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Showing posts with label Anthony Barnhart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthony Barnhart. Show all posts

15 March 2018

Random thoughts about "The Science of Magic" on CBC's "The Nature of Things"

Updated at 9:30am to add links to: 

"The Science of Magic" boasts an extraordinary list of participants, which include: Julie Eng, Ronald Rensink, Jay Olson, Gustav Kuhn, Anthony Barnhart, Amory Danek, Matthew Tompkins, Thomas Strandberg, Billy Kidd, Tom Stone, Thomas Fraps, Pit Hartling, and Juan Tamariz.
Had I known it was possible to do university level research involving the magician's force, mind-reading MRIs, or magic beans*, I may have reconsidered the focus of my post-secondary education.

I am, however, on the ball enough to jump at a chance to take an advance peek at (and ask questions about) "The Science of Magic," a documentary that examines these subjects and more!

Tune in to "The Science of Magic" on CBC’s "The Nature of Things" on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 8PM (8:30 NT). The documentary will also be available to watch online at cbc.ca/natureofthings on Friday, March 16 from 5:00 pm EST.
When Donna and Daniel Zuckerbrot from Reel Time Images (who brought us  "Dai Vernon – The Spirit of Magic," "Max Maven: a fabulous monster," "The Houdini Code,"' and "Jeff McBride: a magickal life" among other titles) realized how much research was going on in the field of science and magic, they knew they had to investigate it further.
"You can see that the real question about our film 'The Science of Magic' isn’t why we wanted to make it, but rather, how could we not have?"
-- Donna Zuckerbrot

Julie Eng's reaction to being brought on board the project?
"I was thrilled. I have known the Zuckerbrots for many years and I am a big fan of their work."

  "The idea of using magic as a mechanism for study into how we think, and how we perceive the world is fascinating for me.  It was a huge honour to be asked to be the 'magical guide' for this film."

"Magicians don't have supernatural powers. Instead what they do is exploit very powerful and often very surprising limitations in human cognition."
In "The Science of Magic," the Zuckerbrots along with magical host Julie Eng, take us across Canada, the US, and Europe to visit with scientists using magic as an investigative tool in their exploration of cognition and behaviour.  (Pay close attention to catch cameos by Daniel Zuckerbrot, David Ben, and magic enthusiast Ari.)

The show is full of fascinating insights sure to capture the attention of those who like to be entertained by magic, those who perform magic, as well as those who are interested in psychology and behaviour.  There are even opportunities to participate in on air magic tricks!  From the press release:
"... viewers are able to feel the power of magic from the comfort of their homes and experience some of the psychological principles these tricks reveal (including ‘magicians choice,’ and choice blindness,' ‘failure to see,’ ‘change blindness,’ inattentional blindness, as well as the ‘aha’ moment)."

I'm not too proud to admit that on more than one occasion Julie had me right where she wanted.  I was also properly schooled by Anthony Barnhart.

On the other hand, I did well with Ronald Rensink's challenge and some of the other ones too!

Julie also teaches a coin trick that even I could master, with a little practice.

"We take these principles that magicians know, we bring them into the lab and we try and figure out how they work."
It is humbling (and a bit disconcerting) to discover, as the press release describes, that "we sometimes don't see what's right under our noses," "we see tricks that fool us despite nothing actually happening," and that "we can be blind even to our own choices."

"We were all surprised at how magical the science was. It was astonishing to realize that we don’t see what we think we are seeing, that our memories are as slippery as our perceptions, that who we are — even our deeply held beliefs can change without us knowing. Like good magic the science left us with a feeling of wonder."  
-- the Zuckerbrots

For some behind the scenes photos have a look at the Reel Time Images Facebook page, Instagram account, or Twitter feed.  I look forward to hearing Daniel's thoughts at his Browser's Bash mini-talk.
During the making of the documentary, Julie said she was pleased to learn that "old magic tricks that I have known and have performed since I was a child can still have a deep and profound affect on people, particularly with the right presentation."

