Monday, February 27, 2012
Teller reveals his secrets
Smithsonian.com have published an entertaining article about how magicians manipulate the human mind.
"In the last half decade, magic has become shockingly respectable in the scientific world. I asked a scientist friend why the sudden interest. He replied that those who fund science research find magicians “sexier than lab rats.”"
"I’m all for helping science. But after I share what I know, my neuroscientist friends thank me by showing me eye-tracking and MRI equipment, and promising that someday such machinery will help make me a better magician."
"I have my doubts. Neuroscientists are novices at deception. Magicians have done controlled testing in human perception for thousands of years. Magic’s not easy to pick apart with machines, because it’s not really about the mechanics of your senses. Magic’s about understanding — and then manipulating — how viewers digest the sensory information."
"It’s hard to think critically if you’re laughing. We often follow a secret move immediately with a joke. A viewer has only so much attention to give, and if he’s laughing, his mind is too busy with the joke to backtrack rationally."
"To fool the mind, combine at least two tricks. Every night in Las Vegas, I make a children’s ball come to life like a trained dog. My method — the thing that fools your eye — is to puppeteer the ball with a thread too fine to be seen from the audience. But during the routine, the ball jumps through a wooden hoop several times, and that seems to rule out the possibility of a thread."