Saying that the craft has taught him how easily we can be deceived in our day to day lives, magician Alex Stone argues in this IdeaFestival Conversation for an intellectual modesty and humbleness about what we think we know.
"People see different things," and that's part of being human too.
There's a "whole literature" on mathematical concepts and card tricks, he explains. Similarly, neuroscientists are now peering into the workings of the human mind using the intuitions of magicians as a guide.
Our ability to focus on a lone task, which has evolved over millions of years, is a useful skill to have. But magic, he explains, exploits that single-mindedness by directing our attention elsewhere. Likewise, humans excel at pattern recognition, which can pick out threats or offers us pleasure. On the other hand, those abilities, like an over reliance on our "objective" perspective of reality, can lead us astray. "Magic," he says, "turns these assets against us."
Stone gave a thrilling talk at IdeaFestival 2013 on the psychology of deception, concluding that "once is a trick. Twice is a lesson."
To watch all IdeaFestival videos subscribed to our YouTube channel, IFTV. And be sure to follow us on Twitter or subscribe to the blog's RSS feed for early news on IdeaFestival 2014 speakers, such as author and science journalist Lee Billings, who will talk to festival audiences about the multitudes of other worlds now being discovered around modest yellow stars like the one we know so well.