Dear Mentalists: I Love this Website!

Wow! That's really kind of you to say. I put a lot of effort into it. 

I mean, you just said you love this website, which is really nice. Thank you. 

You don't love this website? No... but you said you did earlier. You read it in the first person so that means you do. What? That's not how language works? Hmmm... you make a compelling point.

And yet! There are mentalists everywhere, everyday who use Deddy Corbuzier's Free Will principle like it's something that fools people. (If you're not familiar with this principle feel free to skip this post as it wont make much sense to you.)

It doesn't. Well, it fools people exactly half of the time, when you end up reading the prediction. The other half of the time it's confusing at best and completely transparent at worst. If this isn't obvious to you, then you have been turning a blind eye to your audience. You need to get better at discerning when your audience is fooled and when they're confused or just being nice. I've probably tested a dozen mentalism concepts in the focus-testing I've done and this is the one that consistently raises the most red flags with people. Again, half the time. The other half of the time it's perfect.

We want to believe there's a logic to it when the spectator reads the prediction. There's not. I'll prove it to you. Next time you go to someone's birthday, write this in their card.

You hope I have a Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday to me.

They will be confused. This is not how we communicate with people. And yet this is exactly what we're expecting a spectator to accept at the climax of a magic trick. 

But don't worry, I've fixed it for you. 

Let's say you have a trick where you end up predicting where the spectator will choose to put 3 different objects. This is a standard effect that uses the free will principle. The one I use the most is Forced Will by Jonas Ljung off the DVD 21.

The prediction in this trick looks something like this.

Now, we are going to make one tiny, tiny adjustment that in and of itself will change the nature of the prediction.

Ah, look! We've just added quotes to it. But what does that mean? At this point, who knows. But the implication is that this isn't just a statement. No, this is something that someone said, or will say, probably aloud. And the fact that it's in quotes suggest that the person who wrote it on the card is not necessarily the "I" in that sentence.

We're on our way.

You start the effect and talk about how you're working on your ability to predict the future. "In a way, when you know the decisions people will make and the actions they will take, you are almost able to script life like it's a play. I can know well in advance just the right thing to say. Or I can know what others will say -- what words will match their actions. So as I get good at predicting the future, these interactions that I have with people almost feel pre-determined, like we're reading dialogue in a play."

The bold and italics above... you see what we're doing here, yes? We're establishing two different paths we can refer back to later in the effect.

You continue, "As of now I can't really predict complex human decisions, but I can predict simple ones. And I'll show you what I mean about scripting the future. On this folded business card I have a line of dialogue for you [the slightest possible beat] to hold onto. It's the last line of this little play we're in right now. Keep it safe. I'm going to want you to check my work later."

"Check my work" is a line I got from Jimmy Fingers' Free Will routine he does in his Penguin Live lecture. I like the ambiguity of it as it suggests both reading it themselves or looking at it after you read it later.

Now you go through the process of the trick.

You get to the end of the trick, it's time for the prediction to be read. Here is how you lead up to it.

If you read it
"Remember I said that by knowing the decisions people will make I can always know the right thing to say well in advance? Well, I gave you my last line of dialogue in this conversation to hold onto before we even started, can I see it? It wasn't just any dialogue, it was my prediction for what was going to happen. Something I wrote weeks in advance. [You read the prediction then hand it to your spectator to verify.]"

This makes perfect sense. 

If they read it
"Remember I said I had a line of dialogue for you -- your last line of dialogue for this little play? That I could predict the words for you to say that would match your actions? You've been holding onto your last line of dialogue the whole time. Read it out for us and put some pizzaz into it -- really sell it." 

This makes perfect sense too. And telling them to "really sell it" implies that this was always intended to be a line of dialogue read by someone else. 

Not only does it completely camouflage the Free Will principle, the notion that seeing the future allows you to script lines for yourself or others is just a more interesting idea than "I know where you will put these three objects," even if -- at heart -- it amounts to the same thing.