How to be a magician

So much of magic is about misdirection, and there’s a related psychological term, “Inattentional blindness“, which basically means people not noticing things because their attention is on something else. Maybe you think your concentration is amazing and you’re immune?! OK, watch this clip and count how many times the players in white pass the basketball:

This selective blindness occurs because some things are more noticeable to us than others. Have you ever heard your name mentioned in a conversation on the other side of a busy room? It’s the ‘cocktail party effect‘ – we’re tuned in to noticing things that are relevant to us, so if something’s not meaningful or very visually striking, we’re less likely to see it.

You’re also more likely to miss what’s right in front of you if you have a lot on your mind, or if you expect something else to be there. This blindness makes for great entertainment from magician’s point of view, but it can be dangerous in situations where full attention is required, such as driving.

If you still think your attention’s great, have a go at this one:

The creators have written a fascinating book all about this subject called The Invisible Gorilla, check it out.

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