Multidisciplinary magic bibliography of academic and professional publications that discuss theatrical magic from a range of perspectives.

Magic Bibliography: Scholarly and Professional Research into Theatrical Magic

Peter Prevos

Peter Prevos |

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Theatrical magic is surrounded by secrecy, and magicians have sworn oaths to each other not to divulge their methods. This veil of secrecy is, however, transparent. Magicians publish books and videos to teach each other. The art of magic has also attracted academics and professionals’ attention in a wide range of fields. Researchers have asked questions of theatrical magic from diverse disciplines, from dentistry and linguistics to management and gender studies.

This magic bibliography provides a comprehensive list of 426 scholarly and professional articles, conference papers and books on conjuring.

Cumulative number of scholarly and professional publications on theatrical magic
Cumulative number of scholarly and professional publications on theatrical magic.

The relationship between science and magic is complex. Scholars from many different fields have studied performance magic. Magicians often use the principles of science to seemingly breaks the laws of nature. Magic and science have a bidirectional relationship where both fields of human endeavour relate to each other

Magic Bibliography Inclusion Criteria

The criteria for inclusion in this magic bibliography are:

  • Published in a peer-reviewed academic or professional book, journal or conference proceedings, from any branch of science.
  • Discuss any aspect of theatrical magic (conjuring).
  • Empirical and conceptual articles
  • Use magic tricks (deception) as an experimental method

The following publications are excluded from the bibliography:

  • Generic normative discourse on how to perform magic, such as explanations of tricks and rules of performance.
  • Book reviews

I am for completeness, so feel free to contact me if there are any mistakes or missing entries in this bibliography.

My book Perspectives on Magic discusses many of the references listed below.

Perspectives on Magic

Perspectives on Magic

This book explores some of the answers to the questions that scholars from different fields of science have asked about the performances of magicians.

Magic Bibliography Categories

Most of the estimated half a million magicians around the world are amateurs or semi-professionals. They work as lawyers, occupational therapists, psychologists, computer scientists, teachers and so on. Many of these scientists and professionals have written scholarly papers and books about their passion.

The word “science” usually relates to the natural sciences, such as physics. However, the scientific work on conjuring illustrates that science is a much broader concept than the physical sciences alone. The science of magic discusses the full spectrum of human experience and the natural world. There are broadly four branches of science:

  • Natural and physical sciences: cosmology, geology, physics, chemistry and biology.
  • Formal sciences: mathematics and logic.
  • Social sciences: psychology, sociology and the humanities.
  • Applied sciences: engineering, medicine and computer science.

To fully understand a complex phenomenon such as theatrical magic, scientists use various perspectives beyond the natural sciences. Scientists and professionals from two of the four domains of science have studied the art of conjuring, each asking their specific questions of magic. The word cloud below visualises the relative frequency of each of the entries in this magic bibliography.

Frequency of topics in the science of magic bibliography.

The categorisation of science is not always precise. For example, psychology, the most significant contributor to conjuring science, can be social science and biological science. Psychology often studies the external attributes of behaviour. Still, it more recently is also involved with looking inside the body for a more physical approach. Works in the applied sciences can often be placed into two categories. For example, education and physics or medicine and biology.

Formal Sciences


Many magic tricks are based on the principles of mathematics, which makes them a suitable vehicle for teachers. Some aspects of magic, such as shuffling cards, have been studied in detail by mathematicians.

Askew, Mike (2008). Is maths magic? Mathematics Teaching, 7(209), 26.

Bayer, Dave and Diaconis, Persi (1992). Trailing the dovetail shuffle to its lair. The Annals of Applied Probability, 2(2), 294–313.doi: 10.1214/aoap/1177005705.

Benjamin, Arthur T. (2010). An amazing mathematical card trick. Mathematical Intelligencer, 32(2), 37–40.doi: 10.1007/s00283-009-9123-1.

Benjamin, Arthur T. and Brown, Ethan J. (2014). Challenging magic squares for magicians. The College Mathematics Journal, 45(2), 92–100.doi: 10.4169/college.math.j.45.2.092.

Chen, Hang and Cooper, Curtis (2009). N-card tricks. The College Mathematics Journal, 40(3), 196–203.doi: 10.1080/07468342.2009.11922360.

Dehan, Harriet Stone (1990). A mathematical magic show. Mathematics Teacher, 83(7), 515–523.doi: 10.5951/MT.83.7.0515.

Diaconis, P. et al. (1983). The mathematics of perfect shuffles. Advances in Applied Mathematics, 4(2), 175–196.doi: 10.1016/0196-8858(83)90009-X.

Diaconis, Persi (2011). Magical Mathematics: The Mathematical Ideas That Animate Great Magic Tricks. Princeton University Press.

Gardner, Martin (2000). Modeling mathematics with playing cards. The College Mathematics Journal, 31, 173–177.doi: 10.1080/07468342.2000.11974138.

Hoare, Tony and Shankar, Natarajan (2010). Unraveling a card trick. In: MannaandPeled (Eds.), Time for Verification (Springer Berlin Heidelberg, Berlin, Heidelberg).doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-13754-9_10.

Hoffman, Jascha (2011). Q&A: The mathemagician. Nature, 478(7370), 457.doi: 10.1038/478457a.

Kleber, Michael (2002). The best card trick. Mathematical Intelligencer, 24(1), 9–11.doi: 10.1007/BF03025305.

Kolpas, Sidney J. (1992). David copperfield’s orient express card trick. The Mathematics Teacher, 85(7), 568–570.doi: 10.5951/MT.85.7.0568.

Lagarias, Jeffrey C. et al. (2001). The kruskal count. In: Studies in Choice and Welfare (Springer Berlin Heidelberg).doi: 10.1007/978-3-540-79128-7_23.

Lesser, Lawrence M. and Glickman, Mark E. (2009). Using magic in the teaching of probability and statistics. Model Assisted Statistics and Applications, 4(4), 265–274.doi: 10.3233/MAS-2009-0137.

Lim, Kien H. (2018). Using math magic to reinforce algebraic concepts: An exploratory study. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 50(5), 747–765.doi: 10.1080/0020739x.2018.1537450.

Mateer, Todd D. (2014). A Reed–Solomon Code Magic Trick. Mathematics Magazine, 87(2), 125–131.doi: 10.4169/math.mag.87.2.125.

Mulcahy, C. (2007). An ESPeriment with cards. Math Horizons, 14(3), 10–12.doi: 10.1080/10724117.2007.11974690.

Nishiyama, Yutaka (2010). Flexible geometry illustrated by the topology of an entangled ring puzzle. International Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics, 66(1), 61–69.

Schott, Pierrot (2012). How to introduce the basis of algorithmics? Thanks to the enumeration and composition of all riffle shuffles from an N card deck used in MathMagic. Creative Education, 3(4), 540–556.doi: 10.4236/ce.2012.34082.

Simonson, S. and Holm, T. (2003). Using a card trick to teach discrete mathematics. Primus: Problems, Resources and Issues in Mathematics Undergraduate Studies, 13(3), 248–269.doi: 10.1080/10511970308984061.

Swart, B. B. and B. Shelton, B. (2015). Revelations and generalizations of the nine card problem. Mathematics Magazine, 88(2), 137–143.doi: 10.4169/math.mag.88.2.137.