There are a variety of real world applications to the knowledge gained:
  • Work on "how small distractions can blind drivers" can help improve driver safety.  ("Driver looked but failed to see" is an actual category of accident!)
Anthony Barnhart's studies showing how "off beats" work across sensory systems, help me better understand my habit of turning off my radio when I'm in a situation that requires my full attention.
  • Suggestion-based treatments have promising uses in the medical field.
  • The Zuckerbrots noted that Rensink's findings with respect to 'change blindness' "seems to underlie film editing.  It is apparently the reason why you don’t notice the change of pictures, from wide shot to close up for example, while you are watching a film."  
  • In addition to psychology benefiting from the insights discovered using magic as an investigative tool, the Zuckerbrots observed that "some magicians believe they have already gained from what they’ve learned from psychologists.  Tom Stone is a great example, he certainly credits work he did with experimental psychologists as having changed his own performance in fundamental ways."
  • Julie posits that "... from learning how intention and actions (movement) can help create smoother technical manipulation, to how it can mask the most technical sleight… is useful."  After all, she continues,
"If we can use science and technology to work out the perfect angle for speed skaters to maximize physics to their advantage, why can we not benefit from learning more about human behaviour and cognition to advance our field?"

"Each of these areas can bring a lot of insights to magicians to heighten the “magic" experience for audiences."

Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know about the show? 

"We hope they find watching it as interesting and as much fun as we did making it." 
-- the Zuckerbrots

"Bring their eyes and ears (and to be prepared to have fun!)"    -- Julie Eng
I certainly had fun learning and I'm sure you will too!  (As the scientific field evolves, I hope they'll film a second part.)

Tune in to "The Science of Magic" on CBC’s "The Nature of Things" on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 8PM (8:30 NT). The documentary will also be available to watch online at cbc.ca/natureofthings on Friday, March 16 from 5:00 pm EST.

* Maybe they're really magic. Who knows? **
** With apologies to Stephen Sondheim.

02 March 2018

Watch "The Science of Magic" on CBC’s "The Nature of Things" Sunday, March 18

Edited March 15th to add links to: 

Edited on March 7th to add:

Edited on March 6th to add:
  • Welcome GeniiOnline readers! Watch this space for updates about the show, including any announcements about international viewing opportunities.

Ever since it was first announced, we've been eagerly awaiting the air date of the Reel Time Images' CBC documentary on magic and science, featuring Julie Eng.

I'm delighted to announce that the show is scheduled to air on the CBC’s "The Nature of Things" on Sunday, March 18!

The show boasts an extraordinary list of participants, which include:  Julie Eng, Ronald Rensink, Jay Olson, Gustav Kuhn, Anthony Barnhart, Amory Danek, Matthew Tompkins, Thomas Strandberg, Billy Kidd, Tom Stone, Thomas Fraps, Pit Hartling, and Juan Tamariz.

I can hardly wait!

From “The Science of Magic” press release:
produced, directed and written by
Donna Zuckerbrot and Daniel Zuckerbrot

With magical guide Julie Eng
Toronto-based magicienne and executive director of Canada’s magical arts organization Magicana

World Broadcast Premiere on CBC’s The Nature of Things
Sunday, March 18, 2018 – 8PM (8:30 NT)

“The scientific community, I believe, can learn a lot about both the principles that magicians use as well the unique experience that magic elicits. By using new tools and scientific theory to understand why these principles work, scientists can really learn about the limits of human cognition.”

•             Gustav Kuhn, Cognitive Psychologist, Goldsmiths University of London

“Magicians and scientists both have learnt that it's our own mysterious consciousness that casts the spell, weaving reality from fleeting impressions. So, even when you don't know it, you are the magician.”

•             Julie Eng, Magicienne, Executive Director Magicana

Reel Time Images is pleased to announce the world broadcast premiere of their new documentary, The Science of Magic. Directed by Donna and Daniel Zuckerbrot, and with magical guide Julie Eng, Toronto-based magicienne and executive director of Canada’s magical arts organization Magicana, The Science of Magic can be seen on CBC’s The Nature of Things on Sunday, March 18, 2018 at 8PM (8:30 NT). The documentary will also be available to watch online at cbc.ca/natureofthings on Friday, March 16 from 5:00 pm EST.

