BROTHERHOOD OF DELUSION
I’m a curious person. I am challenged by the unknown. I can be driven, out of sheer frustration, to penetrate a closed veil of conspiracy. And this is what impelled me to go forward to solve the nature of MAGIC.
I’ve known two professional magicians in my lifetime. One, a friend, the other, a very close friend. Each discussed magic with me at different times. Each was devoted to protecting the secrecy necessary to maintain the ‘brotherhood of illusion.’
My curiosity drove me to investigate on my own. I checked the local library and bookstores from time to time for explanations of how magic was accomplished. There are, of course, a great many such books around, always have been. Yet, magic remains a general titillation and puzzlement in our world, even in modern times. There is a reason for this, naturally. There is an implicit pact between the magician and the audience.
‘Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn.” The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.’ [Italics mine]
I should now like to discuss this pact and use the ‘bond’ between performer and audience as a premise for something else, namely, Jehovah’s Witnesses, an aspect I will reveal towards the end.
THE BOND BETWEEN PERFORMER AND AUDIENCE
An audience attends a magic act for two main reasons: 1) Entertainment, and 2) The desire to match wits in solving a puzzle, discovering its solution, and, finally, succumbing to a mysterious thrill at the point of failing to conquer the illusion’s secret.
Yes, the magician knows full well he is in a struggle to conceal his methods. The audience will scrutinize his movements for the ‘secret’ so they can feel superior; yet, above all else, the audience does not really wish to discover the secret. Why do I say this? The entertainment value of being fooled is a far more intense emotion if the audience is amazed and made to believe that the miraculous is indeed possible!
Isn’t that interesting? A battle in which only one side really wishes to “win”?
A magician jealously guards his secrets for a different reason than you might at first imagine. The magician doesn’t safeguard the secret of the illusion simply because the secret is a large one. No. Rather, it’s owing to the fact that it is so small and insignificant. Yes, the secret is banal, ordinary… bland. To be sure, nothing is more disappointing and deflating than the moment you unveil the secret and learn exactly how a trick is actually accomplished! Why is this so?
Two words: TOTAL OVERWHELM!
You see, we invest ourselves emotionally in our desire to be carried away; thus, at a subliminal level, we simultaneously fear and crave that feeling. Why? Because, deep down, what we truly want is real ‘magic’ in our lives – something special – even a touch of it.
The audience knows the truth: the world is simple, miserable, and solid, all the way through. The burden of our overwhelming responsibility in daily life is, quite frankly, tiring, exhausting, and depressing. So, then, how much better if we could simply let go and find ourselves in a magic place where a force overwhelmingly powerful has pulled the rug of expectation out from under us, and we find ourselves ‘falling’ into a state of mystical ecstasy!
Thus, as a magician, if you can fool your audience – even for a second – you can make them wonder. And as a reward for your skillful subterfuge, you get to witness something very special: the look on their faces. Such is the bargain between the magician and yourself.
THE MAGICIAN’S TOOLS
The tools of magic are basic and spare, while the powerful effect wielded therefrom is profound. There are only six magic tricks in all the world? Yes, only six! All illusions, prestidigitations, and sleight-of-hand tricks combined merely juggle these six basic elements:
- Production (something out of nothing),
- Transformation (one thing becomes another thing),
- Motive Power (objects with the ability to move on their own),
- Natural Law Violation (levitation, going through a wall, etc.), and
- Transposition (two objects change places).
Beyond these six elements, all that remains is the quality of the performance. The magician is the one that makes the magic appear to be genuine – when it is, in fact, not.
Did you catch that? The magician is the one that makes the magic appear to be genuine…
A Magician is like a Priest or Shaman, as a practitioner of something purporting to be beyond nature, while, at the same time, being a total fabrication. Again, the magician is what really makes the magic appear to be genuine. The magician is a kind of salesman, rhetorician and psychologist. He is a master of human nature whose skilled performance and effortless spontaneity, brings magic alive.
The Magician tells you something and sets up your expectation, then astonishes you at your point of greatest anticipation. You are fooled. Why? Remember the pact? You wish to be fooled. You desire to be defeated. You co-operate while appearing not to. Why? Because of the tickle of original feeling that flushes out that emotional transcendence when you are fooled.
