecy is maintained - if you blabbermouth about a trick, no-one will sell you any more, because you are devaluing their product. The article currently doesn't say this and seems to imply the aims are more noble! Pcb21| Pete 12:54, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

This is simply not true, to keep NPOV, you can put this in, but if and ONLY if you can find a source for it. I have been doing magic professionaly for four years and have never heard of such a thing. Most of the tricks/secrets to come out in the past fifty years have just been repeats of tricks already created. As evidenced by books such as The Trick Brain, there are only a finite amount of ways to do tricks anyway. The reason that secrets aren't given away IS because of the wow factor, but not because of the money. If the secret is out, there is no more wow factor for this audience. This will make the effect essentially useless for the magician. (Anonymous poster)
It makes sense, and may very well have been an early reason for such secrecies. One could also say secrecy was maintained because it allowed magicians to retain a certain power of their audiences or communities. Even nowadays, no matter how many times a mentalist will insist openly and emphatically that their magic is very simply a blend of art and science, some audiences member will, as if they had never even listened, believe and insist that the magician has some kind of supernatural ability. So I agree with the second commentator who says to include your reason only if you can find a good source for it. For I can tell you, from firsthand, up close experience, that a large number of people already know how things are done, and a good portion of the rest of them can often figure things out on the fly. What matters most is not the "WHAT" of the secret, but the "HOW" - we know what happens in most cases, but when it is done SPECTACULARLY, it is a real joy to see time and time again. Sam Freedom 23:51, 6 November 2005 (UTC)
"The Trick Brain" should not be used as evidence in any direction. It's an dangerous book that should be read with several shovels of grain of salt, or even better, be taken out to be burnt. The main theory in it is wrong. Follow the templates in the book, and you will get crap.
There are many reasons why a magician will not talk about the inner-workings of his material. Of those, there are only two that can be judged as valid:
    • It's not his to discuss. In shareware, you are free to use the software in any way you like, but not the source code. It's something similar in magic effects. You are allowed to perform the effect, but it is the creator's privilege to decide how (or if) the "source code" should be discussed. Most creators, in an effort to avoid getting their names separated from their creations, tie the "source code" and the performance rights to a manuscript. Meaning, the magician is free to tell anyone about the inner-workings, but then he would have to hand over the manuscript as well, thereby loosing the rights to perform said piece. Of course, this is based on a honour system. But if you aspire to become a known name in the field, you are a bit careful about the risk of pissing off a creator you admire.
    • There's not enough time or interest. I mainly perform my own creations, meaning that I am free to explain the inner-workings to whoever I want. Which I'm happy to do, because I'm quite proud of several of the pieces, and are flattered when anyone takes an interest in my work. However, in most cases, people ask in the middle of a performance, and that's not a good time for me to stop. So I usually answer that they should ask me afterwards. If they do, I tell them that I'd be happy to discuss my creation, if they are really really sure they want to listen to it. Because I've noticed that most people believe that I can summon it up in a single sentence, which - of course - is an odd thought. But people usually don't know that there's quite a difference between amateur material and what they've just seen. If they still insists, I tell them. It usually takes one hour to explain one item. Many of the curious ones find out already after 15-20 minutes that they were not really interested in the inner workings after all, but by then, I don't let them off the hook. I take pride in my work, so I don't simplify it. And afterwards, they usually are even more impressed, but very tired (some of the concepts are rather hard to understand). My offer to explain the other pieces they were curious about is usually turned down :-)
Most other reasons are nonsense. The ones who claim that the "secret" should be protected at all costs are nuts - because how would they themselves have gotten their knowledge if that were true? In many cases, the magician are lazy, and relies on simple (but effective) amateur tricks, and have no desire to reveal his lack of skill in the craft. The real stuff works no matter if it just has been explained or not (something I regulary prove in my university lectures). A third usual reason is that there can be a psychological need to hoard "secrets", a way of making oneself important by knowing something few others know. And finally, there's a bunch of amateur magicians who have been fostered by some kind of profit-based magic shop, who has the mistaken assumption that a magic "secret" must have a monetary value. That's nonsense. Most of the items, created by others, that I've added to my repertiore during the last 12 years have been gifts from the originators. And most of my own published material have been given away to people that I like and respect. I've not spent a dime on "secrets" for many years. Have hardly earned a dime on my own "secrets" either. :-) So, there are valid reasons for not discussing the inner-workings, but if the claimed reason isn't any of the two I mentioned, someone have misunderstood something. --TStone 23:27, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

Blaine And Brokaw[edit]

I saw David Blaine and Tom Brokaw talking for an hour during the Times Square New Year's Eve programming from NBC a few years ago. Isn't that the sort of thing that should be included to give an idea of the status of magic in today's society? To expand, cf Hong Kong or Korean Sunday paper magazine photos of floating ninjas presented in an emotional timbre that is more or less equivalent with Normal Rockwell. Is House of Games mentioned in the article? Or Pachinko? Putting your kid through an Ivy League school from winning at Pachinko or the horses is where magic becomes concrete.McDogm-- 14:32, 1 May 2005 (UTC)

Images - lack of![edit]

It really is exhilirating to see such an EDGY and contemporary take on magic. I cannot be alone if appreciating being introduced to magicians other than the usual in magic history.

