Magic and the Mind

A semi-famous magician busks at Star Ferry Pier on Tsim Sha Tsui on weekends, and he draws a large crowd (making large returns) with his party tricks. What draws people to his shows can now be explained by a branch of Psychology being studied at the Magic Lab, a part of the psychology department at Goldsmiths, University of London.

According to Gustav Kuhn, head of the Magic Lab, magic is about manipulating our perceptions. In exploiting cognitive loopholes, magicians entertain us when we question what we see. Understanding how magic works is being recognised as having wider implications, particularly in perception and resolving cognitive conflict. According to Dr Kuhn, learning about magic teaches us that even if something is recognised as false, it still makes an impression and steals our attention. This has led psychology researchers to look at how understanding magic can help to investigate the world of conspiracy theories and fake information. Studying magic allows fresh insight into the strengths and weaknesses of human behaviour, and more specifically of our own minds.

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