Magic 03

Magic 03

The Ghost Army

  • Visual
    • 603 Camouflage Engineers – incubator for young artists (a third artists)
    • Tasked with hiding buildings among other illusions
    • Used inflatable dummy tanks (tested wireframes… proved too heavy)
  • Aural
    • Worked with Bell Labs for Audio of machinery
    • Earliest known use of multitrack recording (on wire recorder)
  • Attack on Brest
    • Successfully fooled the Germans into thinking, but the US launched an actual attack in the space and they were decimated
  • Ellsworth Kelley, Bill Blass, … many successful artists and designers from the group
  • 15-30k lives estimated to be saved… (american lives?)

When the documentary talks about out of the box thinking, it doesn’t necessarily strike me as out of the box as something like Dazzle, a shockingly different form of camouflage. While the 603 unit was creative and resourceful, the deceptions were literal translations. The Dazzle thinks a step beyond about how the brain perceives something…



Class Notes

Magic & War, Kevin Slavin

2 most famous war magicians – Mascaline

– TED trick, giraffe as randomness

Role of the audience in making magic work
Prologue: Help from the audience

Never choose my mother
– ruins penn & teller trick

Gulf War
– made gulf war maps (physical cutouts of maps)
– at some point, there is a moral obligation
– Kuwaiti babies taken out of incubators…
– protests against the war at CU stopped
– Sadaam Hussein photo , might not have been him

Story of Kuwaiti babies was not real
– daughter testified
– her father is the Ambassador
– The Rendon Group, created this story
– user tested stories that would be most effective

Everyone in the chain of communication is simply playing their role, they think they are doing no moral wrong

Postscript from the prologue
– pulling down the statue, set up
– giving the audience choices
– the role that people make the choices

War <3 deception
“The enemy is not people or tanks or airplanes. The enemy is symmetry.”
– box cutter from 9/11 -> look this up, I am not familiar

One Thesis: The history of war and deception is as old as…
– Trojan Horse
– shift from tactical to strategic deception
– from fooling soldiers up close to fooling them from further away

Transition Period: Mafeking (1899)
– Baden-Powell as the great 1:8 magician

  1. the best way to destroy them is to get them to attach you
  2. improbably lengthy preparation
  3. help from the audience (spies) including shadows, landlines, barbed wire and big guns
  • cast shadows to seem like people multiplying
  • made sure not the bowers saw it, but the people who report to the bowers
  • walk around as if there was barbed wire

So maybe the 1940s Dawn of information theory is not just the light behind the computation, but a systematic way of thinking

80 years after Mafeking, the big guns don’t even need to be seen to be effective

  • SpaceWars / Star Wars
  • Connection of DOD w/ hollywood ramps up after ICT

Associated Press – tweets “Two Explosions in the white house and Barack Obama is injured”

  • hacked account
  • drove algo-trading to lose 136 Billion
  • (jb: people are easy to fool now, fooling algorithms are the new task…)

Area 51

  • UFOs crash in the one place where it is convenient to test aircrafts
  • while working on stealth, the myth of aliens covers the studies


  • connection of military to hollywood
    highest resolution capture of a president, Barack Obama, ever captured
  • Old news/// Picasso cubism imagery
    1910 Warming up for a rifled barrel

Razzle Dazzle
– visual perception (fool the heading)

Stealth Ship
– radar perception
– stealth changes the perceptual model of how
– stealth breaks up a large piece into many small ones

1960 watch on display at the Stazi Museum
– secret police in Germany
– microphone in watch
– gas can w/ camera (what has a trigger, that isn’t a camera)

Infrared lighting build into the cars for night photography

Huks vs Asuang (oss proto psyop)
– huks funded by soviets…
– OSS seeks to crush them
– mythology would

– escape maps embedded in cards
– get the POWs out by getting tools in

– British are getting oil from here
– Bomb it every night
– move the lights to fake the city
– start bombing it to convince the bombers they should bomb

D-day Operations
– Operation bodyguard
– Operation Titanic
– dropped fake paratroopers

Operation Mincemeat, the gesamtkunstwerk that wouldn’t use the work gesamtkunstwerk
– faked the pilot with a cadaver
– put the right underwear on him
– made up his romance
– Depended on help from the audience, which is different than the target
– placed in Spain, to be found and sent as word of mouth
– convince the Spanish and they’ll convince the Germans

Privacy/Deception, Adam Harvey
What is real is only what appears to us

Tank that is both a visual decoy as well as a thermal decoy

Different wavelengths in the visual spectrum
Thermal imagery over 12 fps is illegal to export
– Maybe work with a thermal camera for my trick++

Marathon blanket masks the thermal image, Adam Har
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
– Disruptive Pattern Material
– soldiers weren’t pumped up enough to wear it

Came needs to be both psychologically functional as well as functional…

Privacy Gift Shop
– Anti Drone Hijab

CV Dazzle

Total Surveillance for 0.01% GDP, recording A/V is economically logical in the next 15 years
Anders Sandberg

Genetic Algorithm based OpenCV
256^(24*24) possible combinations
– to many to calculate all of them, so it is a great GA problem

From all appearances
Roy Behrens, Camoupedia

Self Deception, Joi Ito
a tiger doesn’t choose to wear stripes in the morning

Self deception
– galvanic skin response reveals when we are lying to ourselves
– people think they are better than they are
– we fill in aspects of the story
– people are bad, at sensing deception
– but if you prompt the right problems

Being infallible while Learning from mistakes
– a myth of leadership

Surprise commits elements to our memory
Hui Newton – a leader of black panthers
– pilot, co-pilot relationships (black box communications)
– Malcom Gladwell
– ethnic theory of plane crashes

Value of deception is very cultural
– Germans tend not to have the need to lie about

– the more aware, are you more depressed?
– truth seekers tend to live less happy lives

How do you find the bad actors
– the cost is so high
– rumor ill is the most cost effective search

Fish that act like opposite sex to sneak into nests
Baboons – discipline is not for the children, it is for the senior

Self deception is a necessity of ethics
Biological reductionist thinking

Importance of choice – an american construct
it is useful for our choices to be limited, it saves us energy
This is how people at ad agencies sleep at night

Adults spend less glucose based on pattern recognition, this becomes tougher as the background is changing

Depression of realism
– 60%feel below average

Adam Curtis
– new documentary about guy who works for Putin
– Non-linear warfare
– funding far left and far right

How do you design “good” deception?
– is deception inherently bad?

Evolutionary dynamics, eliminate the weak

Species evolution
– debunking as kinship
– kinship and selfishness
– culling, bringing the weak

Toxoplasmosis… (deception for success, is this good?)

—————— From Class Website ——————

The NeuroScience of Magic.
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For Fun:

Assignment Due for Next Week:

  •  Begin to amplify your Trick++.