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Topic: The science of deception
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Sep 7, 2007 09:00AM)
How about a thread for how scientific principles could be used to improve the art of deception.
These needn't be practical tomorrow - technology is likely going to advance some more in the future.

For example,
- multiple high-speed cameras could measure flashes and angles objectively.
- light-meters and visual acuity studies could determine the conditions in which threads are truly "invisible"
- "suspicion centers of the brain" could be identified using existing neural technology -- imagine having the "audience suspicion index" available to a performer!
- in principle, the "condition" of a deck of cards could be automatically determined (i.e., time to buy a new deck)
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 8, 2007 09:34AM)
I think that is a great idea, and I can't wait until I read the results of your research project.
Message: Posted by: edh (Sep 8, 2007 04:32PM)
I also think that's a great idea. I not up to snuff on science although I do like to watch a lot of the science shows on TV.

That would be a very interesting thread. At least it would be to me.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 10, 2007 08:06AM)
Is this for real?

Okay, start by getting two video cameras (or more) and set the first up from the back of the venue to watch the performance

Then set up others to watch the audience.

Then after the show... watch and learn.

After the initial shock wears off there will be plenty to discuss.
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 10, 2007 08:11AM)
Don't discourage Doug, I think the results of his research project will be great information for all of us to learn from. Please keep us informed of your progress Doug.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 10, 2007 08:29AM)

Doug is suggesting some [b]possible[/b] avenues for others to do research.

I suggested something to do now and get some useful discussions going.

Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Sep 10, 2007 09:22AM)
Well that leaves me out. I'm a performer that uses the findings of others for entertainment purposes.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 10, 2007 09:35AM)
It's amazing what one can learn by watching the audience.
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Sep 11, 2007 08:28AM)
Jonathan's suggestion, while practical, useful, and valuable, isn't exactly "scientific".
And I'm afraid that until I get a substantial research grant, the thread is, as Jonathan suggests, one of possible avenues of research only.

I recently attended a conference in which one of the keynote speakers (Sophie Scott) described research on the differentially active regions of the brain in the presence of subtly different acoustic stimuli. It would be fascinating to explore the brain's differential reaction to shock, juggling, humor, and magic.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 11, 2007 08:41AM)
Doug, how were these things measured? I keep waiting for tiny fMRI availability.
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Sep 11, 2007 09:25AM)
Dr. Scott reported results using Positron Emmision Tomography (PET) as well as fMRI.

One of the most interesting results was that a "learning center" would differentially trigger when subjects were becoming familiar with mechanically-altered speech. I wonder if there might be a "surprise center" indicating the perception of magic.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 11, 2007 10:41AM)
Doug, I suspect that there are many recognizable patterns in brain activity and that good experimental design would incorporate some basic NLP procedures to elicit those inner activities.

Here is my hypothesis: What we call "magic" may have a latent component of surprise but at the time of the magic effect being revealed, a stronger relation to immediate access to beliefs and expectations. Formally, when what you perceive does not match what you believe [b]and[/b] you have a presumed causal agent, you get magic. In non-neurological terms, it's a meta-experience, how you feel about what you perceive given what you believe.

And yes to lots more fMRI work. :) How invasive is that equipment?
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Sep 11, 2007 10:49AM)
Can't comment on invasivity (to coin a word), but I would question the need for a "presumed causal agent" (but we've had that conversation before :) )
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Sep 11, 2007 10:52AM)
I so totally want to watch fMRI data as someone accesses a belief or learns something new or changes how they feel about something.

And yes, let's leave off the causal stuff (ok to leave it at theatrical?) so we can work in agreement. :)
Message: Posted by: Doug Peters (Sep 11, 2007 10:56AM)
How about an fMRI of enjoyment? And then compare the enjoyment of children with the enjoyment of adults, healthy and disturbed. Surely some government would be willing to grant sufficient funds for such important research! :)