Card Tricks vs World Peace

Earlier this year, I was contacted in my role as the president of The Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club (I have since ended my term and stepped down) to comment on a documentary entitled World Peace vs Card Tricks. Their first email:

Hi

We are working on a documentary about magicians called "world peace vs card tricks", we investigate magicians at large concerning alarming world issues such as world peace, world poverty, aids, cancer to name a few, as we've seen magicians like Dynamo, David Blaine, Derren Brown, doing the impossible, how about the impossible for the poor, the sick, the oppressed etc. Never has the world seen a magician/s coming together to use their abilities for world preservation purposes.

We would like to hear from all the magicians who are part of your organisation and of course your organisation itself, what do you all have to say about this, if it so happens that your response is "no comment", it will be unfortunate to tell a one sided story, which will be all about what we see, magicians doing nothing about anything profound for the world.

Regards Eden

Having read similar things, I had a feeling where this was going.

And their second email:

Hi James
Thank you for your reply on our documentary which is in progress, magicians can do what average people cannot do, of course magicians tell us everyday that "its not really magic, just tricks", anyone who seen magic will say otherwise.
We are not talking raising money, we are talking about modern day Jesus, where he really existed or myth, his tricks/magic was all for uplifting the poor, the dying, sick etc. Jesus aside, magicians are all about making tricks for cheers.
Another angle we are tackling is that of many people including myself have been at the recieving end of it, suffered heavily, voodoo, wicca etc.
Regards
Eden

So I would like to respond with an open letter to the producers of Card Tricks vs World Peace.

Hi Eden,

I understand where you're coming from, however I'm going to have to disagree with everything you've said.

The reason that magicians tell you every day "it's not really magic, just tricks" is because it's not really magic, it's just tricks. I can say that to you with complete honesty as the past president of two chapters of the International Brotherhood of Magicians; the Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club and the P. Howards Lyons Ring.

One of the principle activities of these organizations was to organize seminars and workshops with leading magicians, actually share how the tricks they perform actually work. This exchange is one of the principle ways we advance our craft. These have included well known tricks and even some which have been performed on TV by the performers you mention. One thing they all have in common is that they are all tricks which have no "real magic" component to them.

You said that "magicians can do what average people cannot do." This is simply incorrect. A magician can do things that the average person could do with access to the proper information, resources and time to practice. This is exactly analogous to the way a dentist can do things that an average person could do if they were willing to work their ass off through several years of school.

You claim, "anyone who seen magic will say otherwise." I've likely seen more magic than 99% of the population and I don't say otherwise. I've had the feeling many times in my life of seeing a trick performed and not knowing how it was done. I agree that it's a powerful experience. But over the years, I've had the opportunity to learn how those things were actually done. The answer is never magic. So I know from experience it's simply foolish to claim that because you can't explain something you see, the answer must be magic.

With regards to your other claim about Wicca and Voodoo, there is no magic to be found there either.

I don't demand you take my word for it. You might want to do some further research. In particular, I would point you to the James Randi Educational Foundation and the Centre for Inquiry that actively investigate these sorts of claims. Also by coincidence, there are two discussions (a 6-person panel and an interview with Randi) which have recently appeared online which talk about the ethics of magicians claiming abilities they don't have. I think you'll find them very useful.

I realize this is probably not the information you were looking for, but I hope you will take the time to reevaluate your plans for the documentary given that you would be blaming people for using or not using people for powers they don't actually have.

Education about topics like this matters a great deal to me and I'm to answer any other questions you might have.

Warmest regards,

James Alan