MAGIC has long been thought to be beyond the reach of scientific understanding.
That being said, a new study has discovered that almost everyone picks the same card when faced with this baffling magic trick.
Boffins have found a set of reliable trends in how people react to the classic ‘pick a card, any card’ situation and it’s easy to see why.
While most card tricks involve clever sleight of hand or misdirection, you don’t have to be Houdini to work out that, when it comes to selecting a card, most of us are just plain lazy.
Researchers at Goldsmith’s University of London revealed that, when faced with four identical cards face down, almost everyone will take one from the same side as their dominant hand.
Similarly, the subjects of the study displayed a measurable dislike of ‘edges’, meaning that they tended to pick from either of the two cards in the middle.
Out of the 60 people tested, two-thirds of those who were right handed picked the third card from the left, as it was the “path of least resistance”.
If their decision had been truly random, only a quarter would have done so.
Despite the overwhelming numbers, those who chose the third card seemed completely oblivious as to why.
When asked, they rated their freedom of choice in making the decision as nine out of 10 on average.
Likewise, those who chose that specific card only expected an average of 38% of others to do the same.
Dr Gustav Kuhn, the first author of the study, said: “We know from previous research that people are more likely to select an object from the middle of a row, and to select objects that are convenient to reach. Essentially, we’re quite lazy.
“The interesting part is that we are often completely oblivious to the choices we make, and erroneously think that we are in full control of our thoughts and actions.
“Most people have no idea that they are far more likely to choose the third card from the left.”
Previous studies have shown that magicians can lead people to a certain card choice.
One trick is to fan out a deck of cards quickly and leave one visible for slightly longer, in which case people will usually choose it.
However, the Goldsmiths study published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition suggests that most tricks rely on people not being willing to reach very far.
They found that two thirds of right handers will pick the third card from the left[/caption]