The page however starts losing colour - literally! - halfway down. I have repositioned Houdini's picture so that it starts an alternate. 'left-right', pattern of images down the piece. I have also placed images in the Categories and Specialities section. I am using as 'List of magicians' and existing articles on Wikipedia as an editorial guide on WHAT images to include.

More colour please...

Viziermeister Viziermeister 12:49, 12 September 2005 (UTC)

Types of magic performance[edit]

I brought this up at Talk:Street magic just moments ago:

What is parlor magic and does it need its own article? I would contrast it with stage magic (redirects to magic (illusion)) and street magic (has its own article). But there aren't really clear-cut definitions that I can see and many classifications seem to overlap each other. This article makes no particular mention of parlor or street magic, even in this section.
-- Krash 13:13, 18 September 2005 (UTC)

I too am copying our discussion from Talk:Street magic

Krash, the difficulty with definitions is that geography determines who or what counts as street magic. aladin may be known in some circles and probably does cross over into the category of non Western street magician, but it is not enough to have a sole representative of that side of it; we must seek greater balance. Ironically Jeff Sheridan and aladin are best placed to contribute! But certainly contributions and contributors from further afield are needed. As for parlor magic - this seems to be a genre including 'Close Up' surely? Or perhaps 'Parlor Magic' dignifies the other?! Lynrdandersen 01:44, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
Parlour magic is what most of us do. Before TV it was far more usual with performances in people's homes, and the performer seldom knew beforehand if he would be surrounded, if it would be cramped and tight of space or not. You had no idea if it would be 5 spectators or 75... The format required the evolution of a formal act that could be performed successfully, no matter how the performing area looked like, and that could be performed without setting up beforehand, and without leaving anything behind afterwards. These day, the term is used for any venue with a medium sized audience (25-250 spectators), where you don't depend on knowing how the stage will look (or even knowing if there will be a stage or not). Another word for the same thing is "Platform magic".--TStone 23:46, 24 January 2006 (UTC)

There are a lot of problems with this page. Trying to categorize magic into "five broad genres" or "seven types of illusion" is surely original research. There is no definitive list. Where does the statement of 'Magic performance falls into five broad genres' come from? And does the genre refer to the size of audience or the type of effect being performed? I know many magicians who would consider Platform and Cabaret to be much the same. (BTW the term Parlor Magic is still very much in use.) If you look at magic dealers' catalogues, you'll see as many 'genres' as there are dealers. This could get exhausting and frustrating - there are more pegs than holes. Similarly, if a distinction between "bizarre" and "shock" is being made, then surely escapology, ventriloquism, supermath demonstrations, dove acts, manipulators, spirit writing, juggling, fire-eating, sword-swallowing, impromptu performance, etc., etc., would all need specialist categories of their own. And what about the specialists in such object-oriented fields as coins, cards, thimbles, ropes, billiard balls, cigarettes, etc. Maybe a less restrictive, open-ended organization of this page is called for ... 04:07, 1 August 2007 (UTC)

vandalism anyone?[edit]

I just spotted this at the base of the page, above the Categories section - should we delete it and block the perpetrator? as usual it is somebody without an account. here is what it says:

See illusion. A trick is something a whore does for money...or candy.

makes the page suck.thegirlinwhite 22:59, 25 September 2005 (UTC)

I've reverted it. It's pretty clear cut vandalism, as it's just has nothing to do with magic. In general, this is the sort of thing I would just delete on sight. You might want to look at Wikipedia:Revert, which how to (and to an extent when to) revert an article back to a preview version, which is the usual response to vandalism. Silverfish 00:00, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Thanks Silverfish! I am a Wiki ingenue so was not sure about the protocols to do with reverting - leave alone HOW to do it! thegirlinwhite 00:10, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

Links to Magazines[edit]

Do we really need the external links to all those magazine sites? Can someone with a more knowledge about magic let me know whether these really are worthwhile sites for someone interested in the topic? I am afraid it represents a mild case of promotion to these mags through link spamming. Cheers --PhilipO 21:26, 13 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you. Also, the first two look suspiciously like spam to me as well. -- Krash 01:26, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
But why did you remove the links to the magic-related lists and the link to WikiProject::Magic? I don't know of any policy on Wikipedia that indicates they do belong in this article. --PhilipO 16:26, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
They're included in the (updated) magicbox now. As such, the internal links are redundant. Links to Abracadabra and Magic word, while cute, are not really relevant to this article. I've witnessed removal of Wikipedia namespace pages from articles. As such, I'm following suit. That's why we put this template on the appropriate talk pages? -- Krash 16:55, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
OK - I didn't notice the template at the bottom of the page. Looks good. Cheers. --PhilipO 00:20, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Types of Magic -- Street Magic?[edit]

I know Street Magic has its own article. But it seems to me that it at least deserves a mention under "Types of Magic," along with a link to its page. I'm perfectly willing to write the necessary paragraph, but I wanted to seek opinions here first, in case this has been discussed in the past. CrayDrygu 03:46, 28 November 2005 (UTC)

Natural and supernatural[edit]

A lot of articles here which have "magic" in their titles seem to refer to magic illusions, i.e., Magic (illusion). Sorry if the redirect I did on card magic messed up the naming convention.

