Welcome to our 8 Awesome Mind Reading Tricks article!
If you were to have a superpower, what would it be?
This topic excites people’s imagination. Maybe you’d want to fly, control time, or have super strength.
If you ask us, we’d say we want the ability to read minds. Except we don’t have to because we already can.
You must be thinking, ‘How? Are you delusional enough to think you’re Professor X?’
While that’s a distinct possibility, we assure you that mind reading is real and can be done in real life. Just not in the way we usually think of it.
See, when we say mind reading is real, what we mean is that the skill of understanding how people tick is real. It’s this knowledge that lets us direct people’s train of thought and perception.
This practice falls under mentalism, a performance art that bends perception and attention to make the real seem magical.
That photo at the top? We mean it- you really do create magic.
If you’ve ever wondered how a street magician could guess which card you drew, this is your answer. Mentalists employ a wide range of skills to make it look like they can read your thoughts.
These secret mind reading tricks are usually kept, well, secrets. But knowledge should be for everyone which is why we’ve compiled this list of cool mind reading tricks for you to try out.
Even if you’re a beginner mentalist, these easy mind reading tricks can be performed with little practice and experience.
Now you’re (hopefully) probably thinking, ‘If they’re so easy, then let’s get on with it. Tell me how to do these mind reading tricks!’
Let’s get started.
1. The Dictionary Trick
For our first mind reading trick, you will need a dictionary and a calculator. Before performing, you have to look at the 9th word on page 108 of the dictionary you’re going to be using.
It’s important to remember what the word is because this will be the key to your trick.
Once you begin performing, ask for 2 audiences. Give one of them the calculator and the other one the dictionary.
First, ask the volunteer with the calculator to think of any 3-digit number where all numbers must be unique. No digit must repeat itself so they cannot give a number like 122, 454, 777, etc.
Once they’ve chosen a number, ask them to reverse it. This means that if they chose 321, the reverse of that would be 123.
Now that the volunteer has those two numbers ready, ask them to subtract these two numbers. So if they have 123 and 321, they should subtract 123 from 321.
Afterwards, ask them to reverse the difference. The difference between 321 and 123 is 198 and 198 reversed is 891.
Finally, ask the volunteer to add those last 2 numbers. In this instance, they will be adding 198 and 891.
No matter what number they chose in the beginning, the answer to this will always be 1089 as long as their selected number doesn’t have a repeated digit.
Ask the volunteer what the first 3 digits are. Since the result of 1089 is constant, the first 3 digits are always 108 as well.
Tell the volunteer you gave the dictionary to to check page 108.
Ask the other volunteer again for the last digit. This will always be 9 so ask the one with the dictionary to look at the 9th word down.
How you’re going to reveal the word is up to your discretion. You can make a show of writing it on a piece of paper for you to reveal. Or you can ask the audience to write the word down then announce it yourself afterwards.
The possible executions are endless but one thing’s for certain: your audience is in for a mind-blowing reveal.
You can play around with 1089 by asking the volunteer to go to the 89th page then look at the 10th word there among other possible alternatives.
2. The Rainbow Ruse
This trick is more associated with the realm of cold reading but it’s still a good way to make people believe that you’ve somehow tapped into their minds.
The Rainbow Ruse hinges on the tendency to believe that specific-sounding traits are unique to you. This is called a Barnum effect.
In order to do this, you simply need to assign two contrasting attributes or personality traits to the subject.
A classic example of this is telling them that they find it difficult to approach others but once they’re with people that they can feel comfortable with, they’re very well able to be the life of the party.
The Rainbow Ruse works well because you’ll just be using generic statements that sound specific because you’ve added an opposing attribute.
If you know even just a bit about this person or can infer that this person is similar to another you know, you can make more specific guesses. These will feel even more personalized to your volunteer.
For example, if you know that your subject is someone undergoing a major transition then you can tell them that you know what they’re going through.
A statement like ‘You sometimes find yourself at an impasse because while you want to incorporate more structure in your life, you still feel the occasional impulse to be spontaneous and just enjoy yourself.’ is applicable to just about anyone.
The Barnum effect employed for this trick is a handy basic tool for any mentalist. Like we said, mentalism is done by bending perception and this is one of the common ways mentalists do so.
3. Little Black Object
You’re going to need an assistant who’s in-the-know for this mind reading trick. This is perfect for parties, especially.
You can pick the party’s host for this or someone else entirely as long as people won't be able to suspect that they're in on the trick.
Before gathering the group up, discuss how the mind reading trick works with your assistant. Inform them that your signal will be a black object.
The next thing you need to do is get everybody together.
Explain that you are going to leave the room and that while you're outside, the group is going to decide on a specific object. This can be any object as what it is won’t matter as long as you get your signal.
Have them inform you when they’ve decided so you can come back inside. Enter and announce that you can read their minds to discover the group item.
Ask your assistant to start naming objects in the room. As you agreed on, your signal is a black object.
Whatever item that comes after that is the group item.
Let your assistant name a couple more items as to keep the ruse well-hidden. This helps throw off suspicion so you’re audience won’t know what’s up.
In the event that the signal object happens to be the group object as well, be sure to devise a signal with your assistant beforehand and have a back-up plan for this. After all, it’s hard to look like a cool mind reader if you slip up. Oops.
4. Pick a Card, Any Card
Here comes the classic staple in a mentalists’ repertoire – card tricks.
This one is simple and easy to execute.
For this, you need to arrange a deck of cards. Ensure that you will have 3 sets at the top.
The arrangement should go like this: set one has any 3 cards, set two has all four 3s, and set 3 has any 5 cards. Put them at the top of the deck in this order.
