ASC Reflection: Case Study: Nicholas J Johnson

nicholas-j-johnson

As part of ASC Victoria’s ‘Case Study’ series, we organised a night on October 7th with ASC member Nicholas J Johnson. Nicholas is someone who combines science communication with magic, literally. His show, Deceptology, was part of the Melbourne Magic Festival earlier this year and he uses magic as a way to explore the psychology of magic shows and how magicians often use our underlying biases and limitations to fool ourselves into believing what we see. He gave several demonstrations of the sorts of tricks he uses in his show, how sleight-of-hands can easily be done on stage and what he talks to the public and school students around critical thinking and skepticism. Nicholas was very honest about his craft (although he says magicians always lie) and from a science communicators perspective it was an interesting exploration of how many ideas in scicom can be effectively explored. It also offered a fascinating dip into the wider world of the magician and how tricks both old and new are put into modern magic shows.

Oh, he also pushed a nail into his head.

Make sure you check out his website: http://www.conman.com.au

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About George Aranda

Dr George Aranda is a former psychology researcher who has moved from the world of neuroscience to pursue a career in science education research and science communication. Now researching and teaching at Deakin University, he has broad interests in writing, social networking modes of communication, podcasting, science communication videos and understanding how scientists and their work are perceived in the world.