March 14, 2018

Make Student Engagement Appear from Thin Air

Season 2, Episode 12

Those who say magic has no place in science have never met Professor Tony Barnhart. In our previous sit-down with Dr. Barnhart, he pulled teaching strategies out of his hat—including why his colleagues in Cognitive Psychology are drawn to magic, not just for its entertainment value, but because it can also be used in the classroom. In Part Two of our sit-down, Dr. Barnhart discusses skepticism and critical thinking as well as his grand finale: a magic trick you can use to enable scientific analysis in your course. 

Guest Biography

Anthony Barnhart is an Assistant Professor of Psychological Science at Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin.  He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Arizona State University, where he began his graduate career with the intention of being a language researcher. To this end, he has published research examining the processes underlying handwritten word perception, a domain that has been largely ignored by psychologists. However, Tony is also a part-time professional magician with over 20 years of performing experience. His research trajectory changed in 2010 with the publication of the book Sleights of Mind: What the Neuroscience of Magic Reveals about our Everyday Deceptions, in which he was featured as a consultant and teacher on the science of stage magic. The scientific interest that the book garnered motivated Tony to shift his focus toward the interface of science and magic. His current research on the topic explores inattentional blindness and the techniques magicians use to manipulate attentional deployment in time. He regularly teaches a college course devoted to the cognitive science of magic. More information is available at

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