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Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde, the founders of the exciting new discipline of neuromagic, have convinced some of the world’s greatest magicians to allow scientists to study their techniques for tricking the brain. This book is the result of the authors’ yearlong, world-wide exploration of magic and how its principles apply to our behavior. Magic tricks fool us because humans have hardwired processes of attention and awareness that are hackable—a good magician uses your mind’s own intrinsic properties against you in a form of mental jujitsu.

Now magic can reveal how our brains work in everyday situations. For instance, if you’ve ever bought an expensive item you’d sworn you’d never buy, the salesperson was probably a master at creating the “illusion of choice,” a core technique of magic. The implications of neuromagic go beyond illuminating our behavior; early research points to new approaches for everything from the diagnosis of autism to marketing techniques and education. Sleights of Mind makes neuroscience fun and accessible by unveiling the key connections between magic and the mind.

Praise For Sleights Of Mind

“Exciting … novel and fascinating observations.”

—Dan Ariely, author of Predictability Irrational

“Steve and Susana are two of the most innovative scientists I know. They aren’t content to just conduct elegant experiments (although they do plenty of those, too). Instead, they’re determined to explore those places where neuroscience intersects the mysterious and the magical, from visual illusions to Vegas card tricks. This book doesn’t just change the way you think about sleight of hand and David Copperfield – it will also change the way you think about the mind.”

—Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was A Neuroscientist

“I’ve long wished that there was a book that explained the art of magic from the point of view of cognitive neuroscience. Magic is a goldmine of information about the brain, as well as a source of fascination to laypeople. This is the book we’ve all been waiting for.”

—Steven Pinker PhD, author of The Stuff of Thought

“Every professional magician will tell you that any great magic trick is based 90 percent on psychology. This groundbreaking book explores the convergence of magic and neuroscience and eductes the reader in seemingly unrelated subjects in a way that is educational and entertaining.”

—Lance Burton, Magician

“This is a highly original book. Science and magic have much in common. They both take seemingly inexplicable events and provide elegantly simple answers that enthrall the observer. The authors have done an admirable job in exploring this idea and also suggest ways in which the two disciplines can cross fertilize each other.”

—VS Ramachandran MD PhD, author of Phantoms in the Brain

“Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde’s Sleights of Mind gives non-magicians a real up-close look at the true secrets of magic. They are revealing the real knowledge jealously guarded by all great performers…I know my fellow magicians are all going to be as jazzed as I am to read about how sophisticated magical techniques and state-of-the-art brain science combine.”

—Mac King, headliner, Harrah’s Las Vegas

“In Sleights of Mind, authors Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde persistently remind us that the human mind is a bad data-taking device. And it’s this fact that enables the science of magic to exist at all.”

—Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of The Pluto Files

Sleights of Mind is a terrific read. Combining science and magic is not an easy trick, but the authors have done a brilliant job of putting a mirror up to ourselves and our psyches. I loved it.”

—Joe Navarro, author of What Every Body is Saying: An Ex-FBI Agent’s Guide to Speed-reading People

“If a scientist and a magician were to meet on an airplane, what could they talk about? A lot, according to Macknik and Martinez-Conde, who have been involved in the marvelous adventure of bringing these two groups together to understand how our minds and brains work to produce magic-like effects. Sleights of Mind will be loved by anybody who wants to know who they really are, why they make the choices they do, and how to live a better life. Macknik and Martinez-Conde pull rabbits out of hats over and over and their show is one I can’t wait to watch!”

—Mahzarin Banaji, Ph.D., Harvard University

“A ground-breaking exploration of the uncharted territory where science and magic intersect. Anybody interested in magic is going to be interested in this book.”

— Joshua Jay, author of MAGIC: The Complete Course; youngest winner of the World Magic Championship

“This book is a wonderful idea, and Macknik and Martinez-Conde are right on the money. The concept is wholly original and will undoubtedly be highly influential in cognitive science and with the public.”

—Michael S. Gazzaniga, Ph.D., author of Human

Sleights of Mind offers a revealing study of how magic really works. No rabbits. No hats. Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde will take you on an exploration of the Ledgerdemain through the eyes of a Neuroscientist. How does a Magician direct your attention, re-frame your memories, and temporarily alter your reality? Sleights of Mind offers a glimpse into the neuroscience of magic and secret principles that may unlock questions about how our minds really work.”

—Apollo Robbins, Speaker, Entertainer, Consultant