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A message from magic to science: seeing how the brain can be tricked may strengthen our thinking
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Stockholm Resilience Centre.
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Number of Authors: 6
2015 (English)In: Ecology & society, ISSN 1708-3087, E-ISSN 1708-3087, Vol. 20, no 4, 16Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Scientific discoveries rely on creative thinking, and several authors have explored similarities in and differences between creativity in the sciences and that in the arts. Here we explore possible ways in which science can learn from the arts, focusing specifically on experiences derived from the art of magic and on the limitations of human cognition. Generations of stage magicians or illusionists have made sophisticated use of the weaknesses in human systems of perception and interpretation. We highlight three important principles of magic tricks, including: (1) the audience see what it expects, (2) it is blind to all but the focus of attention, and (3) ideas spring predictably from a primed mind. These principles highlight a number of important tendencies, which we argue are shortcomings in the ability of scientists to perceive the world, and which scientists need to be aware of. Consciously addressing these shortcomings may help scientists improve their creativity, and will strengthen their capacity to address complex and global challenges.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 20, no 4, 16
Keyword [en]
art, cognitive capacity, cognitive limitations, conclusion errors, confirmation bias, creative thinking, illusion, illusionist, inattentive blindness, magic, magician, priming, science, scientific discovery, selective attention
National Category
Biological Sciences Social and Economic Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-126418DOI: 10.5751/ES-07943-200416ISI: 000367628900022OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-126418DiVA: diva2:899347
Available from: 2016-02-01 Created: 2016-02-01 Last updated: 2016-02-01Bibliographically approved

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Österblom, Henrik
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Stockholm Resilience Centre
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