Jason Kittredge's Reviews > Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions

Sleights of Mind by Stephen L. Macknik
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M_50x66
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Feb 19, 12

Recommended to Jason by: Dan Hayden
Read from February 09 to 16, 2012 — I own a copy, read count: 1

I really enjoyed this book. It was a combination of two interests that I've had for a long time, but haven't really focused on: Magic and neuroscience.

My degree is in cognitive science, which is really what this book focuses on. I'm fascinated to see many of the concepts that I studied in school illustrated with examples of how magicians exploit these concepts in real life. Stephen and Susana don't so much explain *how* tricks work (though there is a certain amount of that - all with an indicating spoiler alert so that you don't accidentally learn if you don't want to)... this book focuses on *why* tricks work. Essentially explaining how magicians hack the cognitive processes of their audiences to perform small miracles.

As an amateur magician/magic fanboy, I was extremely excited to hear some of the great magicians explain to scientists what they did and try to go through the scientific discovery process to figure out why. Some of my personal heroes such as Teller and the Amazing Randi, participate in discussions and offer their views on the psychology of how their magic works, leading to hypotheses for scientists to test. It's a great view of collaboration between magic and science.

I don't necessarily think that this book is for everyone. I have very specific interests in this book due to my education, and personally interest in magic. If someone wants to learn magic, there are other fine books to learn from, or the power of the internet. If you are a hard core neuroscientist, then it might be of interest to see how magicians use many of the principles that you are investigating in real life... but you certainly won't find anything earth-shattering here.

But for the sweet spot of someone who has interests in both neuroscience and magic, this book is a gem.
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