The Tuned Deck

Measure of Doubt

In Sweet Dreams: Philosophical Objections to a Science of Consciousness, Daniel Dennett recounts the story of “The Tuned Deck,” a mysterious magic trick that’s more — or less? — than it seems. Conjurer Ralph Hull performed it over and over throughout his life, challenging his fellow magicians to figure out how it was done. Here’s Dennett’s account of how Hull’s act went:

“Boys, I have a new trick to show you. It’s called ‘The Tuned Deck’. This deck of cards is magically tuned [Hull holds the deck to his ear and riffles the cards, listening carefully to the buzz of the cards]. By their finely tuned vibrations, I can hear and feel the location of any card. Pick a card, any card… [The deck is then fanned or otherwise offered for the audience, and a card is taken by a spectator, noted, and returned to the deck by one…

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