Mentalism Effect: Memory Test

Mentalism Memory Test

Mnemonics or memory systems are a key component of mentalism. Here we take a look at a simple memory test which will amaze your audience!

The effect is to have members of the audience call out 15-20 things and for you to recall them in any order. While some people are familiar with memory systems the effect is still impressive and is used by many mentalists. Give it a try with friends, it is relatively easy to learn and you may be pleasantly surprised :)

There are several memory systems you can use to accomplish this mentalism effect. In this article we look at 1 tried and tested method which should serve you well.

Step 1

  • Memorise a key for numbers 1-20
  • The key for each number is an object which you associate in your mind with a number
  • The object should have some relevance to the number. One way of doing this is through rhyming

Example Memory Key

1 – Sun, 2 – Shoe, 3 – Sea, 4 – Saw, 5 – Hive, 6 – Sticks, 7 – Heaven, 8 – Gate, 9 – Mine, 10 – Pen, 11 – Devon, 12 – Shelf, 13 – Skirting, 14 – Flooring, 15 – Lifting, 16 – Pixie, 17 – Tin of Beans, 18 – Painting, 19 – Lightning, 20 – Horn of Plenty (Ice Cream)

Step 2

Each object on the list should be made into a vivid image in the mind’s eye. The object should also be performing an action, which should be consistent each time you visualise the object.

For instance: (1.) The sun could have a face which is smiling brightly or could be emitting heat rays, (2.) Something could be being placed into the shoe, (3.) The sea could be lapping at the shore.

Performance

1. Get a member of the audience to write a list of numbers 1-20 on a sheet of paper or blackboard. This person is to record objects as they are called out. The sheet is faced towards the audience so they can see it but you can’t.

2. Ask someone in the audience to call out an object for No. 1.

3. As soon as you hear what the object is, immediately associate it with the relevant object from the key. The object should interact with the object from the key and the image should be unusual. For example if a mobile phone is suggested the image could be the sun laughing at an old 1980s style mobile phone.

4. As soon as you have created a vivid image immediately forget it and move on to the next number and do the same again until you have done all 20.

5. Once all 20 items have been called out invite members of the audience to call out numbers between 1 and 20 at random and recall them using your key.

Notes:

  • Invite the audience to give detailed objects, this can add humour
  • The quicker you can memorise and recall the objects the more impressive the effect is
  • Though we have chosen 20 objects for the sake of a performance the number can be much higher, you just need to extend the key

 

NLP Eye Patterns

NLP eye patterns are a useful thing to know for mentalists.

A lot of the theories of NLP have been debunked by scientists however, eye patterns are one part of NLP which has stood up to scientific analysis.

When a person is accessing information from their brain, their eyes look in different directions as they access different types of information.

For a person who is ‘normally’ oriented there are 6 directions the person will look in. This gives the observer information about the type of information the person is accessing, whether that be visual, auditory, kinesthetic or self-talk.

From Your View Point

NLP Eye Patterns
  • VC – Up and left, Visual Constructed. Person constructing a visual image.
  • VR – Up and right, Visual Remembered. Person remembering something visual.
  • AC – Sideways and left, Auditory Constructed. Person constructing a sound.
  • AR – Sideways and right, Auditory Remembered. Person remembering a sound.
  • K – Down and left, Kinesthetic. Person accessing feelings
  • AD – Down and right, Auditory Digital. Self talk

Eye patterns are useful to know. For one thing they can help you deduce if someone is telling the truth.

To do this first establish a baseline by asking a few questions (because not everyone is normally oriented). For example ask ‘what colour is your front door?’ for a visual remembered response, ‘what’s your favourite song?’ for an auditory remembered response, ‘imagine a pink elephant’ for visual constructed response.

Pay attention to where the eyes go as the person responds, some people’s eye movements are more pronounced than others.

Once you have a baseline you can tell if someone is remembering something or ‘constructing’ something on subsequent questions. This can help in lie detection.

Eye patterns aren’t always clear cut for more complicated questions. For example, to answer a question a person may access different parts of the brain involving images, sounds and feelings before they respond.

NLP experts claim to be able to view such sequences and make meaningful conclusions about them. They use the information for therapeutic work.

