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Publisher's Summary

Have you ever wondered how a magician saws a woman in half? Or makes coins materialize out of thin air? Or reads your mind? Magic tricks work because humans have a hardwired process of attention and awareness that is hackable. A good magician uses your mind's intrinsic properties against you in a form of mental jujitsu, to fool you every time, even when you know full well that you are being tricked. Now Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde, the founders of the exciting new discipline of neuromagic, have convinced some of the world's greatest magicians to reveal their techniques for tricking the brain. This fascinating book is the result of the authors' worldwide exploration of magic and how its ancient principles can now be explained using the latest discoveries of cognitive neuroscience. The secrets behind magic tricks reveal how your brain works not just when watching a magic show but in everyday situations. For instance, if you've ever found yourself paying for an expensive item you'd sworn you'd never buy, the salesperson was probably a master at creating the "illusion of choice," a core technique of magic. By popping the hood on your brain as you are suckered in by sleights of hand, Macknik and Martinez-Conde unveil the key connections between magic and the mind, and along the way make neuroscience more exciting and accessible than ever before.

©2010 Stephen L. Macknik and Susana Mrtibez-Conde, with Sandra Blakeslee (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This book doesn't just promise to change the way you think about sleight of hand and David Copperfield---it will also change the way you think about the mind." (Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 11-19-10

Very Informative

Audible carries a number of books on neuroscience, neuroplasticity and the like. I read everyone I come across and so I joined Macknik, Martinez-Conde, and Blakeslee in "Sleights of Mind". While it reveals some of the cognitive and perceptual aspects of illusions, it makes many applications to everyday life as well. This book opens the listener to the world in unexpected ways. For example, the authors point out that painting is magic on canvass. They make the point that deceptions originating in our own perceptual spheres are always readily at hand – when known and when not known. Using magic as the common thread throughout, the authors inform at every turn. If you are interested in magic this is wonderful. If you are interested in perception, it is very informative. If you have given perception, memory, and cognition dissonance little or no thought, do it now. Well written and wonderfully read by Lloyd James.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Revealed! Much Stage Magic (& Little Neuroscience)

If you have a strong interest in learning the spoilers, or inside secrets, to a lot of stage magic tricks, you may enjoy this book. But anyone looking to find useful, relevant, interesting applications to our "everyday self-deceptions" will fall asleep from boredom - which is fine, because the rest you will get will be more valuable than the education in applied neuroscience (or lack thereof). The premise was clever, but for everyone except stage-magic buffs, this will disappoint - there are many better books out there on the subject.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Wow! This stuff is very interesting

If you are interested in either magic and/or how the mind works, this book is for you. I've never been all that interested in magic show but reading this book has given me a greater appreciation of the art and science of it. Now I really want to go back to Las Vegas to see a top-notch magic show.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 11-07-11

Good but too annoying

I love magic and love neuroscience, but found this book hard to take. The neuroscience of magic is interesting and there were numerous fascinating tidbits in the book ??? but there are just as many (or more) boring or annoying parts. The repeated warnings about magic secrets being revealed were particularly annoying. The interesting stuff in this book could have been presented much more briefly. My advice is to read On Intelligence again instead of reading this book.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Should have been a documentary

Moderately interesting book, but magic tricks don't have quite the same impact (to say the least) when they're described in words as when you see them performed. This book should have been a documentary movie. The title and the description seemed very promising to me, but the book didn't really deliver (and I have a background in neuroscience).

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

Food for creativity. I want to learn some magic!

Would you listen to Sleights of Mind again? Why?

I am listening to it again, and making notes.<br/><br/>I found the material fascinating, but more important to me, it gave me a major insight on how to continue the plot-line of a novel I am writing. Just as the study of perspective and dimension in art is useful to artists, I think this book would be very useful to anyone who writes fiction because it provides a foundation for how to accomplish misdirection and suspense. (It's all in the MIND, right?). It also gave me some very useful thoughts around character development and setting. (Good Continuation is necessary in the mind of the reader too.)<br/><br/>Overall, it also gave me more food for thought about how the world works and how people interact with each other. I have long held the opinion that "reality is virtual" (our sense of smell is the only one that provides direct contact with our environment). This book explains that notion in a much clearer way than I had previously thought out. But beyond the illusion created by the senses (think Plato's Cave, or Maya, the veil of illusion), this book really illustrates the illusory nature of the day to day lives we lead, and helps me think about what more is possible.

What other book might you compare Sleights of Mind to and why?

I really don't know. The author mentions some attention experiments (that showed that the "subconscious" may be driving, and that the consciousness has only veto power) which I once read about in another book, but it wasn't anything like this book.However, that reminds me - I Googled the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness and discovered that their website has a wealth of studies on various aspects of mind research. There is more than will satisfy the most avid curiosity about neuroscience.

Which scene was your favorite?

I read this book more for useful information than entertainment. I think of it more in terms of threads than scenes.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not plausible. However, having said that, a note to those who thought the narrator took too many pauses - just adjust the narration speed to 1.5x normal. That should take care of it.

Any additional comments?

As a non-magician, I now feel a need to design some of my own magic tricks

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Will
  • YPSILANTI, MI, United States
  • 04-10-13

Not a bad book, If you are into magic

What did you like best about Sleights of Mind? What did you like least?

This book is about magic tricks and illusions. I purchased the book with the assumption it had a deeper theme, but no, this book is about magic tricks. Its a good book and decently written IF you are into magic.

What was most disappointing about the authors’s story?

The theme was about magic tricks and how magicians perform them.

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Good Narrator. Good author.

Could you see Sleights of Mind being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

NO way

Any additional comments?

I have nothing bad to say about the book or narrator. I just thought it was about more than magic tricks. My fault.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Started out very interesting

but eventually the author kept repeating and just was boring. I tried to hold out and read the whole thing but it was just too boring.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fascinating Read

Good read, enjoyed. Slight of hand or slight of mind? Each section made we wonder if I could do the tricks. And you can....

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Sherry
  • Londonderry, NH, United States
  • 12-18-10

Read the book instead.

This narrator has a bad habit of leaving long tedious pauses between sentences.......(pause)...........Very distracting.........(pause).........Very annoying..........(pause).........Interesting content, but I quit listening...........(pause)..........I couldn't take it any more.

18 of 29 people found this review helpful