Jon Thompson Naked Mentalism 3

October 14, 2017 | Author: AlaaFathey | Category: Thought, Reality, Psychology & Cognitive Science, Insight, Mind
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vISIONS OF REALITY

joN THOMPSON

fiRST EDITION PuBLISHED AND PRINTED BY LuLu.coM

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This book and its contents copyright © 20 11 by Jon Thompson. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the author.

NOT FOR RESALE

If you didn't pay for this book and did not receive it personally from me the author, you have stolen it. You are a cancer on creativity. I wish you nothing less than a life filled with pain, failure and frustration, ending with a lingering, agonising death. Good luck with that. You'll need it.

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I'm profoundly grateful to the following people past and present, either for helping shape this book by providing inspiration, advice, or by generally keeping me fairly sane. As ever, Celia, Penny and Ricky Paolo Amira Theodore Annemann Chris Beard lain "Abraxus" Dunford Enrique Enriquez Bruce Frey Jerome "TT2" Finley Ian Harling & Martin Nyrup Lewis Jones Thomas Korelin Dr Todd Landman Experimental Psychology Joe Riding Ian Rowland Roni and Larraine Shachnaey Steve "Banachek" Shaw Tony "Corinda" Simpson Matthew "Malchat" Shouten Thank you. I'm profoundly grateful to you all.

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"People like you find it easy. Naked to see, walking on air."

-Ian Curtis

[email protected] TABU OF CoNTDTS Introduction to Volume 111... ............................................. 13 PART I - TOOLKIT FOR CONTROL.. .......................... 21 I. Validating the Self......................................................... 23 2. Confirming to Deceive .................................................. 29 3. Controlling With Meaning ............................................ 37 4. Affording to Act.. ......................................................... .43 5. The Shape ofSound ..................................................... .47 6. A New World Awaits .................................................... 53 PART 2- EFFECTS ......................................................... 63 7. Creating New Naked Effects ......................................... 65 8. The Naked Day Test.. .................................................... 69 9. Naked Horrors ............................................................... 75 10. The Naked Credit Card Test... ..................................... 81 II. Naked Readings ........................................................... 83 12. The Naked Headline Prediction .................................. 85 13. The Naked Quiz Prediction ......................................... 87 PART 3- LEARNING DATA MODELS ........................ 89 14. Overview ofTechniques ............................................. 91 15. F ina! Thoughts ........................................................... I 0 I

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INTllODUCTION TO VoLUMBIII

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elcome to volume III of Naked Mentalism. Once again, our theme is the creation of effects that emulate as closely as possible the natural abilities of the psychically gifted. So-called Naked effects abandon the physical methods and apparatus usually available to the performer. For what might be the first time, there's nothing up your sleeve, nothing to peek, crib, write, burn, tear, or erase. There are no electronics, either. So, what do you use instead? To answer that, we must examine what it is that people claim as "psychic" insights, for want of a better phrase. Psychology says that such experiences are the personal interpretations of insights provided by the subconscious mind, which synthesizes them from past experience. However, such insights are delivered without conscious access to the thought processes involved in their creation; they simply pop into your head fully formed. Such insights are sometimes breathtaking in their accuracy. It all depends on how much you know about the subject or situation in question. What's perhaps most amazing is that you will probably have come by the knowledge used to create such insights without any conscious effort whatsoever. You may, in other words, be completely unaware of how you know something. In contrast to subconsciously applying this ramshackle mental storehouse of knowledge, the Naked approach uses accurate, purpose-built mental maps, deliberately learned 13

[email protected] and accessed at will. You will sometimes fail, but your hit rate will begin far higher than that of a real psychic's subconscious guesswork, and that hit rate improves steadily as you learn more about how to present such mental feats in ways that suit you, and as you become comfortable with the idea of performing in this way. The unrecoverable misses you do encounter will be genuine. This being the case, your own reactions will also be genu me. The Naked approach also leads us to an interesting and perhaps slightly uncomfortable philosophical proposition. If the source of a person's professed psychic abilities is indeed their subconscious mind, then if you become so versed in a Naked effect that you no longer have to consciously think about its associated data model to perform it, are you still deliberately performing an effect that emulates a psychic ability, or have you deliberately gained that ability for real?

As well as presenting an array of Naked effects, the focus of this third volume shifts somewhat to the gentle art of applying some of the findings of experimental psychology to enhance existing effects of all kinds. This is deliberate. I want to help mystery performers in general to enhance what they do, and not just mentalists. This reason for that is as follows. I think just about everyone who has performed magic or mentalism of some kind at any level will more than once have been in the embarrassing situation of having to ask a suddenly sceptical spectator to play along just to get

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[email protected] through a routine. Something you did or said jolted her out of the moment. Think back. The more you tried to convince her that you were doing something in which she didn't believe, the more she rejected the idea- and you 1• If polite, the spectator may still have been amazed at the outcome of your routine and may have clapped loudly in genuine appreciation, but she'll have done so as a conscious response to a clever show of fakery, and not as a result of a spontaneous moment of surreal wonder. Something alerted her mind's critical faculty (her mental "firewall", if you will). Nothing you could subsequently do would change her perception, because everything you said and did raised that firewall a little higher. If you were aiming for the illusion of reality, then the reality you created was probably nothing more than the realisation that you were insisting on a barefaced lie. The question must be how to stop situations like this happening. Answering that question is why we're about to delve into the bizarre world of experimental psychology.

Much of this book starts from the premise that the reasons people get themselves into sticky situations with sceptical spectators is that they set out to elicit specific, predetermined responses, decided upon way in advance of the performance itself. It is far better to use every means in your power to elicit a possible response within the moment. This is where psychology can help us. Over the past century or so, experimental psychologists have discovered a long series of what can be usefully thought of as 'bugs' in the way we think. As we evolved, A few perfonners have successfully harnessed and subverted this to great comic effect. It is only a few, however, because it is very difficult lo do. 1

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[email protected] so did our brains and the minds that live in them 1 • We became increasingly adept at understanding complex situations from smaller amounts of information. It's a cliche, albeit a true one, that primitive man survived because he could very quickly decide whether the rustling in the bushes was a friend from his tribe foraging for berries, someone from another tribe out to do him harm, or a hungry sabre tooth tiger. From birth, our ability to infer what's going on from tiny amounts of information grows and forms the basis of how we understand the world. It generates what we've come to know as common sense. Everyone knows what common sense is, which is in itself an example of the phenomenon of common sense. We assume that modern life is safe and predictable. Because of that, we rely on common sense to autopilot us through life. The problem is, most of modern life is far from simple. In many cases, actively thinking through situations is the best course of action. By comparison, the virtually free ride offered by common sense is a path we should be wary of treading without first looking to see where it will lead us, as Matthew MacDonald says in his book "Your Brain- The Missing Manual" 4

"The brain is an expert in common sense, which is the set of knowledge that everybody knows to be true because nobody wants to think about it anymore. Common sense has a pleasant face and a nasty underbelly. The 1

Or run on them, if you prefer. 'To say nothing of his ability to plan ahead and work out whether he could outrun the tiger or just needed to outrun the person foraging for berries. 'O'Reilly Media Inc 2008, page 15 I

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[email protected] good side is its blistering speed... The downside is its paunchy logic. In complex situations, common sense is all too often reduced to quick-thinking stupidity." Advertisers exploit our quick-thinking stupidity all the time. Think about how difficult it is to work out whether a supermarket is actually giving you a good deal on a special offer. No one takes a calculator to the supermarket, and yet evaluating some offers can only be done using complex equations. Instead, we go with gut instinct (common sense, or what "feels" right") and buy a second tube of anchovy paste that will spoil long before we've used the first.

The concept of "the map and the territory" is a phrase taken from the world of neuro-linguistic programming and, despite whatever you may think of NLP in general, it is a very good analogy for the way in which the mind uses common sense thinking to form a view of the world. A map is a simplified approximation of reality. If it's a road map, it shows highways, junctions, towns and cities. Because maps are static snapshots, over time, even initially accurate ones tend to diverge from the reality they model as that reality changes. A mistake in a road map obviously doesn't change the geography it models. However, if you have no reason to believe that your road map is out of date or contains a mistake, you could be badly misled literally! We've evolved to have no reason to believe that our own mental maps of reality are wrong, and we can be badly 17

[email protected] misled in ways that are beyond our conscious control. Phenomena as diverse as phobias, optical illusions and hypnotic phenomena all amply demonstrate this. To quote Anthony Jacquin, "reality is plastic". However, the mind is also capable of accepting new ideas that are at odds with objective reality without resorting to hypnosis. This is where things become interesting, and possibly just a little disturbing. I want you to imagine you're a prisoner who has been held in solitary confinement since birth in a soundproof cell with no windows, and with no way of directly perceiving the world beyond. Instead, five guards provide you with all the information you have about the outside world. As they do so, you naturally imagine what the world must be like you build a mental map, in other words. The more the guards tell you, the more detailed your map becomes as you slowly learn to trust their individual stories. They must be telling the truth because what they each say has always been consistent with what the others say. For you, the mental map you have built accurately reflects reality. It is your reality. The problem is that the guards could suddenly decide to lie to you, and, as long as what they tell you is still consistent, you'll simply accept and believe what they tell you as truth. As you read these words, for example, you can't help the feeling that you're experiencing first hand seeing black letters on white. You might even become momentarily aware of your eyelids as you blink, and of your breathing. You believe that you are "out there" in the midst of reality, experiencing these things first hand. There may be a breeze against your skin, or sun on your head, but in reality these things are just an illusion. You're not out there at all, but in 18

[email protected] a little bone box on top of your spine. Your guards are pulses of raw data from sensory neurons all over your body, transmitting at a rate of around three million messages per second, or so it's reckoned. These messages are automatically sifted, filtered and considered, then analysed for meaning before being presented to you - if you're lucky. I say lucky because most of the information coming into "you" is integrated into your storehouse of common sense or acted upon at a subconscious level or even before 5• The realisation that our mental maps are not the same as the territory they model goes back a lot further than NLP. In fact, it goes back at least as far as the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. In book seven of his masterwork The Republic, he asks us to imagine of a group of people forced to live facing a wall in a cave. To find out about the world, they must watch shadows made on the wall by events behind them. From this, they gradually infer what must be going on. Plato said that because such shadows can be misleading, we must free ourselves of the desire to simply accept them as reality. So, just as a mistake in a road map doesn't alter where the roads lie, our mental maps can also mislead us. We usually assume the opposite, however. What's most remarkable is that major discrepancies between our mental maps and reality itself are often very predictable, and as we'll discover, anything predictable is exploitable if you know how.

