The truth behind the tricks

Doubting Dave from the Mystery Hunters speaks at SPACE conference on how magicians use peoples’  senses against them

by Brian Lapuz

David Acer, magician, stand-up comedian, actor and Dawson alumni, gave a presentation in the New Theater as the keynote speaker for second annual Science Participating with Arts and Culture in Education (SPACE) conference, on April 7.

Acer spoke about his work and his life as a student and incorporated magic tricks into his talk. The presentation, titled “It’s only a Lie if No One Believes It: How Magicians Use Your Senses Against You,” explained how magic helped him to think critically about what his senses told him, which was in line with the SPACE theme: The Senses.

“Magicians don’t break the laws of physics,” Acer said. “Through the physical, we then go into the realm of psychology.”

He also spoke about how magicians aren’t the only people who try to make “assumptions masquerade as knowledge” and commented on what was being presented in the mainstream media.

Acer pointed to the specific example of the Balloon Boy hoax, when the parents of six-year-old Falcon Heene, from Colorado, told the media that he floated away in a home-made balloon. Then, they discovered that he was hiding in their attic. When the family was interviewed on television, the “balloon boy” said “we did this for a show,” reportedly revealing the parents’ deception.

Aside from skillful displays of his sleight of hand, the crowd, composed of students, teachers and administrators, witnessed how a magician controlled the situation while performing a trick.

Ray Bourgeois, Dean of Sciences, Medical Studies & Engineering, was randomly chosen by one of Acer’s colleagues as a guinea pig for the trick “Vanishing White Paper Balls.”

Bourgeois sat on a chair on stage and the magician performed his act. On the one hand, the audience could see how the paper balls were “vanishing.” Bourgeois, on the other hand, appeared to be confused as to how it was done.

Acer also showed video clips from his show Mystery Hunters from Discover Channel. The show, with the ending catch phrases “Remember, things aren’t always what they seem,” was based on investigating the truth behind urban legends, ghosts, mythical creatures, aliens, and much more.

“To be honest, I always thought the show was a bit stupid,” said Xuan Hu, second semester Pure & Applied Science student. “But then I saw the work and thought process that went into the show, [and] it changed my mind.”

At the end, SPACE held a question period. One of the first questions was from Joe Prévost, a second semester Psychology student.

“What do you have to do to be a super-villain?” Prévost asked.

“Well, you’re going to need a catch phrase,” responded Acer. “You’re also going to need a super weapon.”

Fourth semester Health Science student Sybil Sailofsky was surprised at the amount of questions surrounding Acer’s TV Show.

“There were a lot of questions about Mystery Hunters,” said Sailofsky. “Clearly, many people [that were] his fans were present.”

Acer’s presentation succeeded the student presentation that morning in 5B.16 and preceded the Arts & Science project fair in Conrod’s in the afternoon as part of the SPACE annual conference.

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