Please clue me in if I'm going astray. Elabro 16:48, 6 December 2005 (UTC)


Folks who watch this page might be interested in the current debate at Wikipedia:Articles_for_deletion/Intellectual_rights_to_magic_methods; in particular, is it of interest to illusionists? Should it be merged into this article? Should it be linked to, from this article? Or should it be deleted entirely? -Ikkyu2 03:23, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

Elaboration needed[edit]

Regarding the following piece in the article:

some performers preferred to renovate the craft on stage - such as The Mentalizer Show in Times Square which dared to combine spirituality and the ancient wisdom of kabbalah with the art of magic

It is necessary to add something about what kind of event "The Mentalizer Show" was. I've went through a number of sources and can not find any references to it --TStone 22:15, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

There are any number of places in this article that could use elaboration. For instance, under "transformations" the term "Drift King" is used. 21:31, 17 May 2007 (UTC)

Not sure where to put external links[edit]

I've just removed this external link that was recently added to Magic (paranormal):

and I'm not sure where to put it in the articles relating to Magic (illusion), or whether to add it here at all. I'll leave it to you guys to figure out. Thanks, Fuzzypeg 05:12, 13 April 2006 (UTC)

Another possible link to add: I just removed List of magic organizations from the Magic disambiguation page. If a See also page is ever added here, that might be worth a link. SnowFire 22:33, 13 May 2006 (UTC)

Uri Geller[edit]

The 'Misuse of magic' section takes the view that Uri Geller is an illusionist with no paranormal powers. There seems to be a degree of debate on the matter. Whatever one's personal view is, it shouldn't be the role of this article to decide upon that debate and it doesn't appear to be in keeping with a neutral point of view to omit mention of the fact that there is a debate. scotsboyuk

The 'degree of debate' is amongst the general public, not among magicians. Magicians are well aware of Uri Geller's methods for conducting telekinetic stunts. Reporting Geller as anything else would be akin to reporting that there is a debate among the general 'public' as to whether or not most peptic ulcers are produced by stress or Helicobacter pylori. What the public perceives and what the professionals know are often two different realities. Roadshow

As a magician, I will say that amongst magicians, there is no doubt whatsoever that Uri Geller is a fraud. I would say that the POV tag ought to be removed.--GordonLi 08:01, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

Deception in Magic[edit]

Re: "In modern conjuring, it is not considered fully honest to give a performance which claims to be anything other than a clever and skillful deception. "

Can this be justified at all? It's untrue to the best of my knowledge, at least in most areas of magic. To a magician a performance is seen as trickery but many magicians (the more mentalism-oriented) prefer to give the impression of 'something more' going on to laypeople watching the performance. At least, that's what I thought. --Katrielalex 10:40, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

I am adding two "magicians", Da Vinci and Pinetti. Da Vinci and his wonderful machines, some utilized only to entertain, performed in front of the King of France and De' Medici of Tuscany during the Renaissance. Pinetti anticipated many of the tricks of Jean Eugene Robert-Houdin by more than 60 years. --Jack 15:27, 4 Feb 2007 (UTC)

This is ridiculous assertion and reflects a POV that is not universal among magicians. This section should be removed or labeled as opinion, not fact, with a counter point. August 19, 2007 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:35:33, August 19, 2007 (UTC)

I have to agree. While I personally take the stance as it stands in the article, the view is far from universal and a performer who purports to have true magical powers is far from considered to be dishonest or immoral. It is widely considered unethical to use the methods of magic performace in a venue outside of the performance sphere (for example, as a medium or psychic, or in any way that impacts another person's life outside of the entertainment realm), but the article as is implies that a children's birthday party magician who claims his magic wand is making a silk dance in the air is doing something reprehensible. This is simply untrue. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:52, 2 October 2009 (UTC)


Re SECONDARY IMPORTANCE. Artists in other media such as theatre, cinema, dance and the visual arts increasingly work using similar means but regard their magical techniques as of secondary importance to the goal of creating a complex cultural performance. The article is right; there are, indeed, artists who feel that, as far as art is concerned, magic and magical techniques are of secondary importance. In Switzerland these artists are called artists of secondary importance. --BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 09:30, 12 February 2007 (UTC)

Re AMBIGUITY. A magician is neither defined by his tools nor by the field he works in. A magician is someone who can bring people to accept and enjoy ambiguity, and be it only for a few fleeting moments. The magician isn't out to make anyone believe anything; he's aiming for something much more difficult to achieve: he wants people to suspend their disbelief. This is what magic is all about, and this is also the effect that every real artist is trying to produce: It can't be true, and yet it can't be denied; the water is turning into wine in front of your own eyes. - Houdini or Mozart, no difference. --BZ(Bruno Zollinger) 09:32, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

The Pledge, The Turn, The Prestige...[edit]

I know these aren't "true" magic tricks; but the three act structure of a magic illusion has become so popular (invented by Christopher Priest; though he may have just invented the "prestige" part) that a lot of magicians even use the terms. So it's pretty much become a real term -- this is how words are made. You don't leave "french fries" out of the dictionary, and ESPECIALLY not out of an encyclopedia, just because fries aren't made by the French. This is how all terms/words start; a lot of times, they originate from an unexpected source.