Yew, T. P. (2005). Amazing mathematical card tricks: A fun way to develop mathematical thinking, problem solving skills and creativity. In: The Third East Asia Regional Conference on Mathematics Education, Shanghai, China.

Kitajima, Akimasa and Kikuchi, Macoto (2015). Numerous but Rare: An Exploration of Magic Squares. PLOS ONE, 10(5), e0125062.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0125062.

Computer Science

Mathematics and computer sciences are close cousins in the family of science. Papers in this field use magic as a metaphor to explain complex issues.

Carreras, Anna and Sora, Carles (2009). Coupling digital and physical worlds in an AR magic show performance: Lessons learned. In: IEEE International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality - Arts, Media and Humanities, Orlando, Florida.doi: 10.1109/ISMAR-AMH.2009.5336729.

Carreras, Anna and Sora, Carles (2009). Exploring the boundaries of augmented reality in a magic show performance. In: Proceedings of the International Conference on Advances in Computer Enterntainment Technology, New York, NY, USA.doi: 10.1145/1690388.1690490.

Curzon, Paul and McOwan, Peter W. (2008). Engaging with computer science through magic shows. In: Proceedings of the 13th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, Madrid Spain.doi: 10.1145/1384271.1384320.

Ferreira, Joao F. and Mendes, Alexandra (2014). The magic of algorithm design and analysis. In: Proceedings of the 2014 Conference on Innovation & Technology in Computer Science Education - ITiCSE ’14, .doi: 10.1145/2591708.2591745.

Garcia, Daniel D. and Ginat, David (2012). DeMystifying computing with magic. In: Proceedings of the 43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education - SIGCSE ’12, .doi: 10.1145/2157136.2157164.

Garcia, Daniel D. and Ginat, David (2013). Demystifying computing with magic, continued. In: Proceeding of the 44th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education - SIGCSE ’13, .doi: 10.1145/2445196.2445262.

Garcia, Daniel D. and Ginat, David (2016). Demystifying computing with magic, part III. In: Proceedings of the 47th ACM Technical Symposium on Computing Science Education, .doi: 10.1145/2839509.2844679.

Hilas, Constantinos S. and Politis, Anastasios (2014). Motivating students’ participation in a computer networks course by means of magic, drama and games. SpringerPlus, 3(362).doi: 10.1186/2193-1801-3-362.

Kruse, Gerald (2003). “Magic numbers” approach to introducing binary number representation in CS0. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 35(3), 272.doi: 10.1145/961511.961637.

Morris, S. Brent (1998). Magic Tricks, Card Shuffling, and Dynamic Computer Memories: The Mathematics of the Perfect Shuffle. The Mathematical Association of America.

Natural and Physical Sciences

Magic could be defined as that which science has not yet made intelligible. Magicians often use scientific principles to create the illusion of magic. A few centuries ago, magicians often adorned themselves with academic titles. Magic tricks are, as such, an entertaining way to illustrate the principles of physics to students.

Abbott, Alison (2005). Physics and the public: Science as illusion. Nature, 434(7035), 820.doi: 10.1038/434820a.

Bagnoli, Franco et al. (2018). Teaching physics by magic. Physics Education, 54(1), 015025.doi: 10.1088/1361-6552/aaed62.

Crawford, Teresa (2003). From magic show to meaningful science. Science Scope, 27(1), 36–39.

Featonby, David (2010). Magic physics? Physics Education, 45(1), 24–31.doi: 10.1088/0031-9120/45/1/001.

Haub, Elaine K. and Barnes, D. Michael (2001). Disappearing-reappearing rabbit trick: A new twist to an old liquid nitrogen demonstration. Journal of Chemical Education, 78(1), 46.doi: 10.1021/ed078p46.

Hoffman, Jascha (2009). The technology of illusion. Nature, 459(7248), 780–780.doi: 10.1038/459780a.

Lasry, Nathaniel (2012). The magic of science through the science of magic. Science Education Review, 11(2), 44–47.

Mihara, Takashi (2011). Information sharing using entangled states and its applications to quantum card tricks. Decision Support Systems, 50(2), 522–528.doi: 10.1016/j.dss.2010.11.010.

Ringlein, James (2003). The tablecloth trick, take II: A popular magic trick becomes a dynamic physics teaching opportunity. The Science Teacher, 70(6), 35–37.

Ruiz, Michael J. (2006). Lenz’s Law magic trick. The Physics Teacher, 44(2), 98–98.doi: 10.1119/1.2165439.

Social Sciences

The social sciences concern themselves with human behaviour and relationships. Given the wide variety of humanity, the social sciences are very broad with a wide range of methods. From numerical approaches that are akin to the physical sciences, to the more conceptual in philosophy.

Film Studies

Magic and cinema have a lot in common in that they both rely on deception. Magicians, such as Georges Méliès, and Charles Pathé, were the first film exhibitors, performers and producers. Their efforts started the development of special effects as a narrative device. The literature in the genre reviews the role of magicians in the popularisation of cinema and how they responded to its popularity.

Barnouw, Erik (1978). The magician in the movies. American Film, 3(6), 8–13; 58–63.

Barnouw, Erik (1981). The Magician and the Cinema. Oxford University Press.

Bear, Jordan (2008). From magician to metal brain: The embodiment of illusion in early European film theory. Studies in European Cinema, 5(1), 17–29.

Christie, Ian (2004). The Magic Sword: Genealogy of an English trick film. Film History, 16(2), 163–171.

Claudy, C. H. (1915). Motion picture magic. Scientific American, 112(20), 454–455.doi: 10.1038/scientificamerican05151915-454.

Fischer, Lucy (1979). The lady vanishes: Women, magic and the movies. Film Quarterly, 33(1), 30–40.

Gaudreault, André (1987). Theatricality, narrativity, and "trickality": Reevaluating the cinema of Georges Méliès. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 15(3), 110–119.

Gaudreault, André (2007). Méliès the magician. The magical magic of the magic image. Early Popular Visual Culture, 5(2), 167–174.doi: 10.1080/17460650701433822.

Gunning, Tom (1995). An aesthetic of astonishment: Early film and the [in]credulous spectator. In: Wiliams (Ed.), Viewing Positions (Rutgers, New Brunswick).

Kember, Joe (2010). Productive intermediality and the expert audiences of magic theatre and early film. Early Popular Visual Culture, 8(1), 31–46.doi: 10.1080/17460650903515921.

Solomon, Matthew (2010). Disappearing Tricks: Silent Film, Houdini, and the New Magic of the Twentieth Century. University of Illinois Press.

Un homme de têtes (or The Four Troublesome Heads) by Georges Melies, 1898.

Gender Studies

Magic is one of the few male-dominated performance arts. Less than five per cent of people actively involved in theatrical magic are women. However, in other performance arts, more than one-third of performers are female. Gender studies explore the possible reasons for the imbalance between men and women in magic as performance art.

Al-Gailani, Salim (2009). Magic, science and masculinity: Marketing toy chemistry sets. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 40(4), 372–381.doi: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2009.10.006.

Bruns, Laura C. and Zompetti, Joseph P. (2014). The rhetorical goddess: A feminist perspective on women in magic. Journal of Performance Magic, 2(1), 8–39.doi: 10.5920/jpm.2014.218.

Dawes, Amy (2007). The female of the species: Magiciennes of the Victorian and Edwardian eras. Early Popular Visual Culture, 5(2), 127–150.doi: 10.1080/17460650701433780.

