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

Sleights of MindHusband and wife neuroscientists Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde have written a fascinating book linking the ancient art of magic to the way our senses and brains work. Magicians and conmen have known for centuries that people want to believe in “magic”, some secret force or knowledge that can turn everyday people into SuperMen or breaks the chains of physical laws. The authors are superb at dissecting famous tricks and illusions and detailing how they take advantage of the way we see and think about the world.
 
Be forewarned – if you want to believe in “magic” – this book is not for you, although the authors provide warnings before the secrets of the tricks are revealed. This book is unusual in that it deals not only with the mind, but with the senses. Did you know, for example, that your eye as a recording instrument is less capable than the camera you carry in your cell phone? You will need to read the book to find out how humans compensate for such limited focus to see whole scenes and images in the mind.
 
I really enjoyed this book. While Gladwell is an entertaining writer (“Blink”, “Outliers”, “The Tipping Point”), these guys are the real deal!
 
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