Mind-Reading, My Sweet

Coming in the JAMM #1

You give your friend an envelope to hold.

"I want you to go back in your mind and think of a really resonant memory from your childhood or a secret from your childhood or any memorable occurrence from your youth that I could never know. The fewer people who know about this incident the better, but just make sure it's something that stands out in your mind. And don't make it anything too dark. I'm not going to ask you specifically what this memory is, but I don't want to get into anything too unpleasant. Do you have something in mind?"

"Okay now boil that memory down to one word. So if you were thinking of shoplifting a lipstick when your were a kid, you might just think of the word 'lipstick.' Got it?"

"You asked me the other day how I read minds. The answer is, I don't. If I could read your mind I could tell you what word you're thinking of. But I can't do that."

"What I could do is hire a former CIA spy who now runs a private detective agency. Someone who knows all about secret communication and clandestine information retrieval. And I could have him follow you for months, digging through your garbage and sneaking into your house when you're out. And I could have him speak to your old friends, family, former employers, and even old school teachers. He could piece together documents—old yearbooks, timecards, journals, tax records, your Blockbuster rental history from 1998—to create a complete record of your youth. A day-by-day, hour-by-hour account of where you were and what you were doing since you learned to walk and talk. And then by analyzing this mountain of data he could identify a particular memory from your youth that you would summon up when asked to think of something memorable, but not too obvious. Something very few people, if anyone else, would know, but something that stuck with you throughout the years."

"I know, you're thinking that's impossible. I'll prove to you that it's not. What word are you thinking of?"

She says, "Goldfish."

You tell her to take out the envelope you handed her earlier. It's a piece of mail addressed to you with no return address. "A couple days ago, my private investigator sent me that letter. In it is a sheet of paper with one word on it. The word his investigations suggested you would think of."

The spectator opens the sealed envelope they have been holding since the start of the effect.

The spectator unfolds the paper inside.

Written on the paper in large letters is the word she was thinking of.

  • Works 100% of the time
  • No nail-writing or pocket-writing
  • No pre-show of any kind. You could perform it for anyone off the street.
  • No confederates
  • A genuine free choice of any word at all.
  • The spectator can keep the envelope and prediction at the end of the effect.

Am I leaving something out? Yes, of course! But all of the above is true. And the part I'm leaving out is actually my favorite part of the trick. It's a twist in the presentation that only makes the trick more interesting. 

Mind-Reading, My Sweet is designed for casual situations and wouldn't work table-hopping, or something like that. (Although a variation that could work for parlor or stage is hinted at as well. I don't give a full description of the stage-method (as I've never performed it), but I get you about 80% of the way there.)

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