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Sleights of Mind: Surprising Insights from the New Science of Neuro-magic Paperback – International Edition, February 3, 2011

73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This book doesn't just promise to change the way you think about sleight of hand and David Copperfield---it will also change the way you think about the mind." ---Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

About the Author

Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde (husband and wife) are laboratory directors at the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) in Phoenix, Arizona, where they study various aspects of visual, sensory and cognitive neuroscience. Their research has appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, New Scientist and Wired magazine.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books Ltd (February 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846683890
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846683893
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,288,648 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It is hard not to pay attention to optical illusions, and wonder how can it be that one line is _not_ really longer than the other or one circle is _not_ really darker than the other or all the other varieties that tell us our eyes lie to us. It was only a few decades ago that neuroscientists realized that the mistakes in visual processing were tools to examine how the eyes and brain process information. (It was also a reminder of the wonderful and mysterious lesson that our brains do not make perfect inner models of reality, but only use the tricks and shortcuts descended from their evolution to make useful, rather than exact, models.) In a way, magicians perform optical illusions and even behavioral illusions. You enjoy a magician's performance because although it looks as if he makes coins manifest from the air or makes a ball vanish when he throws it up, you know that such things cannot really be and yet you cannot figure out how the impression the magician makes is so strong. If we can get neurological understanding of the visual system from optical illusions, perhaps the illusions performed by magicians would offer an even broader range of tools to evaluate brain function. This was the insight of Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde. They are both directors of neuroscience labs and they are married. Because they had done research on visual illusions, they hosted a conference in 2005 in Las Vegas, and were reminded that it was headquarters for some of the best magicians in the world. They got the insight that magic could be studied to gain understanding of perception and even consciousness. They even became certified magicians.Read more ›
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Osmun R. Latrobe VINE VOICE on March 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are the type who is interested in how the mind perceives its world, this is an essential book. It was written by two psychologists who venture to find out how magic works from a neurological point of view. Through the explanation of several artful magic illusions, it describes how our brains process our sensory information, and how those senses can be deceived by very simple artifices. As one who both professionally and personally has great interest in our ability to properly perceive what is going on around us, I was fascinated. If epistimology is your interest, then this book is a Must Have.

It was as paradigm changing as Umberto Ecco's Foucault's Pendulum, albeit in a more direct and to the point fashion.

i
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44 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Samuel M. Randolph on December 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you are familiar with the prior writings of Sandra Blakeslee and her son Michael, who provided the writing talent for "Sleights of Mind" and co wrote her last book "The Body Has a Mind of Its Own" you will love this latest product of a very talented mother and son science writing team.

Though dated, her prior book "On Intelligence" with Jeff Hawkins, was a quick and concise read that is still one of the best sources on the topic of reverse engineering of the neocortex. I was hoping that this latest project would stand up to the standards of her two prior books, and I wasn't disappointed with the quality of this project - it's just as good. Major insights are offered from a fresh perspective, and it's a speedy read that you can recommend to others.

The contributions of Macknik and Martinez-Conde are far from stuffy. They obviously have had a great time as a couple exploring their areas of expertise through the lens of magic performance, and with the kind help of experts who bring a powerful sense of depth and history to the presentation.

The material is original and it's been presented in a clear and easy to follow format with illustrations provided when needed. This book overcomes one of the objections that I had to Blakeslee's last book, which was the lack of references.

I find it interesting to see that Blakeslee has returned to the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix for this new project, which was also the source of some of the best materials in The Body Has a Mind of Its Own. For more on this back story, you may wish to refer to two interviews of Blakeslee by Ginger Campbell see brainsciencepodcast.com episodes 21 and 23 for more on that project.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By apilot on January 11, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm an amateur magician and a scientist and found this book to be fascinating from both perspectives. It is fun to read and interesting and informative for both magicians and non-magicians. Much of the discussion about perception, attention, memory etc. magicians have learned to exploit as have salespeople, con artists etc. (as pointed out in this book). Besides being a very interesting and entertaining book to read, the observations and insights are important and useful in many non-magical contexts. I've recommended this book to many of my friends whether or not they are magicians or scientists.
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29 of 37 people found the following review helpful By J. M. Walker on June 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
on what you're looking for. If you want an explanation of magic in terms of neuroscience, it's good; if you want to understand neuroscience better by understanding magic, it's disappointing.

The descriptions of the magic are a little breathless but clear.
What the magic reveals about neurocognition is presented in a short-hand way that non-specialists may find unhelpful.
Little of the authors' self-reference moves the book forward.

Norretranders, The User Illusion, is simultaneously more engaging and clearer on the neuroscience underlying consciousness.

Caveat: I read through page 54 and skimmed from there to the end.
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