- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (November 9, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0805092811
- ISBN-13: 978-0805092813
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 89 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about Our Everyday Deceptions Hardcover – November 9, 2010
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“Magic is the place where our senses and beliefs fail us in magnificent ways. In this exciting book Stephen, Susana, and Sandra explore what magic and illusions can teach us about our fallible human nature--coming up with novel and fascinating observations.” ―Dan Ariely, author of Predictability Irrational
“Steve and Susana are two of the most innovative scientists I know. They aren't content to just conduct elegant experiments (although they do plenty of those, too). Instead, they're determined to explore those places where neuroscience intersects the mysterious and the magical, from visual illusions to Vegas card tricks. This book doesn't just 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 and Proust Was A Neuroscientist.
“I've long wished that there was a book that explained the art of magic from the point of view of cognitive neuroscience. Magic is a goldmine of information about the brain, as well as a source of fascination to laypeople. This is the book we've all been waiting for.” ―Steven Pinker PhD, author of The Stuff of Thought
“This is a highly original book. Science and magic have much in common. They both take seemingly inexplicable events and provide elegantly simple answers that enthrall the observer. The authors have done an admirable job in exploring this idea and also suggest ways in which the two disciplines can cross fertilize each other.” ―VS Ramachandran MD PhD, author of Phantoms in the Brain
“Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde's Sleights of Mind gives non-magicians a real up-close look at the true secrets of magic. They are revealing the real knowledge jealously guarded by all great performers...I know my fellow magicians are all going to be as jazzed as I am to read about how sophisticated magical techniques and state-of-the-art brain science combine.” ―Mac King, headliner, Harrah's Las Vegas
“In Sleights of Mind, authors Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde persistently remind us that the human mind is a bad data-taking device. And it's this fact that enables the science of magic to exist at all.” ―Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of The Pluto Files
“The authors make easily comprehensible the effects of neural adaptation, afterimages, occlusion, perspective, saccades, inattentional blindness, expectations and the pliability of memory...Entertaining.” ―Kirkus
“In their illuminating book, brain experts Martinez-Conde and Macknik make their case that magicians are some of the most skilled neuroscientists around...By tricking readers into having fun learning neuroscience, the authors bring the newly minted field of "neuromagic" to center stage.” ―Laura Sanders, Science News
“This book offers 'a revolutionary look a the science behind magic--what leads the mind to believe tricks are real and how magicians actually use the brain's own logic to acheive this.'” ―Phillip Manning, Science Book News
“Sleights of Mind makes brain science so much fun, you'll swear the authors are as clever as Houdini.” ―Scientific American Book Club
“If you want to learn more about "neuromagic," take a peek at Macknik and Martinez-Conde's most recent book. It explains how they've investigated the tricks of some of the world's greatest magicians to find out how the brain works in everyday situations. It's a great read whether you're passionate about brain science, magic, or both!” ―Odyssey Magazine (Editor's Choice)
About the Author
Stephen L. Macknik, Ph.D., is Director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Susana Martinez-Conde, Ph.D., is Director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience at BNI. Sandra Blakeslee is a regular contributor to "Science Times" at The New York Times who specializes in the brain sciences, and the author of several books.
Top customer reviews
I was tempted to end my review at that summary sentence but...nah, I'll go on. "Sleights of Mind" was researched and written by a scientific husband and wife duo (Susana Martinez-Conde, Ph.D., director of the Laboratory of Visual Neuroscience at BNI and her husband, Stephen Macknik, Ph.D., is the director of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurophysiology at Barrow Neurological Institute) and, while many of the concepts are clear if not completely concise and the writing flows (if you don't stop and read shadowed blocks that are interesting asides about applications or examples of what they're currently talking about), the technical jargon is kept to a minimum and much of what is said could have been said in shorter or condensed form. But here we have what the duo no doubt experienced repeatedly and highlight and that is that magic and illusions are just as much about showmanship and misdirection as they are about the tricks of the trades themselves. As such Macknik and Conde include healthy portions of schtick, describing in detail quite a few illusionists from the way that they dress and present themselves to their audiences visually as well as mannerisms that they employ and jokes that they use. While I was expecting that the most interesting part of the book would be finding out about how our brain works it turns out that the discussions of the magicians/ illusionists was for me the most interesting.
Conde & Macknik also go to lengths to describe how the magic is accomplished, giving many "spoiler alerts". Perhaps it was just me but I couldn't wrap my head around many of the tricks that they were describing as I couldn't adequately visually picture them based on the descriptions. I wonder if other people had the same experience?
Overall I was very glad to have purchased this book. I work in the field of psychology with adolescents and some of the information herein has been helpful in that it can help me point out more concrete ways in which their information systems can foul them (and others) up and how we can possibly avoid this sometimes by increasing our awareness of such phenomena. But I didn't come away having learned anything really substantially new about neuroscience (now about magic, I did) and in that I was a little disappointed. Still, an enjoyable read, not overly technical, and fairly highly recommended.
* One last note: Though not their primary purpose in writing this book Macknik & Conde present themselves not just as skeptics of the highest order, demythologizing "magic", but as worshippers of the material sciences and devout believers that there are no actual supernatural or spiritual (as in suggesting another realm or reality outside of the material world); they believe that through dedicated study and practice the secrets of the universe can be unlocked and that there are no secrets outside of the material universe. They don't state this outright anywhere but these assumptions are presented clearly enough in a number of ways and are taken for granted by the authors. This is not surprising. But if you are a believer (you have a religious worldview of some sort, such as being Muslim or Buddhist or Christian, or if you simply believe in a non-materialistic spiritual realm and are strongly influenced by horoscopes or psychics) you might be set back or bothered a little by some of their presentations or assertions.
It was as paradigm changing as Umberto Ecco's Foucault's Pendulum, albeit in a more direct and to the point fashion.
Most recent customer reviews
Misleading ! Not even good as toilet paper.