The Drunkard’s Walk Review

The Drunkard’s walk is a massively insightful book about… luck!

Think you are on a streak of extreme bad luck and failure even though you have the talent to be a star?  You could be right.

Put your successful life down to your immense ability and good looks? You could just have been in the right place at the right time.

History of Randomness

The Greeks did not believe in randomness and thought things worked according to the will of the Gods.

In fact the Greeks didn’t even have a number 0, it wasn’t until the 9th century that the concept of 0 was introduced by an Indian mathematician.

The Romans made some progress but it wasn’t until the 16th century that the first book on uncertainty was published, written by an Italian gambler!

It was at this time in Italy that the scientific revolution was taking place and there were other advancements in the study of chance for example Galileo’s work.

Pascal’s triangle, Pascal’s wager, Principia by Newton, the Bernoulli principle, Bayesian theory, the Laplace distribution and String theory have all helped advance our understanding of probability.

Randomness Rules

Our ability matters but so does randomness…

A stock speculator predicted the outcome of the US stock exchange for 12 years using nothing but the Superbowl to make his predictions…

Bruce Willis would not have got his breakthrough if he hadn’t gone to see his girlfriend in LA and chanced upon an audition for Moonlighting.

Bill Gates happened on a lucky series of events and went on to be the richest man in the world.

An average type of baseball player called Merris beat Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961.

Understanding Randomness

First impressions count big time!

All of our perceptions are based on the initial information we receive about something and we don’t even realise we are doing it. This shortcut means we are prone to making mistakes and not looking at information objectively.

Many famous authors and moviemakers like George Lucas, JK Rowling and John Grisham had their work rejected countless times before they got a breakthrough.

If a sequence is long enough we will observe many unusual sequences. A sequence of good luck can be viewed as being influenced by skill, a phenomenon called the hot hand fallacy.

Derren Brown uses this principle in The System

A lack of control leads to anxiety so there is a fundamental clash between human nature and the true nature of things.

Conclusions

Do you think rich and successful people are the most gifted and hardest working? They may just have had all the lucky breaks. And take it easy on the beggar in the street, he might have had a serious streak of bad luck that could have happened to anyone.

In your own life remember that the more times you roll the dice the more chance you have of making it – so don’t give up and try lots of things!

Spend more time reflecting on the possibility that you might be wrong about something instead of presuming you are right…

If you really want to get into the spirit of things read Dice Man by Luke Rheinhart and get rolling that dice 😉

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Sway, The Irresistible Pull Of Irrational Behaviour – Review

People are irrational. Every day there are unseen psychological forces at work controlling your actions and you are not even aware of them… until you’ve read this book! (unless you’re a psychologist).

Loss Aversion

We don’t want to lose and we’ll do anything to avoid it. Whether its capital tied up in stocks and shares, paying extra for food, or if its our reputation on the line, we avoid loss like the plague. We want to gain but we don’t want to lose more because loss is painful.

If a loss is more meaningful we’ll avoid it even more and even the word loss has a powerful effect on us.

We see a regular $20 being sold for $200 at an auction, people giving up buying eggs and investors losing everything when they refused to cut their losses.

Value Attribution

Our brains have a useful shortcut as to whether we should pay attention to something, we give it an instant value. This shortcut can trip us up though because things aren’t always what they seem. What about that priceless antique at the jumble sale or a world class violinist…

Diagnostic Bias

Beware diagnostic bias. You are constantly labelling things then ignoring or ‘refining’ all future information about it. But what if you were wrong in the first instance?

And its not just you who is affected by your grossly innacurate view of things. People react to the labels placed on them (The Cameleon Effect) and this can have profound effects on a persons ability, confidence and health.

Fairness

Fairness is irrational. People have an acute sense of fairness however it is vastly affected by cultural factors so your idea of whats fair will be different to someone in another part of the world.

Commitment

Committing to a course of action can undoubtedly help us achieve our goals but the examples in the book show catastrophic plane crashes and people losing everything when they commit to a course of action then don’t rationally evaluate things along the way.

Selfish or Altruistic?

