Walter Scott Seances – Tickets on sale now!

sellThe next preview performances of The Walter Scott Seance will take place on Sunday 2nd July and Sunday 16th July at 1.30pm and 3.00 pm each day.

Tickets are available now, but hurry because the last shows sold out in 10 minutes.

This is a fun history, mystery and magic show that takes place in Edinburgh’s gorgeous Signet Library. Guests are shown to a secret chamber that’s rarely open to the public.  This intimate book-lined room contains a number of Sir Walter Scott’s personal possessions, and is said to be haunted.

During the show you will discover the life of Scott, and his fascination with the strange and uncanny. And then, as the chamber darkens, we invite the spirit of Scott to join us.  But fear not, this is a fun-filled show of magic and mystery.

Performances last 50 minutes and are strictly limited to just 30 seats.

Tickets are just £10 (preview price). Suitable for ages 16 and above. We are sorry, but due to the location of the chamber there is no wheelchair access.

To purchase tickets via PayPal, please click the links below.

Sunday July 2nd 1.30pm – SOLD OUT

Sunday July 2nd 3pm – SOLD OUT

Sunday July 16th 1.30pm – SOLD OUT

Sunday July 16th 3pm – SOLD OUT 

Please note:
– We don’t issue tickets. Your name will be on the door, but you might want to print out your PayPal confirmation and bring it along.
– Please arrive at The Signet Library about 5-10 minutes before the show.
– Due to the nature of the show, we cannot admit latecomers.
– The Signet Library is located close to the entrance of St Giles Cathedral in Parliament Square.
– If you are interested in dining at the Signet Library before or after the show, take a look at their website. http://www.thesignetlibrary.co.uk/colonnades/

I hope to see you soon!

To find out about additional performances,
please follow our Facebook page here.

Signet-Library-Edinburgh

On the direction of brains

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A few months ago I was chatting with my old pal, and top neuroscientist, Adrian Owen.  Adrian and I went to University together many years ago. I don’t want to say how long ago it was, but suffice to say that Charles Darwin was Head of Department. Anyway, I digress.

Adrian and I were chatting about a possible brain-based project and I decided to Google the word ‘brain’. That’s when I noticed something very odd. The vast majority of the images showed a brain looking to its right – that is, the viewer was seeing the left lobe. Adrian pointed out that, structurally speaking, one side of the brain is no more interesting to than the other, and so wondered what was going on.

I was aware that several psychologists – including Professor Chris McManus – have discovered that the majority of people featured in portraits also tended to look to their right. Over the years, researchers have suggested several possible explanations for the effect, including, for example, the idea that the left side of the face is more expressive than the right, or that Westerners read left to right and so would encounter the front of the face first.

But did the bias even extend to images of brains? To find out, Adrian and I downloaded hundreds of brain images, categorized them and discovered that a whopping 80% were indeed looking to their right! It was true regardless of whether the image included a head or not.

We have recently published our findings in the scientific journal i-perception, and you can read the paper here. (P.S. The image in the paper is wrongly labelled – the correct image is shown below).

The Walter Scott Seance – Tickets available now!

sellTickets for the preview shows of The Walter Scott Seance are available now. But hurry, there are only a small number of seats for each show.

This is a fun history, mystery and magic show that takes place in Edinburgh’s gorgeous Signet Library. Guests are shown to a secret chamber that’s rarely open to the public.  This intimate book-lined room contains a number of Sir Walter Scott’s personal possessions, and is said to be haunted.

During the show you will discover the life of Scott, and his fascination with the strange and uncanny. And then, as the chamber darkens, we invite the spirit of Scott to join us.  But fear not, this is a fun-filled show of magic and mystery.

Performances last 50 minutes and are strictly limited to just 30 seats.

Tickets are just £10 (preview price). Suitable for ages 16 and above. We are sorry, but due to the location of the chamber there is no wheelchair access.

To purchase tickets via PayPal, please click the links below.

Sunday June 4th 1.30pm – SOLD OUT

Sunday June 4th 3pm- SOLD OUT

Sunday June 18th 1.30pm- click SOLD OUT

Sunday June 18th 3pm- click SOLD OUT

If you wish to find out about additional performances,
please follow our Facebook page here.

Signet-Library-Edinburgh

The Walter Scott Seance

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Hi there!

Just a quick note to say that I will be previewing a new Edinburgh attraction in June!

It’s called The Walter Scott Seance, and will take place at the historic and gorgeous Signet Library in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

For each performance a small number of guests will be invited to The Signet Library and shown to a secret chamber that’s rarely open to the public.  This intimate book-lined room contains a number of Sir Walter Scott’s personal possessions and other historically significant items, and is said to be haunted.

During the show you will discover the life of Scott, and his fascination with the strange and uncanny. And then, as the chamber darkens, we invite the spirit of Scott to join us.  But fear not, this is a fun-filled show of magic and mystery. A unique, exclusive and immersive experience.

