Leon Mandrake "Mandrake the Magician" lived in British Columbia but was a famous Vaudeville performer for his magic and illusions . Photo-CBC archives

University to hire a “conjuring arts” professor


Carleton University in Ottawa is looking for someone to fill a newly created chair. The “magician” or conjuring arts chair is to help understand how people are led to believe something that didn’t happen.

The idea is related to how people are being led to believe in things like fake news.

Alistair Summerlee (PhD, LLD), is the interim president and vice-chancellor of Carleton University, Ottawa


This unique position was created and will be filled later this summer because the university wanted people to better understand how for example politicians or others can convince people of something when the evidence is to the contrary.   Also not only how people can be convinced by why they can be convinced.


Alistair Summerlee (PhD LLD) is interim president of Carleton University. Photo-supplied

Exploring what it is about our psyche that makes us gullible

Summerlee says there are many occasions and issues now where people are deceiving one another, and that people are easily led to believe what they’re told is happening, and that deception is what “conjurers” are able to accomplish.

He says “magic” isn’t just about what you can see, and not notice, it goes beyond that. He says magicians take you into their realm, their story, and control how you think. This is the heart of the matter– to learn and teach others how this is done, and so learn to beware of deceptions in society, whether by policiticians, media, social media, lobbyists, investment councillors, scientists etc.

Summerlee says the idea of “conjuring” in the larger society involves and includes many other academic disciplines such as psychology and ethics, and the new chair in conjuring arts will work with those involved in those fields of study.

The late great Canadian magician, illusionist, escape artist” Doug Henning (blue) with master magician (red) Dal Vernon (CBC archives

While gathering information in this field, its hoped that Carleton will eventually become a centre in Canada and elsewhere for the study and discussion of the conjuring arts and its various effects on society.

The position will be known as the Allan Slaight Chair for the Study of the Conjuring Arts, named for philanthopist Allan Slaight, whose Foundation provided $2 million for the chair, an amount which will be matched by the University.

Initially the research chair will primarily be in charge of expanding Carleton’s archive collection of literature and artifacts related to the conjuring arts, and digitising information for easier access. Eventually the chairperson will begin developing undergraduate courses in the conjuring arts, perception and deception, and creating a research program related to disciplines of the conjuring arts,

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