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kottke.org posts about pennandteller

The Neuroscience of Illusion

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2009

In a bit of a sequel to Proust Was a Neuroscientist, Jonah Lehrer talks to Teller (of Penn and Teller) and learns how the tricks that magicians do can be explained by neuroscience.

Our brains don’t see everything — the world is too big, too full of stimuli. So the brain takes shortcuts, constructing a picture of reality with relatively simple algorithms for what things are supposed to look like. Magicians capitalize on those rules. “Every time you perform a magic trick, you’re engaging in experimental psychology,” Teller says. “If the audience asks, ‘How the hell did he do that?’ then the experiment was successful. I’ve exploited the efficiencies of your mind.”

Andy unearths an old video game by

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 28, 2006

Andy unearths an old video game by Penn and Teller called Smoke and Mirrors, which famously features a game in which you drive a bus for 16 straight hours to score a single point. See also Takeshi no Chousenjou, a similarly challenging Japanese game.

Penn Jillette on why he believes “there is no God”.

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 07, 2005

Penn Jillette on why he believes “there is no God”.