Have at thee Brown! My prediction for event two a postscript.

by endlesspsych

So my predictions for Derrens second event were spot on. No great surprise there as there really wasn’t any other way he could have done it. Resorting to such Uri Geller levels of trickery and huxterism makes me all the more sure that he probably has something up his sleeve for the finale… Then again on the other hand magicians traditionally have nothing up there sleeves so…

Anyway there was a brief discussion on the badscience forums about one particular small trick from Derrens show… The section where the audience member picked from a section of people to try and win some cash. 19 of 20 folk had win written on the back of their t-shirt and a mere one had lose. surprise surprise after eliminating all but two of the folk she then picks the last to eliminate and singularly fails to eliminate the one lose t-shirt which remains.

People have speculated that making her choose in chunks might affect the outcome. Well yes probably, I’d contend in that sort of situation folk would probably leave the ends rather then then middle. They might even be more likely to leave the last few higher numbers. Such a thing does seem likely.

People have also suggested that the person wearing the “win” t-shirt was taller then then the rest of Browns t-shirt adorned lackeys. I didn’t notice this at the time but it could be true. People do tend to associate height, in men anyway, with all sorts of positive traits: wealth, health, leadership and the like. People are more attracted to taller then shorter people (although there is a normalisation that means this only applies to people a bit above the average and not giants) so it’s conceivable on some “subliminal” (to misuse the term) level that the woman left the last loser in purely because of some unconscious attribution of victory to his height.

Much of this speculation appears to be born out of mistrust of Derrens explanation for the trick. In that certain shapes are more attractive then others and the win shape was different from the others. This kind of makes sense if the difference is just enough to notice and this makes it more attractive to chunk other similar shapes together and avoid the odd shape.

This idea is backed up, to a degree, by V.S Ramachandrans first principle of art: All art is caricature: peak shift.

The peak shift: if a rat is taught to discriminate between a square and a rectangle it will respond to rectangles more often and more vigourously to shapes with stronger rectangular dimensions. Ramachandran contends that art uses this idea in the form of caricatures. Artists pick up on what the essence of an object is, what essentially makes it what it is, and then they accentuate it. Just as the rat learns the rule “exaggerated ¬†features are better” we like more exaggerated figures an shapes better. There are examples on this in early human culture with various fertility idols and the like – being away from decent bet access you’ll have to take my word for that until I edit this later.

So assuming Ramachandran is correct then Derrens explanation might not be misdirection and might contain at least a kernel of truth.

This piece probably needs a fair bit of editing… I’m sure I will get around to it some time!