• 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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Mind-altering drugs: The magical history of LSD and mushrooms

Why did government officials stop psychedelics from reaching mainstream culture?

  • In the '60s drugs escape the lab and become a very important ingredient In the creation of the counterculture. Timothy Leary, a psychologist at Harvard in 1960, has something to do with this.
  • In Cambridge, he starts the Harvard Psilocybin Project which focuses its research into learning more about this promising drug. Because of its medicinal properties, and apparent positive effect on mental health, Leary believed that everyone should use acid, or psilocybin.
  • Richard Nixon called Leary the most dangerous man in America. He felt that LSD and other drugs were sapping the will of American boys to fight in Vietnam.
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Atheists still believe in the supernatural, new report finds

Just because you don't believe in God doesn't mean you aren't superstitious.

Photo credit: Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash
  • A new report indicates atheists and agnostics still believe in supernatural phenomena despite not believing in gods.
  • They tend to hold these beliefs at lower rates than the general population.
  • This is in line with previous studies that show non-believers are just as prone to irrational thinking as their religious counterparts.
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