Gygax, Pascal et al. (2019). Are women perceived as worse magicians than men? Gender bias when evaluating magic tricks. Social Psychological Bulletin, 14(3), 1–19.doi: 10.32872/spb.v14i3.33574.

Hindson, Catherine (2006). The female illusionist: Loïe Fuller. Early Popular Visual Culture, 4(2), 161–174.doi: 10.1080/17460650600793573.

Kelly, Lynne (2014). Feminine Magic. Journal of Performance Magic, 2(1), 2–7.doi: 10.5920/jpm.2014.212.

Misersky, Julia et al. (2014). Norms on the gender perception of role nouns in czech, english, french, german, italian, norwegian, and slovak. Behavior Research Methods, 46(3), 841–871.doi: 10.3758/s13428-013-0409-z.

Nardi, Peter M. (1988). The social world of magicians: Gender and conjuring. Sex Roles, 19(11), 759–770.doi: 10.1007/BF00288991.

Nardi, Peter M. (2006). The reality of illusion: The Magic Castle in Hollywood. Contexts, 5(1), 66–69.doi: 10.1525/ctx.2006.5.1.66.


Until recently, social historians had no genuine interest in magic. However, the past decade has seen a steady flow of monographs critically analysing conjuring’s place in society through the ages.

Brooker, Jeremy (2007). The polytechnic ghost. Early Popular Visual Culture, 5(2), 189–206.doi: 10.1080/17460650701433517.

Chireau, Yvonne Patricia (2003). Black Magic: Religion and the African American Conjuring Tradition. University of California Press.

Coppa et al. (Eds.) (2008). Performing Magic on the Western Stage: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present. Palgrave Macmillan.

Dadswell, Sarah (2007). Jugglers, fakirs, and jaduwallahs: Indian magicians and the British stage. New Theatre Quarterly, 23(1), 3–24.doi: 10.1017/S0266464X06000595.

Dawes, Edwin (2007). The magic scene in Britain in 1905. Early Popular Visual Culture, 5(2), 109–126.doi: 10.1080/17460650701433749.

During, Simon (2002). Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic. Harvard Univ. Press.

Fisher, David (1983). The War Magician. Berkley Books.

Goto-Jones, Christopher (2014). Magic, Modernity, and Orientalism: Conjuring representations of Asia. Modern Asian Studies, 48(6), 1451–1476.doi: 10.1017/S0026749X13000498.

Goto-Jones, Christopher S. (2016). Conjuring Asia: Magic, Orientalism, and the Making of the Modern World. Cambridge University Press.

Haskins, James and Benson, Kathleen (2001). Conjure Times: Black Magicians in America. Walker & Company.

Johnson, Ray (2007). Tricks, traps and transformations. Illusion in Victorian spectacular theatre. Early Popular Visual Culture, 5(2), 151–165.doi: 10.1080/17460650701433673.

Lachapelle, Sofie (2015). Conjuring Science. Palgrave Macmillan US.

Lamb, Geoffrey (2017). Victorian Magic. Routlegde.

Lamont, P. and Wiseman, R. (2001). The rise and fall of the Indian rope trick. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 65, 175–193.

Lamont, Peter (2004). History of an illusion. History Today, 54(2), 5–6.

Lamont, Peter (2004). Rise of the Indian Rope Trick: How a Spectacular Hoax Became History. Burndy Library.

Lamont, Peter (2006). Magician as conjurer: A frame analysis of Victorian mediums. Early Popular Visual Culture, 4(1), 21–33.doi: 10.1080/17460650600590326.

Lamont, Peter and Bates, Crispin (2007). Conjuring images of India in nineteenth-century Britain. Social History, 32(3), 308–324.doi: 10.1080/03071020701425411.

Lamont, Peter (2016). Modern magic, the illusion of transformation, and how it was done. Journal of Social History,, shw126.doi: 10.1093/jsh/shw126.

Lamont, Peter and Steinmeyer, Jim (2018). The Secret History of Magic: The True Story of the Deceptive Art. TarcherPerigee.

Leeder, Murray (2010). M. Robert-Houdin goes to Algeria: Spectatorship and panic in illusion and early cinema. Early Popular Visual Culture, 8(2), 209–225.doi: 10.1080/17460651003688113.

Mangan, Michael (2007). Performing Dark Arts: A Cultural History of Conjuring. Intellect.

McKosker, Susan (1982). Representative Performances of Stage Magic 1650-1900. {PhD} thesis. New York University.

Nadis, Fred (2005). Wonder Shows: Performing Science, Magic, and Religion in America. Rutgers University Press.

Pettit, Michael (2007). Joseph Jastrow, the psychology of deception, and the racial economy of observation. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 43(2), 159–175.doi: 10.1002/jhbs.20221.

Spooner, William E. and McEwan, Gordon F. (2007). Evidence of conjuring in Pre-Columbian Peru. In: Andean Past (Cornell University, Ithaca).

Maskelyne, Jasper and Stuart, Frank S. (1949). Magic: Top Secret. Stanley Paul.

Waldman, Carl et al. (1997). The Art of Magic: The Companion to the Pbs Special. General Pub. Group.

Legal Studies

Professional magicians strive for originality to differentiate themselves in the entertainment market. This literature discusses the complex legal issues regarding intellectual property in magic.

Library Studies

Magicians are avid collectors of books on how to perform their craft. Some have bequeathed their collections to academic institutions, such as the WG Alma Conjuring Collection in Melbourne, Australia. The articles in this genre of magic literature describe these libraries.

Awcock, Frances (2004). Will Alma, master magician. The La Trobe Journal, 74, 15–21.

Barnouw, Erik (1981). The Magician and the Cinema. Oxford University Press.

Birdsell, Polly Griffin (1989). How Magicians Relate the Occult to Modern Magic: An Investigation and Study. Silver Dawn Media.

Bowman, Robert P. (2004). The Magic Counselor: The 25 Best, Purchasable Magic Tricks With Unforgettable Guidance Lessons for Kids. YouthLight.

Corcos (Ed.) (2010). Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays. Carolina Academic Press.

During, Simon (2002). Modern Enchantments: The Cultural Power of Secular Magic. Harvard Univ. Press.

Fisher, David (1983). The War Magician. Berkley Books.

Fitzherbert, Nick (2012). Presentation Magic: Achieving Outstanding Business Presentations Using the Rules of Magic. Marshall Cavendish.

Gilroy, Brian (1998). Counseling Kids: It’s Magic!: Manual of Therapeutic Uses of Magic With Children and Teens. Therapist Organizer.

Haskins, James and Benson, Kathleen (2001). Conjure Times: Black Magicians in America. Walker & Company.

Ho, Widdy (2010). Laurence S. Moss, 1944-2009: Academic Iconoclast, Economist and Magician. Wiley-Blackwell.

Jones, Graham M. (2011). Trade of the Tricks: Inside the Magician’s Craft. University of California Press.

Kattelman, Beth A. (2008). The American Museum of Magic / Lund Memorial Libary and other resources on magic and conjuring. Theatre Survey, 49(2), 133–154.doi: 10.1017/S0040557408000161.

Kett, Michael and Kett, Nancy (2000). Applied Magic: A Beginner’s Magic Book With Practical Applications for Therapists, Teachers, and Parents. Xlibris Corp..

Kuhn, Gustav (2019). Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic. The MIT Press.

