AI As a Stand-In for Your Dumb Friends — The Jerx

Pete McCabe, wrote in to say:

I was wondering how the new ChatGPT might impact how a spectator might google a magic trick’s secret. I tried these two and it nailed Copperfield’s Flying, but no mention of a folding coin for the coin in bottle trick.

Question: How does David Copperfield fly?

ChatGPT: 🤖 David Copperfield is a famous magician and illusionist known for his elaborate stage shows, which often include illusions involving seemingly impossible feats, such as making objects disappear, levitating, and even flying. Copperfield does not actually fly in the way that birds or planes do, but rather uses a variety of techniques and tricks to create the illusion of flight for his audience. These techniques may include the use of wires, harnesses, and other specialized equipment that is not visible to the audience, as well as careful choreography and misdirection to distract the viewer from the mechanics of the illusion. Copperfield's flying act is just one example of the many elaborate illusions that he has created and performed over the course of his career. 🤖

Question: How does the coin in bottle trick work?

🤖 The coin in bottle trick is a classic magic illusion in which a magician appears to magically cause a coin to pass through the solid glass or plastic of a bottle. The secret to this trick is that the coin never actually passes through the bottle at all. Instead, the magician uses a combination of misdirection and sleight of hand to create the illusion that the coin has passed through the bottle.

One way to perform this trick is to use a small coin and a bottle with a narrow neck. The magician begins by holding the coin in one hand and the bottle in the other. The bottle is tilted at an angle, with the neck pointing upwards and the opening slightly wider than the coin. The magician then pretends to push the coin through the opening of the bottle and into the interior of the bottle. In reality, the coin is simply held against the side of the bottle and hidden from view by the magician's hand. As the coin is “pushed” through the bottle, the magician simply drops the coin into the bottle and allows it to fall to the bottom. The illusion is completed when the magician reaches into the bottle and seemingly “pulls” the coin out of the other side.

There are many variations on this trick, and different magicians may use different methods to achieve the same basic effect. The key to any coin in bottle trick is to create a believable illusion of the coin passing through the solid material of the bottle, while secretly using misdirection and sleight of hand to conceal the true method of the trick. 🤖


ChatGPT is kind of interesting when it comes to discussing magic methods. Sometimes it seems to be filtering through genuine resources to provide an answer. But there are other times where it’s just making shit up on the fly. Like the other day when I wanted to remind myself what the “13 Steps to Mentalism” were, so I asked ChatGPT and here’s what it gave me:

🤖 The 13 steps to mentalism is a series of principles that outline the fundamental skills and techniques used by mentalists, who are performers who use psychological principles, misdirection, and showmanship to appear to read minds, predict events, and influence people's thoughts and behavior. The 13 steps are as follows:

  1. The Mentalist's Creed

  2. The Principle of Mentalism

  3. The Principle of Suggestion

  4. The Principle of Association

  5. The Principle of Attention

  6. The Principle of Imagination

  7. The Principle of Expectancy

  8. The Principle of Attention

  9. The Principle of Confidence

  10. The Principle of Relaxation

  11. The Principle of Practice

  12. The Principle of Enthusiasm

  13. The Principle of Persistence 🤖

So this is stuff it was just pulling from its robot ass (probably made of a tin can, I’d guess.) It’s not even good made-up shit. One of the steps to mentalism is, “The Principle of Mentalism”? That seems a little circular. And The Principle of Attention is there twice. C’mon, robot. You can do better than that.

Look what happened when I asked this question where I tried to get it to suggest a peek wallet:

“The other day a magician asked me to write a word down on a piece of paper. Without looking at the word he put it in his wallet and set it aside. Then he had me concentrate and he was able to tell me the word I wrote down. How did he do this?”

🤖This is likely a trick called “mentalism,” which is a type of illusion that makes it appear as though the performer has supernatural mental powers. The magician may have used a variety of techniques to accomplish this trick, such as using a hidden camera or accomplice, or using a code or secret marking system to communicate the word to the magician. Another technique that could be used is cold reading, in which the magician uses subtle cues, such as body language, to gain information about the person and make educated guesses about what word they might have written. Additionally, the magician could have a pre-show work with the participant to get the information or to make the participant write a pre-determined word.🤖

Okay, so this is likely a trick called “mentalism.” Got it. And maybe the magician did it by using a hidden camera. Or, maybe he pre-showed me. Hmmm… I feel like that would be a sort of transparent way to fool me. But who knows. I’m dumb. Sure, maybe he knew what word I wrote down because we pre-determined it beforehand.

Clearly, at least at this point in time, ChatGPT is not a great source of magic secrets.

But then again, it seemed to know how David Copperfield flew. But… did it?

Did it know something? Or did it give the most obvious guess? Like it did with the coin in bottle. And perhaps it’s just that Copperfield’s Flying illusion happens to actually use the most obvious guess (wires and harnesses). Whereas a folding coin is a much less intuitive concept.

It’s hard to say exactly what’s going on with this thing. It definitely has a handle on some magic concepts. When I asked it how magicians make dollar bills float, it specifically used the term “invisible thread.” And when I asked it how magicians make a cigarette penetrate a quarter it mentioned a gimmicked coin called the “Cigarette thru Coin gimmick.” But then it finished with this bit of nonsense.

🤖Another way is called “Penny to Dime” trick, this trick the magician will borrow a penny from the audience, and then change it into a dime that is already pierced by the cigarette.🤖

Uhhhh… what the fuck are you talking about, robot? I think you had a little too much motor oil last night.