MAGIC AND PERCEPTION - THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FOOLING THE SENSES

MAGIC AND PERCEPTION - THE ART AND SCIENCE OF FOOLING THE SENSES

by Bob Friedhoffer, Linda Eisenberg

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Overview

When I first started doing magic tricks, I thought it was awesome that I could fool people. I could do things they couldn't do. Not only couldn't they do them, they couldn't figure out how to do them.

Being the nosy kind of guy I am, I wanted to know how and why people get fooled. If I knew that, I thought, maybe I'd become a better magician. So I started studying different things, both in school and out-things such as acting, stagecraft, and the history of magic and science.

It dawned on me, after a while, that there are many scientific reasons for why magic fools people. Some of them have to do with laws of physics, which I've discussed at length in some of my other books. Others are based on principles of chemistry and biology, which I've touched on in other books. But quite a few of the reasons have to do with the science of the mind, better known as psychology, and the science of the brain, neurology. These are the areas this book concentrates on.

Right about now you might be wondering, "How can knowing anything about the science of the brain help you fool someone?" The important part of a magical performance, I discovered, is not what you do, but what people think you do. In other words, what counts is how the audience perceives the trick.

So what the heck is perception anyway ? The tenth edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary gives one definition of the word as "to become aware of through the senses." That gives a good general idea of perception, but it doesn't tell the whole story.

To be precise, perception is the interpretation by the brain of information gathered by the five senses — sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. The organs that allow us to perceive are our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin. The input to these organs is called stimuli. Once received by our organs, the stimuli is sometimes called sense data.

The sense organs convert the sense data into impulses, which are transmitted to our brains by our nervous system. In the brain, the impulses create "sensory states," which the brain interprets based upon our past experience.

Relying on past experience helps the brain deal with the overwhelming amount of sense data that comes in. If we had to approach everything as if for the first time, we'd never get anything done. The interpretations the brain makes are like shortcuts to the information that we really need.

You'll find that many magic tricks take advantage of our reliance on past experience. The interpretation of past experience is called inference. Based upon our inferences, we decode sense data to get meaning from it. The entire process from the gathering of sense data by our sense organs to the decoding in the brain is known as perception. We are experiencing perception at every waking instant.

-Bob Friedhoffer

Product Details

BN ID: 2940014750981
Publisher: Leila's Books
Publication date: 06/04/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
File size: 1 MB
Age Range: 9 - 12 Years

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