TED Weekends reveals sleight of mind

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Hypnosis is a source of both debate and fear. It’s an intimidating thought that the subconscious mind can listen and react to outside sources. But there are still many questions to be answered: Does the subconscious work independently of the conscious mind? Is it programmed by experiences or instructions?

These are questions posed by Keith Barry in his TED Talk “Brain Magic” from 2004. What he is sure of: “If you can access the subconscious, then you can reprogram it. Period!”

Today’s TED Weekends on the Huffington Post plays with our minds and explores our subconscious. It includes a piece from Barry himself, plus four other essays that prod and probe at our brains. Below, read some selection from those essays to pique your interest.

Keith Barry: The Magician Can Do Crazy Things To Your Brain

Over the last nine years since my 2004 TED Talk “Brain Magic” I have been studying hacking into the brain and reprogramming its most basic functions. In 2010, I made a series of five one-hour TV shows with the Discovery Channel called Deception with Keith Barry.

This series explored the relationship between the brain and how it can be deceived and manipulated into doing what I want it to do. I delved into the most secretive of areas, such as, is it possible to program someone else’s mind to do something against their morals or their beliefs and without their permission? Read the full essay »

Katja Brose: The Neuroscientific Answer to “How Did He Do That?”

How did he do that?

Keith Barry, skilled magician that he is, doesn’t give away his tricks but he does give the audience a clue when he says, “Magic is all about directing attention.”

Neuroscientists have long known that attention plays a key role in perception, and yet, we still don’t fully understand the details of how attention works and what neural mechanisms are involved. Only a small fraction of the information that comes in through our eyes is actually perceived by our conscious brains. Attention is the filter that directs what is most salient in our environment to our conscious awareness. Almost all magic tricks somehow take advantage of loopholes in attention. Read the full essay »

Nick Cowling: Brain Magic From a Communications Lens

Keith Barry’s TED Talk on Brain Magic is an entertaining display of the loopholes of logic. If you haven’t seen it, he demonstrates how the brain uses millions of pieces of information to make a decision, while we only consciously acknowledge a tiny fraction of what is happening around us. Put simply, it’s an excellent validation that when we have a “gut feeling” or an instinctual sense, it’s really a mass calculation of our brains dissecting and analyzing a number of sensations, past experiences, personal beliefs and physical prompts to come to a decision. Read the full essay »