The three act structure should be included in this article.

Another example would be the three act structure of a screenplay (in motion pictures). The ideas were probably coined by someone who noticed that screenplays tend to have a beginning, middle, and end -- this is the same situation with Priest -- he noticed magic tricks (not always) often times have this three act structure.

Besides; the term/structure/acts have become so popular, you should include them in Wikipedia BECAUSE of that. Notability. 23:24, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

Your incoherent reasoning shows that you are engaging in what is known as original research. Publication of original research on Wikipedia violates two core policies: Wikipedia:No original research and Wikipedia:Verifiability. However, if you can find a magazine or newspaper article that expressly states that professional magicians are adopting the terminology used in The Prestige, then a discussion of such terminology would be appropriate in this article. Until then, it has to stay out as long as it's just Mr. Priest's personal fantasy about how magic tricks are structured (versus how professional magicians actually regard them). --Coolcaesar 07:36, 15 April 2007 (UTC)

Shock magic[edit]

I have never heard it called this. If someone would please put in a citation for it (I added Citation Needed to it). I have always seen and heard it called Geek Magic. Deflagro 17:31, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

Categories of Illusion/effects[edit]

How can categories of effects be listed without resorting to original research? Tarbell says there are only three: producing, vanishing and transforming. S.H. Sharpe says there are six, with fifteen sub-categories. Winston Freer says there are seventeen and Fitzkee says there are nineteen, etc, etc. With the categories as they are currently stated, it infers that all magical effects must fall into one of them. Where would, say, the Professor's Nightmare fit? Or Paul Harris' Out of this World? Or the Passe-Passe bottles? Fred Kaps smoking his thumb? Perhaps this section, along with the other controversial list on this page (the types of magical performance/genres) could best be presented as Magical Terms or a Glossary. Or an open-ended, alphabetic list? BTW, surely the term is effects not illusions? To a magician, illusion is either optical or something that costs over ten thousand dollars! Kosmoshiva 03:50, 2 August 2007 (UTC)

Exposing Magic and Wikipedia policy[edit]

I'm kinda new to the Magic series of articles. After browsing a few articles, I'm surprised that really important sleights like the shift (listed as the pass) are totally exposed. The guideline page on this seems to be no longer in effect. Is this why these articles aren't being worked on much?

The argument that these methods are published, and so Wikipedia should be able to also publish them if they are attributed to a source, seems flawed to me. "Published" in specialized trade books only obtainable through magic stores and dealers, and "published" on public web pages like Wikipedia, seem two different things to me.

Should an encyclopedia contain full details of how tricks are done? Or is it enough to explain the story line and apparent effect of each trick?

I also want to totally disagree with something that was said elsewhere, that no one wants to know the history of a trick, they just want to know how it's done. That may be true, but it's not Wikipedia's job to give them that, it's the magic community's job. Wikipedia's job is precisely to give the history and development of Magic. BWatkins 14:03, 15 August 2007 (UTC)