Lamont, Peter and Wiseman, Richard (2008). Magic in Theory: An Introduction to the Theoretical and Psychological Elements of Conjuring. University Of Hertfordshire Press.

Lamont, Peter and Steinmeyer, Jim (2018). The Secret History of Magic: The True Story of the Deceptive Art. TarcherPerigee.

Macknik, Stephen L. et al. (2010). Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions. Henry Holt and Co.

Macknik, Stephen L. et al. (2010). Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions. Henry Holt; Co.

Morey, David et al. (2018). Creating Business Magic: How the Power of Magic Can Inspire, Innovate, and Revolutionize Your Business. Mango Media.

Nadis, Fred (2005). Wonder Shows: Performing Science, Magic, and Religion in America. Rutgers University Press.

Prus, R. C. and Sharper, C. R. D. (1991). Road Hustler: Grifting, Magic, and the Thief Subculture. Kaufman; Greenberg.

Solomon, Matthew (2010). Disappearing Tricks: Silent Film, Houdini, and the New Magic of the Twentieth Century. University of Illinois Press.

Stebbins, Robert A. (1993). Career, Culture, and Social Psychology in a Variety Art: The Magician. Krieger Pub.

Tufte, Edward R (1997). Explaining magic: Pictorial instructions and disinformation design. In: Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative (Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn.).

Waldman, Carl et al. (1997). The Art of Magic: The Companion to the Pbs Special. General Pub. Group.

Dominique Dunstan on the WG Alma Conjuring Collection.


Magicians use language to share secrets with each other and use their words wisely to enhance the deception of their audiences. These studies look at how magicians use unique words and drawings to communicate their craft.

Fleischman, A. S. (1949). Words in modern magic. American Speech, 24(1), 38–42.

Jones, Graham and Shweder, Lauren (2003). The performance of illusion and illusionary performatives: Learning the language of theatrical magic. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology, 13(1), 51–70.doi: 10.1525/jlin.2003.13.1.51.

Tufte, Edward R (1997). Explaining magic: Pictorial instructions and disinformation design. In: Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative (Graphics Press, Cheshire, Conn.).

Performance Studies

Conjuring is a minor form of theatre by the establishment and has only recently been discussed in academic literature. The books and papers analyse the aesthetics of magic as a performance art.

Aladin, (2008). Appearance, reality and truth in magic: A personal memoir. Performance Research, 13(4), 75–81.doi: 10.1080/13528160902875655.

Beckerman, Bernard (1990). Theatrical Presentation. Performer, Audience and Act. Routledge.

Bhownagary, Jehangir (1972). Creativity of the magician. Leonardo, 5(1), 31–35.

Bliss, John (2007). Making a life in the theatre. Stage Directions, 20(12), 26–29.

Bordenrave, Julie (2015). Magie nouvelle new magic, a contemporary art. Strada,(16).

Busby, Jeff (2008). The magician as character. Stage Directions, 21(2), 9.

Condos, Susan (1976). Jeff Sheridan’s street magic. The Drama Review: TDR, 20(2), 56–48.

Coppa et al. (Eds.) (2008). Performing Magic on the Western Stage: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present. Palgrave Macmillan.

Corrigan, Brian Jay (2018). “This rough magic I here abjure” Performativity, practice and purpose of the bizarre. Journal of Performance Magic, 5(1).doi: 10.5920/jpm.2018.05.

Covino, William A. (1992). Magic and/as rhetoric: Outlines of a history of phantasy. Journal of Advanced Composition, 12(2), 349–357.

Dean, Edward (2016). (Re) discovering the body in mentalism. Journal of Performance Magic, 4(1).doi: 10.5920/jpm.2016.02.

Dean, Edward (2018). The end of mindreading. Journal of Performance Magic, 5(1).doi: 10.5920/jpm.2018.04.

Dickie, M. W. (2001). Mimes, thaumaturgy, and the theatre. The Classical Quarterly, 51(2), 599–603.doi: 10.1093/cq/51.2.599.

Hoedt, Madelon (2016). “The Extraordinary Other”: Todd Robbins in Conversation with Madelon Hoedt. Journal of Performance Magic, 4(1).doi: 10.5920/jpm.2016.04.

Jay, Joshua (2016). What do audiences really think? Magic, 46-55(September).

Kennedy, Dennis (2010). The Oxford Companion to Theatre and Performance. Oxford University Press.

Kirby, E. T. (1974). The shamanistic origins of popular entertainments. The Drama Review: TDR, 18(1), 5–15.

La Rambelje, Alex (2008). Theatricality in Magic: An Analysis of Approaches to the Performance of Conjuring. Master’s thesis. Monash University.

Landman, Todd (2013). Framing performance magic: The role of contract, discourse and effect. Journal of Performance Magic, 1(1), 47–68.doi: 10.5920/jpm.2013.1147.

Landman, Todd (2018). Academic magic: Performance and the communication of fundamental ideas. Journal of Performance Magic, 5(1).doi: 10.5920/jpm.2018.02.

Leddington, J. (2016). The experience of magic. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 74(3), 253–264.doi: 10.1111/jaac.12290.

Leddington, J. (2017). Magic: Art of the impossible. In: GoldblattandBrown (Eds.), Aesthetics: A Reader in Philosophy of the Arts (Routledge, New York, NY).

Leddington, Jason (2020). Comic impossibilities. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 78(4), 547–558.doi: 10.1111/jaac.12762.

Miller, Alex (2003). The artist as magician. Meanjin, 62(2), 41–47.

Olf, Julian M. (1974). The actor and the magician. The Drama Review: TDR, 18(1), 53–58.

Pecor, Charles (1977). John Henry Anderson, The Great Wizard of the North: Nineteenth-century magician, actor, publicist. Theatre Studies,(24/25), 47–61.

Rieiro, Hector et al. (2013). Perceptual elements in Penn & Teller’s “Cups and Balls” magic trick. PeerJ, 1(19).doi: 10.7717/peerj.19.

Rolfe, Charles (2014). A conceptual outline of contemporary magic practice. Environment and Planning, 46(7), 1601–1619.doi: 10.1068/a45501.

Rolfe, Charles (2015). Theatrical magic and the agenda to enchant the world. Social & Cultural Geography, 17(4), 574–596.doi: 10.1080/14649365.2015.1112025.

Saville, Ian (2013). The development of socialist magic: Reflections on the place of power and ideology in magic performance. Journal of Performance Magic, 1(1), 2–18.doi: 10.5920/jpm.2013.112.

Smith, Albert C and Smith, Kendra Schank (2011). The architect as magician. The Journal of Architecture, 16(5), 765–783.doi: 10.1080/13602365.2011.611648.

Steinkraus, Warren E. (1979). The art of conjuring. Journal of Aesthetic Education, 13(4), 17–27.

Sussman, Mark (1999). Performing the intelligent machine: Deception and enchantment in the life of the automaton chess player. The Drama Review: TDR, 43(3), 81–96.

Taylor, Nik (2018). Magic and broken knowledge reflections on the practice of bizarre magick. Journal of Performance Magic, 5(1).doi: 10.5920/jpm.2018.03.

Tibbs, Geoff (2013). Lennart Green and the modern drama of sleight of hand. Journal of Performance Magic, 1(1), 19–46.doi: 10.5920/jpm.2013.1119.

Turner, Elizabeth (2016). “I Am Alive in Here”: Liveness, Mediation and the Staged Real of David Blaine’s Body. Journal of Performance Magic, 4(1).doi: 10.5920/jpm.2016.03.