Performances last 50 minutes and are strictly limited to just 30 seats.

Preview performances will be on 4th & 18th June at 1.30pm & 3pm.

Tickets will go on sale at exactly 7pm on Thursday 18th May on this site.

How to improve your sleep

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I recently gave a Funzing talk on how to improve your sleep. A few attendees asked for a summary and so here are 10 main points.  I discuss all of this in depth in Night School, and will be giving another Funzing talk on the topic in London in June.

Avoid the blues: When your eyes are exposed to light, your brain produces less of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin. Light towards the blue end of the spectrum is especially stimulating and computer screens, tablets, smartphones and LED lighting all emit a lot of blue light. Try not to use these devices in the two hours before you go to bed. If you must use them, turn down the brightness or wear amber-tinted glasses designed to block blue light.

Avoid nightcaps: Although a small amount of alcohol helps you get to sleep more quickly, it also gives you a more disturbed night, increases the chances of snoring and disrupts dreaming. Don’t drink alcohol in the hours before bed.

Remember the 90-minute rule: Every night your brain goes through several 90-minute sleep cycles. You feel good if you wake up towards the end of a cycle because then you are closest to your normal waking state. To increase the chances of this, decide when you want to wake up and then count back in 90 minutes blocks to discover the best time to fall asleep. For instance, if you want to wake up at 8am, you should aim to fall asleep around either 11pm or 12.30am.

 

Distract yourself: Research suggests that you will fall asleep quickly if you tire your mind. Try counting backwards from 100 in threes. Or, if you’re not good with numbers, think of a category (countries or fruit and vegetables) and then come up with an example of that category for each letter of the alphabet. A is for Albania, B is for Bulgaria, or A is for apple, B is for banana, etc.

Condition yourself: Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov famously rang a bell each time he presented a dog with food, and eventually found that the sound of the bell alone was enough to make the dog salivate. The same concept can help you to fall asleep. Choose a soporific piece of music that you like, and fall asleep with it quietly playing. Over time, your brain will associate the music with sleep, and simply listening to it will help you nod off.

Get up!: If you’re awake for more than about 20 minutes during the night, get out of bed and do some form of non-stimulating activity, such as working on a jigsaw or a colouring book. This helps to prevent you associating your bed with sleeplessness. And if the problem arises later in the night, climb back out of bed and distract yourself again.

Relax: Lying awake makes many people feel anxious, and this anxiety disrupts their sleep even more, creating a vicious cycle. If you are struggling to sleep, remember that you are probably getting more sleep than you think (research shows that we all underestimate how much of the night we spend sleeping) and that just relaxing in bed is good for you.

Segmented sleep: Preindustrial diaries show that many people didn’t sleep in one solid block, but instead slept for about four hours, woke up for roughly an hour, and then slept for another four hours. The hour between the two periods was spent reading, chatting and having sex. Some researchers have argued that such “segmented sleep” might reflect a natural sleep pattern, and be good for the mind because the period of wakefulness helps to promote the production of a feelgood hormone called prolactin. Try embracing segmented sleep.

A version of these tips originally appeared in an article that I wrote for The Guardian.

London Talks

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speaking3I have teamed up with Funzing and am doing London two talks, one about magic and the other about sleep. Just for today you can get a 22% discount using the code ’22funzingagain’ (limited availability)

Here are the details….

Magic and illusion: Step backstage and discover the secret science of sorcery. Learn the hitherto hidden psychology employed by some of the world’s greatest illusionists, how to misdirect the mind, and discover why the hand is rarely quicker than the eye.  It’s a show packed with illusions, misdirection and sleight of hand. Prepare to be amazed and amused.

4th May Book here

The science of sleep: Explore the new science of sleep and dreaming, find out the truth about  sleep-learning, and delve into the world’s largest archive of dream reports. Join Wiseman as he uncovers the power of the sleeping mind, revealing how you can get the perfect night’s sleep, decode your dreams, and improve your life without moving a muscle.

8th May Book here

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Quirkology videos!

longWe often get inquiries from people who want to use our Quirkology clips in talks, training seminars, and lessons.  As a result we have produced a downloadable pack containing 5 of the most requested psychology-based videos, including the world famous ‘Colour Changing Card Trick’. Purchase the pack and you are free to use the videos for talks and lessons (see terms and conditions at the end of this page).

The five videos are:

The Colour Changing Card Trick: The well-known video in which 95% of the visual scene is changed, and yet most people don’t spot the changes. The pack includes 2 versions – with and without music. Neither video has the ‘created by Richard Wiseman’ watermark present on the YouTube version.

The Test: An example of inattentional blindness, with people failing to see what’s in front of their eyes.

The Afterimage: See a black and white video in full colour!

The Witness: See an example of ‘slow change’ and discover whether you would make a good eyewitness!

