How the hell did he do that?

"I've exploited the efficiencies of your mind." said the magician.

Wired magazine posted an interesting article about the neuroscience of illusion. The main premise is that our Brains don't see everything (although our eyes do). The world is too big and full of stimuli, so the brain takes shortcuts, constructing a picture of reality (gestalt) for what things are, supposed, to look like. In other words, the eye can see the moves, but the mind can not comprehend them.

How many times a day does this happen? How many times do we make decisions based on our brain's perception of reality? All the time. And that's fine for the most part, after all, societies have been built on the ability of our brain to take shortcuts: stop at the red sign, avoid touching the hot stove, make the" right, safe choice.

But this is also where the gap between perception and reality leave room for... magic. Things that we see and we don't understand. A burning question "how the hell did he do that?". Or even worse, "why the hell did I do that?"



According to Thaler and Sustein, authors of nudge, choice architecture, in other words the way that we present choices to people, has a huge impact on their decision making. People are more likely to choose the default option vs other options... they are more likely to opt-in vs opt out... more likely to make no choice if there are too many options... So in a way, if we can influence the way that options are presented we can influence choice. In a way, it's like creating a different perception of reality. And that's... magic. For better or worse.