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Reflex actions are generated in response to stimuli in lhc spinal column, for

example.

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[email protected] While there are many works devoted to showing you how to avoid the mental bugs that cause our maps of reality to diverge from objective reality, this book shows you how to invoke those bugs in others. In that sense, this book is almost unique. All I ask is that you do nothing downright ugly with what you learn, because unless you stay on your guard, you're also susceptible. Jon Thompson. Darkest Cheshire. October 20 II.

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PART 1 -TOOLKIT FOR. CONTROL

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I. VALIDATING THE SELF

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he personal validation fallacy has to be both one of the most widely used yet paradoxically least understood psychological principles in the mystery arts. It makes us assume that statements that could apply to anyone are personal to us. People fall for this fallacy so easily that you can become very skilled in invoking it in others without actually knowing much about its underlying principles. It is obviously central to the art of cold reading 6, but dig a little deeper and you find that it can be used in ways that are far more creative and compelling. To begin, let's take a moment to return to the discovery of this remarkable bug. In 1948, US psychologist Bertrand Forer gave his students a written questionnaire to fill out, covering all aspects of their lives. After analysing the answers, he presented each student with a detailed, individual assessment of their personality. He then asked each student to rate their assessment from 0 to 5 in various categories. The assessments scored a remarkable average of 4.26 out of 5 7• How had he achieved such a feat? The study of human psychology is a necessarily devious one. Psychological experiments tend to lull subjects into believing that one thing is happening, allowing researchers to study something else entirely. Forer's experiment was no exception. In fact, the initial questionnaire played no part in the character assessments at all. It was simply a 6

By which, I mean entering a situation in which you will give a reading for

someone, but with no prior knowledge of the subject herself. 7 Forer, B. R. (1949). The fallacy of personal validation: A classroom demonstration of gullibility. Journal ofAhnormal and Social Psychology, 44, 118· 123

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[email protected] ruse, designed to distract the students from the true nature of the experiment". What Forer had actually done was to assemble a single, general personality reading that could equally apply to anyone. He did so by copying out individual phrases from newspaper horoscopes and assembling them in a random order. He gave copies of the same text to each student under the guise of their unique character assessment. The fact that Forer's students scored the text so highly is a measure of the power of the personal validation fallacy. The phrases Forer used are recognisable today as simple "Barnum statements", after the great showman P.T Barnum, who boasted that his shows had "something for everyone". Back in 1948, such statements caused the students to generate very high scores for their apparently individual readings, but simply trotting them out today probably won't fool anyone unless you really dress them well and make them sound as individual and personal as possible. The personal validation fallacy can be invoked in many different ways. To demonstrate, try urgently shouting, "Excuse me! 9" in a busy shopping street. Many people will tum around, believing you're addressing them, even though they have no logical reason to do so. Try beeping your car hom as you pass a group of people. The same thing happens. Some individuals even feel real discomfort (called cognitive dissonance) if they deliberately ignore your call 10 • 8

See also the chapter on the illusion of control. Or even "Hey. you!" 10 Deliberately training yourself to the point where you at least have the ability to choose whether you ignore such situations is remarkably liberating. 9

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lmp1omptu Use Here's an example of using the personal validation fallacy as an impromptu influence on behaviour. One Sunday afternoon four years ago, as I walked home from a friend's birthday lunch, I saw two young teenage boys having fun by annoying drivers. They were pressing the button on a pedestrian crossing to make the lights tum red. When drivers stopped and shouted at them, the boys returned a stream of abuse. As I approached the crossing, I walked purposefully up the larger of the two boys to make sure he understood that he was the focus of attention. I stopped right in front of him and said: "If you keep doing that, I'll tell your mother what else you've been up to." He looked shocked. I quickly added conspiratorially: "Get out of here before the police arrive." The boys immediately ran off. Like all the anecdotes I tell in these books, this happened exactly as I have described it 11 • Grabbing the boy's initial attention and making sure he knew he was the unexpected focus of attention was vital. A stranger purposely walking straight up to you in the street is enough to convince you that what happens next will be about you. Forer discovered that making the situation personal is absolutely vital to making a subject fall for the personal validation fallacy. I wanted to frighten the boys into compliance, and the classic cold reading technique of hinting that you know more than you're letting on was my weapon of choice. I placed the lad in a difficult situation, and one that presented a potentially worrying problem. The second sentence offered a way out of that situation and a reason to obey me. " This particular incident happened on Oxford Road, Macclesfield, Cheshire.

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Boosting the Effect In subsequent experiments, Forer discovered several !actors that turbo charge the personal validation fallacy. As already mentioned, he realised that the subject must believe that the information being imparted is unique and personal to them. Secondly, the information must be delivered with authority. Thirdly, one should only deliver a positive message. This promotes rapport, which is essential when conducting a successful reading, regardless of divination method. The two boys above heard a message that was at the same time personal, delivered with authority and, though the news that the police were probably on the way was bad, the overall message was good because it contained an easy escape route. Dare I say that the paunchy common sense I talked about in the introduction took over in their minds? They could have demanded proof that I'd ever even met their mothers, but didn't. What would I have done in this situation? Probably faked a mobile phone call!

Use in Acadings My approach to the tarot is borne of an inherent laziness and the desire to have readings hit home with the least effort on my part. It takes the form of a short reading involving three cards that represent the past, present and future. The technique I've developed is to get the spectator to do her own cold reading by having her invoke the personal validation fallacy herself! I use the Major Arcana in my readings, and simply describe in detail the symbolism of the three chosen cards 26

[email protected] and relate it to general situations in everyday life. This approach leads the spectator to fill in the details and map her own memories onto what the cards symbolise. The personal validation fallacy then allows her to generate a meaning. All I have to do is ask: "What does that mean to you?" and agree with whatever she says.

Other Uses If a random number is to be generated in an effect, make it one that is coincidentally personal to the spectator. In an effect where a random card must be chosen, ask the spectator to think of one that is personally symbolic to her. Don't explain further, but allow her a second or two to let your words conjure meaning in her mind. Ask her if she's thought of one.

Performer: "I need a number between one and ten, but we all know that most people will say seven or three if you ask them. I want you to know it's genuinely random, so I want you to think of someone dear to you. In what month of the year is their birthday?"

By making the selection personal, you can increase the impact of the divination. If you don't mind using cards, try it with an Invisible Deck. The boost in response is sometimes shocking. When I first tried it, the woman I asked chose the nine of diamonds. When she saw the card she began crying, which really shocked me. It turned out that her daughter had died aged nine, and she'd always thought of her as her little diamond. Needless to say, I let her keep the card.

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2. CoNFIIUIING TO DECEIVE

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o matter where you're from, what you believe or how practiced you are in your thinking, confirmation bias still has a very deep-seated grip on the way you evaluate the world. How can I be so certain about that? It's because you're human! Confirmation bias causes us to accept new information that appears to confirm what we already believe, while causing us to reject that which goes against it. It makes us think we're being logical and fair, even as we abandon reason for blind prejudice. Thinkers have accurately described confirmation bias for several centuries. Here's English philosopher Francis Bacon in his book Novum organum inl620: "The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects; in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.... And such is the way of all superstitions, whether in astrology, dreams, omens. divine judgments, or the like; wherein men, having a delight in such vanities, mark the events where they are fulfilled, but where they fail, although this happened much oftener, neglect and pass them by."

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[email protected] Bacon wrote this passage nearly four hundred years ago, at a time when science was still in its early infancy. And yet, discovering it quoted in a paper written by professor Raymond S. Nickerson of Tufts University 12 , I was struck by the depth and modernity of Bacon's thinking. Nickerson himself has some interesting things to say about just how much of a hold confirmation bias has over us: "If one were to attempt to identify a single problematic aspect of human reasoning that deserves attention above all others, the confirmation bias would have to be among the candidates for consideration. Many have written about this bias, and it appears to be sufficiently strong and pervasive that one is led to wonder whether the bias, by itself, might account for a significant fraction of the disputes, altercations, and misunderstandings that occur among individuals, groups, and nations." Confirmation bias is also sometimes called "Tolstoy syndrome", after a passage in Leo Tolstoy's 1897 book What is Art?

