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This is a great performance by Yann Frisch of the classic Sleight of Hand routine, Cups and
Balls.

Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand is a way of moving objects around without an observer seeing or comprehending how they are moving thus making the observer believe that the movement is defying the laws of physics in 3 dementional space. More specifically, that magic is being performed.

Sleight of hand, also known as prestidigitation (“quick fingers”) or legerdemain, is the set of techniques used by a magician (or card sharp) to manipulate objects such as cards and coins secretly. [Wikipedia]

Here is the snarky magic act, Penn and Teller, performing the Cups and Balls act, and then explaining how it’s done in real time. Watch the whole video, then go back and watch the first demonstration.

Notice that every time they put a cup back, Teller is tossing another ball into it. The best trick, though, is when Penn says he is putting one ball under the middle cup, but is in fact putting three balls under the cup…

While you can make your own cups and balls like Penn and Teller did, you can buy a nice set like this Cups and Balls Set from Loftus International. Here’s a good video tutorial for performing a simple Cup and Balls routine with styrofoam cups and napkin wad balls. It’s so simple, a child could do it…

 

The interesting thing is that while the trick is the trick and once you see how it is being done, everyone performs it in a different way. The Yan Frisch performance above is by far the most entertaining. And that entertainment, is the misdirection or distracting bit that makes the whole thing possible. Don’t believe that misdirection and distraction can be powerful? Check this out:

Learn more about how selective attention makes a lot of things possible, including magic in The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Intuitions Deceive Us.

-Mike

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