Psychologists are the most significant contributors to the science of magic. The main question they try to answer is why it is so easy to deceive people. This part of the bibliography largely overlaps with the Science of Magic Bibliography by Matt Tompkins. Tomkins focuses on experimental research with adult participants.

Science of Magic

The literature in this subcategory discusses the nature of the science of magic from the psychologist’s perspective.

Nardi, Peter M. (1984). Toward a social psychology of entertainment magic (conjuring). Symbolic Interaction, 7(1), 25–42.doi: 10.1525/si.1984.7.1.25.

Perception Psychology

The majority of works in this bibliography study perception psychology. These studies either research magic tricks as a topic or as an experimental methodology to investigate other questions.

Barnhart, Anthony S. (2010). The exploitation of gestalt principles by magicians. Perception, 39(9), 1286–1289.doi: 10.1068/p6766.

Cavina-Pratesi, Cristiana et al. (2011). The magic grasp: Motor expertise in deception. PLoS ONE, 6(2), e16568.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0016568.

Cui, J. et al. (2011). Stronger perception of magic without social misdirection. Journal of Vision, 11(11), 475–475.doi: 10.1167/11.11.475.

Danek, Amory H. et al. (2012). Aha! Experiences leave a mark: Facilitated recall of insight solutions. Psychological Research, 77(5), 659–669.doi: 10.1007/s00426-012-0454-8.

Danek, Amory H. and Wiley, Jennifer (2017). What about false insights? Deconstructing the aha! Experience along its multiple dimensions for correct and incorrect solutions separately. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02077.

Ekroll, Vebjørn (2019). Illusions of imagery and magical experiences. I-Perception, 10(4).doi: 10.1177/2041669519865284.

Gregory, Richard L. (1982). Conjuring. Perception, 11(6), 631–633.doi: 10.1068/p110631.

Hyman, Ray (1989). The psychology of deception. Annual Review of Psychology, 40, 133–154.doi: 10.1146/

Johansson, Petter et al. (2014). Choice blindness and preference change: You will like this paper better if you believe you chose to read it. Journal of Behavioral Decision Making, 27(3), 281–289.doi: 10.1002/bdm.1807.

Kawakami, Naoaki and Miura, Emi (2016). Can magic deception be detected at an unconscious level? Perception, 46(6), 698–708.doi: 10.1177/0301006616682513.

Kuhn, G. and Tatler, B. W (2005). Magic and fixation: Now you don’t see it, now you do. Perception, 34(9), 1155–1161.

Kuhn, Gustav and Land, Michael F. (2006). There’s more to magic than meets the eye. Current Biology, 16(22), 950–951.

Kuhn, Gustav et al. (2008). Misdirection in magic: Implications for the relationship between eye gaze and attention. Visual Cognition, 16(2), 391.

Kuhn, G. (2008). Misdirecting people’s attention: What can misdirection tell us about attention and awareness? Journal of Vision, 8(6), 768–768.doi: 10.1167/8.6.768.

Kuhn, Gustav et al. (2009). You look where I look! Effect of gaze cues on overt and covert attention in misdirection. Visual Cognition, 17(6-7), 925–944.doi: 10.1080/13506280902826775.

Kuhn, Gustav and Findlay, John M. (2010). Misdirection, attention and awareness: Inattentional blindness reveals temporal relationship between eye movements and visual awareness. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(1), 136–146.

Kuhn, Gustav and Tatler, Benjamin W. (2011). Misdirected by the gap: The relationship between inattentional blindness and attentional misdirection. Consciousness and Cognition, 20(2), 432–436.doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2010.09.013.

Kuhn, Gustav and Martinez, Luis M. (2012). Misdirection – Past, Present, and the Future. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5.doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00172.

Kuhn, Gustav et al. (2014). A psychologically-based taxonomy of misdirection. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01392.

Kuhn, Gustav and Rensink, Ronald A. (2016). The vanishing ball illusion: A new perspective on the perception of dynamic events. Cognition, 148, 64–70.doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2015.12.003.

Kuhn, Gustav et al. (2016). Editorial: The psychology of magic and the magic of psychology. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01358.

Kuhn, Gustav and Teszka, Robert (2017). Don’t get misdirected! Differences in overt and covert attentional inhibition between children and adults. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 71(3), 688–694.doi: 10.1080/17470218.2016.1277770.

Kuhn, Gustav (2019). Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic. The MIT Press.

Lamont, Peter and Wiseman, Richard (2008). Magic in Theory: An Introduction to the Theoretical and Psychological Elements of Conjuring. University Of Hertfordshire Press.

Macknik, Stephen L. et al. (2008). Attention and awareness in stage magic: Turning tricks into research. Nature Reviews. Neuroscience, 9, 871–879.doi: 10.1038/nrn2473.

Macknik, Stephen L. et al. (2010). Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions. Henry Holt and Co.

Macknik, Stephen L. et al. (2010). Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions. Henry Holt; Co.

Mansour, Hassan and Kuhn, Gustav (2019). Studying "natural" eye movements in an "unnatural" social environment: The influence of social activity, framing, and sub-clinical traits on gaze aversion. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 72(8), 1913–1925.doi: 10.1177/1747021818819094.

Martinez-Conde, Susana and Macknik, Stephen L. (2012). All deceptions great and small. Scientific American Mind, 23(3), 16–18.doi: 10.1038/scientificamericanmind0712-16.

Martinez-Conde, Susana and Macknik, Stephen L. (2007). Mind tricks: Cognitive scientists take a lesson from magicians. Nature, 448, 414.doi: 10.1038/448414a.

Martinez-Conde, Susana and Macknik, Stephen L. (2008). Magic and the brain. Scientific American,(299), 72–79.

Natter, Mike and Phillips, Flip (2009). The French drop sleight: Deceptive biological motion. Journal of Vision, 8(6), 1052–1052.doi: 10.1167/8.6.1052.

Øhrn, Heidi et al. (2019). A perceptual illusion of empty space can create a perceptual illusion of levitation. I-Perception, 10(6), 204166951989768.doi: 10.1177/2041669519897681.

Olson, J et al. (2015). Using magic to influence choice in the absence of visual awareness. Consiousness and Cognition, 37, 225–236.doi: 10.1167/13.9.1133.

Olson, Jay A. et al. (2016). Simulated thought insertion: Influencing the sense of agency using deception and magic. Consciousness and Cognition, 43, 11–26.doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2016.04.010.

Olson, Jay A et al. (2012). Perceptual and cognitive characteristics of common playing cards. Perception, 41(3), 268–286.doi: 10.1068/p7175.

Ortega, Jeniffer et al. (2018). Exploiting failures in metacognition through magic: Visual awareness as a source of visual metacognition bias. Consciousness and Cognition, 65, 152–168.doi: 10.1016/j.concog.2018.08.008.

Otero-Millan, Jorge et al. (2011). Stronger Misdirection in Curved than in Straight Motion. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 5.doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2011.00133.

Pailhès, Alice et al. (2020). The magician’s choice: Providing illusory choice and sense of agency with the equivoque forcing technique. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General,.doi: 10.1037/xge0000929.

Pailhès, Alice and Kuhn, Gustav (2020). The apparent action causation: Using a magician forcing technique to investigate our illusory sense of agency over the outcome of our choices. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 73(11), 1784–1795.doi: 10.1177/1747021820932916.