"/ know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabrics oftheir life." 12

psy.ucsd.edul-mckenzie/nickersonConf=ationBias.pdf

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[email protected] Thanks to a recent study, we can also glimpse what's happening physically in the brain when in the grip of confirmation bias. In 2006, Professor Drew Westen of Emory University in Atlanta announced the results 13 of work in which he scanned the brains of 30 subjects while presenting them with both positive and negative statements about politicians whom they either liked or disliked. The results are as much fascinating as they are a warning about the need to think things through objectively rather than simply relying on what we'd like to be true. The part of the brain most associated with logic and reasoning is the Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex, which is located very near the front of the brain. This should have been highly active while Westen's subjects evaluated each statement, but the scans showed that activity here was in fact minimal. Instead, parts of the brain known to handle emotion, value judgements, and mental conflict resolution were all very active. Westen's subjects were making emotional judgements about the statements while believing themselves to be thinking clearly and logically. They all readily accepted the statements that went along with what they already believed, and rejected those that didn't. Westen said of his subjects: "They twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want." So, we can't seem to help but use confirmation bias to bolster what we already believe by either consciously or unconsciously interpreting new information so that it confirms what we already believe. This may explain why some people see UFOs where others see Chinese lanterns, " Westen, D., Kilts, C., Blagov, P., Harenski, K., & HamaM, S. (2006). "The neural basis of motivated reasoning: An IMRI study of emolional constraints on political judgment during the U.S. Presidential election of 2004". Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, volume IS, pages 1947-1958.

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[email protected] and why some people interpret unexpected nighttime household sounds as spirits rather than the mundane phenomena they might more reasonably be. Such a reliable bug in common sense thinking is highly exploitable.

1De Asaonaut Tax It's been my experience that an interesting and useful side effect of confirmation bias is that the more you seem to add to the validity of her mental map, the more likely the spectator is to accept the subsequent assertions you make if they're not too far from what she already believes. There's an underlying rule to using conformation bias, and we'll come to that later, but first, here's a rather fun demonstration of it at work. About 5 years ago, I met a man at a party. He was a bore and a racist with a particular hatred of Polish migrant workers in the UK. He cornered me, and accused them at length of all living the easy life on handouts paid for by his taxes 14 • He was a suitable target for some fun, in other words. I gradually got onto the subject of international cooperation and let the bore tell me how certain counties don't pull their weight in Europe. From there, I slowly changed the subject to big collaborative projects like the International Space Station, and asked him if he knew anything about that. He didn't, so from seemingly allowing him to pace me with his views, it was my tum to lead by confirming what he already believed with new information.

" I have subsequently looked up the UK Home Office's own figures and found that Polish migrant workers actually have one of the lowest benefit claimant rates of any immigrant group!

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[email protected] !i helpfully said that it had been on the radio 15 that Eastern European astronauts had, in fact, been running the ultimate tax dodge for years. I said that the reason they don't mind long stays in the International Space Station and have set so many space endurance records is that despite the risks, it means they're out of their home country for long enough not to have to pay income tax. With his odious mind suitably greased, I then delivered my absurd suggestion. I said that to counter this dodge, the European Space Agency levied a special "astronaut tax" on these high-tech freeloaders. To seal the suggestion in his mind, I finished by saying that I'd subsequently seen the new tax confirmed on the Financial Times web site. I think I said the tax rate was something like 40%. To him, I was confirming what he already believed and providing new proof of the "problem". He was more than willing to accept the surreal concept of an astronaut tax, and as far as I know, still does. So, we can use confirmation bias to add new nonsense to what people want to believe, which is all good clean fun, but what else can we use it for? As mentioned earlier, confirmation bias can actually cause us to defend our mental maps over reality itself. In the early days of writing this book, I had an interesting insight into this phenomenon. I play in a league quiz team over the winter months. Just after I began writing this book in 2008, I was playing in a match against a team containing an ex-Brain of Britain 16 • " An "official" source lends a lot of validity to the belief you're apparently confirming when actually leading the spectator into a new belief. "Brain of Britain is a long-running knockout quiz competition run by BBC Radio 4.

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[email protected] One question was about the first great white jazz musician, "Bix" Beiderbecke, about whom I just happen to know a large amount. Incredibly, the other team had never heard of Bix, and so the question was passed over to our team to vacuum up a point. I gave the right answer, and with a certain swagger added that people said that his comet playing sounded "like bullets being shot from a bell." The ex-Brain of Britain responded by saying," No, no, that doesn't sound right at all." "Well," I said, "but that's what his contemporaries said about his playing: that it had such a clear tone that it sounded like bullets being shot from a bell." My adversary was adamant, however: "You must have got that wrong", he insisted. Me? Wrong about Leon Bismarck 'Bix' Beiderbecke? The first great white jazzman? Born in 1903 in Davenport, Iowa, discovered by Louis Armstrong, drank himself to death aged 28? Does it really seem likely that I'd get a famous quote about my favourite jazz man wrong? In the end, we agreed to disagree. Maybe he had already decided that I, in my usual jeans and a t-shirt, couldn't possibly know anything that deep about an obscure musician who, until a minute or so earlier, he had known nothing about himself. Confirmation bias can make good men pompous and ultimately foolish. Confirmation bias can also play a major role in setting the scene before delivering a reading. By exploring what the spectator already believes about the method you use (tarot, 34

[email protected] palmistry, etc.) you can help her into a more accepting frame of mind by confirming that what's about to happen is an example of what she already expects will happen. As Nickerson intimated, confirmation bias also tends to lead to stubbornness and argument, and this is also exploitable. It's highly probable that you've had at least one memorable argument with someone who was stubborn to the point of idiocy: Performer: "I'm sensing an earlier time. There's an argument. You're being reasonable - trying to show someone they're wrong. But the more you try, the more they won't believe you. They're being very stubborn. Did it feel like this person deliberately took your argument the wrong way and thought it meant that they were right?" Spectator: "Yes! I remember that argument! That's my ex-husband. He was very stubborn." 17

The people who fall for confirmation bias hardest are, in my experience, the people who seek validation for their views the most. In a situation where you're faced with a spectator with a need to believe in the afterlife, it's highly likely that you can convince her that sometimes, when you get a particularly strong intuition that turns out to be correct, you have a distinct feeling of a presence that reminds you of your late grandfather. It doesn't follow, however, that you can go on to say that because of this the Loch Ness Monster is real. This point leads me onto an important aspect of confirmation bias. 17

Again, a real life example, this time of delivering a reading for my friend Sue.

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[email protected] I said at the start of this chapter that there is a rule to the successful use of confirmation bias. It's something I call "span". The above shift from believing in an afterlife and believing in the Lock Ness Monster is an absurd example. The distance or "span" between the two concepts is far too wide for the second idea to be seen as support for the first. Always keep the span between what you're confirming and the new thought you want to be accepted as small as you can. It may take several jumps over time to get from what's already believed to what you want the spectator to believe, but it's worth it. Spread such jumps out over time rather than firing them off one after the other. Take the spectator as your cue, and never directly insist. Sometimes, confirmation bias can be invoked by mistake. For example, I thought up a silly joke I thought my friend Ann would like. The conceit of the joke is that I don't much like cats. I'd certainly never have one as a pet. Completely deadpan, I told her that a gang of youngsters had recently broken into a beauty parlour and had stolen ear-piercing equipment. The gang had been causing mischief by piercing cats' ears. The punchline was delivered in a camp manner: "Poor Snowball came home this morning positively dripping in diamante!" I thought the mental image would raise a chuckle, but my friend only heard the joke up to the point where I said that the gang had been piercing cats' ears. She's a cat lover and butted in that she'd heard that cats had been going missing all over town. She concluded that this must be the reason. Perhaps it was my deadpan delivery, but I'd managed to confirm what she already thought of the local youth with new information. 36

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J. CoNTllOLLING WITH MEANING

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he illusion of control is one of my favourite bugs in common sense thinking. It is certainly one of the most robust of all the tools and concepts covered in this book, and has very many uses right across the mystery arts and beyond. It also works well in conjunction with the personal validation fallacy. Described in the cold light of day, the behaviour sometimes invoked by the illusion of control is clearly illogical, but in the heat of the moment, logic flies out of the window and superstition asserts itself. In the right circumstances, everyone is susceptible to the illusion of control. A man who notices that he tends to have good luck while wearing a certain shirt may begin to wear it on occasions when he needs good luck. If your computer regularly crashes, you might find that you change the way you physically handle the power button in the hope that it'll either help or perhaps impress your authority on the machine. Either way, that's the illusion of control at work. The next time you play a board game, watch to see how long people shake the dice before throwing when they know they need a high number. They will shake for longer. This phenomenon has also been observed extensively at casino craps tables - despite after shaking the dice the player then throwing them about seven feet down the table! The illusion of control is perhaps most powerful in sportsmen and entertainers, who sometimes display elaborate, irrational good luck rituals. Being prevented from carrying out such rituals can cause real mental 37

[email protected] anguish. Some performers will even refuse to go on stage when prevented from performing them. If you don't believe me about the power the illusion of control has over us all, think back to the last time you pushed the button on a pedestrian crossing. If it was at a set of traffic lights, the only effect the button will have had is to tell you to wait until the carefully calculated traffic light timings could fit your random request into their pattern. So, pressing the button has no effect over the traffic at all. This is the illusion of control. Seen the other way, however, there is no illusion. Pressing the button directly controls you! Want more proof? The "CLOSE DOORS" button in Otis lifts is only active when used in conjunction with the maintenance key. If pressing the button doesn't automatically make the doors close, if you're anything like me, you'll usually choose to blame negligent maintenance and never even consider that it may be due to deliberate design 18 • It is easy to exploit of the illusion of control in so many

effects. All you have to do is to design the effect so that you seem to hand the spectator as much apparent control as possible. This is especially easy to do in self-working effects and can even open new opportunities to hide a particularly sneaky psychological force. In my own Naked Book Test, for example, the force contained in the patter makes the spectator believe that her choice of word, and therefore her overt control over events, has a direct effect on the outcome. She's told that choosing 18

Could this attitude be due to confirmation bias, I wonder?