When performing tasks we are either being driven by a selfish part of our brain or the altruistic part. Both can’t operate at the same time and the selfish brain will hijack the altruistic brain given half a chance.

For this reason we should be careful to offer a reward for tasks which may be done better for altruistic reasons. Such behaviour has seen great teachers become poor ones and rewarded children perform worse on tests.

Group Dynamics

In groups we see 4 types of people – initiators, blockers, supporters, observers and they are all important in helping the group reach correct decisions. People are reluctant to voice opinions which differ from those of a group, unless someone else has voiced an alternative opinion.

Key Learnings

Irrational sways are everywhere an affecting our lives. Being aware of them can help us to avoid the pitfalls of irrational behaviour.

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Derren Brown, Tricks of the Mind Extracts. Audiobook Review

This audiobook is taken from the fantastic book Tricks of the Mind and teaches the basics of hypnosis, a couple of magic tricks and some powerful memory techniques.

Disk 1: Hypnosis

Derren says he thinks hypnosis is very safe but gives 7 rules to bear in mind just to be extra cautious:

  1. Don’t try to hypnotise someone who is clearly disturbed or has epilepsy
  2. Don’t attempt any therapeutic change unless you are suitably qualified
  3. Treat hypnosis as a gentle tool
  4. Everything you do contributes to the hypnosis. Don’t get flustered
  5. At end make sure person is completely out of belief that they are hypnotised
  6. Take it slowly and only try in a controlled environment
  7. Treat it first as a relaxation tool and move slowly into administering suggestions

What you learn:

  • In its simplest form hypnosis is pacing someone’s experience then leading them to behaviours you want.
  • Use presupposition. This means you presuppose something to be true eg. as your eyes get heavier/ you can wonder how deeply you are going into trance
  • Use double binds where the only options are 2 you have suggested.
  • Tone of voice – gentle and relaxed
  • Use imagery to involve all the senses
  • Don’t contradict yourself and don’t be specific

Framework:

  1. Prepare subject and induce light stages of trance, this may include eye closure
  2. Deepen the trance through a metaphor such as going down the stairs
  3. Carry out your hypnotic work
  4. Fully awaken the subject

Disk 2: Magic

Coin Trick – A Coin Slide

The trick involves sliding a coin off a table, pretending to pick it up and pulling it into your lap.

The trick is enhanced by using another coin for misdirection and placing the coins on the table in advance.

Card trick – A Sucker Trick

  1. Get someone to shuffle cards (need someone with basic overhand shuffle)
  2. Look at cardface then immediately turn away and spread the deck in your hands, showing everyone faces of deck
  3. Turn face down and place squared up on table
  4. Bottom card is key card
  5. Get person to cut deck in 2 and place top half to your right
  6. Turn away and remove card he cut to (top card of bottom half) and look at it
  7. Pick up bottom half
  8. Tell him to replace card
  9. Get person to shuffle cards again
  10. Say you will put cards face up on table and he is not to react if you see his card
  11. Turn over 1 at a time, card after key card is his card. Carry on after chosen card appears but make sure index of chosen card remains visible to you
  12. Stop then ask to bet that next card turned over will be the card
  13. Then reach for the card in pie and turn over

Magic tips:

  • Most of the magic is created after the trick
  • A state of amazement leaves spectators more open to suggestion
  • To make them look less foolish people will trick themselves eg. Think they definitely saw card in magicians hand
  • Magic is helped by people watching closely and using the off beat when both you and they relax
  • Conjurer creates false trail of events
  • Best to be simple and direct

Disk 3: Memory

No such thing as photographic memory. A few people have an idetic memory and can hold the image of a scene in their minds but it typically can’t be held for long and is prone to distortions. Individuals with great memories use rich mnemonic strategies.

Memory is a set of processes. We can remember 7 or so units after which point we instinctively want to break it down into smaller chunks.