THERE IS BRAIN CHEMISTRY INVOLVED
Here is a fact about which you may be unaware. Your brain rewards you when your expectations are defeated by something unexpected! Why? The human brain produces an intoxicating substance any time you learn something new.
Most of the time, a learning experience will make you more fit for ‘survival.’ Yet, when you are fooled, you are rewarded too. Why? Because you are confronted with the opposite of what you expected and you ‘survived’ the experience. This, therefore, is reason enough to be rewarded by the squirt of brain-heroin (‘dopamine’) that pleases your brain so much! Being fooled is thus considered a learning process which is pro survival. How is that so?
In the wild, getting fooled by a camouflaged predator can render you dead or half-eaten. But, detecting the camouflage (if you survive) is a learning experience worth being rewarded for. There is, however, a downside. (Of course, you knew that was coming).
Playing video games can become addictive because you are rewarded with a squirt each time you ‘survive’ the proxy situation onscreen. Watching movies is pleasurable because you can vicariously survive all sorts of adventures in the comfort of your seat while munching popcorn. Each time you are amazed, fooled, exhilarated and excited by the unexplainable – you are rewarded by a thrilling brain-buzz which becomes an end in of itself. This is why you might love horror movies, porno, crossword puzzles, or figuring out how a magician does his little tricks.
But, hold on! Did I merely want to explain why you like to be fooled? No! That was a misdirection! What I really wanted to reveal has everything to do with the process of creating a rewarding delusion by a different sort of magician: a religious practitioner of the supernatural.
THE PACT BETWEEN THE BELIEVER AND THE RELIGIOUS MYSTIC
The believer starts out skeptical, just as the person who sits watching the magician perform ‘knows’ it’s all a trick and not a true demonstration of the miraculous. Yet, the desire to be fooled is implicit in the actual attention that is given. Pascal’s Wager, for example, implies we have nothing to lose and everything gain!
A magician uses misdirection. He tells you where to look (i.e. where not to look). It is the art of misdirection combined with the concealment of the essential tip-off element, or fact, that sets you up to be fooled. You use your intelligence to predict what is real and how things work; you base your sense of the real and objective world on everyday experience and have a built-in sensibility of how things will go: causes lead to effects, life steps gingerly in accordance.
The smarter you are the better you are able to overcome obstacles by predicting problem areas and devising a way around them without self-harm. However, the magician’s game is defying nature with an arsenal of contrivances, smokes-and-mirrors, gimmicks, and false fronts appearing natural and ordinary, that is, concealing those aforementioned six telltale elements.
Two principles to keep in mind: 1) The audience wants to be fooled while fighting it by trying to use everyday logic to discover the trick, and 2) The trick is designed to take advantage of the expectations and thwart them through misdirection. A magic illusion is a lie, you see. It is artful and designed to work through hidden mechanism.
A coin is just a coin, right? Wrong! In a magic act, the coin is not just a coin, it is a specially made coin with a device built in it. A card is just a playing card, right? Nay! It is part of a special deck with hidden aspects the magician can use to achieve his aims.
Your everyday intelligence is not aware of the phony contrivance which hides the concealed mechanism of a trick. You need to have the basic vocabulary of the six elements to inform your observations. Once you know these six elements and how they are used, almost every trick you see will be deducible instantly. Magic becomes commonplace at that point. Why? Because it is ordinary. It all comes down to the skill of the performance.
CONTRIVED TOOLS OF MISDIRECTION
The Bible is a combination of those same six elements and religion is a magic trick. Various skilled ‘magicians’ through the centuries have used those six elements to fool the audience of seemingly skeptical believers by taking advantage of hidden properties which defy expectation.
At the earliest stages of human history, priests, shaman and magi (from which we get the word “magic”) were skilled performers. They accrued special status from their level of mastery in duping and thrilling the human mind with its implicit pact of desiring the ‘transcendent experience.’
All throughout mankind’s journey, these magicians were variously called Prophets, Miracle Workers and Demi-gods; yet, they used the self-same six elements with skill to achieve their desired effects and relied on the implicit pact to work their ‘magic.’
The rest of humanity relies on the stories exaggerating the exploits into momentous achievements at the hands of a super powerful deity. Magic was then divided into good and evil. God was said to be behind the former, while Satan was responsible for the latter. Every religious delusion uses some of the ‘sacred’ six elements, often referred to as miracles.