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[email protected] a certain type of word will make the test far more difficult for me. However, this actually has the opposite effect. It gives her the illusion of making sure that the situation is as controlled by herself as possible while actually removing that control. Similarly, in my ebook Poker Faced, the spectator has a free choice from a shuffled deck of five packets of cards. She only makes a mental note of a card selected from a chosen packet, and also shuffles the packet immediately afterwards. The premise of the trick is that she must then control her fleeting micro-expressions when I show her some candidate cards and try to spot hers from her reaction to seeing it. This gives her such a feeling of control over the test that she can be sure there's no trickery afoot. However, Poker Faced is a self-working effect. I always know exactly which is her card right from the point at which she selects the initial packet. Finding places to use the illusion of control begins with breaking down an effect into its constituent parts. As an example, let's take a random self-working card trick such as one that uses the basic key card principle 19 • In essence, you glimpse the bottom card of a shuffled deck (the key card), and have the spectator take a random card. You then cut the deck into two piles and have the spectator place their choice of card on the packet formed from the upper part of the deck. Reassemble the deck with the lower half on top. The card is now "lost" but is always directly below the key card. This hidden knowledge means that the performer can dress the underlying mechanism in plenty of apparent spectator 1 '

Yes, I know this is Naked Mentalism but this makes for a clear example.

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[email protected] control. Instead of simply spreading the cards and asking the spectator to select a random one at the beginning, the illusion of control can be used in a number of ways. You could: • Hand the deck to the spectator, have her think of a meaningful number and count out that many cards, taking the final one for herself. Peek the bottom card as she concentrates on hers. • Spread the cards between your hands with the faces showing to the spectator. Ask her to take the card that "speaks to her". • Have the spectator bring her own deck of cards to ensure fair play, remove one, and hand you the rest. As long as you can peek the bottom card and sandwich it next to the selected card when it is returned to the deck, there's enormous scope for harnessing the spectator's sense of control. Even returning the card to the deck can have an element of spectator control to it. For example, you could ask her to take a card, then when it's time to return it, allow the remaining cards to fall slowly from one hand into your palm below. Ask the spectator to say stop at some point. Hold out the cards that have not fallen yet and ask her to place her card on top. Throw the fallen cards on top to "lose" the card next to the key card. Given that you know roughly where the card and key card pairing is within the deck, you can safely execute a quick overhand shuffle taking care to throw the section

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[email protected] containing the cards in one go, thereby keeping them together. This apparently decreases or even destroys your own control over the deck. You could even introduce an element of comedy or tension into the routine by suddenly stopping dead and exclaiming that that you didn't mean to do that shuffie. Spreading the cards face up will allow you to locate the chosen card as you show that it's an impossible task to figure out which card is hers. You could then abandon the deck and "try something else". In this case 20 you could simply run through a pantomime of reading her mind, grab an Invisible Deck that has been on the table the whole time, or employ a host of other methods of showing that despite her input and overt control over proceedings, a revelation is still available from a seemingly lost situation. I mentioned in Chapter I that the illusion of control works well with the personal validation fallacy. When asked for a random number and subsequently asked to comment on their choices, people will tend to have chosen numbers that either conform to stereotypes (3, 7, 37, etc.), or which have some hidden personal meaning. Asking the spectator to explain her choice as an afterthought and you can unearth useful information for a later reading or segment. As a subtle hot reading technique, there's a lot to commend it.

20

And because this i.'i Naked Mentalism!

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4- A:f:fOllDING TO ACT

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ou walk up to a door. If there's a brass plate at one side, you know that the hinges are on the other and that pushing on the plate will open the door. If, however, you see a handle, you know to pull if it's vertical, and to tum and then pull if it's horizontal. Why do you never try to tum a vertical door handle? The answer is all to do with affordance. Affordance was first formally described in the mid 1970s, despite sounding perfectly obvious when you know what it means. Put simply, affordance is all the things you could choose to do in a situation. The amount of affordance offered by some situations can be very large indeed. However, when you're placed in a situation in which you believe you need to act quickly, the affordance of the situation is limited to actions you can immediately think of. Have you ever had a spectator question why you want her to do something, either after - or worse, during an effect? She may even have insisted on doing something you really didn't want her to do. By limiting the perceived affordance of a situation, we can guide the spectator into a single course of action that feels absolutely normal and unquestionable to her. All we have to do is to give the spectator a reason to act, and then spring the only reasonable course of action on her. When using an impression device, for example, the spectator must really want to write down whatever she's thought of on your pad and also perceive it as the only available writing surface. To reduce the affordance of the 43

[email protected] situation to just the device, we need to remove all other perceived impromptu writing surfaces. The important word here is "perceived". I mean the available writing surfaces as seen from her perspective. If the billet she will write on is palm sized, her hand becomes both writing surface and a useful way of hiding what she writes. Because of this, it always pays to overestimate the affordance others have at every point in an effect and seek ways of limiting or eliminating it. More philosophically, it may also pay to think about affordance in terms of the spectator's perception of you. The all-time great mystery entertainers tend to give the impression that they have normal or even limited affordance when, in fact, they have far more control than is ever supposed by anyone other than other entertainers 21 • Maybe magic is what happens when spectators see a person with normal affordance produce miracles. The Crazy Man's Handcuffs, in which taught elastic bands are seen to pass through each other, creates magic in this way. Borrowed elastic bands that can be examined afterwards can't pass through each other, but imagine performing this effect with wine corks. How little affordance would be perceived in that situation, and therefore how much more magic would it create? I can honestly say that it massively amplifies the effect, having seen Lennart Green do this with two random corks in a hotel bar. This is all just my way of suggesting that affordance is inversely proportional to magic: 21

A great example is an escapologist, handcuffed and lowered into a taDk of water by his feet. How can he possibly have any control over that situation?

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[email protected] Magic Affordance The implication of this ratio is that when affordance becomes zero, maybe magic becomes infinite - becomes real in other words. Maybe this also explains the strong reactions seen when using props such as spirit cabinets. Affordance when tied to a chair inside the cabinet is apparently zero, and yet physical phenomena still manifest themselves. For many people, especially those for whom such phenomena confirm what they already believe, some unseen force is somehow literally acting through the medium. For those people, the magic of the situation 22 has arguably become real.

"Though I'm sure they wouldn"t call it that!

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C

.S· ThJ SHAl'J or SouND

onsider the two abstract shapes below. Giving them their original names, one is a "takete", the other a "rnalurna", but can you tell which is which?

I think you'll agree that the rnalurna is the one on the left, but why? German psychologist Wolfgang Kohler first coined these two nonsense words and drew their shapes in 1929 23 • One word somehow sounds rounded and smooth, while the other sounds angular and spiky. The underlying principle at work here is called phonesthesia 2\ which is the natural tendency we have to assign certain physical attributes to shapes, objects and even concepts, based merely on the sound made by their names - even before we've seen the things they name. According to Torn Stafford in his fascinating book "Mind Hacks" 25 , when we listen to someone talking, we need to pick up as much information about what's being said as quickly as possible. If we don't understand a word, then instead of leaving a blank in our minds to fill in when we " It's also called the "Bouba!Kiki" eiTect after two other names used to describe the shapes. "Also called "word symbolism" 21 "Mind Hacks: Tips & Tricks for Using Your Brain", O'Reilly Books. 2005, ISBN 0-596-00779-5, page 163.

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[email protected] get more information, we instead fill the void with meaning based on the mere sound of the words being spoken. This makes phonesthesia an immensely useful technique for subtly imparting information. It enables us to construct words that, by their very sound, imply a rich set of predictable attributes. An obvious use for pareidolia would be to adapt a living and dead test to Naked ends. Perhaps we could have the spectator separate pictures of murderers from victims, especially when also given their (foreign) names. As you might expect, the world of advertising discovered phonesthesia a long time ago, but how wisely it uses the concept is open to debate. Think, for instance, about some of the strangely named products you've bought or heard of over the years. Those names are never chosen by accident, and we know that the name of the popular Blackberry PDA was chosen due to phonesthesia. According to an account from Stanford University 26 , when marketing executives from Lexicon Branding Inc. saw the then-unnamed Blackberry for the first time, they were struck by how the buttons seemed to resemble seeds on the outside of a fruit or berry. "Strawberry" was the inevitable first suggestion for a name. "Straw", however, with it's drawn out "s" and long "aw", is a slow syllable. The branders wanted shorter, punchier sounds, implying efficiency, speed, and ease ofuse 27 • Interestingly, they decided that the sub-word "berry" was already punchy enough. Research into the way in which 26

http://www.stanford.edu/classllinguist34/Unit_08/blackberry.htm Seriously, I'm not making this stuff up. Marketing men believe that millions of dollars ride on getting the name of a product just right. 27

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[email protected] people process sounds for meaning apparently suggested to the marketing men that we're likely to associate the "b" of "berry" with solidity and reliability, and a short "e" sound with speed of action. According to the story, after a few minutes, the name "Blackberry" was born. The short "ack" of "black" provided more punch and immediacy than the slower, more laid-back "straw". So, phonesthesia allows us to create nonsense words, or select existing ones, which will cause people to conjure meaning that isn't necessarily there. If you split the sounds made in English (or any other language) into syllables, it's possible to organise these into groups that represent different sound qualities. For example, you might sort them into groups of soft, rounded, sharp and brittle sounds. There are potentially a very large number of ways to "dice and slice" the possible sounds of speech into such groups. Here are two groups of English syllables, sorted into those with two letters and those with three. 1 2 3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

AL AN AR AS AT EA ED EN ER ES HA HE HI IN IS IT

35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

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ALL AND ARE BUT ENT ERA ERE EVE FOR HAD HAT HEN HER HIN HIS lNG

[email protected] 17 IS

19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34

LE ME ND NE NG NT ON OR

5I 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63

ou RE

SE ST TE TH TI TO VE WA

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65 66 67 68

ION ITH NOT OME OUL OUR SHO TED TER THA THE THI TIO ULD VER WAS WIT YOU

With the addition of extra letters such as S or E on the end, it's possible to construct a large number of nonsense words that have specific phonesthetic properties. Other schemes include starting at AA and working through to ZZ, and placing the sounds of the letter pairs in lists according to how they sound. By randomly selecting syllables from the lists above until you find combinations with the right attributes, you can generate words or even create foreign-sounding names that have distinct sound qualities. These can be used in variations on the usual "Dead or Alive" test such that you have the spectator separate foreign names into male and female. On turning the cards over, you discover that the female pile contains only pictures of women, and the other pile men. For make names, pick syllables with sharp, angular sounds, and for the female ones, pick those with nice rounded ones. 50

[email protected] There's also very good evidence that the physical shapes we make with our mouths when saying certain words imparts meaning. Think of the word "round" as an example. Say the word out loud. The "oun" part of the word has you creating a rounded movement with your lips. By having your spectator say the words you create out loud, she'll get (or rather generate) more apparent information about them.

