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Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic

10th June 2019 · 7:30pm - 9:30pm

In person | Virtual event

 Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic

What do we see when we watch a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat or read a person’s mind? We are captivated by an illusion; we applaud the fact that we have been fooled. Why do we enjoy experiencing what seems clearly impossible, or at least beyond our powers of explanation? 

In this talk Dr Gustav Kuhn examines the psychological processes that underpin our experience of magic. Kuhn, a psychologist and a magician, reveals the intriguing—and often unsettling—insights into the human mind that the scientific study of magic provides. Gustav will perform magic and then discuss how magician and magic creates a cognitive conflict between what we believe to be true (for example, a rabbit could not be in that hat) and what we experience (a rabbit has just come out of that hat!). 

Drawing on the latest psychological, neurological, and philosophical research, he suggests that misdirection is at the heart of all magic tricks, and he offers a scientific theory of misdirection. It’s not all about rabbits. 

Dr Gustav Kuhn is a Reader in Psychology at Goldsmiths, where he the Chair of the Recruitment Outreach and Marketing Committee. He is also president of the Science of Magic Association (SOMA) and a member of the Experimental Psychology Society (EPS) and the Magic Circle (M.M.C).

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