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10/28/09

Penn and Teller On The 7 Basics of Magic


Holding a cigarette, Teller wants his tricks to expose how we construct reality. Every day of our lives we perpetuate fraud on ourselves, unaware of our self-deception. T.S. Eliot said mankind cannot bear too much reality and he apparently was right.

Our brains were adapted for evolution. A rock could be a bear, a stick a snake, and too much stimuli could overload the brain. Instead it pictures "reality" for us. It is wired to reveal to us how things are supposed to look.

Although not psychologists, magicians have an intuitive grasp of our ability to deceive ourselves. "Every time you perform a magic trick, you're engaging in experimental psychology," Teller says. "If the audience asks, 'How the hell did he do that?' then the experiment was successful. I've exploited the efficiencies of your mind."

We can gaze open-mouthed as the lady emerges unscathed after seemingly being sawed in half. We know it was a trick. We knew we would be deceived, but we cannot see how it was possible. We trust our vision, our hearing, our common sense, which deceive us each time a magician steps on stage.

Watch the video below to understand the basic rules of deception in magic.


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