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6. A Nsw WoaLD AwAITs

hope that by now the idea of exploiting bugs in common sense thinking has begun to show you that there's a new and relatively unexplored world of possibilities for subtly enhancing effects and situations of all kinds. Ultimately, their use will enhance you in the eyes of the spectator. There are literally dozens of useful bugs we can exploit in this way. In this chapter I'll cover several of those that are most easily exploited, though there really are enough others to fill several volumes.

Using The Available Consider the following statements: "I don't fly because flying is dangerous. There are plane crashes every day on the news." "We moved from Oklahoma because you're more likely to be killed there by a tornado than by anything else." Flying is statistically the safest form oftransport, but that's not newsworthy. Something as apparently obscure as lightning kills far more people every year than tornadoes, but tornado damage makes dramatic footage, and so we see it far more on the news. In both cases, our cultures prime us to form incorrect beliefs by making available a skewed but authoritative view of what's happening in the world. Selectively representing facts makes us form attitudes according to something called the availability heuristic.

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[email protected] In 1974, psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman wrote: "There are situations in which people assess the ... probability of an event by the ease with which instances or occurrences can be brought to mind. For example, one may assess the risk of heart attack among middle-aged people by recalling such occurrences among one's acquaintances." I know three middle aged people who have recently suffered heart attacks. However, one was caused by cocaine abuse, and the other two were due to genetic abnormalities - one fatal. In the cold light of day, these people are not evidence that middle-aged people generally have heart attacks, but being three people known personally to me certainly makes it feel that way. As an experiment, ask yourself whether there are more words that begin with either "R" or "K" than have those letters as the third letter. Go with what simply feels right. I bet in most cases you genuinely had a gut feeling that there are more words beginning with those letters. After all, you can easily think of plenty of examples (they're available to you). However, it's second option is the truth. So, people can be made to base their judgements on how easily examples can be brought to mind. It's the old "I knew a guy once who ... " effect that floors so many people in online arguments. It's the "exception that proves the rule". As an example, before I realised that such arguments are a waste of time, I once had a blazing row with someone who claimed that anti-gravity devices were possible. I know of only one that works -a superconductor cooled in liquid helium will levitate a small magnet. My opponent produced a link to a patent for an anti-gravity belt. That 54

[email protected] should have been the end of the argument, but though it took some work, but I managed to counter the idea that a patent means a device works with a link to a patent for a Santa Clause detector. To lead people into a frame of mind that's more in tune with the abilities you intend to present in your act, help them to remember times when phenomena you can claim are similar happened spontaneously, either to them or to people they know. Make those experiences available, in other words, and people naturally reference them when assessing what comes next. Asking for a visual display of recognition can even help trigger the availability heuristic in those portions of the audience who are initially sceptical of you: Performer: "On a show of hands, how many of you have thought about someone you've not talked to for a while, and shortly after, they've either called you or you've bumped into them quite by chance? That's quite a lot of you"

Another method of using the availability heuristic to colour people's judgments is to make the audience imagine an event as vividly as possible before asking them to judge how likely it is to happen in future. You'll be surprised just how well it works. The availability heuristic is very closely related to another bug in common sense thinking called the fallacy of misleading vividness. This describes why introducing anecdotal evidence (even fake anecdotal evidence) into an

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[email protected] argument at the right time can floor the opposition even though they know they're right. 2H We can also use the availability heuristic in reverse to create an aversion to something (a subsequent decision, perhaps) by asking the audience to imagine it in vivid ways that are so upsetting that the very act of thinking about it leads to an increased refusal to want it to occur.

Pragmatic Exploitation If you're creating a presentation that exploits the idea of a well-established method of divination, the pragmatic fallacy is definitely something you should know about. Put simply, it grants temporary permission to people to believe that something you say is true, thereby helping encourage the suspension of disbelief and entry into the moment. The pragmatic fallacy works because the spectator is more likely to accept what sounds like a reasonable explanation about something when delivered by someone she trusts. She becomes pragmatic about the explanation, in other words, and accepts it more readily. The pragmatic fallacy works particularly well when you set someone in pursuit of something desirable. Even an initially sceptical individual may fall victim the fallacy very heavily in situations where she believes there's a likelihood of gaining something valuable (see also the illusion of control). Whether they consciously know it or not, bizarre magicians are particularly good at exploiting the pragmatic fallacy. As they lead the audience into their world, they might "This is why it's so important to demand proof in online arguments!

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[email protected] discuss various divination techniques, making sure to only mention the ones by which the subsequent effects will apparently operate. The bizarre magician is seen more as a responsible gatekeeper to another realm than the producer of magic, which is where the necessary authority comes from for the pragmatic fallacy to really kick in. Another example is in a reading situation, for instance. If the spectator believes that, say, the tarot has more credibility than palmistry, agree like crazy and give her a tarot reading 29 • Never insist on your favourite technique over hers - always adapt. Be pragmatic, in fact. Guide what you say and do towards what she already believes.

Be Anthropomorphic The anthropomorphic fallacy is the tendency to give inanimate objects and phenomena the characteristics of living, conscious beings. The computer crashes because it knows the email you're writing is important, and the car won't start because it knows you're late. The sounds in the attic are being made deliberately by a conscious entity. Of course, the computer doesn't really know what you've suddenly decided is important, and modem cars tend not to start due to poor maintenance. The sound in the attic is probably just the joists contracting after a sunny day. However, these examples, especially the assumption that the knocking sound in the roof is a ghost, are difficult to shake for some people, and can be induced in others given the right circumstances.

Could this be why you never ~ee mediums on ghost hunting shows ever say: "I don'tlhink your house is haunted- I'm gening nothing."?

19

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[email protected] One place where the anthropomorphic fallacy is routinely induced is during a seance. We can't help but conjure an unseen spirit in our minds when the glass deliberately moves during the Ouija board session, for example. Delving deeply by questioning the spirit for personal details also helps to instil the anthropomorphic fallacy. Go beyond the usual questions and ask things such as "Is there anyone else with you?" to enhance the idea in the spectators' minds that here's a real entity with an unseen Iife and context.

A Conjoined Fa11acy Linda is an outspoken 45-year-old graduate in women's studies who still retains a keen interest in politics. Which is most likely: I. Linda is married 2. Linda runs a bookshop 3. Linda runs a feminist bookshop The chances are high that your gut instinct was to go for the third option rather than the first two. Being a conjunction of two facts, it naturally feels as if it best fits or identifies Linda. In actual fact, it has less probability of being right. Psychologists call this called the conjunction fallacy, but it is also known more informally as the "Linda effect" or "Linda Problem". The fact is that at 45, Linda is far more likely to be married and, with a far lower probability, to run any kind of bookshop. There are millions of married, 45-year-old women but there simply aren't that many bookshops. Both attributes have a far higher probability than Linda specifically running a feminist bookshop. So, why are we

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[email protected] naturally attracted to the third, vanishingly less likely option? Why does it feel more "real"? When you calculate conjunctions of probabilities, you multiply them together. Because probabilities are always expressed as fractions of one (zero being impossible and one meaning a dead certainty), the outcome of multiplying them is always lower than the highest of the individual probabilities. A good example is the difference between betting on the winner of a single horse race, and having to bet on a series of horse races to collect. Imagine a sequence of I 0 horse races, each featuring I 0 horses. The probability of picking the winner of one race is 1110, or 0.1. The probability of picking the winner in two races is 0.1 x 0.1, which equals 0.0 I or 11100. Picking the winners in three races carries a I in I 000 chance, and so on. This is why placing an "accumulator" bet at the bookies is a really bad idea. When dressed in Linda's life, however, the conjunction fallacy tends to make the third choice seem more likely. The conjunction fallacy seems to make us add the probabilities together to make a surety rather than multiplying them to reduce it.

Spying Patterns Pareidolia is a relatively newly discovered psychological effect. It describes the tendency for vague and possibly even meaningless patterns to be interpreted as having greater significance than they actually have if they support a view we already hold. In some cases, this can cause us to literally make things up. The usefulness of invoking pareidolia when performing readings or effects that don't have a guaranteed outcome 59

[email protected] should be fairly obvious. It will help the spectator to see a deeper pattern of general success, from which, if questioned, she' II report as far more concrete than it really was. Rather than promoting accurate recall, pareidolia creates a false memory of what she wants to believe happened.