If the exposition of the methods doesn't violate any laws I see no reason to hide this knowledge intentionally from others since the magician's oath simply doesn't apply to people outside the magician's community. Wikipedia does also reveal the complete plots of novels and movies including the endings, and as far as I know there is no or little discussion about this.--SiriusB (talk) 10:15, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Um ... the 'oath' does apply most precisely to people outside the magician's community (albeit as an exclusionary device). Also, likening magical methods to the plots of novels and movies is disingenious. Murder mysteries might be a better parallel. Even then, the reader is eventually given the solution - unlike a magical effect where the spectator is kept in the dark. Despite this, mystery novels are afforded better treatement than magical effects in wikipedia. Looking under Dame Agatha Christie's entry, do we see special entries, headings, sections or columns for 'whodunnit' in her books? We do not. Under each book's entry, the murderer might be included in the plot summary but as part of the literary discussion as a whole. If, say, in magical effects, there was some kind of discussion about the principles at work - misdirection, optical delay, physics, etc, then we'd be getting somewhere towards balance.--Kosmoshiva (talk) 13:12, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
the 'oath' does apply most precisely to people outside the magician's community. No. With "the oath applies to a person" I mean that this person has to swear this oath. No non-magician will ever have to swear the magician's oath, thus never will have to promise not to reveal magic tricks. Also Wikipedia is not a magician's forum nor a magician's lobby organisation. Therefore I would argue that we do not need to care about the magician's code of honour since it is not out code of honour. If you are no vegetarian you won't avoid to eat meat just to show solidarity with vegetarians. Wikipedia is a platform that want's to provide knowledge, not to keep it in the dark (unless forced by law).--SiriusB (talk) 17:46, 4 May 2008 (UTC)
Well we must disagree. If I have knowledge that you want to know and I am bound by an oath not to reveal it to you, then I'd say, o meat-eating vegetarian, that you are very much feeling the effect of the oath. In the name of freedom of information, you are advocating misinformation which is totally fine by me, so long as you don't try to stick swords through your sister's head. The ones who care about the magician's code of honour are magicians, you're right. Wouldn't you want them as resources instead of enemies? To say that you don't care a fig about your subjects' system of ethics is not going to endear them to you. "Unless forced by law" you say. That's heartwarming. There's way more to magic than 'howitsdone'. --Kosmoshiva (talk) 00:10, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Again: Should Wikipedia share any other people's codes of honour even if this requires to sacrifice the policy of freedom of information? We are not talking about spying magicians. We are talking about using sources that everyone could find at least after some investigation and spending money (e.g. on special books, or even reproduction of the effects by own experiments. Some famous tricks have even been revealed in TV shows). Do you see anything unethical with reporting the results? I would say, the only problem with the above might be to avoid Wikipedia:Original Research or the question whether a TV show may be taken as a citable source. However, if e.g. a card trick can be explained in a way that almost everyone is able to reproduce it with some exercise then even these problems are minor ones.--SiriusB (talk) 07:10, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
Once again, stalemate. If a magical article has "Method" or "Secret" as one of its headings, then Wikipedia is acting much as a rogue magical publication - ie a manual for performing the effect. I was looking for a compromise whereby Wikipedia could attract and keep the good faith of knowledgeable (ie magician) editors. Drawing a hard line in the sand as you are proposing is going to turn them away in droves and ultimately weaken the encyclopedia. You talk about "other" people's codes of honour being different than "Wikipedia"? I was under the impression that Wikipedia is entirely comprised of "other" people. And yes, you are talking about spy magicians, since no accredited magician will contribute knowingly to mass exposure. So you are talking about purposefully excluding the one group of people who actually have knowledge on the topic. Once again, it ain't about the methods. The methods are the means by which an illusion is created and there are many, many ways to skin the cat.
It's true that most anyone can buy a book that can act as a source. But if one is serious in one's study, then it won't be long before the ethics of using such sources (clearly against the wishes of the author) will strike home and one will need to stay anonymous from other magi. So yes, you are talking spy magicians. Or mischievous lay people.
There is no other area in Wikipedia comparable to this, with perhaps the exception of secret or religious societies. Magic is very different in that it is openly secret and there is an understanding between the public and magicians about the need for this secrecy. Much work and care goes into creating such paradoxes which becomes belittled when all you care about it howitsdone. I say remove the "method" sections and talk about the effect in a mature way, its history, its creators, its performers and principles. Either that, or forever be naughty boys playing tricks on the teachers ... --Kosmoshiva (talk) 13:16, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
First of all, your are not talking about a compromise but total compliance with the magician's rules because you obviously wish to remove all explanations of magical tricks entirely and leave only the effects (BTW why merely talk about this? Just do it, if you feel that this might improve Wikipedia, and let's see how other authors think about it). I.e. you wish Wikipedia to share the magician's oath in keeping all tricks secret. This is unjustified because it means to act in favour of a small minority against the vast majority of non-magicians. If you wish to attract magician editors you would have to turn Wikipedia in to a magician's lobby what would guarantee that not only no tricks are revealed in current articles but all recent versions containing methods explanations would be deleted to ensure that no-one would ever find out what they might have revealed. You mention religious cults. As far as I remember the Australian Aborigines have some religious drawings which, in their believe, must kept from all other people's view. Every non-Aborigine who views such a religious drawing is said to be cursed to death. Should Wikipedia now share the Aborigine's believe and remove all images that might be related to their cult or prohibit uploading them (even if no official law is violated by the exposition), because Aborigine editors might turn them away? Or that non details about the interiour of ancient egyptian tombs should be presendet here because the pharaohs most surely wanted them kept in the dark forever? None of these groups, IMHO, have exclusive rights or ethics about what the rest of the world is allowed to know or not.
