This program was recorded at the 12th Annual Wonderfest, the San Francisco Bay Area Festival of Science.
Wonderfest's broad goals are best described by its mission statement: Through public discourse about provocative scientific questions, Wonderfest aspires to stimulate curiosity, promote careful reasoning, challenge unexamined beliefs, and encourage life-long learning.
Wonderfest achieves these ends by presenting series of scientific events to the general public. At most of these events, pairs of articulate and accomplished researchers discuss and debate compelling questions at the edge of scientific understanding.
Luigi Anzivino is a neuroscientist, magician, and the Scientific Content Developer at the Exploratorium in San Francisco.
Luigi Anzivino, Scientific Content Developer at the Exploratorium, discusses an experiment that relied on sleight of hand to demonstrate an effect he calls “choice blindness”. He explains that not only did subjects not notice that their choice had been switched, but actually attempted to justify the choice they didn’t really make.
Interdisciplinary study that attempts to explain the cognitive processes of humans and some higher animals in terms of the manipulation of symbols using computational rules. The field draws particularly on the disciplines of artificial intelligence, psychology (seecognitive psychology), linguistics, neuroscience, and philosophy. Some chief areas of research in cognitive science have been vision, thinking and reasoning, memory, attention, learning, and language processing. Early theories of cognitive function attempted to explain the evident compositionality of human thought (thoughts are built up of smaller units put together in a certain way), as well as its productivity (the process of putting together a thought from smaller units can be repeated indefinitely to produce an infinite number of new thoughts), by assuming the existence of discrete mental representations that can be put together or taken apart according to rules that are sensitive to the representations' syntactic, or structural, properties. This language of thought hypothesis was later challenged by an approach, variously referred to as connectionism, parallel-distributed processing, or neural-network modeling, according to which cognitive processes (such as pattern recognition) consist of adjustments in the activation strengths of neuronlike processing units arranged in a network.
Use of means (such as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. It constitutes the core of many religious systems and plays a central social role in many nonliterate cultures. Magic is often distinguished from religion as being more impersonal and mechanical and emphasizing technique. Its techniques are usually regarded as means to specific ends (an enemys defeat, rainfall, etc.), although another view ascribes a more symbolic, expressive character to such activity. Thus, a rainmaking ritual may both elicit rainfall and stress the symbolic importance of rain and the agricultural activities associated with it. Both the magician and the magical rite are typically surrounded by taboos, purification procedures, and other activities that draw the participants into the magical sphere. Strains of magic in Western tradition, formerly associated with heretics, alchemists, witches, and sorcerers, persist in modern times in the activities of satanists and others. The art of entertaining by performing apparently magical feats (sometimes called conjuring) relies on the use of sleight of hand and other means. See also shaman, vodun, witchcraft and sorcery.