Anchoring ne musion

Focalism (also called anchoring or the focusing illusion) has nothing to do with the similarly named concept from NLP. The latter is a form of classical conditioning whereby associations are made deliberately stronger using strong imagery in as many senses as possible, whereas focalism is an easily exploited cognitive bias- but only when someone wants something. We can have a joke with people over this distinction using a demonstration of just how silly our "paunchy" common sense can make people look. If, before reading this book, someone tells you it contains nothing more than NLP, you can be sure they've only read the table of contents and found the title to this section! Focalism occurs when we latch onto some aspect of a situation and ignore the others when making a decision. Used car salesmen make us focus on fairly irrelevant attributes of their vehicles by placing stickers on them saying such things as "low mileage" or "one owner". While these claims are undoubtedly true, we must be careful that they don't blind us to the overall condition of the car. Focalism is something to watch out for when buying something we really want but can't really justify. We focus on some aspect of the purchase such as the low price or what it will enable us to do. When trying to get someone to agree to do something they're unsure about- such as volunteering for hypnosis-

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[email protected] it's possible she can't anchor to something that will help her make a clear decision. Help her: add a few words pointing out a good and positive reason for why she should do as bade and you could find yourself with someone who is already slightly under your influence before you begin her induction.

Word Association Football The association principle shows that no thought is ever held in isolation. Between our ears is a vast associative memory, in which concepts are held in a rich mesh of relationships. These can be used as stepping stones to lead someone back into a memory, a state of mind, or an emotion, which is very important in readings. Imagine a circus elephant. Beyond a large pachyderm with a feathery headdress, what else do you see in your mind's eye? Focus on the emotion that comes to mind. Is it good or bad? Why? Let's suppose that you remember the clowns not as funny but as scary. What other things scared you as a child? Spiders? Do they still make you fearful? They're everywhere, aren't they? There might be one under your chair right now. Creepy, huh? That's association!

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PART 2

-

EFFECI'S

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7· C&IATING NEW NAKED EPPECTS

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y approach to developing new Naked effects tends to be to find a data model or principle first, and build upwards from that. There are the two golden rules to spotting potential data models: • New sources of data are everywhere • Patterns in data are exploitable After I've found something, I begin by analysing what I know about the data using a process I call "dicing and slicing". As I hope you'll see in the upcoming example effect, this has the function of revealing hidden information and connections within the data under consideration. There's also a good working example in the first volume of Naked Mentalism. As I began trying to figure out how I might use raw word probability data to create the data model for the Naked Book Test, sorting lists of words of a specific length by frequency revealed that the most prevalent words with some initials all describe the same underlying concept. This made it possible to sketch out a presentation in which, if I know the initial letter of the word, I can get a hit for the underlying concept. With the right patter, I realised that this can make it look like I've scored a direct hit instead of a near miss. None of this was apparent from the raw data alone. As an example of this process, let's go through the process of developing a typical effect. Predicting a card merely thought of by a spectator is a holy grail for some performers. Below is a table of the most popular answers to 65

[email protected] an ongoing web-based survei". When I began developing this effect in January 2008, 950 people had responded. This is a big enough population for it to be statistically significant. Here are the most popular choices: ~

14.21 8.03 4.33 4.33 3.81 3.40 3.30 3.19 2.37 2.27 2.27 2.16 2.16 2.06 2.06 2.06 2.06 TABLE ONE:

I

Qrd

Colour

Ace of Spades Queen of Hearts Ace of Hearts Queen of Diamonds Jack of Diamonds Ace of Diamonds Jack of Hearts Seven of Diamonds Six of Diamonds Ace of Clubs Jack of Spades Seven of Hearts King of Diamonds Queen of Spades Three of Clubs Ten of Diamonds King of Hearts

B R R R R R R R R B B R R B B R R

MosT

POPULAR PLAYING CARDS

What's immediately apparent (and potentially useful) about these choices is the steep drop in popularity at the top of the table. From 14.21% to 4.33% takes just three cards .. What other peculiarities are there? Well, most of the entries are red cards - in fact, only five are black. By " You can fmd the portal to the survey at http://anyoldaddress.com/favcard l.htm

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[email protected] arranging these cards to show the distributions of values 31 , suit and value, an interesting pattern appears:

AC

3C

AH

7H

AS AD

JH

JS 60

7D

IOD

JD

OH OS OD

KH KD

TABLE TWO: DISTlliBUTION OF vALUES

The values of the cards presented in this table naturally fall into three distinct bands consisting of low, medium and high values. The number of cards in each band is as follows:

