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The world’s simplest coin trick is a good place to start


So the trick above might seem easy. Too easy, in fact. Insultingly easy, if you wan’t to get fresh. 

Allow me to explain. 

The trick, performed by the amazing Julie Eng, isn’t just a great place for coin novices to start, requiring even less dexterity than the super simple french drop, but it’s also a great example of how the complexity of a sleight is secondary to your ability to sell it.

Using a cough to hide a transition is about as subtle as a punch to the face unless you’re rocking some kind of magician-with-a-perpetual-chest-cough persona, but it’s about as straight-forward an example as you’ll find of using “natural” movements to perform tricks. If you can’t cough without setting off people’s “I AM BEING DECEIVED” alarm bells, you probably can’t do that double turnover without looking like an angry robot either. Start small.

Okay, maybe it’s not the simplest coin trick ever. That’d be this one.

Anyway, the tutorial is just a small sample of an episode of Canadian documentary series, The Nature of Things, called The Science of Magic. The episode – which is available online, but only to accursed Canadians – looks at performance magic through the lens of neuroscience and attention bias. One section which sounds particularly interesting is a discussion of, “change blindness,” or the idea that small changes in our environment can mask far larger, more obvious changes. For a really good example of how a good magician can make use of this quirk of biology, see this trick by Penn & Teller.