The hidden tricks of powerful persuasion

David Robson:

Olson has spent a lifetime exploring the subtle ways of tricking people’s perception, and it all began with magic. “I started magic tricks when I was five and performing when I was seven,” he says.
 As an undergraduate in psychology, he found the new understanding of the mind often chimed with the skills he had learnt with his hobby. “Lots of what they said about attention and memory were just what magicians had been saying in a different way,” he says.
 One card trick, in particular, captured his imagination as he set about his research. It involved flicking through a deck in front of an audience member, who is asked to pick a card randomly. Unknown to the volunteer, he already worked out which card they would choose, allowing him to reach into his pocket and pluck the exact card they had named – much to the astonishment of the crowd.