To Prepare

Type six 5-inch by 7-inch index cards as shown on the next page. In addition to the six cards, you will also need a pocket calculator, a sheet of white cardboard and a bold marking pen. On one side of the cardboard write, in easily readable letters, "I predict that the total cost of your purchases will be $235.23!"


Patter about the popular television game show, "The Price Is Right". Then, in your best Bob Barker style (the show's Master of Ceremonies) proceed to show that the six cards contain a total of 36 different items of merchandise. Point out that there are no two prices alike. There are 36 different items and 36 different prices. Then, as a little tip, inform the audience that the total cost of any six items could range anywhere from $200 to $300—a total of 10,000 different possibilities!

Announce that you will now present a condensed version of the popular game show. Inform the audience that sometimes the element of chance can be controlled if you know how. To demonstrate, state that you will attempt to mentally control the actions of a volunteer from the audience. Invite three members of the audience to play the game. Each volunteer is asked to call out any amount of money between $200 and $300. As each amount is called, record it and the name of the volunteer at the top of the blank side of the cardboard.

State that your guess is recorded on the reverse side. Explain that the winner of the grand prize which consists of six freely selected prizes or their cash equivalent will be the person whose guess comes closest to the actual retail price of the six freely selected items without going over.

Inform the audience that "The only way I will be allowed to win is if I guess the correct amount exactly," otherwise the prize will be awarded as outlined. Because of the tremendous odds against you, state that in the event of a tie you will be declared the winner. The six cards are then handed to any spectator to freely mix face down. The spectator is then instructed to remove any one of the six cards and to call out the first item going up for bid—the very first item on the card that he has selected.

For example, suppose the spectator calls out a "Ring" that costs $61.30. The performer writes "#1-Ring-$61.30" on the piece of cardboard. The spectator is now asked to freely select any one of the remaining five cards and to call out the second item going up for bid, the second item on the card that he has selected. Say that the spectator calls out a "Robe" that costs $42.35. The mentalist lists this item directly beneath the first item. This procedure is repeated until six items have been freely selected and listed on the board. It should look something like this:



















Hand a pocket calculator to the spectator and instruct him to carefully total the randomly selected items of merchandise as you call them out. When he announces the total, it will be $235.23! Turn over the sheet of cardboard and show your previously written estimate which happens to be $235.23 (it always is!) and you are the winner!

It seems impossible, but thanks to the principle employed it's infallible. Incidentally, the reason the "Shopping Lists" are worded the way they are is to ensure that the spectator calls out the first item on the first card and the second item on the second card and so on. As long as he does this, the total will always be $235.23.

As you can see, the original mathematical principle has been converted from a close-up addition effect to a stand-up contemporary routine, making it and made it more commercial. With the added patter premise, the entertainment potential has been increased. It makes no difference in which order the cards are selected as long as the items selected adhere to the one through six order. In other words the first item on the first card selected and the second item on the second card selected, and so on. Give it a try; you'll like it. Overseas mentalists can convert the amounts from dollars to Yen or whatever currency is appropriate in that country. In other words instead of $61.30, change the price to ¥ 6,130, etc.

This effect originally appeared in the February/March 1982 issue of Magic Manuscript.

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I performed this effect for magicians throughout England, Spain, France, Belgium, Germany and Italy. My audiences included some of the most knowledgeable magicians in the world. Without exception, "Clearly Predictable" baffled them one and all. (At least those to whom I spoke.) Fergus Roy wrote in a review of my London lecture at Davenports, "His opening effect, which unfortunately he did not explain, I found to be completely baffling. Before his show I was asked to put a prediction in my pocket and then to choose any word from a newspaper. This I did. During the performance, Larry produced a newspaper with my choice written on the paper. Opening the envelope which I had in my possession the whole time revealed his prediction to be the same."

The reason Fergus' description mentioned a chosen word instead of a headline is simply this. It was logistically impossible for me to mail out 25 prediction envelopes around the world in advance of the tour. I did so in several instances, but for the majority of performances, I had to devise an alternate handling. In these instances, I met with a member of the organization prior to the lecture and after handing him a sealed envelope, I had him select any word on the front page which I then printed in bold letters across the page. The rest of the handling is as described below.

While I thought I had perfected "Clearly Predictable" prior to embarking on the tour (I even had instructions printed), I began to make modifications and improvements at every performance. By the time I completed the tour "Clearly Predictable" had changed significantly. In fact, so many changes had been made, when I arrived home after two months abroad, the instructions had to be revised and reprinted. What follows is the final version.

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The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

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.

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