This summer, Sarah Tuchel, and I will be traveling to London to present some of our work at the British Society of Aesthetics (BSA) Workshop on the Art & Aesthetics of Illusions, funded by BSA and co-sponsored by the Science of Magic Association (SoMA) and in collaboration with The Magic Circle Foundation (TMCF) and The Magic Circle (TMC). In collaboration with Gustav Kuhn and Dan Simons, we've been interviewing expert magicians in an attempt to find the boundaries of performance magic. Where does magic end and some other performance art begin? Here is the abstract for our presentation:
“[Magic] is so big that a simple definition seems impossible, so vague as to be an empty vessel waiting to be filled with meaning. How are we to determine what we are talking about when we use the word magic?” (Neale & Parr, 2002, The Magic Mirror, p. 6)
Aside from The Magic Mirror, few published works in magic directly address magic’s underlying aesthetics or its theoretical basis. Instead, information is transmitted informally between magicians through lectures and personal conversations (see Rissanen et al., 2013). In order to try to capture some of this socially-disseminated information, we carried out a series of interviews with acclaimed, expert magicians. In these interviews, we probed their personal definitions of magic, their beliefs about what constitutes “good” and “bad” magic, and their attitudes about the aesthetic boundaries of performance magic. We report the outcomes of a thematic analysis of these interviews, highlighting points of agreement and disagreement across this small sample of experts in hopes that they will be a boon to future research in the Science of Magic.
We will make the full text and video of these interviews publicly available (with participant consent) through the Science of Magic Association website.
It's been three years since I hosted the Science of Magic Association conference in Chicago. After our pandemic-induced hiatus, the SoMA committee is excited to host our third biennial(ish) conference in London next month. For my part, I will be presenting data from my newest publication, in press at Psychology of Consciousness. It will be officially released in September, appearing in a special section devoted to understanding consciousness through the science of magic. We have an incredible line-up of peer-reviewed presentations and keynote addresses. You can peek at the conference program here. See you on the other side of the pond!
Update: Video from my presentation at #SoMA22 appears below.
On May 27, 2021, I will be contributing to a virtual symposium at Poland's Jan Dlugosz University, where the science of magic will be an emerging theme. The event is free and open to the public, with registration. I will be accompanied by some familiar faces from the Science of Magic Association, including Richard Wiseman and Vebjørn Ekroll. Details and registration at http://wns.ujd.edu.pl/art,826,scientific-symposium-evening-with-psychology-3-international-edition-27052021
My lab group will have a considerable presence at the 2021 virtual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association. If you're attending, I encourage you to pitch some questions to my students! I've linked to relevant materials below. Note that my presentation won't be viewable until 8:30am on 4/22/21.
I am honored to be featured as a "Thought Leader" at the 2020 convention of the American Psychological Association. My keynote address, entitled "Magic in the Lab: Psychological Insights from Magicians," will be a call to action for psychologists to seriously consider hypotheses from the folk psychology of magic. Update: Video of my virtual keynote address is available here.
With my colleagues, Leslie Cameron and Arryn Robbins, I presented a workshop on enhancing the pedagogical value of Sensation & Perception demonstrations at the Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology at the College of DuPage. We have made all of the materials from that presentation (and more!) available at http://bit.ly/MISTOP-WorkshopWednesdays.
The 2019 Science of Magic Association conference, for which I was conference chair, was a rousing success. The complete program from the event is available at https://scienceofmagicassoc.org/. Five of my students accompanied me to the conference, where they presented their work, carried out in my lab. I presented a workshop on using magic in the classroom to increase critical thinking. The materials from my presentation are available for download here.
I presented a poster and a Demo Night presentation at the 2019 meeting of the Vision Sciences Society. Files associated with my poster presentation on symmetry and event perception are available here, and files associated with my demo on the magical manipulation of temporal attention are available here.
Four of my colleagues and I spoke at the Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology (MISTOP) on the benefits and challenges of team-teaching Introductory Psychology. We have made all of our materials available here for those who are interested in improving their introductory courses through a team-based design.
At this year's Midwest Institute for Students and Teachers of Psychology (MISTOP) at the College of DuPage, I led a session devoted to using magic in the classroom to enhance critical thinking. I have made all content from that presentation available for educators at http://tinyurl.com/MISTOP-magic.
The Science of Magic Association hosted its second conference at Goldsmith's University of London from August 31-September 1, 2017. More details can be found at http://www.scienceofmagicassoc.org.
I am an invited speaker at the 2017 Vancouver International Conference on the Teaching of Psychology (VICTOP). My talk, entitled "Magic In Mind: Viewing Psychology Through the Lens of Performance Magic," will provide an introduction to the modern science of magic movement while supplying educators with some simple techniques for using magic in the classroom. Added bonus: Elizabeth Loftus will be a keynote speaker at the conference! http://www.kpu.ca/victop/keynotes
The annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society, in St. Pete Beach, Florida, was chock full o' magic. My contributions included a poster presentation on our work exploring attention and microsaccades (handout here) and a Demo Night presentation on our inattentional blindness paradigm (handout here).
I am an Associate Professor of Psychological Science at Carthage College, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.