Why Magical Illusions Work

May 8


Heather Kraus

Heather Kraus

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Magic is quite the phenomenon, people love to be fooled but at the same time our minds can’t help but try and figure out what the tricks are. This article discusses how magicians are able to fool us despite our minds constantly trying to figure out what’s going on.


Magic and Illusion has been a popular art form for hundreds of years. The question on everyone’s mind when it comes to magic is: How can magic fool your mind when all your senses are telling your brain not to be deceived?

Choreography: A great magic illusion has many more ingredients,Why Magical Illusions Work Articles but this one forms the foundation of creating a amazing effect that fools not only the eyes, but the brain too. Your brain naturally fills in empty spots with assumptions. Well choreographed illusions lead you down a path of belief and logic. As a magician, performing the effect, we do our best to understand what those assumptions will be and continue to allow you to convince yourself what you are seeing is real and true.

Misdirection:  Does it mean you are looking in the place the magician wants you to look? Or does it mean you are looking somewhere he does not want you to look. Both actually. The hand in NOT quicker than the eye as myth has you believe. Good misdirection is designed to fool the mind more than the eye. If your brain interprets that the magician's hand is naturally empty because of certain factors such as, the relaxed manner, not cramped, not awkward looking and so forth, then naturally your brain tells you "his hand is empty." But imagine his hand is actually hiding something. The magician then has quite the advantage over you, as far as, your acquired knowledge. When an object is then produced, you are fooled because you were certain his hand was empty.

Attitude: If a magician is to be successful at fooling you with an illusion, his/her approach and attitude must relay a sense of rationality. If this approach is undertaken with great thought as to what the demeanor of the magician is and what he or she is trying to tell you in the story of the illusion, then it will be a difficult task for you NOT to be fooled. The disposition and attitude of the magician goes a long way in making you either feel at ease or feel as if something is "fishy." You may not be able to put your finger on what is making you feel this way, as it may be something intangible, but you know not everything is really what it seems.  

Surprise: Magic is a series of surprises that you cannot help but react instinctively to.  You simply do not know what is coming, and therefore, when it arrives, it often fools you too. Magic and illusion is all about the element of surprise. Think of it in these terms. If you are sitting in a quiet movie theater waiting for the film to start and someone in the back of the theater yelled really loudly, your instinct to immediately turn around and see who shouted that out is powerful. It's a natural reflex.

Human Nature: We sometimes tell you the truth, we often lie and unfortunately for you, you do not know when we are doing either, therefore, human nature is to lean toward believing all of it. Humans tend to believe what we are told. Marketing gurus know this and sprinkle the truth with the lie in their marketing campaigns when they are trying to sell you a product or service. Magicians are no different. Human nature is a deep well of information of which we have only tapped the surface of, but this one factor is something that magicians try to learn more and more about so that we can fool you even more thoroughly with our magic and illusions.

Overall, magic is not logical. We mix things up. It is not nice and tidy. We are often ten steps ahead of you and what you know at that moment. If the element of surprise isn't enough, we throw in other techniques and human psychological distractions to help us achieve our success of fooling you with a trick. As a magician, the battle is not fooling our audiences, but entertaining them with something that will fool them. 

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