Muhammed is said to have been illiterate. But wait! Muhammed produced perfect Arabic verses in the Koran. Hmmm? Is it a miracle or… are we being misdirected? Is something being concealed? Was Muhammad, in fact, illiterate? How would any of us today know this for certain? Should we merely accept this premise? Well, belief is impossible without swallowing that misdirection.
Joseph Smith was presented with plates of gold with hieroglyphs which he translated using a rock shaped like a donut as a ‘seer stone.’ By placing the stone in a hat and burying his face in it, he ‘translated’ those glyphs. And, oh, did I fail to mention, Smith hid behind a curtain, no less! Hmmm…
We are told that a great many witnesses actually ‘saw’ these gold plates. Should we accept all this as a given? Well, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Testimonials, regrettably, are not proof, they reside more in the realm of assertions.
Did you know the oldest copy of the Book of Mormon – the original words of Joseph Smith – is written in uneducated, rural English with grammatical errors, and run-on sentences; yet, the modern Book of Mormon has been… ummm… ‘adjusted’ so that you’d never know!
Moses went up on a mountain and nobody was allowed to come near. He returned with tablets of stone written by the actual finger of God himself! (Exodus 31:18; 32:15, 16) But wait! The ‘finger of God’ version of the tablets were smashed to bits by an indignant Moses, and Moses had to replace them by carving a second version himself! (Exodus 32:19; 34:27, 28) This isn’t suspicious behavior?
Charles Taze Russell was specially chosen by God to be his mouthpiece by allowing Russell to interpret scriptures along with Great Pyramid measurements in order to publish in advance when Jesus would return. The Pyramid inch was a contrivance – Abracadabra – nonsense to flavor his chronology date-setting and couched it in an ancient bit of misdirection. There was no such thing, as time has proved; it was purely illusory rhetoric.
There are millions of people today who subscribe to the religion Russell started because they believe this! Or, do they? The story has changed many times and the trick goes on. Remember the pact? The audience wishes to be fooled. Their brains are rewarded each time they participate!
But… all magic illusions contain a moment of reveal. What follows is my reveal!
Every element of religious belief is rewarded when you allow yourself to be fooled! The feeling of spirituality – of purity, of connection to heaven and the eternal future – are all emotional fluff! However, the rewards are typically illusory intangible promises – to be collected in the future (how convenient), not in the here and now. The cataclysmic date of 1975 was my last ‘reward.’ Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me.
Magic illusion, like religious delusion, requires your willingness (‘consent’) to believe what you are told and shown. If you refuse to be misdirected, if you exercise natural skepticism, if you search for the elements of trickery — you will detect the uninspiring fact behind the performance: it is all a contrived show, to fool and entertain.
Jehovah’s Witnesses, alas, are a captive audience. They are bedazzled at first and then strung along; but the show runs late — very late. In fact, the razzle dazzle continues past the audience’s lifetime as they each wait on a payoff that never comes! The End is always near, and, yet… so far. For Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is no payoff, there is no prestige, only the promise of it. It is simply a Brotherhood… of Delusion.
 Christopher Priest, The Prestige (1995) p?.
 ‘Pascal’s Wager is an argument in apologetic philosophy devised by the seventeenth-century French philosopher, mathematician and physicist Blaise Pascal (1623–62). It posits that humans all bet with their lives either that God exists or that he does not. Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.), whereas they stand to receive infinite gains (as represented by eternity in Heaven) and avoid infinite losses (eternity in Hell).’ Last accessed at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Prestige on August 16, 2016.
 ‘…the Great Pyramid of Egypt is one of God’s Witnesses (Isa. 19:19, 20), whose wonderful message is full and complete corroboration of God’s plan of the ages, together with its times and seasons.’ – Charles Taze Russell Time is at Hand (1907) p. 366.
 “…it is the good, the able, the men of reason, who act as their own destroyers, who transfuse to evil the blood of their virtue and let evil transmit to them the poison of destruction, thus gaining for evil the power of survival, and for their own values—the impotence of death. I saw that there comes a point, in the defeat of any man of virtue, when his own consent is needed for evil to win—and that no manner of injury done to him by others can succeed if he chooses to withhold his consent. I saw that I could put an end to your outrages by pronouncing a single word in my mind. I pronounced it. The word was “No.” – Ayn Rand Atlas Shrugged (1957) p.?.
 (Elucidate here).
The following links provide more in-depth information on brain chemistry reward processes