A story about the annual meeting of Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, which included a special segment on stage magic:
Secretive as they are about specifics, the magicians were as eager as the scientists when it came to discussing the cognitive illusions that masquerade as magic: disguising one action as another, implying data that isn’t there, taking advantage of how the brain fills in gaps – making assumptions, as The Amazing Randi put it, and mistaking them for facts.
Sounding more like a professor than a comedian and magician, Teller described how a good conjuror exploits the human compulsion to find patterns, and to impose them when they aren’t really there.
‘In real life if you see something done again and again, you study it and you gradually pick up a pattern,’ he said as he walked onstage holding a brass bucket in his left hand. ‘If you do that with a magician, it’s sometimes a big mistake.’
He left us with his definition of magic: ‘The theatrical linking of a cause with an effect that has no basis in physical reality, but that – in our hearts – ought to.’