A catalog of trickery, from optical illusions to scams and advertising.
“Without your brain” Brown writes, “you’ve got nothing.” But brains are inherently untrustworthy, he points out, going on in a lively mix of examples and easy activities (both hands-on and online) to fool not just eyes, but ears, nose, tongue, and touch. He uses the same approach to describe some of the ways magicians and con artists (with nods to the likes of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin and Bernie Madoff) play mind games on susceptible “marks.” Then, borrowing a term from Carl Sagan, he offers some general techniques for sharpening one’s “Baloney Detector” and closes with a hilariously lame rap: “To err is human that goes twice for your mind, / But I think you will find / It is wrongly maligned!” He ignores his own cautions by neglecting to offer proof for his answers to a credibility-testing true/false quiz (or any of his claims, for that matter), but his advice is generally savvy. Along with recurrent character “Brian D. Brain,” a pink, bespectacled blob with tiny arms and legs, Bornoff adds a cast of young cartoon humans—most but not all white—to the stock optical illusions.
An eye-opener for readers who think their brains have it all figured out (but look what’s telling them that, as the old joke goes). (glossary, index) (Nonfiction. 10-13)