Sleights of Mind

The Body Has a Mind of Its Own

What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions

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Magic—it mystifies, confounds, and delights. But how does it actually work? This book explores the ways in which magicians use the mind's intrinsic properties to trick the brain. It is a revolutionary look at the science behind magic-what leads the mind to believe tricks are real and how magicians actually use the brain’s own logic to achieve this.

Macknik and Martinez-Conde are considered the foremost experts in the exciting new field of "neuromagic"— the cross-disciplinary meeting of magic and science-and have spent the past several years traveling the globe, meeting some of the world’s greatest magicians and ultimately convincing them to allow their techniques for tricking the brain to be studied. They write, "Magic tricks work because humans have a hardwired process of attention and awareness that is hackable. By understanding how magicians hack our brains, we can better understand how the same cognitive tricks are at work in advertising strategy, business negotiations, and all varieties of interpersonal relations. When we understand how magic works in the mind of the spectator we will have unveiled the neural bases of consciousness itself."

In SLEIGHTS OF MIND, Blakeslee, Macknik and Martinez-Conde reveal (with spoiler alerts) how the mind is tricked into believing that a woman is cut in half and how to make objects disappear, bend a spoon, read minds, and more. From simple optical illusions to the more complicated card tricks and sleight of hand, the authors break down the walls between magician and audience and expose what is going on in your brain when you are deceived by magic tricks-or any of the myriad other forms of illusions we face every day. Finally, the authors explain how the implications of neuromagic go beyond illuminating behavior: early research suggests that neuromagic may suggest new approaches for everything from the diagnosis of autism to marketing techniques and education.

Sleights of Mind:

"This book doesn’t just change the way you think about sleight of hand and David Copperfield—it will also change the way you think about the mind."
author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist

"I’ve long wished that there was a book that explained the art of magic from the point of view of cognitive neuroscience. Magic is a gold mine of information about the brain, as well as a source of fascination to laypeople. This is the book we’ve all been waiting for."
author of The Stuff of Thought