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A Review of the Misdirection in Psychological Literature Regarding the Elucidation of Cognitive Processes by Magic

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A Review of the Misdirection in Psychological Literature Regarding the Elucidation of Cognitive Processes by Magic

Imagine that you are on a holiday in Rome. You’ve visited the Pantheon, Roman Forum and now you find yourself at the Colosseum. Anyone who has visited this popular tourist attraction will tell you that aside from the licensed actors portraying gladiators, who for a small fee will allow you to take a photo with them, the area is covered with signs. These signs do not give directions to the bathrooms, but communicate a real threat, the presence and operations of pickpockets. Now imagine that you’ve left your group of friends for a moment because you want to get some panoramic photos. While you are walking you notice that you are being followed, you walk a little faster. Out of the corner of your eye you notice your pursuer bending down to pick something up. They call out to you and produce a ring, asking if you have dropped it. You say that it isn’t yours, but the noticeably accented, yet well-spoken individual, begins to look worried. They insist that this is an expensive, pure gold ring and that since they saw you drop it you should have it. You may argue for a bit, but eventually acquiesce, they shake your hand with both of theirs in gratitude. The handshake seems a bit too long, and all the while the stranger gives you an unflinching stare. They finally stop and bid you good-bye with a satisfied smile, and you walk back to your friends to tell them the story. They sigh when you tell them, letting you know that the stranger was a pickpocket and the ring a fake. You suddenly notice the absence of your watch.

But how did they do it? Recently Macknik et al. (2008) has tried to explain situations such as the one described above, as well as many others through the combination of scientific and magic principles that exploit lapses in cognitive and…...

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