28 October 2014

The Science of Magic: Why Magic Works

Organised by:

SCI's London Group in partnership with UCL's Chemical Physical Society

University College London, London, UK

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Magic is one of the oldest art forms, and for centuries conjurers have created illusions of the impossible by distorting your perception and thoughts. Advances in Psychology and Neurosciences offer new insights into why our minds are so easily deceived and Dr Kuhn will explore some of the mechanisms that are involved in magic. Magic involves more than simple deception. Magic works because these psychological limitations are so counterintuitive that they are more willing to accept a magical interpretation rather than acknowledge these limitations.

In this talk we will explore some of the principles used by magicians to distort your perception. For example, we will look at how magicians use misdirection to manipulate your attention and thereby prevent you from noticing things event though they might be right in front of your eyes. Alternatively, magicians may manipulate your expectations about the world and thus bias the way you perceive objects and can even make you see things that aren't necessarily there. At first sight, our proneness to being fooled by conjuring tricks could be interpreted as a weakness of the human mind. However, contrary to this popular belief, Kuhn will demonstrate that these 'errors' reveal the complexity of visual perception and highlight the ingenuity of the human mind.


Dr Gustav Kuhn, Goldsmiths University.

Dr Gustav Kuhn worked as a professional magician and it was interest in deception and illusions that sparked curiosity about the human mind. Gustav is a senior lecturer at Goldsmiths University, University of London, and one of the leading researchers in the science of magic.

Venue and Contact


Department of Chemistry
University College London
20 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AJ 

SCI Communications

Tel: 0207 598 1594

Email: Communications@soci.org


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