Teller, the usually-one-named magician who partners with the often-two-named Penn Jillette to form the pair called Penn & Teller, talks about deception, in an essay in Smithsonian magazine. He begins to get to the point, by saying:
Magic’s not easy to pick apart with machines, because it’s not really about the mechanics of your senses. Magic’s about understanding—and then manipulating—how viewers digest the sensory information.
I think you’ll see what I mean if I teach you a few principles magicians employ when they want to alter your perceptions….
Teller says that, sometimes, he and Penn work to make their audience laugh… and then NOT think:
3. It’s hard to think critically if you’re laughing. We often follow a secret move immediately with a joke. A viewer has only so much attention to give, and if he’s laughing, his mind is too busy with the joke to backtrack rationally.