BRAIN RESEARCHERS SAY GOOD
MAGICIANS ARE GOOD BECAUSE
OF THEIR MASTERY OF THE LEAP!

Say what?

Our understanding of reality is produced internally. That is, it is subjective. Why? In no small part, because for so much that goes on around us, we have an inadequate “biophysical” means (and sometimes, no means at all) for noticing, absorbing and processing it. That allows magicians to fool around with our understanding of what is real—and while doing so to, literally, fool us.

For example:

—Our eyes more closely follow curved motions than straight motions. In following a straight motion (say, a hand moving from left to right), our eyes jump to the end point and then snap back to the beginning. When magicians move their hands in a curved motion, the eyes of their audience follow the arch and don’t snap back to the starting point. And that creates opportunities for legerdemain.

—Our brain has only so much processing power. When this “bandwidth” is fully engaged, there doesn’t seem to be any more bandwidth available. So skilled magicians seek to get the brains of their audience involved in an internal dialogue that uses up bandwidth. Then they can do their “magic” without being spied on. How do they do this? With stories that meander, with questions that mislead. Using narration, they seek to spin a compelling plot that will distract the brain.

—Our own conscious expectations and the assumptions of experience can also be used to misdirect us. By leading us to expect certain things, and thus playing along with our “top-down” expectations, magicians can cause us to think something is happening when it isn’t.

Are these neurological realities something that anyone who aspires to be an effective LEAP!er should become a serious student of?

I think so.

I know for a fact that gifted therapists like the late Milton Erickson and the late Insoo Kim Berg often used such “sleight of neuron” tactics to help people make the LEAP! They did so ethically and constructively. The art lives on in the work and teachings of linguistic-based change agents like NLP’s Joseph Riggio and others. There’s just no ignoring the fact that a successful LEAP! nearly always requires that the brains of your participants experience a shift in their view of what’s real, what’s happening, what’s needed and what’s possible. And it’s becoming increasingly clear from our studies of brain function that a little “magic” can help speed matters along.

For a broader discussion, see this.

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