Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
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3 highlights from Penn Jillette's Big Think interview on 2020, cancel culture, and friendship

The renowned magician recently joined Big Think CEO and cofounder Victoria Brown for a wide-ranging discussion.

Big Think Edge
  • Penn Jillette is an American magician best known for his work as part of the magic duo Penn and Teller.
  • Jillette has also written eight books, co-hosted the Showtime show "Bullshit," and produced the film "Tim's Vermeer."
  • In the interview, Jillette talks about how libertarianism has been distorted in the U.S., and why the democratization of media hasn't produced a utopia.
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Design hack: 10 joy-inducing aesthetics you should know

Why finding joy is more easily attainable than the pursuit of happiness.

  • Joy and happiness are often used synonymously, but designer Ingrid Fetell Lee argues that there is an important distinction between the two: time. Happiness is something that measures how good we feel over time, while joy is about feeling good in the moment.
  • Noticing visual and sensorial patterns in the things that brought people joy, Lee was able to identify 10 "aesthetics": abundance, harmony, energy, freedom, play, surprise, transcendence, magic, renewal, and celebration.
  • In this video, we learn more about each aesthetic and why focusing on joyful moments is the key to getting the most out of life.

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  • Psychological illusionist Derren Brown presents magic as an analogy for how we process the world around us. In the same way we believe in a trick by forming a narrative around it, we can tell ourselves stories in life.
  • It's important to maintain a sense of skepticism. But it's equally as important to recognize the edges of usefulness in being skeptical.
  • For example, an atheist can be skeptical of religion while still admitting that the narratives around religion might be valuable and psychologically useful.
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This is how an illusionist targets your unconscious mind

Juggling conscious experience with the machinations of the mind can create the ultimate audience experience.

  • Magicians are actually very effective applied psychologists. They're familiar with the workings of both the conscious and unconscious mind.
  • During his act, renowned psychological illusionist Derren Brown uses the technique of bafflement to bypass participants' conscious filters and get a maximum response to the trick.
  • Derren Brown returns to the stage with his new live, one-man show, Showman. Check it out here.
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The psychology of magic: Where do we look for meaning in life?

The desperate search for a narrative opens the door to the wonders of magic.

  • By embracing a rational approach to life, society at large has stripped away meaning from psychologically important elements of life, including death.
  • A lack of meaning leads to discomfort, which results in a desperate search for narrative in things that feel transcendent and bigger than ourselves.
  • For some, the wonder of magic fills that void and provides the meaning and structure that has been lost.
  • Derren returns to the stage with his new live, one-man show, Showman. Check it out here.
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