Fooling Houdini

Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone is a fascinating and sometimes magical investigation into the world of magicians, science and psychology. Stone studied physics at Columbia, but he'd spent most of his life as a keen amateur magician. When magic and physics collided there was only going to be one winner, but Stone's dreams of becoming a top-flight magician appeared to do their own magical vanishing act when he had an epic fail at the Magic Olympics (no, I didn't know they existed either). Desperate to renew his love affair with all things magical, Stone set about rehabilitating himself as a magician.

Fooling Houdini is about the path that led him back. Along the way he investigates the science of magic, the long love-affair that people have with being fooled, and the use of magic for some less than legal reasons. There are some fascinating neuroscience facts bandied along the way, and some startling information for anyone who thinks that they are normally fairly perceptive when viewing the world. For example Stone examines the science behind the "missing gorilla" scenario, which is, to put it mildly startling, and through this explains both how it benefits magicians, and why it really isn't a good idea to use a mobile phone when driving (it's probably not for the reason that you might be thinking).

From sham-psychics and spoon benders to illusionists of the highest calibre, this is a fascinating read. Occasionally it gets a little bogged down in the technicalities of magic performance (at least for this reader), but it's nonetheless absolutely entrancing. A great read whether you're a magic aficionado or just interested in the way that science, mind and magic interact.


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