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Friday, May 08, 2009

The Science of Sleight of Hand

“People take reality for granted,” says Teller of Penn and Teller fame in a recent Wired article ("Magic and the Brain: Teller Reveals the Neuroscience of Illusion," April 20, 2009).

Teller (that’s his full legal name) has joined forces with other tricksters recruited by researchers to study what some neuroscientists call “magicology,” the science of illusion. Teller even coauthored a scientific article in Nature last summer, ("Attention and Awareness in Stage Magic," July 30, 2008).

"Every time you perform a magic trick, you're engaging in experimental psychology," Teller says in the Wired article. "If the audience asks, 'How the hell did he do that?' then the experiment was successful. I've exploited the efficiencies of your mind."

To learn how our minds can deceive us, browse these books:

Hiding the Elephant: How Magicians Invented the Impossible and Learned to Disappear by Jim Steinmeyer

Abracadabra!: Secret Methods Magicians and Others Use to Deceive Their Audience by Nathaniel Schiffman

The Art of Magic: The Companion to the PBS Special by Carl Waldman

The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Card and Magic Tricks by Diagram Group

Don’t Miss . . .

An Evening With Lisa Scottoline
May 12, 7:30 p.m. Alden Theatre in the McLean Community Center, 1234 Ingleside Ave. Free. Tickets will be available beginning at 7 p.m. Limit four per person. Each attendee will receive one free copy of her new thriller Look Again.

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