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The art of misdirection / When you are deceived of your own free will!

The art of misdirection / When you are deceived of your own free will!

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In a TED lecture, Apollo Robbins stood on stage explaining The art of misdirection, and asked them several tasks, including remembering the icon in the lower right corner, then asking them to make sure the answer was accurate and telling him, maybe less than half of the audience got it right. Next, he asked them to remember what time it was when they just unlocked their phones. Not many remember. Then he asked them to close their eyes and remember his clothes. And he explained the explanation of what happened.

After that, he asked one of the attendees, “Joe”, to go up with him on the stage, and told everyone that he would steal it without realizing it, and it was, as he distracted the man several times and got some of his belongings and switched the places of some of them in his pockets with skill and lightness that amazed the audience! What Apollo did is, in short, the art of disinformation.

Well, Joe and Robbins. The former is a gullible victim and the latter a professional con artist. My task in this report is to explain exactly what happened during this lecture and to come up with this interpretation in the real world in general. Many of us are subjected to this kind of gentle deception, the consequences of which we may not be able to fix later. There is a proverb in Egypt that says: “The law does not protect fools,” nor does it protect the victims of this gentle predation. But.

The art of misdirection


Why are we being misled?

Some many reasons and details may cause us to be deceived by others, and some master deception, to the extent that they master it and know its secrets, just like our sweet pickpocket friend Apollo Robbins. Psychologists come up with studies and research that show us why we are misled by others.


Because we ignore the details… in the secrets of the self

When Robbins asked the attendees to check the icon on the phone, after that he asked them about the watch, many of them did not know, and this is because they did not check the other details, they only directed their attention to the icon without paying any attention to the watch, so that their eyes had come on it, but they did not Focus, the result was a dispersion in memory.

In this regard, a 1979 study was published in Cognitive Psychology by Raymond Nickerson, to evaluate shared memory, that is, how well one remembers details of things. 36 students participated in the study, and they put 15 drawings of American pennies in front of them, and they were asked to choose one drawing of the real penny and classify the rest of the drawings into 3 categories:

  • Drawings they think are clearly correct.
  • Drawings they think may be correct.
  • Category for drawings they are not sure of.
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The result was that 15 of the 36 participants chose the correct drawing. But they weren’t sure of its accuracy. It’s quite simply because they don’t normally go into detail. And this is what our scammer friend Robbins did with the audience, as I mentioned a while ago when he asked them about the watch.


Deliberate distraction.. we don’t notice everything

Remember when I told you that Robbins asked Joe to go on stage and cheated on him? Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. Robbins used a cunning strategy, in which he would direct Joe’s attention to something, and at the same moment, he would pull something out of him and deceive him. Under normal circumstances, we cannot pay attention to everything that is happening around us.

In a study published in 1978, Michael Posner et al. 6 people participated in it, they sat in front of a screen, in which an arrow appears pointing to the right or left side and an X appears on one side of the screen. They were asked to press which key the arrow was pointing to an X. In the experiment:

  • The arrow is pointing to an X, at 80%.
  • He pointed the other way by 20%.

The result was that participants were pressing the key 100 milliseconds slower when the arrow pointed in the wrong direction. This confirms a fact that happens to us in our lives, when we are not expecting something, our observation of it is slower, and therefore we take time to respond.

The art of misdirection


Sudden change.. witches style

Witches have always been associated with deception, which is called witchcraft in this world, which may be a gentle, harmless, and amusing deception, and one of the most popular games they play in public is to quickly switch cards, to the astonishment of the audience. A study published in Psychological Science in 2019 indicated that sudden and rapid change in general – as in the case of card swaps – misleads the audience by distracting them from hand movements.

In the same study, participants were asked to sit in front of a screen, and note 6 moving dots, one of which was to suddenly rotate to an angle of 15 degrees, and the rest of the dots would stay put. After the experiment, the participants had to choose the point at which they ran. The result was that they fell into this trap of sudden change, and had no luck in recognizing the spinning dot.

This is because our brains cannot process everything we see with our eyes. You may walk down the street and see many things around you, and you think you see them all, but the truth, my friend, is that you do not see everything accurately, your attention is not that strong. Let’s go deeper into the issue of magic.

The art of misdirection


How do magicians use the art of deception?

Playing on the spot of attention

When our brains focus on something and not others, it means that this thing is important, and it inserts it into an area called the attention spot, so we do not notice what is happening outside this spot, even if our eyes see it. And here is the horse stall, where the magicians play on attention and direct it to something else, because – as I mentioned – the brain processes information that allows us to see specific things.

