Magic is the air. It was in The New Yorker in April, Harper's in July and in Nature Neuroscience in July as well, as all you Boing Boing readers already know. It is now official common knowledge: magic is based on exploiting the limits of how we are neurologically wired.
I have watching the TED Talks as of late and there are a couple of the talks that are performances of magic. Keith Barry is impressive in his cunning and Arthur Benjamin is impressive in his mathematical abilities even when he openly articulates his memory aids. But the best example that I have seen from TED that illustrates the limits to our perceptions comes from the videos near the end of presentation by philosopher Daniel Dennett.
While the above talks are entertaining, they aren't my favourite two brain related TED Talks. Those are Vilayanur Ramachandran's discussion of how he treated the pain in the phantom limbs of patients and Jill Bolte Taylor's account our her stroke. I have come away from Vilayanur's talk with a feeling that we grossly underestimate how the body reacts to what it sees. I can't help but think that should be much more mindful about making our surroundings more beautiful and we should express a little bit of rage - just like James Howard Kunstler brilliant takedown on suburbia - over the largly ugly concrete world that others have built for us to live in.
Jill Bolte Taylor's story of her stroke is the most viewed TED Talk because she gives herself up completely in telling her story. She describes the experience of being wholly right brained as pure nirvanna and its made me wonder if Buddhaism, which has been descibed as a form of mind training, could be understood as the purposeful sublimation of the left brain. Is religion and all its magical thinking also just a result of how we are wired?