August 29, 2007

the Magic of Consciousnes, or, Teller Speaks

Interesting article in last week's Times about a recent conference by the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness (ASSC). George Johnson covered the event, and describes it: "After two days of presentations by scientists and philosophers speculating on how the mind construes, and misconstrues, reality, we were hearing from the pros: James (The Amazing) Randi, Johnny Thompson (The Great Tomsoni), Mac King and Teller — magicians who had intuitively mastered some of the lessons being learned in the laboratory about the limits of cognition and attention."

You can see some tricks from Teller, and some explanations about how his repetition and our assumptions aid the tricks at the video below (approx. 17 minutes).

Teller of "Penn and Teller" TALKS! ¦ about magic, consciousness and the art of visual illusion! from Dean McCall and Vimeo.

And on the ScienceTimes podcast, David Corcoran interviews Teller, who explains in more detail -- and less flourish -- about why his and other magic tricks work. He says that magicians exploit the way we see the world ... just for a minute ... just for fun.

For More Information
* Corcoran, David. ScienceTimes Podcast , August 21, 2007.
* Johnson, George. "Sleights of Mind", New York Times, August 21, 2007.
* Laureys, Steven. Eyes Open, Brain Shut. Scientific American, May2007, Vol. 296 Issue 5, p86-89. Teller refers to this article in which Laureys proves that when eyes don't move, they cease to see. [Full-text available in Academic Search Premier]
* Mind Science Foundation: Magic of Consciousness Symposium – Video Clips.

1 comment:

Stephen Francoeur said...

OK, so this is slightly off topic (but I did enjoy the article when it came out). About ten years ago, I was watching a movie at Film Forum here in Manhattan. The film was a documentary about an artist who makes amazing, hand-drawn reproductions of currency and then tries to "pay" for things with it: restaurant meals, a motorcycle, etc. The theater was nearly empty except for two people 5-6 rows behind me, who were talking up a storm. I turn around to glare and see that it's Penn AND Teller, both chattering away.