Magical Secrets Part 2

Posted on July 29, 2011


Magical Secrets Part 1

If you’ve not already done so, pop over to Midget Man of Steel’s post (actually a guest post) and see the video there on the magic powers of the IRenew Bracelet.

Done? Good.


I first ran across the amazing strengthening arm trick at a 1989 psychic fair in Malton. I can’t remember what was being demonstrated, but it was something you wore, so I’ll just call it a bracelet.

The demonstrator’s spiel was a dire warning about all the poisons and electromagnetic vibrations that were weakening our bodies. The good news, however, was that the harmful effects of these energy vampires could be nullified simply by wearing this wondrous bracelet.

To prove its power, he’d have volunteers hold one arm out to their side at shoulder level, then he’d place two fingers on their wrist and push down. Without the magic charm, their arms invariably lowered; with the magic charm, however, their arms stayed straight.

No question he was really applying pressure — some things can’t be faked. And the volunteers couldn’t all be accomplices — there were just too many. By default, the gimmick had to be the placement of his fingers.

So I offered myself for a demonstration. As he put his fingers on my wrist, I careful noted their exact location, which was precisely on the wrist-joint. Before he pushed, however, I told him I’d changed my mind and wanted to try it with the bracelet first. He obliged and stepped away. I put on the bracelet, and we assumed our previous positions. Except this time his fingers were no longer directly on the joint, but slightly further up my arm, on solid bone.

I was able to resist his pressure with ease.

Next, of course, I took off the bracelet and he placed his fingers directly on my wrist joint, as he’d originally intended. This time  my arm dropped like a stone.

Some years later this same trick began doing the rounds as a diagnostic tool by which naturopath practitioners could “discover” allergies that regular doctors had missed. The spiel had evolved, however. Now the “doctor” asked patients to think of different substances, and when they thought about one to which they were “allergic,” their arms would weaken.

I ran across the trick’s next incarnation at the Canadian National Exhibition, where it was being used to sell magnetic insoles. This time, rather than holding one arm out to the side, the subjects would hold their arms straight out in front of them at shoulder height, hands tightly gripping each other.

This intrigued me. The demonstrator pushed down on exactly the same spot each time, and I couldn’t figure out what the gimmick was. Once again, I volunteered, and once again I changed my mind about which effect I wanted demonstrated just before he started pushing.

The gimmick turned out the be the distance between the demonstrator and my hands. When he wanted to make me “weak,” he stood slightly closer, thereby giving himself more leverage.

Different tricks, but all operating on one principle: leverage. Pushing on the wrist joint affects the leverage, as does stepping closer or further away.

For the IRenewal demonstrations, the change in leverage is accomplished by changing the direction of the force. While the demonstrator is admittedly always pushing down, he is also either pushing in, towards the centre of the subjects’ bodies (when he wants them to retain their balance), or out, away from the subjects’ bodies (when he wants them to fall over). You can see them do it.

In fact, it becomes obvious, once you know what to look for.

Watching the trick step by step

Here are some stills from the video. Remember: when he wants them to retain their balance, he pushes toward the subject’s centre of gravity; when he wants them to fall, he pushes away.

(40 second mark) 

Notice the position of their hands relative to the girl’s body. In the “Before” shot (where she is in her pre-bracelet “weakened” state), there is a perceptible distance between her hands and her leg. The demonstrator is about to push down and away from her body. In the “After” shot (in which she now has super powers granted by the magic bracelet), her hands are directly against her leg as he pushes down and toward her body.

And in case you think this is coincidental, the same can be seen in each of the demonstrations shown in the video.

(43 second mark) 

Here it is again with a different subject. 

(Still: 44 second mark)

And as he exerts pressure, the hands move even further away:

(47 second mark)

And again, with another subject. This one is even more apparent.

(50 second mark)

In order to further befuddle things, the demonstrator changes his approach, this time pushing the subjects over backwards.  In the next picture, note how clearly the direction of force can be seen.

(52 second mark)

This next sequence basically gives the game away all on its own. Look carefully at the “Before” picture and note that the subject and demonstrator are centred in the shot:

(54 second mark)

Now notice their position two seconds later. The subject has unconsciously tried compensating for the direction of the force by moving with it — to such an extent that he is now far to the left of his original position, and the demonstrator is almost entirely off camera. In both of the “After” shots, however, the subject never moves, because the demonstrator is effectively pushing him down into the spot where he’s standing.

There is yet another version of this trick in which the subject stands on one leg with one arm stuck out to the side. The demonstrator then pushes on the subject’s shoulder, applying pressure inwards for balance, and outwards for imbalance. Unfortunately, it wasn’t shown on this video. I had personal experience with it, however, while walking through Dufferin Mall a few weeks back.

So that’s all there is to it. For at least 20 years this one simple trick has been pulled on countless millions of people, many of whom have accepted it as absolute proof of the claims being made for whatever trinket is being sold.

For pity’s sake, don’t be one of them.

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