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.
I remember an experiment I did at the age of 11. My test subjects were Cub Scouts. My hypothesis (that nobody would see me sneak a fishbowl under a shawl) proved false, and the Scouts pelted me with hard candy. If I could have avoided those welts by visiting an MRI lab, I surely would have.
But magic’s not easy to pick apart with machines, because it’s not really about the mechanics of your senses. Magic is about understanding—and then manipulating—how viewers digest sensory information.
I think you’ll see what I mean if I teach you a few principles that magicians employ when they want to alter your perceptions.
Next: The secrets behind great magic tricks