CFI Canada Winter Solstice Celebration

Last night at a special bonus instalment of Magic Tonight, we were joined by a group from the Centre for Inquiry Canada celebrating the winter solstice and raising money for the centre. The holiday season can be difficult for skeptics, freethinkers and atheists, particularly those spending time with religious family members. It can create a feeling of being left out and so it's a pleasure and an honour to be able to provide a place for like minded people to celebrate and have a good time. On top of the magic, we celebrated The Flying Spaghetti Monster and all present were touched by his great noodly appendage!

This year secular organizations like CFI have been busy this year fighting for freedom of expression and freedom from religion around the world. In particular, CFI Canada has helped bring a number of free though refugees and their families to escape religious persecution around the world and make their way to Canada. The best way to support them in their work is to join CFI Canada.

For those who were interested in attending but weren't able to make it because of other holiday commitments, take a look at some of the fun we got up to. There may also be some video coming later in the week.

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Website Slider

Magic Tonight runs weekly at the Crimson Lounge in downtown Toronto, every Sunday night. Readers of this blog can use the discount code cficanada for a discount on the price of tickets and dinner when purchasing online.  A portion of every ticket sold will also go to support the centre and its work.

Reason's Greetings

This Saturday night (December 19) we're doing a bonus instalment of Magic Tonight as a fundraiser for the Centre for Inquiry Canada. This organization, near and dear to my heart, promotes reason, science and secular values and offers a terrific range of educational programming. Dinner is included with tickets to the show and there are discounted tickets for Members of CFI. If you're not a member but would like to join, you can buy a membership along with your tickets, available at The evening starts at 5:00 PM with some mingling (yes, the bar is open!), dinner at 6:00 and the show at 7:00.

For those who haven't been, Magic Tonight is our weekly show in Downtown Toronto at the Crimson Lounge (College Street, just west of  Spadina). If you can't make it on the 19th, but still want to support CFI, you can buy tickets for any of our regular shows with the discount code cficanada. You'll get a huge discount and a portion of the proceeds will to go the centre.

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Heathen's Greetings

Michael Close
Michael Close

In just over two weeks, on Magic Tonight, we'll be hosting a special fundraisers for the Centre for Inquiry ( All proceeds from the show will go to support CFI Canada. I'll be performing on the show along with special guest, Michael Close. After the show we'll be doing a live taping of David Peck'sFace2Face Podcast where we'll be discussing the role of magic on a modern secular society.

David Peck
David Peck

Where: Izakaya Showroom - 292 College Street @ Spadina When: Sunday, December 21, 2014 - 5:00 PM - 10:00 PM Tickets:

Discounted tickets are available for Members of CFI Canada.

Join us for an evening of fun, friends and food. The only spirits present will be alcoholic. We'll celebrate reason (by throwing it out the window for the night and do some amazing magic and other strange things.)

Tickets include the show, dinner and the podcast taping. They can be purchased at

James Alan
James Alan

Michael Close ( originally from Indiana, is one of the most respected creators and publishers of magic in the world. He is currently the Editor in Chief of MUM, the journal of the Society of American Magicians. He is also the author of That Reminds Me, with a foreword by Penn Jillette.

David Peck ( is the Executive Director of SoChange, a non profit organization that helps build capacity for organizations in the developing world. Among its programs is the Mosquitoes Suck Tour, a comedy and magic show that promotes social justice and education for high school students about malaria and mosquitoes in Africa.

Magic Tonight Square
Magic Tonight Square

The Greatest Compliment to a Profession

Earlier this week, I received an invitation from the Centre for Inquiry to attend a special brunch with Professors Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss. To say I couldn't register fast enough was an understatement. For a bit of background, I discovered Richard Dawkins' work when he was mentioned in The Salmon of Doubtwhich was compiled by Stephen Fry from the contents of Douglas Adams' many Mac computers after his untimely death in 2001. Douglas Adams was the beginning for my love of all things British, but certainly not the end. In high school, I was also deeply interested in the writings of Richard Feynman, and came across Lawrence Krauss when he wrote a biography of Feynman in 2011.

At the meeting, I was thrilled  to get my copy of The Selfish Gene signed (I had the issue of Playboy[1] Dawkins appeared in in my bag, but chickened out) and I also got to perform for him very briefly.

During the question and answer period, I asked him something which interested me as a magician about the evolutionary nature of curiosity. Of course he did what all public intellectuals do and ignored my question and spoke about whatever he felt like at the moment. But not without throwing in something deeply flattering and interesting:

He said that magic (or conjuring as he preferred to call it) had deep philosophical implications because it awakened us to the fact that we are very easy to deceive. If we see something which is contrary to the way we understand the world to work, we should be very suspicious and avoid jumping to conclusions. He was referring, of course, to the tendency the species has to invoke supernatural agents and mystical forces when boring and natural explanations will suffice.

As a magician, I have been wrestling with this for a few years. On the one hand, I love science and want to encourage curiosity and rational inquiry wherever I can. On the other hand, I would prefer it if my audiences did not look to Google to try and find explanations for how my tricks work.

With this bit of insight from Dawkins, I'm hoping that I can find a better way to balance the two than I have been. Unfortunately, it's difficult to create a strong feeling of magic while simultaneously reminding people that you don't have supernatural powers and that deep down you're a lying cheating bastard.

Hope I can find a way.

James Alan Richard Dawkins

[1] Always the teacher! Thanks to Dawkins, I had to learn at the age of 27, not only how to purchase pornography in print, but pornography with women in it... much harder than I thought.