A few months ago, the mute half of the famous magic duo Penn & Teller published an article in Smithsonian Magazine describing seven principles that drive the development of his magic tricks. One of them, “Make the secret a lot more trouble than the trick seems worth,” instantly resonated with me as a designer and engineer. Teller:
You will be fooled by a trick if it involves more time, money and practice than you (or any other sane onlooker) would be willing to invest. My partner, Penn, and I once produced 500 live cockroaches from a top hat on the desk of talk-show host David Letterman. To prepare this took weeks. We hired an entomologist who provided slow-moving, camera-friendly cockroaches (the kind from under your stove don’t hang around for close-ups) and taught us to pick the bugs up without screaming like preadolescent girls. Then we built a secret compartment out of...
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