Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I am an absolute sucker for magic shows. When we lived in the US we went to a restaurant where a magician moved between tables doing tricks. Even right up close I had no idea how he did what he did.

This book does provide a lot of information about how tricks are done, including the fact that audiences are happy to play along. Everything the performer does is choreographed and planned to mislead and distract. It is psychological manipulation, using our assumptions against us to surprise and baffle us.

As well as going into a lot of detail about certain tricks, the author also provides us with little psychological games to play, to show the us how our minds can work against us. As well as examining traditional magic, he looks at manipulation as it's practiced in everyday life through advertising and other forms of persuasion. It's one thing to be tricked when we are happy to go along for the ride. It's another when we are made to do what others want us to, almost without realising it.

This book reveals some of the mystery - but even after reading it I still think I would be hard pressed to spot the sleight of hand. Magicians, good magicians, are masters of what they do. They are there to entertain and I am happy to play along.

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