Effect 22 Four Thought

You produce a stack of forty or so business cards and show them to the audience. The cards have various instructions to think of a random number, a color, a popular meal, famous actor, politician, country etc.

Gathering up the cards, you invite another spectator to take part in the experiment. You ask him to verify that each card has instructions to think of different things. He agrees that they do.

Placing the cards face down on the table, you ask him to cut the cards anywhere he likes and take the card he cuts to. The other cards are discarded.

The spectator then concentrates on the four things listed on the card. You then correctly name the four things he was thinking of.

This effect, based on a principle known as dual reality, takes guts to perform but the results are worth it. Dual reality means that the spectator's experience of the effect differs from that of the audience but both experiences are still valid.

As well as taking guts, this effect also requires a fair amount of preparation - in particular making up the special pack of cards with which to perform the trick.

These can be hand written or printed with a computer. Choose whatever method best suits your performance style.

The stack is made up of three different types of cards: two "spectator" cards (shown to the spectators), twenty one "volunteer" cards (shown to your volunteer) and twenty "force" cards (ultimately, the card chosen by your volunteer).

The two spectator cards look like this:

For the "volunteer" cards, make 10 of one and 11 of the other of the following two cards:

Think of the actor Al Pacino Think of the colour yellow Think of the number 192 Think of lasagna and chips

Think of the colour green Think of the composer Beethoven Think of the country France Think of the number 752

And all twenty "force" cards look like this:

Using a sharp craft knife or guillotine, trim about a 1mm wide strip off the bottom (longest) edge of each "force" card.

Then stack them face up in the order below (from bottom to top):

Force card, volunteer card, force card, volunteer card, force card, volunteer card...

and so on, with the top two cards ending up as "volunteer" cards of two different types. The two "spectator" cards then go on top, completing the stack.

To perform the effect, select your volunteer and have him take a seat on stage. Pick up the stack and approach the audience, explaining that you have a special deck of cards that instruct someone to think of particular things like numbers, celebrities, colors and so on.

Show the stack face up to the spectators so they can see the top card. Make sure plenty of spectators get to see the card and as you do so, pick off the top card so they can also see the second card. Turn the deck towards you and remove the second card also, letting everyone see it.

As you walk back to your volunteer, place the two "spectator" cards on the BOTTOM of the deck.

Walk up to your volunteer and show him (but do not hand to him) the rest of the deck. Pick off the top card (now one of the "volunteer" cards) and say

"You didn't get a chance to see. The cards have instructions for you to think of a famous actor, a color, a number ... things like that."

Keeping the second, different "volunteer" card on top of the deck, show it to him saying

" ... and on this card, a famous composer, a country, you get the idea. Forty cards, each asking you to think of different things."

Here you have set up the dual reality: your description of the cards satisfies both the volunteer and the spectators. The spectators think all the other cards are like the ones they saw, the volunteer thinks the spectators saw cards like the ones he can see. There is no reason to think otherwise.

Square up the cards and place them face down in front of your volunteer. Ask him to cut the deck anywhere he likes and remove the card he cuts to and place it face down on the table. Gather up the other cards and place them in your pocket.

Because you have trimmed all of the "force" cards, your volunteer will automatically cut to one of them.

Now turn your back and ask the volunteer to look at his card and think of the things it tells him to.

Continuing the dual reality, the spectators think the volunteer is going to think of a random number, country, composer etc himself. The volunteer understands that he is to think of the things written on his card and because all the cards are different, you are to read his mind and discover which card he chose.

To conclude the effect, say "OK I'm getting it - you're thinking of the color red, the country is Sweden, the composer is Mozart and ... a very popular meal indeed - steak and chips! Correct?"

And of course, you are correct!

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