Sleight of Hand Gets the Academic Treatment

Magicians break code for benefit of science
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Aug 21, 2007 4:16 PM CDT

Magicians got in on the act at this summer’s Magic of Consciousness conference, hobnobbing with—and even tricking—cognitive scientists as they helped dissect their own profession. The New York Times visits Las Vegas, where master illusionists were welcomed for what one scientist calls "their specific interest in the cognitive principles underlying the magic."

Spectators help illustrate the uncertainty at the intersection of physics and philosophy, submitting to experiments and sleight of hand. Famed magician Teller defines his trade: “The theatrical linking of a cause with an effect that has no basis in physical reality, but that—in our hearts—ought to.” Indeed, magic focuses attention on assumptions only to undermine them with gusto. (Read more magic stories.)

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