The art of misdirection


When you can’t believe what your eyes see

There is a phenomenon called “intentional blindness”, a condition in which you do not see anything in your surroundings, even if it is right in front of your eyes. Just as when you are walking in the street, and you see a friend of yours, and your eyes come into his eyes, but you are lost in the world of imagination and you do not realize it.

From this, we conclude that the perception of things is related to how the brain works and not the optics that your eyes see. Everything that enters through the senses is accurately interpreted by the brain, but it may not be able to explain it well sometimes, and this is what is called optical illusions. Some researchers consider it more accurate to call them visual illusions.

The art of misdirection


Have you seen the stars in the afternoon before?

I’ve seen it many times 😵, mostly while playing in my childhood, like if I fell on my head or someone inadvertently hit me on the head or eyes. Has that happened to you too? Well, pretty much every time you got hit on the head or in the eyes, you must have seen a light like the stars.

To explain to you what happened. Simply when I ask you how you see things around you, you will probably answer “of course through the eye!”, and I will greet you but let me add to your information that your eyes are like a high-resolution camera, they can sense millions of colors, but behind the scenes, there is always a clever director, the optic nerve and a writer A genius drives them all, the brain, which includes the primary visual cortex, which in turn processes visual data. This is the optical device.

Perhaps because the eye is the only clear camera in front of us, we don’t realize that there is a workshop inside that helps create the image your eyes see. When you fall on your head, the brain becomes confused, nerve cells in the eye activate, and the brain misinterprets it as light. Therefore, it is more accurate to call them visual illusions, there is a complete optical device that works on outputting the image as you see it, my friend.

Scientists believe that these visual illusions are the raw material that can explain many incomprehensible scenes that humans sometimes see, and may be used in a more accurate understanding of human psychology in the future, perhaps used by magicians without their knowledge.

In many magic games, magicians take advantage of this unintended blindness by directing the audience’s attention to one specific thing and not another, so they lose sight of the rest of the image, as the audience’s brains won’t process other visual inputs. For example, bring a small coin and put it in your right hand, then look at your left hand very focused, you will find your awareness tells you that the coin is not there, it has been omitted from the visual input of the visual system because its focus is all on the left hand only.

To simplify the matter more, have you seen a scene in a movie or series where the camera focuses on one thing and not another? The goal of this is to direct the viewer’s focus to something, to realize the message that he has to understand. You will notice that the whole place seemed like colors mixed. I noticed this while typing on the laptop and behind the screen nothing is understandable, simply my focus is all in one place. You too, if you’re reading from a laptop or a mobile phone now, you’ll notice that your eyes give you a blurry picture in the background, but your focus is all on the lines in your hands. Yes, that’s exactly what witches do.

You can see what I mean by this video of our wonderful professional pickpocket friend “Apollo Robbins”, notice how he played “Joe” and you too, you will watch this clip several times on your own because it is wonderful, to say the least, and on the other hand, you will realize what I threw at him Practically accurate. Enjoy.

Have you noticed Robbins’ behavior? I noticed, he did the following:

  • He directed Joe’s attention to his hands and moved the poker chip to his shoulder. This is a distraction strategy.
  • Splitting the focus, his movement was so fast, he felt like he was multitasking at the same time, he was talking, changing Joe’s focus to something different, stealing the coin and changing its place, stealing Joe’s cards and some coins, and also stealing his watch.
  • Talking fast, if you notice Robbins the impostor, he’s talking too fast, this disrupts the processing of the auditory input to the brain, distracting the audience and poor Joe.
  • Robbins, the fraud, manipulated the feelings of all the audience and made jokes on them, and they laughed, and “Joe” himself laughed, this caused everyone to lose focus, for seconds he was able to perform an amazing hidden trick.
  • Robbins repeated the trick of changing the position of the chip in different ways, and the truth is that repetition is one of the most important factors in misleading, and this helps him to convince the audience of the trick.
  • In doing so, Robbins summed up what magicians and scammers do in a great video, which has racked up millions of views.


Perhaps after reading the report and watching the video, you will realize the meaning of the title. Deception is truly an art that only intelligent people can master, light-handed and quick-witted, like a magician (or a thief), and we allow him to deceive us of our own free will when we pay for the ticket, and it may be expensive for us to exercise some of his abilities. which he learned through his understanding of visual illusions or how to distract. It’s a deception yes, but it’s cute. ❤

The art of misdirection / When you are deceived of your own free will!

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