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Humbugs of the world by P.T. Barnam

Humbugs of the world by P.T. Barnam

Bar·num ef·fect



  1. the tendency to accept certain information as true, such as character assessments or horoscopes, even when the information is so vague as to be worthless.




  1. 1.

deceptive or false talk or behavior.

I was eating Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends. The subject turned to politics (Very popular and incendiary topic). We spoke about the false news stories that were in the (hopefully) real news lately. <2016>

My friend said "It seems like you can't trust anyone these days. It seems like recently people started lying and spreading incorrect facts."

Here statement made me think of one of my favorite books Humbugs of the World by P.T. Barnam written in 1865. Yes, written by the same Barnam from the world famous Barnum and Bailey Circus. The same P.T. Barnam credited with the words "There's a sucker born every minute." The same Barnam who is credited with creating the famous museum exhibit 'The Great Egress'

That's right, over 150 years ago Mr. Barnam began warning the general public of the malicious frauds and scams out there, while committing some of them himself. My favorite quote from the book referred to the food you buy, is "If you didn't grow it or make it yourself, then it isn't what you think it is". That quote has made be cut down on fast food quite a bit!

Reading that book has caused me personally to become much more skeptical, and I believe that the whole world would be better off with more skepticism in it.

The irony is not lost on me, that I make a living as a magician. It's my job to trick and fool people. But my tricks are harmless, intended to entertain my audiences and hopefully open their minds while instilling a little skepticism at the same time.

I always found it amusing that when I say something like "watch as I make this coin disappear...", suddenly otherwise very amiable and easy-going people snatch my props out of my hands and become scientists, inspecting my sleeves very carefully. I can't help but think that these people would be better off being this diligent when it comes to interest rates, extended warranties, or major purchases, ballot initiatives, or pretty much anything with more severe consequences then a magic trick!

Elias "Lefty" Caress


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