Canadian university to teach courses on the history and psychology of magic to help combat “fake news”

December 22, 2017

It’s easier than ever for falsified information to spread in the information age, so how do we ensure that reason prevails over fiction? One university in Canada is taking a more magical approach to the solution, and is developing a series of courses on on the history and psychology of the conjuring arts.

Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario has received a $2 million donation from the Slaight Family Foundation in order to form the Allan Slaight Chair for the Study of Conjuring Arts, as revealed on the university’s newsfeed. The chair is named after the Canadian philanthropist and magic enthusiast whose foundation recently donated hundreds of magic posters from the early 1900s to the McCord Museum in Quebec.

“If you think about the whole idea of magic, it’s all about perception and deception,” university interim president Alastair Summerlee told The Canadian Press via Toronto CityNews. “What is it that people see? What is it that you can fool people with? What is it that you make people believe in?”

While not necessarily teaching students how to perform card tricks, per se, the courses will instruct them about the role magicians play in deceiving audiences. To that end, the university will focus on teaching courses on “psychology, political persuasion, literature, and the history of warfare”, according to the report.

“As a society, it’s imperative that we understand when we are being deceived,” said Summerlee. “It’s also important to remember that magicians are among some of history’s greatest performers and influencers.”

The university will begin to look for candidates for the chair early next year, with plans to fill it and develop courses by the 2018-2019 academic year. To keep tabs on how this program is progressing, be sure to visit Carleton University’s home page for more information.