BAND Low Middle High

CAllDs

CHOICES

5 3 9

22% 16% 55%

TABLE FOUll: CAllOS IN EACH BAND

Stripped down to the cards that polled over 3% of the total, an even clearer pattern emerges.

~~~1

II II UI I I:: I~: I I

TABLE THllEE: DISTlliBUTION OF TOP VALUES

Dicing and slicing has already reduced the deck to few possibilities. For instance, if we can somehow learn whether it's a low, medium or high valued card, we're in a position to make a good attempt at naming it. But what other things do we know about playing cards in general 11

This is an example of what I mean by "dicing and slicing··

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[email protected] that we can use? Diamonds and hearts equate to money and love, for example? A spade could, through some trippy notion of "psychic fog", be a heart upside down - and a "black heart" gives us a partial out if we get the colour wrong. The black could indicate lost love. If it's a low valued card, we might begin describing how it feels as if it "stands alone" due to the lack of pips. If it's high, it's an image we're getting of "a boy apart from his mother" (covering the Queens and Jacks, the latter of which is naturally assumed to be younger than the monarch cards). If it's of a medium value, we might comment on its colour, its suit, and so on.

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a. 'lint NAKED DAY 'lisT

ere's a full effect. It's a demonstration of how a simple data model can produce a disproportionately potent effect when given the right presentation. It concerns the day of the week upon which an event, meaningful only to the spectator, falls. It's a subtle effect whose power lies in giving you the air of someone with heightened intuition (think ofpareidolia from Chapter 6). Let's begin with the data model. To understand it, imagine that Monday is day 1, Tuesday is day 2, and so on. The data model consists of a 12-digit number, with each digit corresponding to the day of the week on which the 7'tt of that month falls. The following table shows these numbers for 2011:

I~ITI~I~I~I~I,ITITI~INrl~l 7™

TABLE:

DAY OF EACH MONTH IN 2011

From this table, we can see that the 7'h January 2011, and therefore the 14'11, 21" and 28"', all fall on a Friday (day 5). It's also easy to work out the day of the week upon which any date falls. 12"' September 2011, for example, must be a Monday because the 14'h falls on day 3 (Wednesday). You can easily memorise the sequence by splitting it into four groups of three and creating the following picture of the arrangement in your mind 32 : lsl1l1l

1416121

1417131

lsiii3

TABLE: DAYS SPLIT INTO GP..OUPS OF THP..EE " See also Chapler 13

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[email protected] Given a random date of 5'h July 2011, we can work out with no real difficulty that the day of the week upon which it will fall, because according to the data model, the 7'h of July falls on day 4, so the 5th must fall two days earlier on a Tuesday. If we know any date in the current year, we can quickly and reliably find the day of the week upon which it falls.

From Model to Fffcct My original use for this mechanism was extremely simple and direct. I would hand the spectator an ordinary kitchen calendar, ask her to select a date and to imagine all the things she normally does on the day of the week upon which it occurs. I then had her tell me just the date. I'd patter for a moment or two about days of the week having different characters. All the while I pretended to look for slight flickers of recognition that would betray the day of the week she'd thought about so hard a moment earlier. As an effect, it played out fairly well, but it could obviously be made far better. The spectator could potentially work backwards and put it all down to some lightning arithmetic. On occasion, some smarty-pants would consult a calendar for several years in advance on his mobile phone to challenge me. I needed some way of making the date and day of the week float independently of each other and to make them far more personal. The eventual solution I came up with is as follows. First, I decided never to announce this as an effect. At an appropriate time, I simply begin to talk about how upcoming dates always have significance for us. They might be appointments we're dreading, personal anniversaries, or one-off dates. Whatever their significance, there are potentially many of such dates every year. As if grasping for a throwaway example, I ask the 70

[email protected] spectator to name a meaningful date - just the date and month name will do (let's assume 6th May. I also asked her to say why it's significant for her. As she does, I mentally calculate what day of the week it will fall upon. From the data model we can see instantly that 6th May 2011 falls on Wednesday. I now go on to explore for a minute or two the significance of the date with the spectator. Is it something she's dreading, like a dentist's appointment, or something good that she's looking forward to? I listen to her answer and take it seriously, sympathising about a dread or sharing the anticipation. Next, I change the subject slightly to the idea that not only dates but also certain days of the week have emotional significance. I explain that those astrologists who cross into the arcane field of numerology say that everyone has a special day of the week, called their "key day". This isn't necessarily the day of the week on which we were born, but discovering which is yours is believed in some cultures to be important for your future happiness. This, I say, is because if a significant date falls on anything other than her key day, she might perceive it in an unduly negative way. Here, I ask the spectator to think of an example of a past occasion when she though she'd be happy, only to find that she wasn't. I explain that in the same way, dates we're not looking forward to can cause us real anguish if they fall on the wrong days of the week for reasons we never consciously understand, and that when they fall on the right day we get through them without a problem. This might even be why we're sometimes unaccountably more 71

[email protected] frightened of a visit to the dentist on some occasions than on others, even though it's just a check up. This might even explain, I add, why some birthdays don't seem as good as others, even though the presents are better and we have more guests at our party. I tell the spectator that having talked to her for a while, and using knowledge of numerology, I believe that I have a good idea what her key day is. I say that it is almost certainly Wednesday (in this example). I then explain by giving a simple character reading for Wednesday. The idea here is to create a sense of identification with the day. I then mention a second choice I had for her day before I settled on Wednesday. I give a slightly less good personality reading for this second day. The purpose is to get her agreement that I've identified her key day, and to get her to buy into the idea that I can "see" personal days when I get to know people a little. The spectator still isn't aware that an effect is even underway yet. I can now ask casually if she happens to know what day of the week the date she mentioned earlier falls on. If she knows it, the connection is made and we have a revelation, but if she needs to, she can consult the calendar on her mobile phone. Either way, the spectator learns for herself that by an amazing cosmic coincidence, the date falls on her key day. If it's something she's looking forward to, I tell her I think she'll have a great time. If it's something she's not looking forward to, I explain that because it falls on her key day, that in some strange way the universe will be watching 72

[email protected] over her and that she shouldn't worry unduly about it. All shall be well. It's a simple effect - basically a self-worker - but it also creates a moment of wonder. There's a complete disconnection between asking for a date and giving the day of the week, but in the spectator's mind, a cosmic connection is made, and order jumps out of chaos with a positive message.

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9. NAKED Hoa.lU>llS

he great thing about the Naked approach is that it can be applied to good effect across the spectrum of mystery arts. Naked Horrors is a good example. Naked Horrors is based on an ingenious routine detailed in Chapter 6 of Theo Annemann' s standard reference work for mentalists, Practical Mental Magic 33 • In the original effect, attributed to Stuart Robson, you had the spectator select index cards with her choice of "horror" word written on them amongst others (corpse, murder, graveyard, and so on). The underlying method for divining the selected word has been used in several subsequent effects. In the original, each card was a different colour and corresponded to a number, either 1,2, 4, 8 or "extra". Adding up the numbers indicated by the colours selected gives a number corresponding to an entry on a master list, which you palm and consult at the appropriate time. Using Naked techniques, however, we extend the original effect to include seemingly random subject possibilities. In this version, we're going to use priming categories with particularly strong mental connections between concepts (called the forward strength or FSG) for the top item in the list and relatively weak ones for the rest. Please feel free to use your own categories if you have a copy of Naked Mentalism or Naked Mentalism II:

JJ

Available from, well, where can't you buy it?

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[email protected] The data model for this effect is very simple: I 2

3

4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Lettuce Dog Knife Clown Car Wedding Water Diamond Animal Dinner

TABLE 1: THE "NAKED Hoaaoas" DATA MoDEL

Next, there's the category card, which you hand to the spectator: A salad ingredient A pet animal A weapon Something you see in a circus A form of transport A ceremony you'd attend in church A liauid A precious iewel Something you find on a farm A meal you eat everv day TABLE 2: CATEGOl\.Y CAl\.D

The following cards are also handed to the spectator along with the category card:

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[email protected] Garden Book Water Atlas Gun TABLE

J:

Televisio n Movie Dinner Candle Water

Lettuce Movie Animal Mother Car CAl\.D "•"

Dog Silent Gun Son Wedding

TABLE 4= CAl\.D

Clown Father Book Car Envelope TABLE

"2"

Water Atlas Wedding Doctor Clock

.s: CAl\.D "4"

Diamond Floor Silent Animal Book

Fortune Clock Dinner Candle Doctor

TABLE 6 CAl\.D "S"

We also need some way of identi tying cards I, 2, 4 and 8. In the original effect, the cards were coloured. This is a 77

[email protected] perfectly good method, but a more subtle marking system may prevent spectators wondering about the colours. You could use plain index cards, for example, and work out what's been taken from what's left from their position on the table. You could also number the cards I, 2, 3 and 4, or even letter them (perhaps with Greek letters). As long as you remember that they have the values I, 2, 4, and 8 that's the important thing. To perform Naked Horrors, hand the spectator the categmy card and ask her to "use her intuition" to think of something that fits one of the categories. Now hand her the I, 2, 4 and 8 cards and ask her to select all cards containing it or something close to it and hand the rest back. Here's how to work out what she chose. As an example, the spectator retains cards I and 4. I +4=5. The fifth entry on the numbered list of targets is "Car". She must have selected a form of transport on the category card. Being based on the binary system of counting, no other combination of cards can make the same total. The other entries on each card simply pad them out to I 0 entries each and are essentially noise. You can add as many extra categories and cards as you like, but remember to ensure that they bear no relation to each other, or to the categories on the category card. Extra cards should have the numbers 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, and so on. One idea for those readers skilled in memory techniques (more ofwhich in Part 3) is to have several sets of cards covering different subjects sealed in different envelopes. The spectator has a free choice of envelope and they can all

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[email protected] be opened at the end. All you need to do is mark the envelopes so that you know which set of cards is in play.

The strength of this effect comes from the unspoken choices made by the spectator. Anneman says in the original write-up for "Horrors" that it plays out best when you slowly reveal details about the spectator's choice, and tease out thoughts and feelings to do with it. "This latter presentation is by far the best," he wrote, "and should be worked up as impressively as possible." There are plenty of alternate presentations you can use depending on your performance persona. If you're a master of psychological manipulation, for instance, it could be that you're subtly influencing the spectator to choose both a category and an item within it, which can implied in your revelation patter. Using the pragmagram technique from Chapter 5 of Naked Mentalism II, you can even weave bizarre images into your patter that slowly resolve into the spectator's choice before it's made.

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10. 'lk1 NAKID Ca.JDIT C'.AaD 'lisT

his qu~ck piece is based on something I noticed while searchmg for useful patterns of information on the faces of credit cards. It turns out that different card issuers use different initial digits in their cards' numbers. Some cards also have fewer than 16 digits in the card number. Here's what I discovered:

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Initial digit 3

Card Type American Express Visa Mastercard Discover

4

5 6

Number Length 15 13, 16 16 16

TABLE 1: CaEDIT CAli..D INITIAL DIGITS AND NUMBEll.. LENGTH

If you can get a couple of people to take out their credit cards and just focus on the first digit of the number, you can divine it if you can see what the card is. After all, the spectator is holding the card up in front of you to view it. You could be several feet away and still see type of card being used.

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II. NAKED llEADINGS

ave you ever wanted to delve into someone's mind directly and pull out specific events they've either forgotten about or have buried for years without any fishing or other cold reading techniques? This effect demonstrates how to do just that using what we learned in Part 1. To demonstrate, consider the following statements carefully, and keep score of how many you can link to specific events in your life: 1. There was someone in your life that no matter how hard you tried, they couldn't be persuaded to change their views despite being demonstrably wrong. There's possibly also a feeling of resentment that still pervades the memory. Did it end in a row or a parting of the ways, by any chance? 2. There was something you did, and which, despite knowing the consequences, you wanted to do because of the pleasure it would bring. Was it an indulgence beyond your monetary means, by any chance? 3. You were once in a situation where you felt in control, only to be betrayed by events or the desires of others. I think it embarrassed or even crushed you for a while, and it's stilJ something you mentalJy slap yourself over and ask how you could have been so dumb. 83

[email protected] 4. There's someone in your life about who you know deep down you need to change your opinion, but can't bring yourself to see him or her in a different light.

