What scam artists can teach us about the human brain

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/01/26/what-scam-artists-can-teach-us.html


Obligatory reading:

Macknik, S., Mac King, J., Robbins, A., Teller, J., and Martinez-Conde, S. (2008). Attention and awareness in stage magic: turning tricks into research. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(11):871–879.

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The brain defaults to trust. They take advantage of that.

Most of them are masters at guiding your attention where they want it to go.


One of the past grand masters of exposing scams was James Randi, aka The Amazing Randi. He’s a stage magician who put up a $1 million prize for scientifically testable proof of extrasensory abilities. Despite a lot of attempts (and howling from those who got exposed as fakes), no one has collected.

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When I was a kid, he was one of my favorites when he was a guest on Mike Douglas or Carson. I think the check was less than a million then… :slight_smile:

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