This candid book clearly explains the secret methods by which magicians and psychic entertainers simulate ESP and other psychic phenomena. Although written primarily as a handbook for magicians it is also an indispensible guide for anyone seeking to understand the closely guarded techniques of the pseudo-psychics. It goes beyond an explanation of how the effects are accomplished to cover other topics of interest to aspiring mentalists, such as: the ethics of deception, the combining of magic and mentalism, presentation suggestions, and even the setting of a fee. Hardcover, 121 pages. $28 includes shipment by two-day Priority Mail, payable by check, money order, or PayPal. Ordering information will be found below.


Mentalists are simply magicians who specialize in mental magic. They seek to entertain and deceive by using "tricks" related to ESP and other psychic phenomena in the same way that other magicians might employ cards, coins, or illusions to create their mysteries. The mentalist usually makes no claim to being anything other than a magician.

Another category of performer has emerged over the years, a group that might be termed "psychic entertainers." These individuals are usually non-committal (at least in public) about their "powers" but limit their so-called psychic endeavors to public demonstrations conducted solely for purposes of entertainment.

A third group, usually calling themselves "psychics," is composed of those who conduct private readings and offer advice to clients on a fee basis. You can be very sure that magician's tricks are often used by these individuals to gain the confidence of their clients, still, most psychics disclaim any use of artifice and insist that their "gifts" are genuine. In public at least, the psychic often adopts the persona of a true mystic and certainly would never refer to himself or herself as an entertainer or performer--much less would they welcome the term "magician."

Regardless of what designation we may know the entertainer by, there will be a very direct relationship between the performer and the entertainment value of mental magic. That is to say, that while Bozo the Clown may be a wonderfully gifted (and wonderfully compensated) entertainer, he is unlikely to be convincing in the role of a mental marvel. By the same token, if you appear in the guise of a psychic or mentalist and somehow fail to persuade your audience that you are knowledgeable in the fields of psychology and parapsychology, you run a great risk of being thought a "phoney." (That you are, of course, a "phoney" is immaterial to this discussion.) Therefore, this book details a number of topics within the behavioral sciences, which, once learned, will permit most anyone to appear informed on matters psychological.

To be sure, magicians amaze and amuse people, but mentalists and psychics confound their audiences--and there is a difference. We may no longer believe in the Easter Bunny or a man who pulls a silk from thin air, but, many of us will, with some justification, believe in the extraordinary powers of the human mind. That is, many intelligent people will laugh at the Easter Bunny while believing fervantly in the ability of others to read their minds.

I have a bias that I feel obligated to share with you at the outset: I personally think the odds are about the same for the Easter Bunny as for ESP. At the same time, I hasten to add that I can think of few reasons why you should value my views on the subject. After all, in the absence of definitive evidence, doesn't a discussion of paranormal phenomena become somewhat akin to a discussion of religion, politics, hair styles, or a thousand other topics about which there is little consensus and you are as entitled to an opinion as anyone else. In a very real sense these are subjects where one pays their money and takes their choice.

I know many magicians who agree with my bias, and I know a few others who regard ESP as a demonstrable phenomena. Unfortunately, I do not know anyone who demonstrates it.

It is fair to say that ESP (or any other anomalistic phenomena) must be verified by disinterested experimenters, using carefully constructed tests, before it will have any broad academic or scientific acceptance. And this, despite well publicized claims to the contrary, has never been done.

There is a well accepted scientific principle that, when reduced to its essence, states that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof." If, for example, you tell me that you have a dog for a pet, I would regard that as a rather commonplace arrangement and would be willing to accept this statement without too much proof--perhaps a photo of you and Fido together would suffice. But, if you should tell me that you have a unicorn at home, I would consider that a rather remarkable claim, and would want to go to your home and feel the horn or otherwise subject your claim to a great deal of scrutiny. We are always justified in requiring absolute proof when people make extraordinary claims.

Parapsychology has never offered this type of proof and, consequently, it enjoys very little esteem among academicians and scholars, most of whom view it as a pseudoscience. This lack of scientific acceptance does not, of course, dissuade many "true believers" who remain absolutely convinced of the reality of psychic phenomena. They no doubt take great comfort in recalling that it was a group of "scientists" who once assured us that the world was flat, that blood-letting was the perfect solution for illness, that Kings ruled by divine right, and any number of other "facts" that are today the subject of some little controversy.

Even if we can not here resolve this great debate, there remain several conclusions that will probably be accepted by skeptic and bleiever alike. The first should be obvious: There are millions of people who DO believe in the reality of ESP. Secondly, even skeptics find the subject of great interest. Thirdly, among both skeptics and believers there seems a great desire, perhaps a need, to believe in something beyond our own individual limitations. In a sense, belief in ESP endures because it satisfies a basic human longing.

And, finally, perhaps we can agree upon one other point: if ESP exists, it surely does not exist on the entertainment stage--what we see on TV is always "magic" and not "psychic." Even if ESP is real it has never been shown to have any utilitarian value. No one has yet been able to harness this "force" in a way that would permit it to be useful--or entertaining. Those who claim to be able to call forth psychic powers on demaind, as, for example, when the show starts or the client arrives, are inevitably engaging in deception. They are magicians or charlatans, or, perhaps, both.

The balance of this book will teach you how to evaluate (and duplicate) their claims and their performances.


By E. R. Hutchison, M.A.
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