Pailhès, Alice and Kuhn, Gustav (2020). Influencing choices with conversational primes: How a magic trick unconsciously influences card choices. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 117(30), 17675–17679.doi: 10.1073/pnas.2000682117.

Pailhès, Alice and Kuhn, Gustav (2020). Subtly encouraging more deliberate decisions: Using a forcing technique and population stereotype to investigate free will. Psychological Research, 85(4), 1380–1390.doi: 10.1007/s00426-020-01350-z.

Pailhès, Alice and Kuhn, Gustav (2021). Mind control tricks: Magicians’ forcing and free will. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 25(5), 338–341.doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.02.001.

Phillips, Flip et al. (2015). Magically deceptive biological motion—the French Drop Sleight. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00371.

Raz et al. (Eds.) (2016). The Psychology of Magic and the Magic of Psychology. Frontiers Media SA.

Rensink, Ronald A. and Kuhn, Gustav (2015). A framework for using magic to study the mind. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01508.

Rensink, Ronald A. and Kuhn, Gustav (2015). The possibility of a science of magic. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01576.

Rummel, Jan et al. (2020). The role of attention for insight problem solving: Effects of mindless and mindful incubation periods. Journal of Cognitive Psychology,, 1–13.doi: 10.1080/20445911.2020.1841779.

Shalom, Diego E. et al. (2013). Choosing in freedom or forced to choose? Introspective blindness to psychological forcing in stage-magic. PLoS ONE, 8(3), e58254.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058254.

Smith, Tim J et al. (2012). The penny drops: Change blindness at fixation. Perception, 41(4), 489–492.doi: 10.1068/p7092.

Smith, Tim J et al. (2013). Change blindness in a dynamic scene due to endogenous override of exogenous attentional cues. Perception, 42(8), 884–886.doi: 10.1068/p7377.

Smith, Wally et al. (2016). The construction of impossibility: A logic-based analysis of conjuring tricks. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00748.

Strömwall, Leif A. and Granhag, Pär Anders (2005). Childrens repeated lies and truths: Effects on adults judgments and reality monitoring scores. Psychiatry, Psychology and Law, 12(2), 345–356.

Svalebjørg, Mats et al. (2020). The illusion of absence in magic tricks. I-Perception, 11(3), 1–21.doi: 10.1177/2041669520928383.

Tachibana, Ryo and Kawabata, Hideaki (2014). The Effects of Social Misdirection on Magic Tricks: How Deceived and Undeceived Groups Differ. I-Perception, 5(3), 143–146.doi: 10.1068/i0640sas.

Tachibana, R. and Gyoba, J. (2015). Effects of different types of misdirection on attention and detection performance. Took Psychologic Folia, 74, 42–56.

Tatler, B. W and Kuhn, Gustav (2007). Don’t look now: The magic of misdirection. In: Borland et al. (Eds.), Eye Movement Research. Insights Into Mind and Brain (Elsevier).

Thomas, Cyril and Didierjean, André (2016). The ball vanishes in the air: Can we blame representational momentum? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 23(6), 1810–1817.doi: 10.3758/s13423-016-1037-2.

Thomas, Cyril and Didierjean, André (2016). Magicians fix your mind: How unlikely solutions block obvious ones. Cognition, 154, 169–173.doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2016.06.002.

Thomas, Cyril and Didierjean, André (2016). No need for a social cue! A masked magician can also trick the audience in the vanishing ball illusion. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 78(1), 21–29.doi: 10.3758/s13414-015-1036-9.

Thomas, Cyril et al. (2018). The Flushtration Count illusion: Attribute substitution tricks our interpretation of a simple visual event sequence. British Journal of Psychology, 109(4), 850–861.doi: 10.1111/bjop.12306.

Tompkins, Matthew L. et al. (2016). The phantom vanish magic trick: Investigating the disappearance of non-existent object in a dynamic scene. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(950).doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00950.

Wiseman, Richard and Lamont, Peter (1996). Unravelling the Indian Rope Trick. Nature, 383, 212–213.doi: 10.1038/383212a0.

Wiseman, Richard and Greening, Emma (2005). “It’s still bending”: Verbal suggestion and alleged psychokinetic ability. British Journal of Psychology, 96, 115–127.

Wiseman, Richard J. and Nakano, Tamami (2016). Blink and you’ll miss it: The role of blinking in the perception of magic tricks. PeerJ, 4, e1873.doi: 10.7717/peerj.1873.

Yao, R. (2012). A flick of the wrist: Abrupt change in direction of motion induces change blindness. Journal of Vision, 12(9), 18–18.doi: 10.1167/12.9.18.

Yao, Richard et al. (2019). As if by magic: An abrupt change in motion direction induces change blindness. Psychological Science, 30(3), 436–443.doi: 10.1177/0956797618822969.


The field of parapsychology is one of the most controversial of the sciences. Parapsychologists study the concept of real magic. To ensure the integrity of their experiments, parapsychologists can employ magicians to ensure that subjects don’t use nefarious methods.

Benassi, Victor A. et al. (1980). Occult belief: Seeing is believing. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 19(4), 337–349.doi: 10.2307/1386128.

Nardi, Peter M. (2010). Magic, skepticism, and belief. An empirical study on what magicians believe about the paranormal. Skeptic, 15(3), 58–64.

Sociology and Anthropology

The social sciences look at the social world of magicians—how they are organised, how they share secrets and other aspects of being a magician. Publications about legal studies review issues related to the intellectual property of magic trick methods and presentations.

Collier, Donald (1944). Conjuring among the Kiowa. Primitive Man, 17(3/4), 45–49.

Jillette, Penn (2003). Politicians and magicians. Regulation, 26(3), 72–72.

Laurier, Eric (2004). The spectacular showing: Houdini and the wonder of ethnomethodology. Human Studies, 27(4), 377–399.doi: 10.1007/s10746-004-3341-5.

Prus, R. C. and Sharper, C. R. D. (1991). Road Hustler: Grifting, Magic, and the Thief Subculture. Kaufman; Greenberg.

Singer, Philip (1990). Psychic surgery: Close observation of a popular healing practice. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 4(4), 443–451.

Smith, Wally (2015). Technologies of stage magic: Simulation and dissimulation. Social Studies of Science, 45(3), 319–343.doi: 10.1177/0306312715577461.

Strandberg, Thomas et al. (2020). Depolarizing american voters: Democrats and republicans are equally susceptible to false attitude feedback. PLOS ONE, 15(2), e0226799.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0226799.

Wilcock, Sean (2015). The source of magic. Journal of Performance Magic, 3(1), 36–56.doi: 10.5920/jpm.2015.3136.

Applied Sciences

The applied sciences, such as engineering and medicine, use the formal, natural and social sciences as foundations to influence reality. The magic literature in the applied sciences describes how magic tricks or the methods of magicians, in general, can improve people’s lives.

Business Studies

The literature on business magic mainly deals with magic as a metaphor to conduct yourself in an organisation. Managers can learn from magicians about compelling presentations, use the principles of developing new magic tricks to understand innovation. There are also business people who use magic in their professional life to enliven presentations or as ice-breakers. Performing magic tricks can also be a tool to explain complex concepts in management. Using magic as an educational tool is a common thread in magic literature. You can read more about business magic on my Lucid Manager website.

Brooker, W. Michael A. (1967). Magic in business and industry: Notes towards its recognition and understanding. Anthropologica, 9(1), 3.doi: 10.2307/25604716.

