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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Books, Pamphlets & Lecture Notes » » Good new book -- "Sleights of Mind" (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of sethb
I happened to stumble across the book "Sleights of Mind" on the Amazon website and ordered it. I enjoyed it tremendously and would recommend it to any serious student of magic theory and misdirection.

The book is written by two neuroscientists, who explain how magic uses, exploits and "hacks" the hardwired circuits in the human brain to produce the illusions and magic tricks that we all know and love. If you've ever wondered exactly how a Retention Vanish deceives the eye, why Black Art renders objects invisible, why the Professor's Nightmare appears to be three equal lengths of rope, or how a false transfer works, this is the book for you. Click HERE for more info.

Numerous professional magicians, including Randi, Jamy Ian Swiss, Johnny Thompson and Teller, contributed to the book and their insights are fascinating. The anecdotes are good, too -- such as the time a magician challenged noted physicist Richard Feynman to explain how a trick (Ambitious Card) was done. After Feynmann had indeed figured it out, the magician did the exact same trick again but used a different method, which drove Feynman crazy. The scientist couldn't believe that "a magician would stoop so low." But we all know better, don't we? SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
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Profile of Nom de Guerre
I caught part of an interview with one of the authors of this book on KPCC (local NPR station) yesterday. It was a pretty interesting interview. Here's the link if anyone wants to hear it:

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Profile of johnabe
It's a great book, really. I'm about halfway through it and I am utterly fascinated. I've read other excellent literature like Ortiz's "Strong Magic" but "Sleights of Mind" is, in my opinion, unique. The Kindle version was 13 bucks and is worth much more than that.
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Profile of wjkrysak
Thanks for the lead, Seth. Just ordered it on Amazon. cheaha bill
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Profile of SleightsOfMind.com
Thanks so much for your interest in Sleights of Mind! My name is Steve Macknik and I am the coauthor. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about the book, or neuromagic in general.
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Profile of muse
A very basic question I'm afraid - do you know when the paperback version is due out in the UK?
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Profile of panlives
"Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
"To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
"The dog did nothing in the night-time."
"That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
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Profile of funsway
I just read this and find that it validates many things I have learned in business consulting over the last 40 years in which I applied principles of performanance and mentalism with more that 27,000 buisness owners.

Get it and change the way you perform magic and deal with others in interpersonal relations.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst

eBooks at https://www.lybrary.com/ken-muller-m-579928.html questions at ken@eversway.com
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Profile of Magiguy
Thanks for the tip. Just picked it up on my Kindle. Looks very interesting...
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Profile of lumberjohn
Slights of Mind is written by two neuroscientists who realized that magic was a fertile field of study in analyzing how the human mind works. Accordingly, they immersed themselves in the world of magic for over a year, even becoming members of the Magic Castle with successful audition performances. What they learned and how their experiences jibed with their knowledge of neuroscience, as well as what it taught them about neuroscience, is the subject of the book.
Obviously, this book would be of interest to anyone who likes to read about brain science, which I recognize is not a particularly large subset of the magic community. But I believe it would also be of interest to any magician who wants to learn more about how magic works and how to create more deceptive and memorable illusions.
As we progress in our study of magic, the way in which we perceive it subtlely changes. Effects that were initially puzzling to us no longer are. We are no longer as often deceived by planned misdirection, and tend to look exactly where we need to in order to determine the method of the effect. This is one of the symptoms of “thinking like a magician.”
In doing so, we are likely to lose sight of what makes most of these effects deceptive to a lay audience. A good example, referenced in the book, is that of throwing a ball in the air twice and then ditching the ball on the downswing of the third throw but continuing with the upswing motion. The effect on laypeople is that the ball seems to disappear in mid air. The effect on a magician, by contrast, may be that he simply notes the ditch at the bottom of the throw and never experiences even a moment of deception. This is because the magician is conditioned to misdirection on the third motion, anticipates what the effect will be, and focuses on the likely point at which the action of interest (the ditch) will take place.
Because magicians, like everyone else, extrapolate their knowledge and experience, if an effect didn’t fool them, they are more likely to assume it won’t fool others. This is especially true when, as in this effect, it isn’t exactly clear WHY the effect is deceptive. It is easy enough to say “anyone who pays close enough attention would notice that the ball isn’t being thrown on the third upswing,” and thus to dismiss the effect altogether as a weak one.
And that is why this book is such a revelation. It explains, in many cases, exactly why these effects and methods are deceptive. It explains how they make use of our minds’ inner workings and assumptions and use those against us. These are things that wouldn’t necessarily be common sense to a magician because a magician’s mind begins to think differently than a layman’s. Accordingly, it is necessary to see it spelled out exactly why these effects work.
And when you see why they work, you will be more confident using them. Long after that French drop no longer fools you and you can spot a double lift from a mile away, you will still use them, because you know how they deceive and can feel confident that, while they might not fool you, they will indeed fool your audience.
Another result of understanding how and why these methods fool us also allows us to tweak our presentations to make them even more deceptive. There is an excellent example of this in the most recent issue of Genii from Tom Stone (“Cognitive Conjuring”). Stone takes a concept discussed in the book, change blindness, and uses it to construct a color changing deck routine that might sound like it wouldn’t fool anyone on paper, but incorporates well grounded neuroscience to create a baffling effect that relies upon very little slight of hand.
In short, I would highly recommend this book to anyone with more than a passing interest in the art of magic and the modes of deception.
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Profile of TStone
This book is an interesting read, but don't trust everything in it - the two authors have severely misunderstood a few things, and some principles doesn't work the way they are described.
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Profile of fortasse
Fascinating, insightful book. I bought it over Christmas and promptly devoured it. Highly recommended!
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Profile of edh
On my list to buy.

