Illusions of Imagery and Magical Experiences
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the idea that we may gain new insights in cognitive science by studying the art of magic. Here, I offer a first exploratory overview and preliminary conceptual analysis of a class of magic tricks, which has been largely neglected in this pursuit, namely, a set of tricks that can be loosely defined as topological tricks. The deceptive powers of many of these tricks are difficult to understand in light of known psychological principles, which suggests that closer scientific scrutiny may raise interesting questions and challenges for cognitive science. I discuss a number of known and novel psychological principles that may explain why these tricks evoke the strong feelings of impossibility that are characteristic of magical experiences. A profound and detailed understanding of how topological tricks evoke magical experiences remains elusive, though, and more research on this topic could advance our understanding of perception, imagery and reasoning.