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: Continue reading

Get over your fear of heights

Have you seen Man on Wire (not to to be confused with Man on a Ledge or Man on Fire)? It’s a superb documentary and an absolutely incredible story. Acrobatic performer Philippe Petit pulled off what’s been called the ‘art crime of the century’ – back in 1974, he actually managed to walk a tightrope between New York’s twin towers.

It’s mindblowing in so many ways, but it’s not the only amazing highwire feat. Italian performer Maria Spelterini was the first woman to cross Niagra Falls, and did it a number of times: blindfolded, shackled, baskets on feet – everything. The Flying Wallendas are a wire-walking family troupe known for dangerous human pyramids, and if you Google Image Search modern daredevil Eskil Rønningsbakken you’ll find some really unbelievable pictures involving bicycles and hot air balloons.

Have a look at this trailer from Man on Wire – and watch the film! Continue reading

It’s not the end of the world…

Is the world going to end this year? Well, I looked into it, and as it turns out, probably not. That’s a relief isn’t it? Phew! Now, get out from under the table, and look at what I discovered.

Some people think the Mayans predicted doomsday for December 21st 2012. I’m not sure when we started paying so much attention to the ancient Mayans anyway, but luckily this isn’t actually what they said at all.

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Quick ways to improve confidence

Even the queen of confidence Lady Gaga has to call a friend sometimes

Confidence is a state of mind. I love that Henry Ford quote: “If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right.”

Everyone involved in magic and psychology knows that imagination is extremely powerful. If you’re worried about something – an exam, a job interview, a talk – you can use this power to picture it all going your way. Use all your senses to really transport yourself there, feeling happy, with everything going to plan. It might feel a bit silly but I promise it works amazingly well!

Also try ‘working backwards’ from the goal. If you want to be a happier person, making yourself smile a bit more will help get you there. If you want to be more outgoing, spend some time with outgoing people – pay attention to how they talk and stand. Surrounding yourself with positive people will really help.

Check out some of these booksthese great tipsthis wise article, and the TED talk over the turn about ‘creative confidence’ by David Kelley. It’s pretty inspiring, and helps to put things in perspective:

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