Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions

Magic shows don t work on children if they are not old enough to have developed the expectation that causes have predictable effects. They accept what their senses tell them, without constructing models that that make the surprising result unexpected. On the other hand, most scientists I know find magic to be irresistible; they are uncomfortable until they have figured out how they have been fooled. The same curiosity that dominates their professional lives also tickles their imaginations, as hypotheses are mentally proposed and rejected. Science educators also use the "magic" of science to stimulate the interest of our students. Usually, the magic that we do is explained to our audiences, but professional magicians pride themselves on keeping the secrets behind their tricks permanently obscured. "Sleights of Mind" goes behind the scenes with many of the best professional magicians, who cooperated with the authors to bring to light how the senses can be blinded and the mind can be made to misinterpret what the senses perceive. The science behind many of the tricks is explained in this book (and that is a lot of fun in itself), but the science teacher may be able to improve demonstrations, laboratories, videos and animations with a more fundamental understanding of how the human mind processes input from our surroundings.

Pick Attribution: 

Stephen L. Macknic, Susana Martinez-Conde, and Sandra Blakeslee

Publication Date: 
Friday, January 1, 2010