Magic’s Most Revered Essayist has a New Book
In The Conjurer’s Conundrum, Jamy Ian Swiss explores the magician’s relationship with skepticism. In this lively, personal book, Swiss, an activist for scientific skepticism for more than 35 years, takes readers on a magical mystery tour of the longstanding connection between magic and science: from the publication of The Discoverie of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot, in 1584, to the era of Spiritualism and its magician debunkers like Harry Houdini; to the modern skepticism movement, personified by the MacArthur Award-winning author, magician, and escape artist, James Randi.
Readers will delight in Swiss’s tales of testing and confronting self-proclaimed psychics on stage and on television, investigating them undercover in collaboration with criminal investigation, and challenging psychic frauds face-to-face when they try to mislead a renowned professional scientist. Magicians and civilians alike will enjoy Swiss’s revelatory accounts of the science of magic—and the magic in science. And along the way you will learn what it means to commit to living one’s life as an “honest liar.”
The most fundamental lesson in The Conjurer’s Conundrum is that seeing is not believing. For many budding conjurors, this realization often comes to embrace rational inquiry, critical thinking, and a scientific worldview. Some magicians have become social activists in support of scientific skepticism, promoting the benefits and wonders of the scientific method – while warning of the dangers of pseudoscience and of the predators who weaponize and monetize it. It may seem odd that magicians – who, after all, are professional deceivers – care passionately about trying to protect people from being deceived. But most of them do, and the result is what Jamy Ian Swiss calls The Conjuror’s Conundrum.
Softback. 158 pages.