Problems with the mapping of magic tricks

Peter Lamont*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A few years ago, colleagues and I (Lamont et al., 2010) argued that a “science of magic” was misguided. As we said then, the problem is not with using conjuring knowledge to explore psychological processes. This has been done for well over a century, and is of obvious potential value. The problem is with the grander aim of constructing a general scientific theory of magic (p. 20). It is this kind of “science of magic” that was being proposed then, and it is still being proposed now. Rensink and Kuhn (2015) seek “natural” inventories and taxonomies of magic tricks, which would serve as a basis for a scientific theory of magic, and which could be used to describe the relationships between effects and methods (pp. 8–9). The purpose of this brief paper is to explain why, in my opinion, this aspect of their approach remains problematic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number855
Number of pages3
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2015


  • science of magic
  • magic
  • theory
  • wonder
  • methodology


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