Tom, could you elaborate on what you mean. Thanks
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Profile of HerbM
On 2010-12-30 22:58, SleightsOfMind.com wrote:
Thanks so much for your interest in Sleights of Mind! My name is Steve Macknik and I am the coauthor. I'll be happy to answer any questions you may have about the book, or neuromagic in general.

My goal is to find more of the visual deletions and assumptions similar to the "curved motion" is given preference to "straight motion" in visual processing -- to the extent that straight motion may literally becomes invisible to the conscious mind.

I have actually found a perhaps very odd sounding but life-saving application for this: I study and teach defense against criminal attacks, especially against criminals armed with knives.

In the process of this I 'invented' an attack (assuming the defender has survived long enough to access his or her own defensive too).

It utilized the KNIFE HAND as the distraction to allow the CHECK HAND (the one without the knife) to perform the actual attack by grabbing the criminals "forearm" (somewhere between hand and elbow). With his forearm temporarily controlled or immobilized it is relatively easy to use the knife to disarm him.

About the time I discovered this trick -- one of my students recommended the TV documentary (I believe) based on this excellent book -- I immediately bought the book and sought out the documentation. From this it was obvious that I should be "circling" or (better) "spiraling" the distracting 'knife hand' while moving the real attack 'check hand' in straight lines.

This radically improved the trick -- that is the number of times and the quality of opponents where it would work at FULL SPEED against my training partners.

Essentially -- everyone who has seen it performed agrees that -- the "linear moving check hand" DISAPPEARS thus making the actual attack almost unseeable.

I have proposed (and temporarily, provisionally accepted) a hierarchy of visual processing: stationary objects give precedence to those in linear motion give precendence to those on circular paths give precedence to those on planar spirals give precedence to those on 3-d spirals give precedence to those in complex curvilinear motion.

My goal and question now, is how to build a strategy for developing MORE such tricks or methods to develop our current tricks to higher levels.

My current first tentative efforts are in trying too build a list of "effects" which would be useful, then to find tricks that would enhance those effects. I am only a VERY, VERY amateur magician -- not really skilled enough to call myself a magician really -- so another tact it to read and study magic theory books.

Suggestions? Help?
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Profile of Marv
I nearly finished the book, and I like it very much. It has given me a lot of insights and also made me a little more confident applying magic in front of the audience, since I now trust more that they are misdirected and thus not paying attention to my sleight of hands Smile

@TStone, could you elaborate which things they misunderstood?
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Profile of robvh
I wouldn't want to be a volunteer at one of HerbM's shows. It sounds dangerous! Smile
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