Look to Barnum for How to Be a Psychic


A lot of the books on mentalism written in the past ten years are just some blow hard giving their take on age-old tricks. They usually read something like this:

This trick uses a very interesting powerful little technique that I make use of in almost all my effects. It is interesting for some very simple reasons. I really come out and say:
“Don’t lie to make me look good… It’s a lot like sex: If you don’t feel anything, you don’t feel anything. It sometimes takes a while, but just wait for it. It will happen – it is always different with each person, but it will happen.”

This is useful for several reasons. A) It will add believability when the spectator does begin to describe what they are feeling. And 2) It suggests to them, that whatever you claim they will feel, will happen, no matter how long it takes.

So, make what I like to call my Honest Statement and then make an elephant disappear using your favorite disappearing elephant method (I use el Dutchco’s Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½Phant Be Gone’ available at their web site and finer magic shops everywhere, but any disappearing elephant method will work).

Don’t discount this very powerful tool in your elephant disappearing arsenal! Try it today.

The author hasn’t bothered to teach you anything, but has tricked you into buying his collection of claptrap and pseudo-psychology as applied to other trick you can learn for a price somewhere else.

There are a few guys, like England’s Darren Brown, that will actually teach you a thing or two with their claptrap, but they are few and far between. Besides, Brown has become a big TV star now, and doesn’t have time to write anymore.

READ YOU LIKE A BOOK is one of my favorites. I used to do it in the American Bar in Chungtu, PRC for mostly passing Brits and Australians in the mid-80’s. It involves Ã?¯Ã?¿Ã?½cold reading’, a technique that I will go into in depth later, but rather than leave you hanging, I will teach a quick Barnum Statement here as well.

The Effect
Three index cards are on the table. Each has a message written on it.

You tell someone in the audience to mentally pick one of the cards. You give the person a chillingly accurate reading of their personality and then, as a capper, you tell them which card they were merely thinking of!

The Work
Prepare four index cards by writing the following on each:

Yes, you write IMMORTALITY on two of the cards.

Take an envelop large enough to hold one of the cards and write “I Knew You Would Take The Money Luke, You Greedy Bastard!” on the back.

One the back of the card you wrote WORLD PEACE on, you write “I Knew You Would Pick World Peace Luke, You Homo!”

And put the duplicate IMMORTALITY card into the envelope and seal it. Place the envelop on the table with the three cards spread out side by side and you are almost ready to go. I hope you can see where I’m going here.

Before you start, learn the person you are going to use’s name, but in a subtle way. Overheard their conversation with an eavesdropping device or just a keep ear. You’ll be amazed at how much information you can learn from you audience before the show begins just by paying attention.

In our case here, I am pretending that our audience member’s name is Luke, ok? It could be Jeremy for all I care.

You’ll need to bring Luke on to the stage, do not ask him his name. Explain to him that you want him to pick, with his mind, one on the cards on the table. Whichever one most appeals to him. Then tell him and the audience that you will give him a short reading to divine which card he picked.

You can give him a quick cold reading (which I will detail later) or for our purposes give him a bunch of so called Barnum Statements.

What is a Barnum statement?

It is a statement that rings true with most people, but they like to think that it is true about only them. Like the horoscope, a statement based on general assumptions that seem to fit the readers. This in psychology is known collectively as a Barnum statement. Using these give the impression of truth in your mind reading and has for the most part ignored by many performers.

Typical Barnum statements:

1. You tend to be too self critical
2. You’re an independent person.
3. You do not accept what others tell you to believe
4. Some of your goals seem to be a little unrealistic
5. You’re a creative thinker.

Play with the above and countless other variations can be used to create credibility reading. There are other, subtle clues to look for. Like I said, we’ll go into those in depth later.

One of the important points to remember here is that everyone thinks they are totally different. Given the fact that most of the English-speaking world shares the same media, this is becoming increasingly less so. It is the collective influence of our own communication that is closing this gap.

Have fun with these facts. You can blow some minds.

After the cold reading, where you slipped Luke’s name into your reading without ever asking him his name and without making a bit point out of knowing his name, you ask Luke which card he picked.

If he says WORLD PEACE, turn over the WORLD PEACE card and show him the writing on the back. “I Knew You Would Pick World Peace Luke, You Homo!” Then turn over the other two cards, showing them to be blank.

If he says ONE MILLION DOLLARS, turn over the envelope and show him the message “I Knew You Would Take The Money Luke, You Greedy Bastard!” Collect up the index cards without showing their backs and you are done.

If he says IMMORTALITY, open up the envelope and show him the duplicate card that says IMMORTALITY inside.

Done with the right amount of theatricality you can really twist some spines with this one. If they happen to pick WORLD PEACE don’t even refer to the envelop on the table. They will never think twice about it.

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