Magic tricks, or illusions, make us go, “ooh,” “ahhh,” and, “how the flippin’ crap did they do that?!” They’re part sleight of hand, part planning, and a lot of brain confusion. Your brain is a liar.
No matter what anyone says about performing magic tricks, everyone's jaws drop when they see an amazing illusion. Here's how you can turn a regular deck of cards into a custom deck that makes doing magic tricks easy.Read more
In the video above from the Wired YouTube channel, magician David Kwong, and author of the book Spellbound, reveals the “Seven Principles of Illusion”. These principles are what turns a simple sleight of hand gesture into a mind melting magic trick:
- Mind the gap: Your brain takes shortcuts and makes assumptions to help process the incomplete visual data it’s receiving, or what’s known as amodal completion.
- Write the script: Magicians want you to believe what you’re seeing, so they give you specific verbal information, or a script, to fill in those gaps. It’s mental manipulation at its finest.
- Load up: The trick you’re seeing is the result of a ton of prep work done by the magician. It’s like sitting down to a fancy meal at a restaurant and forgetting how much time and effort went into making it.
- Design free choice: Magicians will often make it feel like you’re making some sort of choice, when really you’re being shown the only possible choice. If you feel like you are in control, you’ll buy into the illusion even more.
- Employ the familiar: Magicians play into your brain’s need to spot patterns. If a magician shows you only a few cards from a trick deck, your brain will fill in the blanks and you’ll assume the deck is normal.
- Conjure an out: Magicians always have a backup plan — or three or four of them. They’re ready for someone to make an uncommon choice, and they have planned for secondary illusions to make up for it. You’ll never fool a magician. If you think you can, you’ve already fallen for principle number four, hard.
- Control the frame: Like a film director or photographer, magicians know how to draw your attention to where they want it. You’ll always look where they want you to look because your brain can’t help it.
So there you have it. Illusions may not be real magic, but they fool your brain so well they may as well be.