Let me start out by saying if you're looking to learn how to harness your innermost psychic abilities, you're in the wrong place. What I talk about has nothing to do with supernatural powers. From my perspective, "reading minds" is more accurately described as reading thoughts.
Through a combination of psychology, observation, and probability, it's often possible to pick up on what someone is thinking. These are skills that can be learned and practiced. In the hands of an unscrupulous charlatan, these skills may be used to scam people out of hard-earned money and, even worse, advise them on life-altering decisions. But in the hands of an honest entertainer who tells folks what he's doing and follows through on it, it can drop peoples' jaws and bring some hilarious laugh-out-loud fun.
There are many techniques involved in so-called mind reading, and some are downright complicated. So this is just a basic introduction illustrated it with a fun example you can practice on your friends.
One elementary way to start is to ask questions, then watch and listen to the responses. When first learning these techniques, start with yes/no questions. For example, ask someone to hold out their right fist and imagine that they have a common American coin in their hand. Tell him you're going to ask him some questions and he can tell you the truth or lie. Then ask if the color of the coin is silver. Let's say he answers yes.
A mentalist always uses multiple techniques when possible to ascertain the thoughts of their subject. First of all, in this case the probability is that they are telling the truth, since a quarter, dime, and nickel are all silver and only a penny is copper; the chances are three out of four he's being truthful.
Second, listen for how quickly he answers. If the response comes out very quickly, this also suggests honesty. The truth just flows right out, but we have to think about lies, so latency is often a sign of deception. Of course, this only works when the question is quick and not necessarily expected. For someone who planned a lie ahead of time, the response is often unnaturally fast, another indicator of deception.
Third, watch the eyes. Too much eye contact (a stare down) or too little eye contact point to lying. Also, the tendency is for the eyes to glance up and to the right when creating a lie. Watch for uncomfortable movement of any kind, too. Any action that doesn't seem to correspond with what is being said could indicate a lie.
With these techniques, you have a good chance of knowing whether the subject is imagining a silver or copper coin.
If you can tell he's lying, you immediately say it's a penny and you're done. Congratulations, you read a mind. If you believe he's telling the truth, continue using the same techniques.
Tell him again that he should feel free to tell the truth or lie. Ask if the coin is worth more than 9 cents. Again, the probability is that it is. Review the tells described above. If he answers yes and is lying, say he's thinking of a nickel; otherwise, go on.
Tell him once again to feel free to tell the truth or lie. Ask if the coin is worth more than 20 cents, and once again review the tells. If he says yes and is lying, tell him it's a dime, and if not, say he's holding a quarter.
Try this on your family and friends. The more you practice, the more you'll get it right and the better you'll get. Your friends may be a little freaked out. Have fun with it!
This article is part of a two part series
By Don Townsend
Don Townsend is an Orlando entertainer that provides jaw dropping laugh out loud corporate entertainment with his astounding mentalist act.
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