BTW this "understanding between the public and magicians" you mention is far from being shared by the entire public. Otherwise TV shows exposing famous magical tricks wouldn't be successful. For example I belong to those people who prefer a temporary secrecy, i.e. the trick should kept secret as for a while after it's first use, but after a while (20 years or so) it should be possible to take a look at the insights (this applies to industrial secrets as well — they should become puplic domain after a while). Why do you think that the magician's claim for secrecy is more important than the claim of many other peoble to eventually find out the long-lasting secrets behind them?--SiriusB (talk) 07:50, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
You're jumping to conclusions and interpreting my position as hostile. Your 'obviously's' are your own conclusions as proved by your questioning as to why I'm not deleting the methods. Why are we talking about this? Hmmm .... maybe out of respect for your position? So have another read of what I wrote. Yes, compromise. No, not necessarily deletion - especially of 'cereal packet' magic tricks that can be sourced to a place outside the magical community. I'm talking about not having a "Method" or "How it's Done" section heading - you know, like big bold letters first thing your eye sees on opening the page. Like respect. Magic is more like music in that it is a performance art. Do we have 'how to write a Beethoven sonata' sections. Or 'Gershwin is just a bunch of augmented 9ths'? I thought Wikipedia was an encyclopedia not a manual. I'm not interested in the secrets, since I know that there are many, many methods out there and the moment you post one method, another will surface to take its place. I'm interested in preserving the history of magic and the people who dare to imagine impossible things into being.--Kosmoshiva (talk) 13:07, 6 May 2008 (UTC)
How should one understand your suggestion to remove the magical headings in another way than to remove these sections entirely, i.e. including the content? As far as I understand your statements you wish to restrict the access to the information how professional tricks (not "'cereal packet' magic tricks that can be sourced to a place outside the magical community") work. You say that exposing tricks might weaken Wikipedia by repelling members of the magical community. On the other hand, by sharing their non-exposition policy Wikipedia is weakened as well. Another anologon: If Wikipedia decides to show more respect for the Coca-Cola Company all sections exposing (possible) recipes of Coca-Cola would have to be removed, and Coca-Cola-related articles must restrict themselves only to describe the history and taste of this product. I do not interpret your position as "hostile". But there are other examples of self-censorship (especially in weapons-, explosives- or 'cracking software'-related articles in de.wikipedia) that rise fears of a progressive cutback of freedom of speech.--SiriusB (talk) 07:27, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
I don't have an issue with covering Coca-Cola in that way. One can learn about Coca-cola without having to know the formula for making it oneself. At some point, don't we have to ask "What is an encyclopedia, and what is it's purpose?" It's already a Wikipedia policy that it's not a how-to manual. It's not a Magic encyclopedia, but a general one. Just because Wikipedia isn't a paper encyclopedia doesn't mean it is an indescriminate collection of info. There has to be a criterion for what to include and what to exclude. As for turning magicians away from contributing, I think that's been well established. BWatkins (talk) 20:04, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Of course one can argue that Wikipedia should be no more than an ordinary encyclopedia that provides only a very general and flat level of information. As far as I remember, Wikipedia's strength in many encyclopedia tests (e.g. Wikipedia vs. Brockhaus vs. Encyclopaedia Britannica etc.) has ever been that it provides also some special knowledge which others do not have. Removing information just to keep Wikipedia 'flat' is not what I would say a good quality management. This discussion is not limited to disclosure of 'classified' information. There have also been some edits by (mostly anonymous) users in technical articles (e.g. the nuclear weapons articles in de.wikipedia) aiming to reduce there content to a very general one. Fortunately, the majority agreed in restoring the original rich and detailed content.--SiriusB (talk) 13:58, 8 May 2008 (UTC)
I suspect that the more we say "this is like art" or "this is like Coca-Cola", we're going to end up bickering ad infinitum. I'm not trying to convince you of anything. I'm trying to find a way that Wikipedia can have magic articles that are factually accurate. I'm trying to find a way to contribute by taking the onus off the method, since that's the one area that I (and other magicians) cannot and will not contribute to. Bear in mind the following:
  • The art of magic is based on misunderstandings and misconceptions.
  • Wikipedia is full of methods that are wrong, bad guesses, partially correct, ambiguously expressed and just plain ol' original research.
  • The more erroneous guesses that are in the public field, the better for magicians.--Kosmoshiva (talk) 13:51, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Instead of replying directly to each point you said I refer to the project page Wikipedia:WikiProject Magic#Magic Methods and Exposure where this issue is being treated. Although this section has its focus on the legal aspects I agree with the basic idea that the exposure of magical tricks is in agreement with Wikipedia's policy provided that the guidelines of proper attribution and so one are followed (especially avoid original research unless this "research" is limited to trivial conclusions or e.g. elementary mathmatical/geometric/physical relations).
Some words about suggested methods in WP: Even if someone finds out all modern tricks it would not be possible to describe them here because it would be far beyond the scope if an encyclopedia. Therefore the "damage" to the magical community would be fairly small. But the description of one important trick (even if there are others that work completely different) would give the reader an impression about the 'arts behind the arts'. Again an analogon: To watch a space shuttle launch is really impressive (unfortunately, I never had an opportunity to watch one). But to watch it and to understand how it works is even more impressive. And yet another point: The description of selected good trick methods would give the reader an impression how far an illusion can be from reality and how much of our awareness of our surroundings is based on interpretations and inter-/extrapolations of or brain rather than on facts. Thus, to learn about selected magical tricks means learn much about oneself!--SiriusB (talk) 14:16, 7 May 2008 (UTC)
Then we are in agreement. Reductionism belittles both parties - those who perform and those who witness.--Kosmoshiva (talk) 15:23, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Magic and Drama[edit]

