Is Seeing Really Believing?

The magician snaps his fingers and a ball vanishes inches from your eyes. How did he do it, you know very well objects don’t just disappear?

Magic allows you to experience the impossible. It creates a conflict between the things you think can happen and the things that you experience. But, here’s the thing, magic is largely based on assumption. A good magician will skilfully violate those assumptions to create a mystery that seems to defy logic. How?

Vision is our most trusted sense and has been proven to influence many of our thoughts and behaviours. That’s why we don’t believe things until we see them with our own eyes.

However, science demonstrates our vision is much less reliable than we think, and it can easily be distorted. We are all familiar with optical illusions. Below, are the circles static or moving? Are the horizontal lines straight or crooked? How many legs does this elephant have?

This distortion occurs when there is a discrepancy between what you perceive and the true state of what things really are.

But, it turns out all of our perception is kind of an illusion. When we see something, we trust our eyes are capturing truthful images of reality. But in truth, our brain goes through some complex processes, fills in some gaps, and makes clever estimates about what the picture actually is. This leads to errors and magicians can exploit this in their magic.

When it comes to magic, people often fail to see things when they are looking straight at them. And people can fail to spot very obvious changes simply because they aren’t giving attention to the changes.

So, don’t be so sure to trust your vision in the future. You never really know what you are really seeing.