Magic has become the latest investigative tool for scientists exploring human cognition, neurobiology, and behaviour.  Across Canada, the US and Europe, The Science of Magic follows researchers and scientists who are bringing magicians’ tricks into the laboratory.   This extraordinary exploration peeks behind the curtain into a fascinating world where ancient magic meets modern science.

Colourful, compelling and interactive, this film takes a critical and engaging look at the fascinating facts revealed when you see the human mind through the eyes of a magician.  With opportunities to participate in on-air magic tricks, viewers are able to feel the power of magic from the comfort of their homes and experience some of the psychological principles these tricks reveal (including ‘magicians choice’, and choice blindness”, 'failure to see’, ‘change blindness’, inattentional blindness, as well as the ‘aha’ moment).

Acting as guide for much of the evening, Julie Eng mystifies with her magical talents, using card tricks to show how magic can be used to explore human consciousness. Alongside these simple tricks are more elaborate scientific experiments.  Jay Olson, a performer of magic since his youth, is completing his PhD in psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal. There, Olson is one of the scientists spearheading a novel and powerful approach to experimental psychology.  At the Montreal Neurological Institute, we join him for an extraordinary demonstration involving an MRI machine that seems not only to read minds, but to also use its electro-magnetic fields to manipulate your most private thoughts.

Professor Ronald Rensink at the University of British Columbia discovered how small distractions can blind drivers to obvious dangers. He believes that magicians’ practical knowledge about how to fool the eye and the mind can fuel important new research in vision science and psychology in general.

In the US professor Anthony Barnhart, a magician turned scientist is using magic principles to investigate why we sometimes don’t see what’s right under our noses. We also meet Professor Amory Danek who is using the conjuror’s craft to study creativity and problem solving. 

In London England Gustav Kuhn conducts a study along with Canadian magician Billy Kidd, that tracks the eye movements of the magician’s audience. We see tricks that fool us despite nothing actually happening, as well as demonstrations that reveal we can be blind even to our own choices.

As surprising as many of these magic tricks are, the ultimate reveal, as Julie tells us just before she vanishes in front of our eyes, is that the true magician is our own brain — weaving reality out of fleeting impressions.


Julie Eng
Born in Victoria BC into a family of magicians, Julie Eng has been appearing on stage from an early age.  Julie has developed a refreshing and distinctive style which combines a mix of elegance, surprise and humour. Besides performing, she is currently the executive director of Canada’ magical arts organization, Magicana which is dedicated to the study, exploration and advancement of magic as a performing art.

Ronald Rensink
Professor Rensink grew up in Whitby, Ontario and has taught at the University of British Columbia (UBC) since 2000. An authority on vision in humans and machines, his seminal paper on “change blindness” has become one of the most cited papers in the field of cognitive psychology. His studies of perception and consciousness have led him to work with magicians. He believes that magicians’ practical knowledge about how to fool the eye and the mind, can fuel important new research in vision science and psychology in general.

Jay Olson
A performer of magic since his youth, Jay is currently completing his PhD in psychiatry at McGill University. Jay Olsen is looking at how magic, deception and suggestion can be used to create new methods in psychology. His studies show how magicians influence their audience and how people can be deceived into believing a machine is controlling their mind. His current work is on the potential use of machines as placebos.

Gustav Kuhn
Dr. Kuhn is a cognitive psychologist at Goldsmiths University of London. He went to England originally to perform magic and ended up staying and studying psychology. He is one of the founders of The Society of Magic Association (SOMA), and uses the methods of magic to study a range of questions about how we perceive and think about the world. His research focuses on magic, and explores how magicians allow people to experience the impossible.

Anthony Barnhart
Dr. Barnhart is a professor of psychology at Carthage College in Kenosha. Wisconsin. His many years as a magician inform his studies of how our attention is misled in daily life. His research explores the wealth of principles used by magicians, but still unknown to psychology.