The Card: Discover how your expectations shape your perceptions!

The file is in .zip format, and contains all 6 videos when uncompressed. All of the videos are produced in standard definition, in a 4:3 aspect ratio, in QuickTime .mov format, and in English.

Testimonials

“I am one of the Advanced Interviewing Program Managers within the United States Justice Department, and incorporate the “Color Card Changing Trick” in all my classes to teach the value of active listening with your eyes. It’s awesome!”
Janine Driver, Washington, DC

“The Quirkology clips are a fantastic teaching tool – they always generate lots of interest, initiate insightful discussions, and provide a real contribution to the learning experience of our students”
Randell Siow, Victoria School, Singapore

“Our team loved the “color changing card trick”. It provides an excellent demonstration of how often we focus on a challenge and overlook the opportunities that are right before our eyes.”
Hannah Ellis, Vice President of Marketing, Promark Financial, Santa Ana, CA

“Wiseman has created the most convincing demonstration of change blindness that I have come across. It is a fascinating teaching tool that shows how unaware we are of what’s right in front of us.”
Dr Paola Bressan, Psychologist, University of Padua, Italy

Terms and conditions

By downloading the clip you are agreeing to the following terms and conditions. We retain the copyright on all of the videos. The purchaser may use the videos in live presentations and talks, but cannot post them online (including intranet systems), show them on any broadcast media, or use them within a theatrical context. If the presentation is recorded, the videos cannot be shown as part of the recording. The videos cannot be altered, reproduced, distributed, incorporated into other products, or resold. The music cannot be used on any other videos or products. The videos are only licensed to the individual purchaser. Please contact us if you require a multi-user site-license.

To purchase, click here.

The world’s first mind reading tee shirt is back!

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A few years ago we created the world’s first mind reading tee shirt. They were only available for a very limited period of time.  Well, the good news is that they have just relaunched and are available for the next 4 days.  Here is a video about it and the links. Enjoy!

and the video showing this ground-breaking invention in action is here:

How to keep your New Years Resolutions

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new-year-s-resolutionsIt’s that time of the year again. Right now millions of people will be making their New Years Resolutions in the hope of creating a new and improved version of themselves.  I am all for it. However, my work shows that only about 1 in 10 people will make their dreams a reality. Why? Because we often don’t know how to change our habits.

In 59 Seconds  I describe a large-scale study that I carried out into the techniques used by people who managed to make change stick.  Here are my 10 top tips, and a little video….

1) Make only one resolution, your chances of success are greater when you channel energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.

2) Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to think about your resolution and instead take some time out a few days before and reflect upon what you really want to achieve.

3) Avoid previous resolutions; deciding to re-visit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment.

4) Don’t run with the crowd and go with the usual resolutions.  Instead think about what you really want out of life.

5) Break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals that are concrete, measurable, and time-based.

6) Tell your friends and family about your goals, thus increasing the fear of failure and eliciting support.

7) Regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals by creating a checklist of how life would be better once you obtain your aim.

8) Give yourself a small reward whenever you achieve a sub-goal, thus maintaining motivation and a sense of progress.

9) Make your plans and progress concrete by keeping a handwritten journal, completing a computer spreadsheet or covering a notice board with graphs or pictures.

10) Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary set-back rather than a reason to give up altogether.

Oh, and if you want to utilise the power of visualisation….

 

10 Quick Puzzles!

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questionHere are 10 of my favourite puzzles. The answers are below – see how many you can solve and post your score below (be honest!).  Good luck….

1) A rope ladder is hanging over the side of a ship, with the bottom rung just touching the water. The rungs are 25com apart. How many rungs will be under the water when the tide has risen 1 metre?

2) How many calendar months have 28 days?

3) If you are running in a marathon and you overtake the person in second position, what position are you in?

4) I have many keys but few locks. I have space but no room. You can enter, but you cannot come in. What am I?

5) You enter a dark house in the middle of the night. Inside is an oil lamp, a gas fire and a stove full of wood. You only have one match. What do you light first?

6) What gets wetter as it dries?

7) What is as light as a feather, but even the strongest man cannot hold it for more than a few minutes.

8) What sport begins with a ‘T’ and has 4 letters?

9) What occurs once in every minute, twice in every moment, yet never in a thousand years?

10) The maker does not need it, the buyer does not want to use it, and the user doesn’t see it. What is it?

ukcoverwebAnd just before we get to the answers, here is a picture of my new book, 101 Bets You Will Always Win, which has lots more puzzles. Just thought I would mention it. Anyway, here are the answers….

ANSWERS

  1. None. The ship will rise with the tide!
  2. They all do.
  3. Second position.
  4. A keyboard.
  5. The match
  6. A towel
  7. His breath
  8. Golf
  9. The letter M
  10. A coffinAnd remember to post your score!