The User Illusion; Why Magic Works

Magic is one of the most captivating and enduring forms of entertainment and magicians all over the world have baffled and amazed their audiences by creating magical illusion. Recent advances in our scientific understanding of magic are providing new insights into the nature of magic, and the ease by which magicians trick us highlights many of our mind’s limitations. These surprising and stunning illusions provide intriguing insights into how our brain works. In this talk I will use science, interactive demonstrations and magic to explore the psychology of magic and explain why our mind is so easily deceived.

Magicians create many of their illusions by exploiting huge gaps in our conscious experience, holes that we are typically unaware of. For example they use misdirection to manipulate your attention, which prevents you from noticing things that are right in front of your eyes. In this talk I will illustrate that the world you experience as being real is in fact simply an illusion, and illustrate that seeing is truly believing.

Magic relies on exploiting powerful and counterintuitive limitations in human cognition. Understanding how and why our brain is fooled will dramatically change the way you judge yourself and others, and it will also provide you with a new appreciation of your brain’s amazing capacity.

Dr. Gustav Kuhn is a magician and member of the Magic Circle, and was his interest in deception and illusions that sparked a curiosity about the human mind. Dr. Kuhn is a Reader in the department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London, and director of the MAGIC Lab. He as authored over 50 scientific papers and is one of the leading researchers in the science of magic.