Hi, I am Dr Peter Prevos, a social scientist and civil engineer who dabbles in magic.
Welcome to The Horizon of Reason, a monthly blog about the limits of rationality. In the era of post-truth, fake news and conspiracy theories, the Horizon of Reason explores the ethereal regions between the logical and illogical and investigates the fertile grounds between rationality and irrationality.Thought-provoking, playfully intellectual, rogue ideas
The Horizon of Reason doesn’t attempt to debunk the irrational. Convincing people that the earth is round, or that aliens did not build the pyramids using rational arguments is a fool’s errand. It is much more interesting to understand why people think and act the way they do than to try to change their mind.
Written in a playfully intellectual style with a satirical flair, the Horizon of Reason shows that deception is the foundation of our experience of the world.
What is The Horizon of Reason?
This monthly blog discusses various topics, drawing inspiration from the humanities, psychology and the art of magic. The humanities study society, psychology studies humans as individuals and magic tricks illustrate the imperfections of our perception.
Scholars in the humanities describe cultures and investigate how people express themselves through social structures, art and everything else that makes us who we are. Studying society through diverse perspectives, without judging people, helps us to understand the world. Philosophy teaches us that our relationship with reality and each other is more complex than we dare to believe and characterised by deception. Read more …
We associate deception with negative experiences like fraud, trickery and propaganda. Despite these negative connotations, deception is the foundation of human existence. Sensory illusions limit our perception and humans continuously deceive each other when playing our social roles. Psychology teaches that we are not rational animals, but that we rationalise our thoughts and experiences. Read more …
Magicians use deception to create theatrical illusions. Scientists have studied many aspects of magic and magicians use science to perform magic. Magic tricks are not only entertaining, but they also teach us about how we perceive the world. We can learn about reality by studying magicians, not by exposing their secrets but by using magic tricks to visualise our fickle relationship with reality. Read more …
Who does Peter think he is?
When I was a boy, I desperately wanted to be a magician, but after a few years of performing, reality set in and I went to high school to become a carpenter. However, even before leaving technical school, my teachers told me that I was too clumsy to swing a hammer.
Not unsettled by this disappointment, I went to university to study architecture. But alas, after a year at the drafting table, the lecturer suggested that I was not artistic enough to design buildings.
Not perturbed by this second disappointment I decided to become a civil engineer. During my career, I built structures, islands, harbours, bridges and pipelines around the world. Nevertheless, I soon discovered that I am not technically minded enough to be an engineer.
Not flustered by yet another disappointment, I studied philosophy and management and received a Doctor of Philosophy, specialised in marketing.
My current day job is managing a data science team, and I occasionally lecture marketing at the La Trobe University MBA. Magic has remained a passion all through my life, and I publish books about the science and history of magic.
My life experience has turned me into somewhat of a Renaissance man with a wide range of interests. The Horizon of Reason combines all my passions into a focused outlet. The Horizon of Reason views the world from the perspective of a social scientist and engineer who dabbles in magic tricks.