Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, And The Hidden Powers Of The Mind by Alex StoneFooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, And The Hidden Powers Of The Mind by Alex Stone

Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, And The Hidden Powers Of The Mind

byAlex Stone

Paperback | June 25, 2013

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An exploration of the world of magic that teaches the reader many tricks--including how better to understand the real world.

When Alex Stone was five years old, his father bought him a magic kit--a gift that would spark a lifelong love. Years later, he discovered a vibrant New York underground magic scene exploding with creativity and innovation and populated by a fascinating cast of characters. Captivated, he plunged headlong into this mysterious world. From the back rooms of New York City's century-old magic societies to cutting-edge psychology labs, Fooling Houdini recounts Stone's quest to join the ranks of master magicians. As he navigates this quirky and occasionally hilarious subculture, Stone pulls back the curtain on a community shrouded in secrecy, fueled by obsession and brilliance, and organized around a single overriding need: to prove one's worth by deceiving others.

But his journey is more than a tale of tricks, gigs, and geeks. In trying to understand how expert magicians manipulate our minds to create their astonishing illusions, Stone uncovers a wealth of insight into human nature and the nature of perception. By investigating some of the lesser-known corners of psychology, neuroscience, physics, history, and even crime, all through the lens of trickery and illusion, Fooling Houdini arrives at a host of startling revelations about how the mind works--and why, sometimes, it doesn't.

ALEX STONE has written for Harper's, Discover, Science and other magazines. He graduated from Harvard University and has a masters degree in physics from Columbia University. He grew up in Wisconsin, Texas, and Spain. He lives in New York City.
Title:Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, And The Hidden Powers Of The MindFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.21 × 5.5 × 0.86 inPublished:June 25, 2013Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385667582

ISBN - 13:9780385667586

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Rated 3 out of 5 by from Fooled you! Not About Houdini. I am a bit torn on this review - there are good things and less good things about this book but overall I am glad I read it as it gave a unique insight into the world of magic through an avid amateur's eyes. First off - there is very, very little on Houdini so BAD for the bait and switch of using Houdini's name to grab readers. What I loved about the book was when Alex gave us a glimpse behind the curtain of magic and gave us a look at some of the larger than life figures in this world that aren't household names to people outside the Magic industry but are Gods within it. I wish there had been more of this. I realize he is bound by the Magician code that he can't reveal how tricks are done but (as he points out) this is overly restrictive ONLY when the publication isn't an official "magician's" publication (outside their accepted journals). So that's a shame - but I am still happy he did go into some details when he felt he could. A good/bad thing is when he worked outside research into the world of Magic - the idea of attention research and how magicians use this deficit to pull off their tricks. The idea of mentalists and how they fool us and exploit our need to believe in something "beyond". The psychology behind the old con The Three Card Monte (I wish he had gone into how the mechanics are pulled off). A lot of these additions were great and engaging and gave this book a unique feature from other books on Magic. But sometimes it felt a little forced and the links between the research he presented and magic were thin. Alex started the book off with one of his most humiliating failures - as a very Green magician he entered the Magic Olympics and got disqualified because he was so bad. While I commend Alex's honesty about himself there and throughout the book (he continually admits to spending too much, ignoring his PhD studies, and being in a hobby where there are barely any females) it does make him someone it is hard to cheer for and at first I was irritated by him. By the end of the book I didn't love him but had warmed up to him. Overall a fun look at Magic by a good tour guide with some nice detours into research.
Date published: 2017-07-27

Editorial Reviews

"Stone's engaging journey into his amateur magic career is as enlightening as it is disturbing. Not only does he reveal closely guarded secrets hoarded, in some cases, for thousands of years but he tears open the psyche of the archetypal magician. . . . Stone also brilliantly melds the sciences of physics, biology, mathematics, neuroscience and memory with thieves, grifters and card sharps. It is an intelligent and fascinating treatise on the working brain." —Winnipeg Free Press