In Sleights of mind, neuroscientists Stephen and Susana decided to research the science behind illusions. They attended magic shows around the world, interviewed magicians, ran tests on observers and magicians alike, and even became accredited magicians themselves. And what it comes down to is that your brain is hardwired to be fooled.
The mechanisms your brain uses to make sense of the world can be exploited by magicians to make you see things that aren’t there. Magicians don’t necessarily know how it works – just that it does.
Macknik and Martinez-Conde study the how and why of illusions, not just to understand magic, but to understand more of the way the brain functions, with the hopes of finding other ways to apply those principles to real life.
One of our staff found the book fascinating, and was intrigued both by the magic and how the brain works. The writing is clear and quite entertaining. There are descriptions of tricks and magic shows, interviews with magicians, and an explanation of the principle that makes each class of illusion work, but that’s the thing – even when you know it’s not magic your brain will still be amazed.