engaged by large companies to do employee motivational training or to entertain customers at expensive promotional meetings. These gatherings almost always occur in first-class hotels, in Germany and abroad. For these occasions I wished to find a headline prediction that was surefire and completely unexplainable. In addition, as is my bent, I wanted a method that would baffle everyone, public and magicians alike. It took years to develop a method that satisfied these criteria.
The methodology I finally focused on was a very bold approach sometimes known as "The Bally Prediction" (after a version of it marketed by A1 Stevenson). The concept is far from new. Joseph Dunninger is said to have used a version of it, and Donn Davison did the most thorough written treatment of it to date in his 1977 monograph titled Dy-no-mite
Prediction. My handling features a number of new refinements and psychological subtleties that enhance the effect while making the method completely impenetrable.
Two to three weeks prior to the performance, the head of the company receives an envelope clearly marked PREDICTION. He is asked not to open the envelope, but to bring it with him to the event. Near the end of the performance this dignitary is asked to open the envelope in front of the group and read its contents. The performer remains in the audience as all this is done. The newspaper headlines of that day are identical (or as close as desired) to the written statements made by the performer weeks in advance! Please note the following points:
♦ Neither the envelope nor the prediction are switched.
♦ The performer need not personally know the person who receives the mailed prediction.
♦ During the performance, the performer positions himself in the audience and never approaches the assisting dignitary.
In this version a self-sealing envelope with a window is used. With a soft eraser neatly remove one half of the self-adhesive all along the flap. The result is a self-sealing envelope that can be easily opened. Into this envelope put a clean sheet of paper with your name and address on it. These must be visible through the window of the envelope. Then seal the envelope, place a stamp on it and take it to the post office. Once there, explain to the clerk that you are mailing the envelope to a stamp collector and ask that the stamp be clearly postmarked
for your philatelic friend. The round-stamp date must be clear, as this is very important for the performance. The date should also precede the performance by two to three weeks.
Now mail the letter. With some luck it should arrive at your home the next day. Carefully open the flap and remove the sheet of paper with your name and address on it. And don't throw it out. You can use it again.
On the day of performance, write the newspaper headline or captions from the front page stories on a fresh sheet of paper, preferably using a typewriter or a computer printer. Important: This prediction paper can be your personal stationery, but it must not carry an address for the person who will receive it, or your own!
Slip this paper into the envelope and seal it. Apply an additional line of adhesive to the "fatigued" seal to ensure that it remains stuck shut and arouses no suspicion. Next, write the company executive's name and address on a self-adhesive mailing label and stick it onto the cellophane window. Finally, write PREDICTION—DO NOT OPEN boldly across the back of the envelope.
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Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.