5. There's someone in the public eye that everyone seems to like, but whom you just can't stand, but you have no idea why. This isn't your average cold reading, and these clearly aren't Barnum statements. The first paragraph describes the outcome of an episode of confirmation bias occurring rather maddeningly in someone else. The second example recalls an episode during which you anchored to some aspect of a purchase that you knew you couldn't really otherwise justify. The third example describes you falling for the illusion of control. The fourth and fifth both describe confirmation bias again. We all fall prey to cognitive biases and logical fallacies throughout our lives, and the results are sometimes memorable for being painful or embarrassing. They're fantastic fodder for a cold reading about the spectator's past, about the people who populate those memories and the emotions that pepper them with meaning. The association principle can also help here. By asking what else the spectator remembers about the memory you help recall for her it becomes more vivid. Lead her on a path into the memory and let her rediscover the context.

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12. 'IHB NAKID HBADLINI

T

hBDICTION

his very simple effect allows you to send someone to a newsagent, buy a magazine, come back, open a sealed, dated prediction that has been held by someone else for several days, read the headline and details of several stories, and find them in the periodical. However, the periodical only appeared on the newsstand that morning. The secret is simplicity itself and is, I believe, a classic use of "ambient" information. Simply find a weekly periodical (I prefer New Scientist), and subscribe to its publisher's RSS feed. This is free to do and many web browsers have RSS readers built into them. If yours does not, there are also plenty of free RSS readers you can download. What most people don't realise is that from the day of publication (every Thursday in the case of New Scientist), the periodical's RSS feed will quietly begin to trail headlines and stories that will be in the next issue. One way you could use this principle is on local radio. Send or hand over to the show's producer or presenter your sealed prediction a couple of days before you go on the show. During the show, have the presenter ask someone to go and buy a copy of the magazine to prove that it's genuine. He can then open your envelope and find the stories throughout the show. The great advantage of this effect is that it takes up more time on air, which from the station's viewpoint is why you're there. If you include, say, five stories from the RSS feed, there are four "callbacks" that can be made throughout the show. If you're promoting a performance, this will also keep you in the listener's mind for longer than a simple five-minute appearance. 85

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'Iks NAKED Q.u1z hEDICTION

ears ago, quite by chance, I was talking to a friend of my sister's. The friend is a TV producer. She told me that because the contestants are usually very nervous at the start of TV quiz shows, they tend to tape the introductions at the end to get a better take. What good is this? Well, I've watched the UK brain-fest University Challenge for years After knowing about the trick of taping the introductions at the end, I started to pick up on the overall moods and "energy" of each team. The one that is down and defeated has usually lost. If they're both very energetic, it's probably been a good, close match. You can use information like this to make an impromptu prediction at the start of a quiz show. Most of the time you will be right, but because you can see both teams or contestants relative to each other's moods, you can also predict whether it'll be a close run thing or a terrible drubbing for the loser (my records show that I'm right about 80% of the time).

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PART J -LEARNING DATA MODELS

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14- OvJaVIIW OF 'IicHNIQ.UIS

aked effects can be ideal for performing remotely with the book in front of you (over the phone, for example) but to become proficient enough to perform them in person, at some point, you're going to have to memorise the data models that go with them. Since antiquity, it has been necessary for scholars and the adherents of religions to memorise vast amounts of stuff, sometimes even entire books. The Freemasons also insist on the memorisation of lengthy texts for their initiation rituals as a show of commitment. All Naked data models are of two basic types: those that require you to recall them in sequence (serial access - like a script), and those that require you to be able to access individual data items in any order (random access - like a database). There's no single technique that works best for memorising all data models. The best technique depends on the structure of the data you need to memorise, and the way in which you need to recall it. Picking the correct technique is therefore paramount! Once learned, recalling data models reinforces them in your mind by strengthening the physical connections made when learning them. Recall them to yourself in the shower, out walking the dog, when you can't sleep, even ironing your superman outfit- whenever and wherever you have a few minutes to yourself. Refresh them like this regularly, and you'll easily gain a level of fluency that far outstrips what you thought you could achieve, perhaps even just an hour or so earlier. In theory, there's no limit to the number 91

[email protected] of connections you can create between concepts, and so no limit on what you can remember. When you set out to memorise something using any of the methods in this chapter, you'll increase your recall immensely if you use as many senses as possible. This works especially well with the method of loci. If you can make the bizarre images you create have a sound, a smell, some movement and so on, do so!

Techniques for Serial Rtca11 Location, Location, Location The method of loci 34 is great for memorising data models consisting of sequences of information. It does, however, require a little setting up. Once done, however, you can quickly remember potentially vast amounts of information. The method makes use of an imaginative mental journey around a familiar physical path. Along the path, you place bizarre objects. The path you imagine should be somewhere you know well, such as going from room to room around your home or walking down your street. In fact, the more familiar the place or journey is to you, and the more detail you can naturally recall about it, the better. To prepare, spend some time mentally travelling the path so that it is completely familiar to you. If possible, also physically walk the route. Think the route forwards, noting all the significant points along the way, and also backwards. Try to see it from all angles. Try to experience all the details of the path in every sense: sights, sounds, "Loci being the plural of"locus", meaning a location

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[email protected] smells, feel, and so on. Use every scrap of imagination to really bring the path to life in your mind. This might seem like a lot of work at first, but in Medieval times, scholars would choose a large public building such as a cathedral 35 • They would walk the same route around the building every day, pausing to take in each scene as they went, until they were completely familiar with every part of it. The amount of information these people could subsequently store in the mental model of the path is still truly remarkable today. To now use the path to memorise a sequence of data, you walk it in your mind's eye, dropping off bizarre objects at set points that represent and remind you of each item you need to remember. When I say bizarre, I mean bizarre too! Make them rude, shocking, sexy - anything, in fact, that creates both a vivid image in your mind, and reminds you instantly of the data item. One of my own mental locations stores an old '70s stereo, a soccer player being replaced during a game, a huge arrow covered in lights, an apple with the phrase "this is an orange" written on it, a photocopier spewing out pictures of a face, a plastic politician, a soldier seen through a cross hair, and someone on his knees begging a secret policeman not to torture him. These objects correspond to the eight basic tools of the propagandist: stereotypes, substitution of names, selectivity, lying, repetition, assertion, pinpointing the enemy, and appeal to authority. The images are strange, but they're instantly linked in my mind to the principles they help me remember. The more automatic you can make This is why the tcchni~ue ha~ become known as the "memory palace". The larger space you map in your journey, the more places there will he into which you

B

can later drop things to remember.

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[email protected] the associations the better. The stereo instantly reminds me of stereotypes, for example. What's really good about the method of loci is that when you become very familiar with a data model stored using it, you'll find that you can dip in at random to access most if not all the data it represents.

The Object Alternative An alternative to basing your use of the method of loci on a journey around a place you know well is to mentally put all the things you need to remember on or around an object. If possible, use an object to which you have easy access and can study at will, or that is easily conjured in your mind in as much detail as you can possibly muster. The object could be anything, an alarm clock, a car, or even the human body (especially a specific human body!). Imagine, for instance a freestanding floor fan. It has four legs at the bottom, a stem, four control buttons half way up the stem, a mains lead, a plug, the motor casing, various points around the blade guard, the three blades inside the guard, and so on. When seen like this, even simple objects have plenty of locations to which you apply your bizarre objects.

Mnemonic Sequence Rrca11 The mnemonic method is great for recalling short sequences of data. It's fast and efficient. Consider the following two nonsense phrases. What do they have in common? I. Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain

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[email protected] 2. Princess Diana Never Shagged36 Prince Andrew In each case, the initial letters of each word spell out a sequence of data that must appear in a strict order. The first lists the colours of the rainbow; from long to short wavelengths 37 , but the second is more obscure. It's the ISO 7-Iayer model of networking protocols 38 • I overheard the latter being said many years ago by a tutor on a network security course as she reminded herself of the order of the layers. She said it just once, but the striking imagery it produced stuck with me. All you need for the mnemonic approach is to generate a nonsense phrase with the same number of words as the sequence you need to memorise. The phrase itself should have its own inner logic. Richard of York really did give battle in vain, and Princess Diana never did go to bed with Prince Andrew (as far as I'm aware).

Techniques for Random Recall Pegging If an effect involves converting a number into an associated piece of data, pegging is probably the system for you. Once the pegs are learned, they enable you to memorise long lists of data for later random access. It works a little like a computer's RAM. The microprocessor sends an address representing a memory location to the RAM. The RAM responds by sending back the value stored at that address. In pegging, each peg acts as a memory location. You literally hang your data off each 6

J 17 31

To "shag" means to have sex with in UK English Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violcl. Physical, data, network, session, prcscnLation, and application.

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[email protected] peg. Here's the basic method. We'll cover how to make things easier to remember later. For now, just familiarise yourself with the method. Let's suppose we need to memorise eleven unique items. First, we need to find something that naturally rhymes with each number. Here's the list I came up with: NUIIBJ!.JL l.UIYIIIS

Zero One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten

WITH

Hero Bomb Loo Tree Door Live Sticks Heaven Weight Line Ben

The idea of choosing objects or concepts that naturally rhyme makes the whole list easier to memorise. Now, let's store a series of random words using this mental "RAM'.

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[email protected] NUKBD.

OBJECT

Zero One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten

Glass Chain Life belt Lion Telephone Television Horse Cigarette Candle Book Hat

To memorise each item, all we need do is create an image linking the location (zero, one and so on) with the rhymed word we associated with it earlier, and the word we need to remember. Here's an example: ZERO is a HERO drinking from a GLASS ONE is a BOMB wrapped in CHAIN to stop it exploding TWO is on the LOO wearing a LIFEBELT to stop falling in THREE is a TREE up against which a LION is peeing FOUR is a DOOR behind which a TELEPHONE is ringing FIVE is LIVE, like the show on the TELEVISON SIX is the STICKS of the steeplechase a HORSE is running SEVEN is HEAVEN when you smoke a CIGARETTE EIGHT is the WEIGHT of a giant CANDLE NINE is a LINE in a BOOK TEN is BEN wearing a HAT 97

[email protected] Three is a tree. The tree has a lion taking a pee up against it. It's a striking image and the association leads you from three to lion with little effort. With a little practice, you can remember large amounts of data using pegging, and the locations in the original list don't have to be numeric. When I first developed the Naked Book Test that appeared in volume I of Naked Mentalism, I had to memorise all the word lists and the orders in which the six words appeared in each. I decided to use the bizarre imagery conjured up by the nonsense phrases the lists made when read in order. This made it very easy to remember the lists. Charles Dickens in a snowy Victorian London street scene lamenting that poverty is "the PART the POOR PLAY" is how I remember the "P" words, for example.

Positional Pictures Using mental imagery that includes the physical position of the things you need to remember can vastly improve their subsequent recall. For example, the Naked Day Test demands you learn a 12-digit sequence. Presenting the data as follows is tough to learn:

If you split this long list into smaller chunks of data, perhaps four groups of three digits each, the smaller lists of digits suddenly becomes a lot easier to remember:

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1 ~1F~I~I 1

l~l~yl 1~1

These groups split the year into four quarters, roughly equivalent to the seasons. Patterns also begin to emerge that are not readily apparent in the original 12-digit string.

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FINAL 'IkouGHTs

That's it for another volume of Naked Mentalism. I sincerely hope you found something of value in what I've written. This book took a long time to research and write, and even longer to distil down into I 00 pages. Above all, I hope that even if you don't do mentalism as your main form of performance that you still got something useful from it. The techniques in Part I are so easily applicable to other fields that it would be a shame if only mentalists used them. Why should they have all the fun? Will there be a fourth volume? I don't know. One thing is for sure, though: there are still plenty of"bugs" in common sense thinking that we can exploit. Maybe, because these bugs can be used in such a wide range of situations, maybe the next volume shouldn't even be called Naked Mentalism at all. We'll see. In the meantime, have lots of fun and don't do anything that could be considered ugly with what I've written. Remember: you're not immune to these bugs yourself. ..

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