In 1894, Binet wrote a manuscript entitled "Psychology of Prestidigitation" in which he foreshadowed many pieces of current research, including the role of joint attention in magic (which I'll discuss in a subsequent post) and the exploitation of inattentional blindness and perceptual set. He also pointed to a problem that researchers are still having a difficult time tackling: the reduction problem. Binet said:
The illusion of each trick is not merely the result of one single cause, but of many, so insignificant that to perceive them would be quite as difficult as to count with the naked eye the grains of sand on the seashore.
Indeed, the methods of magicians are often multi-modal, disallowing reduction in the lab. If any piece of the method is removed, the illusion fails. Oftentimes, we see this with video footage of magic. Social cues to attention are weakened when magic isn't performed live, so consequently, misdirection often fails on video. Binet recognized this phenomenon in his footage of Raynaly, noting:
We have not for one moment the impression that the exchange has actually been made...If the photographic proof destroys so completely the illusion, it is because it does away with all the adjuncts necessary for the illusion which we have enumerated: The rapidity of the trick, the little discourse given by the artist, the maneuvers which cause a diversion or a diminution of attention, etc.
Binet, A. (1894). Psychology of prestidigitation. Smithsonian Report for 1894 (pp. 555-571). Government Printing Office. Link
Wiseman, R. (2005, July 27). Trick and treat. Daily Telegraph. Link