Linking System:

  1. Use vivid images and attach strong emotions
  2. Elements should interact
  3. Picture should be unusual

Uses of linking system – shopping lists, tasks, speeches and for actors

Drawback – if stuck on 1 word system breaks down

Loci System:

  1. Use a route you know with locations on the way.
  2. Take a list of things and relate an item to each location.
  3. Place a strong visual representation at each location.
  • Memory palaces – Expand number of loci eg. In your house
  • Its better to have action take place inside something
  • You need to go through things in fixed order eg. Clockwise
  • You can use for permanent memory.
  • Expand loci – have a door from your house lead to another familiar building. Use places from real life eg. museums you have visited

Remembering Names

  1. When you meet with someone immediately think of someone you already know with the same name
  2. Imagine person in front of you has been made up to look at bit like the person you know

or

  1. Connect name with another image eg. Mike becomes a microphone stand, bill becomes an invoice
  2. Find something memorable about the person’s appearance. Better to be a physical feature
  3. Link the 2 together
  • Its best to make image as efficient as possible
  • Can put other info into scene
  • Importance of reviewing

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Magic And Mentalism Festival King’s Arms Salford

Eggs Sausage Peas (ESP)

I arrived at the King’s Arms to be welcomed by a silver faced man organising the Ghost tour!

It was a 1 hr show based on the Egg Sausage Peas show which is 2 hrs.

I have checked the web for Jonathan Royle and some of the comments on forums are less than complimentary but I hadn’t checked before and this hadn’t coloured my view of the show.

I thought the show was great. The audience was not that large but was attentive and enthusiastic.

The Show

Got started with some comedy warm up tricks eg. ‘can you guess what word I am going to predict?’ No – pulls out card with No on. A lady picked a celebrity which was Simon Cowell and Jonathan Royle pulls out 3 cards with pictures of babies on then picture of Simon Cowell, which was an impressive prediction.

A guy was asked up on stage for a card prediction. A deck of cards tied by an elastic band were thrown out and 3 members of the audience including me looked at a card each. I had 10 of clubs.

Jonathan chose 1 card to write down and the audience member rang a friend who chose the other 2.

Jonathan wrote 3 numbers on a card and read them out then asked us each to sit down individually if our card had been read out. One by one we all sat down.

5 stars: 5 members of the audience were chosen to get up on stage and they had to choose masks with celebrity faces on. The faces were then matched up with favourite colours but in the reveal we saw the trick had gone wrong.

Next was a trick on the power of positive thinking. Quite a big guy was selected to sit on a chair and the other 4 members of the audience tried to lift him with 2 fingers put together. They tried with signs around their necks on which was written at first negative emotions then positive emotions, and with the positive signs the man was lifted off his chair.

This was followed by a trick where one of the audience selects a number 1-6, a spike is placed on that number under a cup and a dice is rolled to decide which cups were to be smashed using only bare hands. After one of the earlier tricks had gone wrong this one was a bit nerve wracking!

There were a few more tricks which went well including predicting a cartoon character from a book and predicting a date written on the bottom of a tray.

Luca Volpe

The Show

  • A member of the audience had to choose between 2 cards, one with a 50 euro note in. The one with no money in was chosen
  • The assistant guessed the amount of money I had in my pockets
  • He predicted who had drawn which picture out of 4 volunteers
  • He revealed some writing and numbers on a scroll at the end of the show which matched a newspaper cutting a lady made on stage

 

What Every Body Is Saying, Joe Navarro – Review

What Every Body is Saying is a detailed book on body language by one of the world’s leading experts.

Joe Navarro has dedicated his life to studying body language, a passion which began aged 8 and led him to a 25 year career in the FBI.

A mix of theory, scientific facts and careful observations fill the book with revealing insights.

Chapter 1: Mastering the Secrets of Nonverbal Communication

Nonverbal communication constitutes 65% of all interpersonal communication and if your not already you should start paying attention because our body language tells the truth!

Joe has 10 commandments of body language which include conscious and continuous observation, establishing baselines, looking out for changes, discomfort and not staring at people 😉

Chapter 2: Living Our Limbic Legacy

Think you’re clever – well you should be, you have 3 brains!

Your mammalian ‘limbic’ brain controls your body language and works on a freeze, fight then flight basis.

This survival mechanism evolved millenia ago and is still useful in our survival today. When we are comfortable we demonstrate high confidence and when not comfortable we show low confidence behaviours.

