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Series O, Episode 12: The Occult

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Ian Dunn
1271354.  Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:00 am Reply with quote

Firstly, does anyone know what Russell's score was?

Secondly, isn't it annoying when you know how a trick is done.

1271417.  Sat Jan 20, 2018 6:39 pm Reply with quote

It's no trick at all; it's just maths.

When you take a three digit number, reverse its digits and subtract the two numbers, the result is always divisible by 99.

Number: 100a + 10b + c
Reversed: 100c + 10b + a

The difference is 99(ac), i.e. 99 times the difference between the first and last digits (the middle digit is unimportant). Example: 843; reverse the digits and subtract, and you get 99(8−3) = 495.

Multiples of 99 (up to 990) are:


If you add each number to its reversed version you will always get 1089.

The only exception is if the first and last digits of the original three-digit number are the same; then you'll only get 0. This is why the QI people had to make sure, on the recording, that all three members of the audience gave a different single digit.

1271568.  Mon Jan 22, 2018 6:53 am Reply with quote

Is anything a trick if it just involves doing something that the subject doesn't understand?

Is electricity magic to someone who's never experienced it?

1271581.  Mon Jan 22, 2018 8:37 am Reply with quote

What Paul Daniels et al do are definitely tricks, but not magic. They use entirely understood, basic physics to do stuff, but hide what they are doing in such a way as to make people think they are doing something else.

1271584.  Mon Jan 22, 2018 9:15 am Reply with quote

I thought the mind reading trick at the start was pretty obvious too.

Did the panel really not understand how that was done, or were they just playing along for the sake of making good TV?

1271589.  Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:49 am Reply with quote

Baryonyx wrote:
Is anything a trick if it just involves doing something that the subject doesn't understand?

Every magic and mentalism trick is based on something the audience is unaware of. A surprising amount of mentalism and card tricks are based on mathematical principles. A lot of magic tricks centre around little-known physical properties of objects, or using objects with physical properties that can be obscured. A basic example is a stage illusionist having his lovely assistant hidden in a piece of equipment that's been shaped and decorated to look too small to conceal a person.

The 1089 quirk is found in just about every "mathematical fun" book ever, so I'll bet a large proportion of the QI audience has encountered it at some point. (Whether they remember it is a different question.) Sandi's routine helped to obscure the maths slightly, since she didn't predict the number itself, but a word based on it -- the final impression on the audience was about two words matching, not about the number itself.

I'm devoted to the occult, and I love mentalism. I'm just a bit dismayed at how much of the "Occult" episode was taken up with mentalism. That sort of thing could have been saved for P for Paranormal.

1271596.  Mon Jan 22, 2018 12:17 pm Reply with quote

crissdee wrote:
What Paul Daniels et al do are definitely tricks, but not magic.

People like David Copperfield or the late Paul Daniels do not do "real magic", no, because "real magic" is confined to fantasy fiction. But we might as well call entertainers in that sphere magicians, since fictional characters such as Harry Potter who can do "real magic" usually prefer to be called wizards. (Much as Dungeons and Dragons originally called such characters magic users, by now it calls them wizards in line with most fantasy fiction.)

For sure, there are real people who profess to be able to do "real magic". Personally I'm extremely skeptical about that, but Aleister Crowley used the spelling magick to refer to supposed "real magic" based in the realms of the occult. He reserved the <k>-less spelling for conjuring tricks - although I know at least one person who uses the two forms the other way about, so there mustn't be a clear consensus here.

Lonnie Risckle
1271691.  Tue Jan 23, 2018 10:48 am Reply with quote

I'm reminded of (Arthur C) Clarke's Law, which states that 'Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.'

And the converse follows: Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.


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