I've updated the opening paragraph. I removed the reference to other performance arts and am pasting it below to save it. It think it's a valuable discussion, but unreferenced. BWatkins 19:11, 18 August 2007 (UTC)

Artists in other media such as theatre, cinema, dance and the visual arts increasingly work using similar means but regard their magical techniques as of secondary importance to the goal of creating a complex cultural performance.

I swapped the terms 'illusionist' and 'conjuror' because conjuror is non-specific, whereas illusionist refers to a performer of large stage effects. Also, 'tricks' is seen as a pejorative term for many - you don't speak of a mentalist or escapologist performing 'tricks'. It's a shame that 'illusionist' and 'magician' link back to this page, so as it stands, no clarification can be made. Lastly, isn't the primary definition of magic that of creating the illusion rather than entertaining an audience? I'm not sure how to recast the sentence in amongst the references, otherwise I would have. Kosmoshiva 01:01, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Your last point is the most important, so I'll answer it first. What we as editors believe about magic isn't the point in an encyclopedia. It's what our sources say it is. The source I referenced -- and I've read this elsewhere too -- says that it's not about the tricks, its about entertainment. Why would magicians do tricks, if not to please an audience (even an audience of 1)? Also, as a performing art, magic implies performance. The tricks are just the means to that end. So I think that to say a magician entertains using tricks, is the correct wording.
Since conjuror is in the list of other names, I removed it from the main definition and just left it at "magician," which is easy to read. I'm looking for refs for each of the terms "magic trick", "effect", "illusion" so they will be attributed. BWatkins 11:43, 19 August 2007 (UTC)
We are in agreement. I was merely trying to avoid a trivial definition. “Entertain an audience” can be taken two ways, especially when the link takes you to a picture of a stilt-walker. I believe that when Maskelyne in 'Our Magic' said “... the primary aim of a magician’s art is to entertain the public,” he wasn’t talking about fooling them with a trick or “a dodge” as he puts it, but rather he was talking about the performing art as a close relative to acting and reminding magicians to put the emphasis on the shared experience, not the means.
By the way, my copy of Henning Nelms (an earlier edition, admittedly) doesn’t mention entertainment in its definition of magic: “The art of conjuring consists in creating illusions of the impossible”; indeed it then goes on to give a political anecdote about Robert-Houdin where conjuring was used most definitely NOT as an entertainment. Hmm.
But I am happy to stand by your edits (perhaps removing the link on 'entertain'?). Part of my response is connected to disclosure (which, as a card-carrying magician, I disagree with) and the number of casual surfers seeking immediate gratification of how ‘tricks’ are done. Kosmoshiva 16:51, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Magic Tap image[edit]

Can we find something to replace the Magic Tap? It's cool, but doesn't illustrate this article, which is about the performance art of magic. It would be good for illusion or optical illusion, but I think the opening picture should have a magician in it somewhere. BWatkins 11:59, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Nobody protested, so I decided to just be bold and delete it. I moved The Conjurer up instead. BWatkins 00:16, 29 August 2007 (UTC)

Lists of Magicians[edit]

I'm not comfortable with the recently added List of Magicians in Popular Entertainment. Do we have some criteria as to when to list a magician (or actor playing a magician) here? This could get out of hand quickly, and invites vandalism as people add themselves to the list for publicity. I didn't delete it, just moved it to a separate section while we discuss. BWatkins (talk) 19:54, 5 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree. Also, the 'short list of magicians' has turned into a vanity list. --Kosmoshiva (talk) 05:44, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

Okay, I deleted 'short list of magicians'. After all, there is a List of Magicians page already. Still don't know what to do about Magicians in Popular Entertainment (MIPE), does anyone else have an opinion on this? BWatkins (talk) 21:12, 6 March 2008 (UTC)

An invitation for participation American Museum of Magic[edit]

I've started an article that is (I think) worthwhile. While I have put in reasonably good sources, I do not have knowledge about this material, and am completely handicapped by never having been there. Anybody with information is invited to assist. FYI, there is a book available, if you happen to have access to it. Waldron, Daniel, American Museum of Magic: Its True Story (Paperback) Meyerbooks (June 1991). ISBN 0916638766 ISBN 978-0916638764. Thanks. 7&6=thirteen (talk) 01:02, 19 April 2008 (UTC) Stan


Ventriloquism, although a specialized field of magic and illusion, is nonetheless a notable and time-honoured art and deserves a mention as much as escapology or mentalism, IMHO. --Kosmoshiva (talk) 15:55, 20 August 2008 (UTC)

