When you get down to work at pencil reading, one of the first things you will do will be to study the pattern made by the hand and pencil when writing numbers. You will then find that there are cases where two numbers have very like patterns, such as, for example, six and nought. In order to combat this difficulty, I have devised a system of checking what was written—by means that do not inform the spectator what is happening. It is very simple— but practical:—
Suppose we are pencil reading. We hand the card and pencil to the spectator and request that he thinks of any number of three digits and writes them down. We watch in a casual manner and we think we see the number 356 written down. But shall we say that the last figure was doubtful—there is a suspicion that it could have been an "O"? We know the first two are correct—they happen to be almost unmistakable—but we are stuck on the last. So you proceed. "Now I would like you to do a bit of simple mental arithmetic please, simply add seven to the number you have chosen and then write down that total". Again you watch as the total is written and by that total you will know all the facts. If the spectator writes "363" you know it must have been 356, if they write "357" it must have been 350. Bear in mind also that since they can only write one of two figures for the total and you know them both before they start—it makes pencil reading a very simple matter to say the least.
You may think that by telling the spectator to add a number you are imparing the effect. If so, you have the option of turning to another spectator and asking them to call out the first number they think of—which is then added to the original figure. It would be obvious to any audience that the original figure could in no way be discovered by simply adding one digit at random. On top of this, you do not ask for the result of the addition—you tell it!
(6) Pencil Reading of Numbers
If you have never done pencil reading, take my advice and start by working with numbers only. Get as many different people as you can to help you practice, it is no good working with one person only, you become accustomed to their style and very few people write the same way. Study the patterns made by writing the following numbers:—1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0, and of these, pay particular attention to the numbers 2, 6, 7 and "0", these numbers have the most variations. Number nine is found to have two variations, one when it is drawn by one continuous curved line and two, a composite of curves and straight line. Both are easy to detect. Both four and five have the asset that they are invariably drawn in two stages, the pencil leaving the paper to complete the number—with most other numbers this does not happen— and very, very few people draw four or five in one line. In general, watch for curves and straight lines, bear in mind the time—as for example it takes less time to write "1" than it does "8", and last but not least do not make the mistake of assuming that everybody writes as you do yourself.
(7) Pencil Reading Words
This is not easy, in fact it is very hard for a normal person but it can be done. To attempt to read any word written in any manner would be foolhardy. You have far too many odds against you from the start; the word may be written or printed, may be one of millions and unlike our numbers you have 26 patterns to cope with and a much more extensive range of variations. If you are going to pencil read words, you must first alter the odds in your favour.
The first thing is to have the word printed in block letters—not written. The next thing is to confine the range of words so that to some extent you know what to expect. For example, ask your assistant to think of a girl's name and print it on the card. You have thereby limited the choice from millions to maybe a hundred. And let us suppose that you asked for a girl's name and that your first sighting showed you the letter 4tM"—before the next letter is written you can anticipate names like Mary, Maude, Muriel, Mavis, May and so forth—which has restricted the hundred down to perhaps a dozen. Now the odds are in your favour!
Another important approach to pencil reading words—is to make a habit of counting the number of letters as you go. Knowledge of the number of letters in the word can very often help to reveal what the word is; Suppose you were reading and were doubtful about the girl's name—was it "May" or was it "Mary"? If you had counted the letters you would know.
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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.