Davids, Meryl (1994). Out-of-pocket: Tricks in the trade. Journal of Business Strategy, 15(3), 62–63.doi: 10.1108/eb039638.

Davis, John (2002). Deception-magic!. Military Review, 82(5), 92–94.

Fatehi-Sedeh, K. (1980). A card game as a teaching aid. Journal of Management Education, 5(3), 57–60.doi: 10.1177/105256298000500316.

Fitzherbert, Nick (2012). Presentation Magic: Achieving Outstanding Business Presentations Using the Rules of Magic. Marshall Cavendish.

Herbert, A. (2010). Facilitator, Researcher, Politician, Magician. Simulation & Gaming, 41(5), 681–693.doi: 10.1177/1046878109334009.

Krell, Terence C. and Dobson, Joseph J. (1999). The use of magic in teaching organisational behaviour. Journal of Management Education, 23(1), 44–52.doi: 10.1177/105256299902300105.

Lewis, David and Leyser, Keelan (2002). Unlocking the magic of your mind—using intuition to make important management decisions. The British Journal of Administrative Management, 33, 12–14.

Morey, David et al. (2018). Creating Business Magic: How the Power of Magic Can Inspire, Innovate, and Revolutionize Your Business. Mango Media.

Pfifster, Nancy (2000). Corporate magicians wave profitable wands. Orlando Business Journal, 16(50), 25.

Pollitt, David (2006). Communication campaign conjures up success for Homebase: Magician theme makes for memorable launch of guides. Human Resource Management International Digest, 14(5), 38–39.doi: 10.1108/09670730610678271.

Schultz, Ron (2007). Adjacent opportunities: Ordinary magic. Emergence: Complexity and Organization, 9(3), 107–108.

Steinburg, Craig (1991). Training tricks. Training & Development, 45(12), 11.

Thomke, Stefan and Randal, Jason (2012). Innovation Magic. Harvard Business School.

Software Development and Robotics

Software designers and magicians have in common that they both create virtual realities. Software designers bring their reality alive on computer displays; magicians bring theirs alive on the stage. See the article on computer magic for a discussion of this literature.

deJongh Hepworth, Sam (2007). Magical experiences in interaction design. In: Proceedings of the 2007 Conference on Designing Pleasurable Products and Interfaces, Helsinki, Finland.doi: 10.1145/1314161.1314171.

Heckel, Paul (1991). The Elements of Friendly Software Design. SYBEX.

Koretake, Ryoma et al. (2015). The robot that can achieve card magic. ROBOMECH Journal, 2(1).doi: 10.1186/s40648-014-0024-5.

Marchak, Frank M. (2000). The magic of visual interaction design. SIGCHI Bulletin, 32(2), 13–14.doi: 10.1145/360405.360422.

Marshall, Joe et al. (2010). Deception and magic in collaborative interaction. In: CHI ’10: Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, .doi: 10.1145/1753326.1753410.

Morris, Kyle J. et al. (2019). A robust interactive entertainment robot for robot magic performances. Applied Intelligence, 49(11), 3834–3844.doi: 10.1007/s10489-019-01565-7.

Sharkey, Noel and Sharkey, Amanda (2006). Artificial intelligence and natural magic. Artificial Intelligence Review, 25(1-2), 9–19.doi: 10.1007/s10462-007-9048-z.

Tognazzini, Bruce (1993). Principles, techniques, and ethics of stage magic and their application to human interface design. In: Proceedings of the Interact ’93 and CHI ’93 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Amsterdam.doi: 10.1145/169059.169284.

Williams, Howard and McOwan, Peter W. (2014). Magic in the machine: A computational magician’s assistant. Frontiers in Psychology, 5.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01283.

Williams, Howard and McOwan, Peter W. (2016). Magic in pieces: An analysis of magic trick construction using artificial intelligence as a design aid. Applied Artificial Intelligence, 30(1), 16–28.doi: 10.1080/08839514.2015.1121068.

Williams, Howard and McOwan, Peter W. (2016). Manufacturing magic and computational creativity. Frontiers in Psychology, 7.doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00855.

Williams, Howard and McOwan, Peter W. (2017). The magic words: Using computers to uncover mental associations for use in magic trick design. PLOS ONE, 12(8), e0181877.doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181877.


Teaching children abstract subjects, such as mathematics or physics, can be a difficult task. However, performing magic stimulates students’ curiosity and motivates them to discover the principles of science used to create magic.

A large amount of literature has been published on the topic, categorised within other subjects, such as management, mathematics and physics.

Broome, Sadie A. (1989). The magic kids: A strategy to build self-esteem and change attitudes toward the handicapped. In: Annual Convention of the Council for Exceptional Children, .

Elder, Kevin Lee et al. (2012). Using illusions in the classroom: Principles, best practices, and measurement. In: Academic and Business Research Institute Conference, San Antonio.

Ezell, Dan and Klein-Ezell, Colleen E. (2003). M.A.G.I.C. W.O.R.K.S (motivating activities geared to instilling confidence — wonderful opportunities to raise kid’s self-esteem. Education and Training in Developmental Disabilities, 38(4), 441–450.

Frith, G. H. and Walker, J. C. (1983). Magic as motivator for handicapped students. Teaching Exceptional Children, 15(2), 108–110.doi: 10.1177/004005998301500212.

Ho, Widdy (2010). Laurence S. Moss, 1944-2009: Academic Iconoclast, Economist and Magician. Wiley-Blackwell.

Ikhsanudin, Ikhsanudin et al. (2019). Using magic trick problem-based activities to improve students’ engagement in a listening class. JELTIM (Journal of English Language Teaching Innovations and Materials), 1(2), 7.doi: 10.26418/jeltim.v1i1.31620.

Kett, Michael (2002). Houdini in the Classroom: Developing Creative Thinking, Communication Skills, and Motor Planning With Magic. Xlibris.

Kumar, Muniisvaran et al. (2020). Attitude of higher secondary school teachers towards the use of magic tricks in the classroom. Academic Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies, 9(2), 47.doi: 10.36941/ajis-2020-0022.

Li, Tong (2020). Use of magic performance as a schema disruption method to facilitate flexible thinking. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 38, 100735.doi: 10.1016/j.tsc.2020.100735.

Lin, J. L. et al. (2017). The effects of combining inquiry-based teaching with science magic on the learning outcomes of a friction unit. Journal of Baltic Science Education, 16, 218–227.

McCormack, Alan J. (1985). Teaching with magic: Easy ways to hook your class on science. Learning, 41(1), 62–67.

Moss, Simon A. et al. (2016). The magic of magic: The effect of magic tricks on subsequent engagement with lecture material. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 87(1), 32–42.doi: 10.1111/bjep.12133.

Papalaskari, M. A. et al. (2007). Work in progress: Engineering the magic school creativity and innovation in context. In: Knowledge Without Borders, Opportunities Without Passports, .doi: 10.1109/fie.2007.4418150.

Papalaskarix, M. A. et al. (2006). PIVOTS: Service learning at the science, theatre & magic boundary. In: ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, San Diego.

Solomon, Paul R. (1980). Perception, illusion and magic. Teaching of Psychology, 7(1), 3–8.doi: 10.1207/s15328023top0701_1.

Spencer, Kevin (2012). Hocus Focus: Evaluating the pedagogical implications of integrating magic tricks in classroom instruction. Journal of the International Society for Teacher Education, 16(2), 45.