Amory Danek
Dr. Danek is associated with the psychology department at the University of Heidelberg. Her research using magic (with the cooperation of magician Thomas Fraps) is focused on insight. Her current research is aimed at disentangling the various ways of thinking and feeling that together make up the “aha experience”. Another aspect of her research involving magic uses behavioural and neuroimaging experiments. This work is centred on identify brain regions that come into play when our expectations are violated (e.g. something mysteriously appears, disappears, or acts contrary to what normally happens).

Matthew Tompkins
Matt Tompkins a part-time professional magician since he was 14 is currently the Jr. Dean at the Queen’s College Oxford University where he is a doctoral student in the department of Experimental Psychology. He uses his knowledge of magical techniques to investigate the interplay between attention, illusions and beliefs.

Thomas Strandberg
Thomas Strandberg currently does research in the cognitive sciences at Sweden’s Lund University.He is affiliated with the Choice Blindness Laboratory. They use a variety of methods, including magicians’ tricks to study how our preferences, attitudes and choices change with the feedback we receive about them.

Billy Kidd
Billy Kidd has been an actor in theatre, film, and television since she was 11. Her career as a magician began when, after graduating from the University of Alberta’s theatre program, she happened to see a magician busking on the streets in Edmonton. Here fascination with magic and especially street magic eventually led to international TV appearances and performances all over the world.

Tom Stone
Tom Stone is the stage name of Swedish magician, editor and author Thomas Bengtsson. One of Scandinavia’s foremost magicians, he is rarely to be found at home in Stockholm, Sweden. He spends a great deal of time traveling the world performing and lecturing. His books on magic, and creativity are considered modern classics by many of his fellow magicians.

Thomas Fraps
A former student of physics, Thomas Fraps is an award-winning professional magician whose performances combine illusion, comedy and science. He has worked with a number of scientists including with Professor Amory Danek for whose experiments in problem solving he designed and performed a wide variety of magic tricks.

Pit Hartling
An extremely popular performer not only in his home of Germany but throughout the world. The author of two acclaimed books for magicians Hartling is as much in demand as a lecturer and teacher of magic as he is as an entertainer.

Juan Tamariz
Born in 1942 Juan Tamariz-Martel Negrón in  Madrid, Spain he is known professionally as Juan Tamariz or simply as Tamariz. He is regarded as a national treasure in Spain, and an international treasure by his fans around the world. Based on his encyclopediac knowledge, his skill and creativity Tamariz is recognized by most of the world’s magical greats as the greatest magician alive.

The Science of Magic is produced, directed and written by Donna Zuckerbrot and Daniel Zuckerbrot.  It is produced by Reel Time Images in association with CBC, with the Participation of the Canada Media Fund, the Canadian Film or Video Tax Credit, and the Ontario Tax Credit.

21 June 2017

Vancouver: Anthony "Magic Tony" Barnhart workshop

From the Vancouver Magic Circle Facebook page:
Special Workshop Alert!

We have a special workshop happening THIS THURSDAY June 22 at our General Meeting titled: The Science of Magic with Doctor Anthony Barnhart.

Anthony "Magic Tony" Barnhart is an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Arizona State University, where he began his graduate career with the intention of being a language researcher. To this end, he has published research examining the processes underlying handwritten word perception, a domain that has been largely ignored by psychologists. However, Tony is also a part-time professional magician with over 20 years of performing experience. His research trajectory changed in 2010 with the publication of the book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our Everyday Deceptions, in which he was featured as a consultant and teacher on the science of stage magic. The scientific interest that the book garnered motivated Tony to shift his focus toward the interface of science and magic. His work on the science of magic has been featured in Science News For Kids as well as in national and international television appearances and documentaries, most recently appearing in the Science Channel’s “Hack My Brain” program. He has also developed a semester-long course on the Psychology of Magic that was featured on the James Randi Educational Foundation's Swift Blog. As a performer, he employs psychological principles to elevate his magic’s impact and increase the audience’s sense of wonder.

Read more.