If we are uncomfortable we use pacifying behaviours to stimulate our brains into feeling better. There are differences between men and women but in general these behaviours take the form of  touching our necks, our faces, whistling, yawning, touching our legs and hugging ourselves.

Chapter 3: Getting a Leg Up on Body Language

Forget eye contact and hugs, if you want to know what someone is feeling take a closer look at their legs!

Peoples’ legs give away uncensored information about their inner most thoughts.

Look out for happy feet, which way feet are pointing, the knee clasp and leg splay to gauge what someone is thinking.

If we are comfortable we will cross our legs, and lovers will mirror each others legs. Significant changes in leg movement, foot freeze and the foot lock and leave indicate a lack of comfort.

If you want to know if someone likes you when you meet them when you have shaken their hand see if they stay still or move towards or away from you.

People walk in 40 different ways!

Chapter 4: Torso Tips

People turn towards things they like and away from things they don’t. If we can’t turn away from something we dislike we use our arms as a shield.

When trying to assert dominance people may puff up their chests or splay their torso.

Like the legs, the torso is honest, partly because it contains all our organs!

Chapter 5: Knowledge Within Reach

Arms are used to display dominance for example arms akimbo and the hooding effect, we throw our arms in the air when we are happy and hug people we like. Touching someone’s arm is one of the best ways to instantly gain rapport.

We also put jewellery on our arms to demonstrate wealth.

Chapter 6: Getting a Grip

Our human hands are unique amongst the animals and by using them correctly we can become more persuasive, likeable and credible :)

You can offend people with your hands by pointing, snapping your fingers or flipping the ‘bird’.

Look out for steepling, thumb displays, genital framing, frozen hands, hand wringing, neck touching, microexpressions as all give away our subconscious thouhts.

When shaking hands, don’t try to assert dominance it doesn’t work, giving a good firm handshake is the best bet!

Chapter 7: The Minds’s Canvas

Our facial expressions are a universal language. Humans are capable of more than 10,000 different facial expressions.

Because we can control our facial expressions we can mask emotions but faces are still useful for gauging emotion.

Look out for eye blocking behaviours like squinting and pupil constriction. People do this when they don’t like what they see. Likewise, if what they say is agreeable we see pupil dilation, eyebrow arching and flashbulb eyes.

Contempt is shown by the rolling of the eyes and sneering. The lips, nose, forehead, cheeks all give information away and If the face is sending mixed signals, the negative emotion is more honest.

Interestingly eye contact does not indicate honesty and is often used by psychopaths!

Chapter 8: Detecting Deception

Despite the inherent honesty of our body language, when the body lies, its still hard to tell. Even the most gifted body language readers can only detect deception 60% of the time. Polygraphs are only 60-80% accurate. That’s because lying is a survival tool.

When trying to detect deception make sure you know the base level of body language when comfortable. Look out for blocking using objects, pacifying behaviour, clusters of behaviours, synchrony and emphasis.

Pay attention and get a good view!

Chapter 9: Final Thouhts

We are taught to listen to what people say, see what peoples bodies are telling you and a whole new world of communication will open up!

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Dynamo Magician Impossible Review

Disc 1

In part 1 Dynamo visits Miami, Manchester and London. He presents an award at the Prince’s Trust awards, hangs out with Ian Brown and amazes some sexy women.

Some of his tricks on this disc include twisting a glass bottle, stealing someone’s identity and levitating a guitar!

Dynamo performs a number of mind reading tricks in part 1 including an impressive mind read on Ian Brown.

He performs two other mentalism tricks in London. For the first Dynamo gets two people who know each other to name the same country and repeats this with three different pairs and three different countries. He also does a trick where he touches the male partner of a young couple and the girl feels it!

Oh and did I mention the walking on the Thames thing… well he does that too :)

Disc 2

In part 2 Dynamo is back on the streets of Bradford and London, visits the Snowbombing festival in the Alps, and tops things off by amazing the guests at Rios Ferdinand’s party.

He defies gravity again with bank cards and coins, turns snow into diamonds, drives blindfold round a racetrack and makes his exit from Rio’s party by walking through a glass wall.

