An optical illusion - when your mind plays a magic trick on you!

Over the years performing magic shows for family audiences I've often noticed a strange thing - young kids can be often more difficult to fool with magic tricks than adults. Logic would lead us to believe that it should be the other way around! I have a theory which is far from watertight! It's based on life experience or in the kid’s caselack of it!


A human beings number one priority is survival and we are a fast learning organism that modifies all behaviour based on past experiences. Eg. A good punch from a classmate in the schoolyard, teaches you quickly that taking toys from other kids is unwise, particularly if they are bigger than you! An alternative solution must be found - trade, communication etc.

So how does this relate to the deceptiveness of a magic trick - Adults have a vast database of hundreds of thousands if not millions of experiences, which help guide them through life. All these past experiences influence the adult mind to make assumptions to gain the most beneficial outcome.

As Magicians, we prey on adult's assumptions to deceive them. For example, if I borrow €20 from you and put it under a cup, its is logical to assume that if the hand comes away empty it must be under the cup. Right? Well, every Magician reading this will be smiling to themselves knowing its just not necessarily so!

Small children also don't make that same assumption. In their minds there are many other possibilities.They just don’t have the same database of experiences to make the assumption which in magic, works to their advantage.

Optical illusions are probably some of the most interesting applications of the above theory.

A good friend of mine and great Magician Kenny Lightfoot sent the link below to me.

If you have been fortunate enough to see Kenny's Street Magic Show you will remember him as the man who can throw playing cards amazing distances and with great accuracy. Damn, he can circumcise a seagull at fifty feet!

The optical illusions in this video fools everyone - young and old alike as it takes advantage of our spatial relations assumptions which is one of the earliest developed skills (if you want to pick up an object you've got to have mastered this one!)

Note: the graphics required to make this illusion are at the bottom of the screen in the "more" section so you can print them off for yourself (if you do, why not print off a copy for me!).

Hat off to the amazing artist and photogrpher "Brusspup" for presenting his work to the world.