Obviously, in most first world countries or nations with high literacy rates, people are quite familiar with the concept that a magician is just an entertainer who creates the illusion of a magic. However, I have had a few experiences with spectators who have genuinely refused to accept that I am just a sleightly sneaky guy. These events were much less flattering than they might appear a first glance.
Many years ago, when I was busking at Circular Quay, an Indian guy approached me and wanted to buy my wand for $500. His english was quite poor, I guess he was new in Australia. I told him bluntly that this was just a piece of dowel from Bunning's Warehouse that I had cut to the size of a magic wand. He would not believe me. I showed him how I palm cards and coins and some other sleights. He still wouldn't believe me. At this point I was tempted to accept his offer. I had been honest with him, if he wanted to throw his money away on a piece of wood, that was his problem. I'm not going to say no to some free money. However, I figured, considering Circular Quay was one of the few places in the City I could regularly busk and make good money and my show is quite conspicuous, I probably shouldn't make any enemies. This guy would sooner or later realise that there was nothing magical about the wand. I refused to accept his money and he walked away seeming genuinely annoyed.
Another time, a man approached me at the end of my magic show in Sydney Darling Harbour and made some vigorous hand gestures. Apparently, he was a deaf and mute person and was trying to explain to me with sign language that he wanted me to heal him. A friend of his who was guiding him around the foreshore, probably taking him to the Aquarium or Imax Cinema, explained the situation to me. My morals are loose enough that I might sell a stick for $500, but I'm not going to let some disabled person think I'm Jesus and that I have descended from heaven to heal him. Even if I did, this lie could be very easily exposed. Again, I had his friend translate for me and explain that I just do tricks. Unlike the Indian man, he was more willing to believe me, although he was very disappointed. I felt like shit for the rest of the day.
I later had a very similar experience on Pitt street mall with a guy who seemed to be unable to speak. I'm not sure if he could hear me. He was on his own and had no translator. This man hung around for about half an hour trying to communicate something to me and he seemed quite distressed. I wondered if again, someone wanted me to miraculously cure them, but I'll never know.