Afterwards, you need to make the 3 piles from the top of the deck without showing your subject the cards’ contents.
Pull out a piece of paper and let the participant choose a pile. Make it clear that they cannot touch, point out, tell, or indicate their choice in any way.
Tell them that you will now read their mind to find out what pile they chose.
You can ask them to concentrate on the pile for a good measure while you write down the number ‘3’ on the piece of paper.
Finally, it’s time to tell them to point to their chosen pile and once they’ve pointed, show to the subject that you’ve written the number 3.
This is a foolproof trick because all the piles they choose fall back to the number 3. In this sense, it’s similar to the Dictionary Trick which always ends in 1089.
5. The Red Hammer Trick
The Red Hammer trick works by priming the human mind to give the answer ‘red hammer’ because of how previous answers to questions you asked can be related.
This mind reading trick bears this name since the original template for it ends in the answer ‘red hammer’ being given by the participant.
Other variations exist, of course.
If you follow the process by which this mind reading trick works, you can definitely apply it to making your own tricks.
In the Red Hammer trick, a series of seemingly unrelated questions are used to create an implied meaning in a person’s mind. This subtle subconscious tweaking relies on how thoughts are shaped by language.
First, the mentalist asks a participant ‘What day is Christmas?’
A small number of questions are used after that to throw off participants from figuring it out.
Soon, the mentalist asks ‘What government did the USSR have?’.
Both questions are connected to the color red.
The funny and beautiful thing about the human mind is that it’s always looking for connections. This is what the mentalist exploits for this mind reading trick.
Red is a popular Christmas color. The USSR had a red flag.
What else is on that red flag? A hammer.
This series of associations end in the answer you expect to hear: ‘Red hammer’.
Don’t believe me? Google ‘red hammer’ right now and count how many times the Soviet flag and/or their symbol shows up.
Google search reflects how closely people associate these three concepts.
6. The Crystal Ball
Don’t go out to buy a crystal ball just yet! This trick doesn’t really involve a crystal ball- that’s just how it’s named.
For this trick, choose a participant and hand them a square piece of paper on which they will write a number. It’s important that the paper is square.
Because it will help us figure out the number your participant has written.
By using a square piece of paper, you will have a perfect midpoint for whatever number the participant wrote.
Tell your participant to fold the paper twice before handing it to you.
Begin tearing paper carefully at one side while focusing on the movement on its center point.
The number written has been torn through twice by that one action. Tear it up a couple more times and subtly take a peak.
It is important that you’re familiar with how each number looks. For your sanity, it would be best to be specific and tell your participant to write a number between 1-10.
Once you’ve determined the number, announce it proudly to your participant and watch him/her be wowed.
7. Nail Roulette
This trick needs a disclaimer.
Don’t worry- it won’t put you in harm’s way. But when choosing a participant for this trick, it would be best to choose someone who doesn’t have a heart condition or is easily anxious.
For this trick, you’ll need a nail that has been secured to a base. You then place the nail underneath one of three paper cups.
Get a participant to shuffle these paper cups for you.
To really sell the idea, have the participant think of which cup has a nail and tell them you’ll be picking a cup based on what you read from their thoughts.
When the participant tells you he/she is done, come in and start crushing the paper cups to the table using your hand.
Did that make you cringe? Don’t.
The secret to this mind reading trick is that you’ve attached a small length of fishing line to the base. This should stick out of the cup, telling you which one has a nail.
There’s an element of risk to this trick so if you can no longer see the fishing line and have no way of knowing, do not continue.
Impressing people with mind reading isn’t worth tetanus. There will be other days to be a mentalist.
8. Gray Elephant
This is one of the most common mind reading tricks used. This trick is as long as an elephant’s trunk so pay very close attention to the instructions.
First, get a participant. Instruct them to listen closely like we just told you.
Have the participant think of a number between 1 and 10. Remind them not to say it out loud.
Tell them to multiply this number by 2 and then add 8 to the result. Once that’s done, have them divide it by 2.
The answer should then be subtracted from the number your participant initially chose.
Now, have them find the letter that corresponds to that number (i.e 1 for A, 2 for B and so on).
Still with me? Good because there’s a few more steps to go.
Ask your participant to think of a country that has a name beginning with that letter.
And now for the finale.
Have them skip a letter of the alphabet from that letter. Using that letter, tell them to think of an animal with a name beginning with it.
Remember the Red Hammer trick? Ask the participant to think of a color for the animal.
For the final instruction, tell the participant to think of a color, an animal, and a country.
The answer is: Gray Elephant From Denmark. And it always will be.
No matter how convoluted the computations are, they always result in the number 4, similar to the Dictionary trick.
The number 4 corresponds to the letter D and the participant will almost always think of Denmark. I’m sure you’re beginning to catch onto this.
Since the next letter of the alphabet is E, the animal will most likely be an elephant. From this, the color chosen by our participant is gray because that’s what color elephants are.
Though not as risky as Nail Roulette, there’s no guarantee with this mind reading trick either. Someone familiar with mentalism or is just mentally agile may catch on and toy with you.
After all, the answer can as easily be a white egret from the Dominican Republic!
Regardless, it takes more than the possibility of failure to discourage a determined mentalist (which we’re confident you are). If you’re a bit of a thrill seeker, you may even try to master Nail Roulette.
For people reading this with no plans of actually practicing mentalism, we hope these mind reading tricks have encouraged you to give mind reading a shot. If not, well, at least you know what answer to give when a mentalist starts asking the Gray Elephant questions.
Remember, the answer is white egret from the Dominican Republic!