I’m always conducting little experiments with people just to see what happens if I do certain things. A few months ago, I tried something called my Underpowered Superpower. The premise for these superpowers is that they’re super, but just barely. One example is the man who can fly, but only walking speed, one centimeter above the ground. Or the man whose touch changes things exactly one degree – a “lukewarm man” if you will.
My Underpowered Superpower was simple: I could tell the future, but in a very limited sense. I could tell if someone would choose a circle, a square or a triangle ahead of time. For three or four weeks, I told people about this super power and demonstrated it for them. I’ve had a variety of responses.
First the data. Out of 13 demonstrations, all were accepted as something silly. Over all, they didn’t understand what was happening, and spent most of their time confused. 8 people demanded that I immediately do the trick again, which unfortunately was impossible. I explained that my power is also limited in that it only works once in a given situation. There were two people who weren’t fooled by it at all, and gave possibilities for how it was done (I admit nothing!).
Okay, I should modify that to say that only two people pointed out exactly how I did it immediately following my performance. Upon reflection, it’s likely many others knew, but didn’t say anything for whatever reason. For the rest: yes, my secret is out. I don’t really possess any super powers. It’s nothing more than a trick I developed while reading a biography of Harry Houdini.* Reading the biography got me interested in magic again, and I started thinking about some possibilities for performing Mentalism tricks, and I came up with a really simple forcing mechanism that I wanted to try. The underpowered superpowers thing seemed to be a perfect opportunity.
The problem is that I really need to work on my delivery. I stumbled around a lot in the dialogue I had prepared ahead of time. I thought I would try playing it by ear a little bit, but this did not turn out well. It’s one thing that really added to the confusion, beyond normal levels. So it’s back to the drawing board, and to help me out, I ordered a few books, and a separate trick that I’m looking forward to learning.
Overall, I think this particular experiment was a success. I found out a little about myself, had fun, and confused people in the process. I will have to do it again sometime.
*The Secret Life of Houdini: The Making of America’s First Superhero (Amazon) – I highly recommend this book!