Idol Chatter

Ever wonder how magic really works? Not just the “how to’s” of performing a trick, but why we humans are so susceptible to believing we see the impossible?
Well, George Johnson of The New York Times reports that scientists are taking an interest in magicians–the best of the best like Apollo Robbins and Teller (of Penn & Teller)–by inviting them to the annual meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness to discuss “the cognitive principles underlying magic.” The theorists wanted to see what they could learn from the practitioners. But everybody, including the magicians, were excited by the collaboration:

“Secretive as they are about specifics, the magicians were as eager as the scientists when it came to discussing the cognitive illusions that masquerade as magic: disguising one action as another, implying data that isn’t there, taking advantage of how the brain fills in gaps–making assumptions, as The Amazing Randi put it, and mistaking them for facts.”
Don’t miss Johnson’s “Sleights of Mind” in its entirety. It’s fun and fascinating stuff.

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