Alex Stone, author of Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind, gives a short account of the psychological insights from magic tricks in the NY Times: “Your brain on a magic trick”.
Such tricks suggest that we are often blind to the results of our own decisions. Once a choice is made, our minds tend to rewrite history in a way that flatters our volition, a fact magicians have exploited for centuries. If you are given a choice, you believe you have acted freely, said Teller, of the duo Penn and Teller, to Smithsonian magazine. This is one of the darkest of all psychological secrets.
The Times also reviews the book, here: “Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone”.