In London Dynamo exactly guesses the amount of change in someone’s wallet and back in Bradford he performs 3 mind reads, including a contact on someones phone. Hypnosis is surely at play in the walking through glass effect.

Disc 3

Dynamo’s mentalism tricks are undoubtedly the strongest effect in this episode. I am talking about mind reading 5 guys playing dominos at a park in Miami and mind reading 2 songs from a local DJ.

The effects he does around the pool table are also very impressive.

The tricks with the biggest ‘wow’ factor are effects at a roof party where Dynamo seemingly teleports and another where he blows letters from a cinema billboard.

He also does a cool trick where he seaparates the ice, water and teabag from an iced tea and burns a $20 then makes it reappear inside a lightbulb.

Disc 4

Dynamo performs some really cool mentalism tricks in this episode. He mind reads a number between 1-1000 from Nick Hogan and a random place from a girl in the street and Natalie Imbruglia. He draws the same as a street artist back to back too.

Dynamo stretches himself physically in this episode, stopping his heart for 10 seconds and bench pressing 3 x his own bodyweight in the gym.

There is also seemingly a miracle when Dynamo brings a wall full of ornamental butterflies to life and an amazing prediction live on Radio 1.

Bonus Disc

Behind the scenes and extra footage.

Interestingly Dynamo says he is not a mind reader though does use some techniques to create that illusion.

Rating:

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Mentalist Profile: Dynamo

Dynamo AKA Stephen Frayne is a magician and mentalist from Bradford in the UK. Born in 1982, Dynamo grew up on the deprived Delph Hill estate in Bradford.

Dynamo says:

‘It helps to have a skill growing up around here (in Delph Hill), for some its breaking and entering, for me it’s magic’.

Starting Out

Dynamo began learning magic at the age of 11 to get school bullies off his back and started devoting more time to magic when he moved in with his grandparents at the age of 15.

His grandpa Kenneth used to perform magic in bars around Bradford and showed Dynamo some magic. Dynamo would spend night and day practising and reading every magic book he could lay his hands on.

Starting out he couldn’t even shuffle a pack of cards. If you see his skills now that’s hard to believe!

Early Career

Fastforward to 2004 and Dynamo was loaned some money by UK Charity the Prince’s Trust to buy a video camera. He moved to London and began shooting videos.

This was right around the time Youtube was starting to get popular and soon Dynamo’s street magic videos were getting 100,000s of views; millions of people around the world were watching him amaze people in the capital.

Dynamo’s increasing popularity gave him the opportunity to perform on the celebrity circuit, performing for such celebs as Coldplay and Paris Hilton.

Magician to the Stars

Now Dynamo bills himself as magician to the stars, performing at red carpet and other celebrity events around the world. He says playing to celebs like Pharell Williams, Paris Hilton and De La Soul is a dream come true.

Dynamo has also made numerous TV appearances. His first TV appearance was on Richard & Judy and he has since appeared numerous times including charity events, adverts and panel shows.

He has released 2 DVDs, based on his TV shows Dynamo’S Concrete Playground (Dvd) [2006] and Dynamo: Magician Impossible [DVD].

Style

Dynamo brings elements of bodypopping, breakdancing and MCing to his magic to give a modern urban style.

He performs up close magic and mentalism as well as larger pieces like the ‘walking on the Thames’ trick seen in Dynamo: Magician Impossible [DVD].

He still loves the energy of performing magic on the streets and the power it has to bring different people together and says that is the greatest buzz.

Dynamo incorporates mentalism into his performance using mindreading and hypnosis for some of his effects.

Interesting Facts

The stage name Dynamo was adopted after a magic convention at the New York Hilton in 2002. He was performing to a group of magicians when a member of the audience shouted out ‘That kid’s a Dynamo!’

Dynamo was diagnosed with Crones disease when he was a kid and was hospitalised several times with it.

Dynamo’s favourite place is Miami.

Quotes

‘Sometimes I wonder if my life has all been an illusion but if there’s one thing I’ve learned its that reality is only what you make it’

‘Everybody has the power to be extraordinary, no matter where they come from or what their circumstance, its just a matter of belief’

‘Some people think its impossible to change the future but in reality the future is only what you make it’