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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.

The Authors

Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik are award-winning neuroscientists and professors at the State University of New York Downstate Medical Center. They are the authors of the international bestseller Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals About Our Everyday Deceptions, and have written for publications such as Scientific American, The New York Times, The Sunday Times (London), and How It Works. Their Scientific American contributions include three special editions of Scientific American: Mind dedicated to their work. Their research has been covered by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, NPR, PBS’s NOVA, and more. They produce the Best Illusion of the Year Contest. They live in Brooklyn.


"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

"Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik are explorers of the cognitive wonderland. This collection of brain games and perceptual artifice showcases the gaps in our maps of reality." —Apollo Robbins, performer and world’s leading expert on deception and pickpockets

"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 bestselling author of Incognito and Sum

"As a magician, I’ve always been fascinated by illusions. This beautiful book not only collects many 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

"A fabulous book. Every illusion is a mind-bending experience and every explanation is riveting. I could not put this book down." —Michael Gazzaniga, director of the SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of Tales from Both Sides of the Brain

"Seeing is believing . . . even when it shouldn’t be! This fascinating and delightful book shows how the eye and brain conspire to make ussee what isn’t so." —Daniel Gilbert, Edgar Pierce Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and bestselling author of Stumbling on Happiness

"Prepare to be amazed by your own brain! Champions of Illusion is a fun-filled journey through the amazing way your visual system works described expertly by Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen Macknik." —Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neural Science and Psychology at New York University and author of Healthy Brain, Happy Life