A full-color celebration of stunning visual illusions and the science behind them:
In Champions of Illusion, Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik present a smorgasbord of mystifying images, many selected from their Best Illusion of the Year Contest. Whether it’s false motion, tricks of perspective, or shifting colors, Champions of Illusion is packed with adventures in visual perception. If you have ever found yourself face-to-face with an utterly bewildering illusion, you know the powerful effect such images have on the mind. The question we often ask ourselves is, How is that possible? Martinez-Conde and Macknik, who study the intersection of neuroscience, illusions, and stage magic, explain just why we think we see the things we see.
The Best Illusion of the Year Contest draws entries from vision scientists, artists, magicians, and mathematicians bent on creating today’s most beguiling illusions. Featuring the contest’s most bizarre effects and unbelievable mind tricks, along with classic illusions and illuminating descriptions of what is actually going on in your brain when you are deceived by visuals on the page, Champions of Illusion is an electrifying mix of science and magic that you will not soon forget.
About the book
Praise For Champions of Illusion
"Few books can blow your mind on every page. This is one of those books. If you've ever thought you're seeing the world as it really is, get ready to think again."
— David Eagleman, neuroscientist at Stanford University, and New York Times bestselling author of Incognito and Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
“Seeing is believing…even when it shouldn’t be! This fascinating and delightful new book shows how the eye and brain conspire to make us see what isn’t so.”
— Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and author of New York Times bestseller Stumbling on Happiness
“Susana & Stephen are explorers of the cognitive wonderland. This collection of brain games & perceptual artifice showcases the gaps in our maps of reality.”
— Apollo Robbins, performer and world leading expert on deception and pickpockets
“As a magician, I’ve always been fascinated by illusions. Not only am I interested in the ways that visual illusions relate to the tricks that we magicians use, but also I just love experiencing something counterintuitive and beautiful. I’ve been honored to host the ceremony where the winners of the Best Illusion of the Year are awarded and get to meet the illusion inventors and witness their delightful creations firsthand. This beautiful book from Stephen and Susana not only collects many of these new and innovative illusions, it also has straightforward explanations for why they work that even a non-neurologist like me can understand.”
— Mac King, champion of comedy magic and headliner at Harrah’s Las Vegas
“Every illusion is a mind-bending experience and every explanation riveting. I could not put this book down.”
— Michael Gazzaniga, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Tales from Both Sides of the Brain
“Prepare to be amazed by your own brain! A fun-filled journey through the amazing way your visual system works described expertly by Martinez-Conde and Macknik.”
— Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York university, author of Healthy Brain Happy Life
“Visual illusions flummox us. They mystify, confuse, baffle, bewilder, perplex, stump, and confound. They do so because they contain in them our evolutionary tracks and the way we view our physical world today. This collection, a synthesis by Martinez-Conde and Macknik, represents the best of a yearly competition to discover the most impressive visual illusions that the best minds amongst us can create. In giving us this compendium Martinez-Conde and Macknik bring us face-to-face with our evolutionary history and our aspirations for who we might be. A feast for your eyes!”
— Mahzarin Banaji, Richard Clarke Cabot Professor of Social Ethics at Harvard University, and author of Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People
"Illusions are a window into how the brain generates our perceptions. Nowhere is this better illustrated and explained than Champions of Illusion. Highly recommended!"
— Earl Miller, Picower Professor of Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Visual illusions are perpetually entertaining but they are not merely amusing curiosities; they have profound implications for understanding the mechanisms underlying normal human vision, Our perception of the world despite its appearance of coherence , stability and authenticity - is in fact evanescent and transitory , and the authors - two leaders in the field- use cleverly contrived illusions to make the point. Yet although individually fallible, the multiple parallel mechanisms converge on stable solutions that are accurate often enough to leave babies - which is all evolution cares about.”
— VS Ramachandran, Director, Center for Brain and Cognition at University of California, San Diego, and bestselling author of Phantoms in the Brain and The Tell-Tale Brain
“Delightful, addictive, shareable—and an invaluable window on the functioning of the human brain.”
— Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, and bestselling author of How the Mind Works and The Better Angels of Our Nature.
“In this beautiful book, Martinez-Conde and Macknik compile some of the most surprising, compelling, and elegant visual illusions of the new millennium and explain how and why they work. You'll be amazed.”
— Daniel Simons, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois and author of New York Times bestseller The Invisible Gorilla