Magic App Ideal for Neurologists and Psychiatrists

September 21, 2010
Steven Zuckerman, MD

How can a magic app be put to use in a psychiatry or neurology practice?

How would you like to be able to read minds, tell the future, or even control the thoughts and actions of someone else? Well, there's an app for that. It is called iForce and is available from the app store for $2.99. Strictly speaking, it does not really give you the above abilities, but you sure demonstrate the appearance of predicting the future or controlling thought (and perception is reality, so…).

As neurologists and psychiatrists, we have specialized knowledge and understanding of the intricate processes of brain function. Shouldn’t we be able to translate that information into extraordinary cognitive and cerebral abilities? Even though this application is not really a neurology of psychiatry app, it can be presented in such a way that people are more likely to believe in your medical abilities. In fact, the performance of magic has its roots in the Shaman or Medicine Man performing supernatural feats as a way of getting acceptance of their healing powers. I am not suggesting you resort to this technique in your individual practice, but the CPT code for this effect is available on request.

iForce is an app that uses your iPhone (or iPod Touch or iPad) to successfully reveal your prediction of a spectator’s freely selected option. They can think of any type of item you choose; for example, a number from one to eight or their favorite type of food. You write a prediction on the iPhone, and after they indicate their selection, you show them that you had successfully predicted the correct answer (or read their mind in order to get the correct information).

Of course, I can’t reveal how this is done (or I’d have to kill you). However, the method is absolutely ingenious. In fact, there is more than one way this can be accomplished using the program, making the likelihood that a spectator will figure out the method next to impossible. This app allows you to perform such a strong impression of your abilities that there was even a conspiracy among magicians to keep this program from becoming popular on the app store. They submitted one-star ratings to skew the results of the average rating seen by potential buyers to discourage purchases (see the fascinating New York Times article by tech columnist and magician David Pogue)

So, if you are not averse to having a little fun with your patients or friends, I would highly recommend iForce as the best magic app, and possibly the best overall app that exists.

Dr. Zuckerman is the physician editor-in-chief of MDNG: Neurology/Psyciatry edtion, the author of the Mind Matters blog, and the chief of neurology and medical information officer at Baton Rouge General Hospital, Baton Rouge, LA.