I disagree. I think ventriloquism may be an illusion, but it's not magic. I consider it a separate performance art, and probably belongs in the same category as puppeteering. I agree with the editors that have removed these references. I removed it again. Let's discuss this here before adding it back again. BWatkins (talk) 21:08, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
I haven't yet met a professional ventriloquist who isn't a member of a magical organization. The same cannot be said of puppeteers. Or jugglers. Or shadowgraphers. All sister arts, but ventriloquism seems to be born from magicians who then go on to specialize in the illusion of throwing one's voice. --Kosmoshiva (talk) 17:02, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree with BWatkins....although it is an allied art, Ventriloquism is not magic.....technically, it's puppetry....which is closer to "pure" theater. A vent belonging to a magic society validates your argument as much as the fact that I'm a democrat and belong to the Texas Rose Growers Society, therefore living life as a democrat means you practice growing roses....pardon me, but a very poor validation of your point, sir. Buddpaul (talk) 15:17, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with File:Dhenning.jpg[edit]

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Expanding 'Learning Magic'[edit]

I've decided to expand the 'Learning Magic' section with a list of some popular beginner tricks, such as the 3-way Coloring Book and the Ball Vase. I'll also include Linking Rings and Cups and Balls as tricks suitable for magicians of all levels. I think it's also valuable to mention positive qualities dedication to magic can instill: e.g., confidence, practice. The section is a little bare right now and should provide at least a little more guidance for an interested newcomer or the guardian of one. The existing stuff on books and DVDs is good.

Also, is there anything on Wikipedia about magic sets? There's a lot of energy around them in the collectors community. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mgotrue (talkcontribs) 23:55, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

I agree with the above....but it all needs to be such, these entries need to be properly of the pillars of Wikipedia. I'll check around about magic sets. Buddpaul (talk) 15:13, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

Unreferenced template[edit]

Although this article still needs A'LOT MORE WORK ON REFERENCES, technically, the unreferenced template nolonger applies.Buddpaul (talk) 15:11, 20 March 2009 (UTC)

More Vanity Lists[edit]

Would it be best on this page to avoid the listing of any 'famous names' of live magicians altogether so that we don't get the continual adding of non-notables or semi-notables using the page for self-promotion? I include images in this ego game. I suggest we stick to historical figures only. --Kosmoshiva (talk) 17:18, 24 May 2009 (UTC)

Since a List of Magicians page already exists, can we not remove the List of Famous Stage Illusionists entirely? It cannot hope to be exhaustive and is wide open for abuse, along the lines of 'my favourite pop-star'. This is an article about magic and illusion. Some names may get mentioned in passing or as part of the article, but to have lists of names in a profession that is rife with competition is asking for it and ends up looking half-*ssed. Where is Ballantine the Great when you need him? --Kosmoshiva (talk) 14:03, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Mr Becker[edit]

Can someone explain why the Herbert Becker image is on this page?--Kosmoshiva (talk) 00:00, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Can you clarify which image you're referring to, please? Buddpaul (talk) 15:35, 5 May 2010 (UTC)


This page is listed as needing a major overhaul. I think some people have done some positive things.....but please don't get lazy on including your edit summary each time so we know exactly what you did when you were here. There remain lots of "citation needed" items that either need to go or be properly cited.....some of them are great......but still require a citation. Buddpaul (talk) 15:40, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

Categories of Effects[edit]

In the list you have levitation, but from most magicians perspectives there is also suspension. In a levitation the object or person moves through the air. In a suspension the object stays in place. Examples. In teh Ashrah Levitation, a blanket is placed over a lady, she floats in the air under the blanket. You have also probably seen Doug Henning's Dancing silks routine. That is a levitation. An example of a suspension is teh broom stick supension. A broom is placed under a person's arm after they have been put in a trance. The legs are liftes and place on another broom. Then the broom is removed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:39, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Pure Illusion[edit]

  Magic is pure illusion.You can simply trick an untrained eye even with a deck of cards.Houdini was a great illusionist.That was his talent.You can awe an audience using mirrors and fake swords.What is more important is that your illusion remains a secret to continue it's impact.Chris angel is one illusionist that mainly uses a camera to hide everything else.You know our brain can deceive us immediately.  — Preceding unsigned comment added by Elaizaleen (talkcontribs) 11:40, 15 February 2012 (UTC) 


Could use a shout-out to the guys who build the machines that make the tricks work. Right now, wiki doesn't even have a proper article on them. — LlywelynII 21:35, 15 July 2012 (UTC)

Peacock words?[edit]

A recent edit has removed the words "much more spectacular" from description of Copperfield's levitation in the Categories of Effects section. On the one had, I do agree that the words are "peacock words", on the other hand, it seems to me that it is necessary to distinguish between previouis levitations and what Copperfield has done, because what Copperfield has done is indeed much more spectacular. Comments?--Gautier lebon (talk) 07:31, 31 July 2012 (UTC)

First book of magic[edit]

"The first book of magic tricks appeared in 1584"

Well that seems to be highly dependant on your definition. We know that a twenty-one force variation was demonstrated to the emperor of Austria in 1572, and that certainly qualifies as a "magic book". We also have blow books dating into the 1450s. Maury Markowitz (talk) 16:53, 21 February 2014 (UTC)