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Spectacle of Illusion


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Magician-turned-experimental psychologist Matthew L. Tompkins investigates the arts of deception as practised and popularized by mesmerists, magicians and psychics since the early 18th century

About the Author

American magician-turned-psychologist Dr. Matthew L. Tompkins obtained a DPhil in Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. Previously, he had obtained a BA in Psychology at the State University of New York at Geneseo and an MSc in Psychological Research at Oxford. His research, which has been featured across various international media outlets, including the Washington Post and BBC Future, focuses on the cognitive psychology of illusions. Matt worked as a professional magician before he began his academic career, and his experiences performing continue to influence his work. He recently became the first member of The Magic Circle to be admitted on the basis of a peer-reviewed scientific publication.


'A spectacular treasury of treats. Page after page of utter joy: I can't tear my eyes away' - Derren Brown
'A remarkable book ... reveals the inner workings of the extraordinary and yet seems to keep all its secrets too. It's wonderful' - Andy Nyman
'What a treasure trove. You can get lost forever in the trance of the fascinating photos and illustrations, but make no mistake - the real gems are in the scholarly text. In providing an elegant and informative history of all things magical, it also conjures the deepest mysteries and puzzles about the human mind. Brilliant' - Professor Kia Nobre, Head of Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
'A wonderful book that demystifies the mystics, and illuminates the weird history of psychics and their investigators ... I highly recommend this beautifully written and illustrated book to anyone interested in science, magic or who simply enjoys good stories about weird pieces of forgotten history' - Dr. Gustav Kuhn, Reader in Psychology at Goldsmiths, University of London and Head of the MAGIC Research Lab

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