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Topic: Sleights of Mind
Message: Posted by: Peter Stobie (Jun 1, 2011 04:20PM)
Has anyone read this book by Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde? I got it from our library and I'm half way through. It explains the neuroscience behind what we do! I definitely recommend it! Published in 2010 by Henry Holt and Company.

Message: Posted by: Trekdad (Jun 2, 2011 01:37PM)
I've just started reading it. It's shaping up to be an interesting read. I do like the "spoiler" alerts in the margins for those who don't wish to know the principle at work, but human nature being what it is . . .
Message: Posted by: Peter Stobie (Jun 2, 2011 04:58PM)
I'm loving the anecdotes about the magicians they worked with. Great stories and lots of fun. Very insightful on how we can improve upon the psychology with each of our rouutines!

Message: Posted by: Jon_Thompson (Jun 9, 2011 04:18AM)
Yes, it's a great read. It's good to see someone putting some science behind what we're always suspected.
Message: Posted by: Peter Stobie (Jun 9, 2011 06:54AM)
If you haven't visited the website it gives you more about the book and some fun stuff under Media!

Message: Posted by: Jon_Thompson (Jun 9, 2011 07:07AM)
I know what I'm watching tonight!
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Jun 14, 2011 02:14PM)
I just requested it at my local Library.

Thanks Peter, I love Science.

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: Peter Stobie (Jun 14, 2011 05:36PM)

Enjoy! Did you watch the videos on their website? Good stuff!

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jun 14, 2011 05:40PM)


They seem to like shiny things and were "nice" about the Nemo 1500.
Message: Posted by: Peter Stobie (Jun 15, 2011 03:43PM)

Thanks for posting the above threads! I really enjoyed it.

Message: Posted by: 55john55 (Jun 30, 2011 08:20AM)
It is a fantastic book. I can't give it enough praise.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Jul 29, 2011 07:38PM)
On 2011-06-09 07:54, Peter Stobie wrote:
If you haven't visited the website it gives you more about the book and some fun stuff under Media!


However -- they do not respond to emails, and one of the authors joined the Café' -- requested questioms and idea -- and then would not replay to PMS

I loved this book also -- and became inspired to explore new concepts of neuroscience -- but now beleive these two did not do their holework propwerly and often overreached themselves.
Message: Posted by: Peter Stobie (Sep 5, 2011 06:39PM)
Interesting? :hmmm:

Message: Posted by: Mephisticator (Nov 14, 2011 05:42PM)
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am curious to hear if anyone used it as a springboard to other neuroscience books...
Any recommendations?


Message: Posted by: doriancaudal (Nov 14, 2011 07:17PM)
I am, at the moment, and for 5 days, at the Society for Neuroscience conference (I am also a neuroscientist, in addition to magician),and I met Susana's student, who wrote with her a very nice and elegant study on misdirection that you can find here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3202226/?tool=pubmed
Message: Posted by: Mephisticator (Nov 17, 2011 08:42PM)
Cheers, Dorian. Very interesting article. Any other neuroscience recommendations would be appreciated.


Message: Posted by: funsway (Dec 10, 2011 01:30PM)
"The Tell-Brain" is excellent and very readable
Message: Posted by: link8822 (Jun 22, 2012 08:32PM)
I recently became a fan of Stephen Maknick because I'm considering psych grad school if possible to switch. He did a nature review article with James Randi, Teller, Apollo Robins & Mac King. You can read it here:


(pdf version also available on the side)
Message: Posted by: MagicJim (Aug 27, 2012 05:28PM)
It is an entertaining read. Used it as a reference for developing a class on attention.
Message: Posted by: George Hunter (Apr 30, 2013 06:56PM)
I recently gave a careful read to Sleights of Mind, and can verify most of the good things already said about it in this and other threads. I learned some things about magic, and even more about the young field of Neuroscience. Several of the field's major insights, such as those around the nature of human attention, are very significant and ought to inform every thoughtful magician and mentalist. From their young field, based on brain imaging, they especially conclude that human beings are incapable of multi-tasking--in the sense of giving priority attention to two things concurrently. They are impressed that magicians have experientially known this for centuries; it is the main reason why misdirection, when well done, is so astonishingly effective.

The study may suffer some from what may be a major methodological flaw. The authors interviewed a dozen or so magicians, and were coached by several, but there is little evidence that they read much of the authoritative literature of magic theory. Why is that a possible problem? Turn it around. If a magician merely interviewed some neuroscientists and wrote a book interfacing the two fields, the neuroscientists would complain that you cannot really know the field without knowing the literature. (If they'd known enough of the literature and history of magic, they might not have praised James the Amazing Randi as the "elder statesman of the American magic community!") Of course, they MAY have read a sufficient range of magic theory but, if they had, they'd have surely cited that, in many cases, instead of merely drawing from interviews.

One of you mentioned that the authors sometimes overreached. Yes, like enthusiastic scholars in many younger fields of knowledge, the authors seem to believe that their field, in its first generation, has at last solved some very long standing, very complex, issues--like whether human free will is real or illusory. (No "spoiler alert" here; you will have to read chapter nine of their book to access their confident answer.)

The authors kind of have it both ways on the "exposure" issue. On the one hand, they say they are not actually engaging in exposure because a "spoiler alert" symbol precedes each exposure! At the book's end, however, they drop that game and essentially admit to extensive exposure, and they say (credibly) that the more people know how magic is done the more they will appreciate experiencing it performed well.

The book is usually an interesting read, and the book's enduring contribution will largely be found in chapters three through seven--in which they delineate ways in which neuroscience helps us understand visual, cognitive, multi-sensory, and memory illusions. I plan to reread those chapters several times.

Overall, it is a commendable read for all magicians interested in the interface with science.

George Hunter
Message: Posted by: Curtis Alexander (Jul 13, 2013 05:33PM)
I'd certainly consider it a must-read.

Someone asked about other neuroscience books. Another book I enjoyed, although I'm not sure if it is strictly neuroscience, is 'Subliminal' by Leonard Mlodinow. 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat' and 'Hallucinations' by Oliver Sack are great as well.
Message: Posted by: harris (Feb 19, 2014 12:06PM)
Been looking at this section for the first time...since 2014 summer reading is Fizz boom bang.

I don't change my whole show, but like to do one or two items related to the theme.

This is a great find.

Thanks for sharing ...

All you on this section of the Café are apprecited

by Harris a former watcher of Sid the Science Kid
Message: Posted by: MagicDan3333 (Jun 11, 2015 10:25PM)
I plan on checking out the Sleights of Mind book. Does anyone have recommendations on how the brain perceives and is fooled. I am working on a program on deception and critical thinking using magic.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Jun 15, 2015 06:24PM)
Check out the "Tell-Tale Brain"
Message: Posted by: MatrixAddict (Dec 13, 2017 02:27AM)
I'll definitely look for this book. Thanks for the recommendation!
Message: Posted by: JohnWolf (Jan 28, 2018 04:15AM)
I had the great pleasure of running into the gentleman at a convention. If you ever get a chance to hear his lecture take it.