Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Yep, that's me. Fanning a deck of Shadow Masters from Ellusionist. Doing an intentionally bad impression of David Copperfield.

Those of you who know me know that I love to collect decks of playing cards, and that I have more than 200 decks. I've always had a fascination with card magic, and knew some gimmicky tricks. But recently, I've began to learn sleight of hand. I'm pretty good with cards now. I'm fairly confident that I could impress you with a few illusions. Stacy, official friend of the Mailbox, was in Joplin a few weeks ago. I bought a deck of pink Bicycles for breast cancer awareness at Books-A-Million and did a few tricks for her in the cafe. Her reactions were priceless -- she kept asking me how I did things, and she's a pretty smart cookie.

But recently, my enthusiasm and respect for magic have clashed with some of my core values about the freedom of information.
I think we all have a right to know everything about our government and the world around us. Missouri's Sunshine Law and the Freedom of Information Act pretty much guarantee that. As a reporter, I fight for that. Soldiers may fight for the freedom of speech abroad, but journalists fight against our own leaders within who want to take it away. And I'm always telling people that open is better than closed. For every person that gives me crap about "being hard on MSSU," I get 10 times the feedback telling me I'm fighting the good fight.

So, I'm fairly shocked at my reaction of finding Web sites revealing many magic tricks.

I came across a page (on Wikipedia) that detailed a series of illusions you have probably seen David Blaine do. A link from that page took me to another that exposed virtually every trick he's done. The gist of one of the sites is that Blaine is a very good performer, but not the superhero he portrays himself to be. Then there's YouTube, where teenagers will buy tricks from Web sites and expose them.

Being a lover of free information, I should be applauding this. I've never been the kind of person to keep information from somebody else. I've always (perhaps naively) believed that knowledge is power, and the more you know the stronger you become. But I absolutely abhor how some people are callously revealing how many tricks are done, without regard for the audiences who appreciate such performances. It's disgusting. Don't get me wrong: I know magic is different than a governing board, which is bound to follow the Sunshine Law. Yet my conscience is clear, despite my dramatic headline. If you ask me how I do a trick, I ain't tellin'. No way, no how. I'd keep the same secrecy over an Erdnase color change as I would an anonymous source.

Which is the crux of this whole post: Trust. If I am going to keep a secret from someone else, then everyone else needs to believe that I have a good, honorable reason for doing so.

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This is a very important argument, glad you brought i up.

There is line between freedom of information in an institution that we pay into (like government) and protected trade secrets that let people make a living (like magic).

Your instincts are correct. Keep up the good work!

Yay! I got a mention. :-) Yay me! (Yes, I watch "Suite Life", and I'm proud of it.)

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