Vidler, D. and Levine, J. (1981). Curiosity, magic, and the teacher. Education, 101(3), 273–275.

Wiseman, Richard and Watt, Caroline (2020). Conjuring cognition: A review of educational magic-based interventions. PeerJ, 8, e8747.doi: 10.7717/peerj.8747.

Wiseman, Richard et al. (2020). Pedagogic prestidigitation: Using magic tricks to enhance educational videos. PeerJ, 8, e9610.doi: 10.7717/peerj.9610.

Wiseman, Richard et al. (2021). Conjuring up creativity: The effect of performing magic tricks on divergent thinking. PeerJ, 9(nil), e11289.doi: 10.7717/peerj.11289.


Performing magic in healthcare by medical professionals helps clinical outcomes by reducing stress for, mainly young patients. In some instances, patients themselves perform the magic to improve their mental or physical health.

Magicians Scott Tokar and Harrison J. Caroll have published a book with magic tricks for physicians. Side-Fx describes how medical professionals can perform magic tricks with everyday objects around the examining room, such as cotton balls, tongue depressors and rubber gloves.

Side-Fx Live Seminar with Scott Tokar.


The medical literature not only describes how physicians can use magic to place their young patients at ease. Some literature analyses some specific medical conditions that relate to magicians.

Elkin, David J and Pravder, Harrison D (2018). Bridging magic and medicine. The Lancet, 391(10127), 1254–1255.doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(18)30707-4.

Green, Dido et al. (2013). A multi-site study of functional outcomes following a themed approach to hand-arm bimanual intensive therapy for children with hemiplegia. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 55(6), 527–533.doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12113.

Korbonits, Márta et al. (2005). Refeeding David Blaine. The New England Journal of Medicine, 353(21), 2306–2308.doi: 10.1056/NEJM200511243532124.

Kronzon, Itzhak (2000). The department of card tricks and close magic. Annals of Internal Medicine, 133(12), 1005–1007.doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-133-12-200012190-00018.

Miller Van Blerkom, Linda (1995). Clown doctors: Shaman healers of western medicine. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 9(4), 462–475.doi: 10.1525/maq.1995.9.4.02a00030.

Miller, Jeffrey D. (2009). Magician’s asthma. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 124(2), 386.doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2009.03.043.

Novak, Iona (2013). A magical moment in research translation: Strategies for providing high intensity bimanual therapy. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 55(6), 491–491.doi: 10.1111/dmcn.12082.

Oppenheim, Daniel et al. (1997). Clowning on children’s wards. The Lancet, 350(9094), 1838–1840.doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(97)07296-6.

Spitzer, Peter (2006). Hospital clowns: Modern-day court jesters at work. The Lancet, 368, S34–S35.doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69919-4.

Tokar, Scott and Carroll, Harrison J (2004). Side-Fx: Clinically Relevant Magic Effects and Tricks for the Health-Care Provider. Corporate-FX.

Tugnoli, Gregorio et al. (2008). Houdini’s last deception (or, Aristotle’s bowel). The Lancet, 372(9641), 862.doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(08)61338-0.

Vagnoli, Laura et al. (2005). Clown doctors as a treatment for preoperative anxiety in children: A randomized prospective study. Pediatrics, 116(4), e563–e567.doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-0466.


Some dentists use magic tricks to put young patients at ease. Performing a magic trick for children reduces the time it takes them to get them to sit in the dreaded chair and improves the quality of their care.

Fayle, Stephen (2006). Just a little magic. Evidence-Based Dentistry, 7(3), 76–76.doi: 10.1038/sj.ebd.6400431.

Kossak, Hans-Christian and Zehner, Gisela (2011). Zaubern in der zahnarztpraxis. In: Hypnose Beim Kinder-Zahnarzt (Springer, Berlin; Heidelberg).doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-17738-5_8.

Peretz, B. and Gluck, G. (2005). Magic trick: A behavioural strategy for the management of strong-willed children. International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 15(6), 429–436.doi: 10.1111/j.1365-263X.2005.00668.x.

Schwartz, Steven (2003). It’s Magic: A unique practice management strategy. The Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, 4(4), 2–11.doi: 10.5005/jcdp-4-4-000 .


The use of magic tricks in nursing is mainly related to performing tricks to help children cope with the anxiety of hospitalisation. Clown Doctors perform their craft in many hospitals around the world.

Baum, Neil H. and Dooley, Roger (2012). Doctors and magicians: What we can we learn from wizards. Journal of Medical Practice Management, 28(3), 200–202.

Mental Health Care

In mental health care, patients perform magic tricks to enhance their self-esteem. The therapist has been used to assist in diagnosis.

Bowman, Robert P. (1986). The magic counsellor: Using magic tricks as tools to teach children guidance lessons. Elementary School Guidance and Counseling, 21(2), 128–138.

Bowman, Robert P. (2004). The Magic Counselor: The 25 Best, Purchasable Magic Tricks With Unforgettable Guidance Lessons for Kids. YouthLight.

Gilroy, Brian (1998). Counseling Kids: It’s Magic!: Manual of Therapeutic Uses of Magic With Children and Teens. Therapist Organizer.

Kett, Michael and Kett, Nancy (2000). Applied Magic: A Beginner’s Magic Book With Practical Applications for Therapists, Teachers, and Parents. Xlibris Corp..

Levin, David M. (2006). Magic arts counselling: The tricks of illusion as intervention. Georgia School Counselor Association Journal,, 14–23.

Moskowitz, J. A. (1973). The sorcerer’s apprentice or the use of magic in child psychotherapy. International Journal of Psychotherapy, 2, 138–162.

Stehouwer, Richard C. (1983). Using magic to establish rapport and improve motivation in psychotherapy with children: Theory, issues, and technique. Psychotherapy in Private Practice, 1(2), 85–94.

Wong, Shiu F. et al. (2019). Choice blindness, confabulatory introspection, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms: Investigation in a clinical sample. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 44(2), 376–385.doi: 10.1007/s10608-019-10066-3.

Occupational Therapy

Performing magic tricks can help people with physical disabilities to improve their motor skills and self-confidence. Several programmes exist where magicians and occupational therapists work with patients to improve their life.

Branson, Ivy (2010). Project magic. OT Australia, 10(14), 4–5.

Fisher, Deborah M. and Fisher, Cody S. (2007). ’Rehabacadabra’. ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners, 23(15), 15–18.

Geens, Anoek (2005). Project Magic. a Magic Project With Children Suffering From Cancer. Master’s thesis. Plantijn Hogeschool.

Kelley, Douglas (1940). Conjuring as an asset to occupational therapy. Occupational Therapy & Rehabilitation, 19(1), 71–108.

Kett, Michael (2000). Therapeutic magic. ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners, 15.

Kwong, Evan and Cullen, Nora (2007). Teaching magic tricks to patients as an adjunct to their rehabilitation program. In: Annual Scientific Meeting, Toronto.

Reid, Cynthia Blank (2007). Harry Houdini: The magic lives on. ADVANCE for Occupational Therapy Practitioners, 23(24), 34.

Spencer, Kevin et al. (2019). Development and validation of the Hocus Focus magic performance evaluation scale for health professions personnel in the United States. Journal of Educational Evaluation for Health Professions, 16(8).doi: 10.3352/jeehp.2019.16.8.

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