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Origins Project will explore why we deceive

October 09, 2012

Little white lies, sleight of hand, con games, hornswoggling. Deception has been around since the rise of life, but why is this so and why do we, to this day, spend so much time and effort trying to deceive? ASU’s Origins Project will explore the genesis of deception, demonstrate deception at its best and put it in context of today’s society at the next Great Debate.

Tickets are now on sale for The Great Debate: Deception, A Night of Magic and Illumination, 7 p.m., Oct. 20, Gammage Auditorium on ASU’s Tempe campus.

After a demonstration of deception by two of the world’s best close-up magicians, panelists will explore how deception is an essential part of the human condition, the evolutionary purposes deception fills, and how we can recognize deception on an individual level and overcome it on a societal level. 

“Like xenophobia, the subject of our last Great Debate, deception has an evolutionary basis that is vital, but also has societal consequences which can be counterproductive,” said Lawrence Krauss, director of ASU’s Origins Project. “How the brain works to be able to deceive and also to detect deception is fascinating. We will have some fun exploring both sides of the brain in a magical evening.”

The panel, along with the help of the magicians, will talk about (and demonstrate) deception and the biological, behavioral and political boundaries of this controversial issue.

The panel includes influential evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers of Rutgers University; popular author and social psychologist Carol Tavris; accomplished neurobiologists and laboratory directors at Barrow Neurological Institute, Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde; and acclaimed magicians Jamy Ian Swiss and Joshua Jay. The conversation will be moderated by Krauss, who is also a professor in the Department of Physics and School of Earth and Space Exploration, academic units with ASU's College of LIberal Arts and Sciences.

Tickets are now on sale; students for $4 plus fees and the general public, $8 plus fees. Contact Gammage Box Office, 480-965-3434 or Ticketmaster.

For more information about this event, visit, or call 480-965-0053.